The awe-prosociality relationship: evidence for the role of context

Authors

EJOVA Anastasia KRÁTKÝ Jan KUNDTOVÁ KLOCOVÁ Eva KUNDT Radek CIGÁN Jakub KOTHEROVÁ Silvie BULBULIA Joseph GRAY Russel David

Year of publication 2021
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Religion Brain & Behavior
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Citation
Web https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/2153599X.2021.1940254
Doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/2153599X.2021.1940254
Keywords Awe; constructed emotion; cooperation; culture; Openness to Experience; small self
Description People in a state of awe have been found to perceive their needs as small while also expressing intentions to act in a prosocial way, benefitting others at personal cost. However, these findings come largely out of the USA and have focused on intended rather than real prosocial behavior. We propose a contextual model of the awe-prosociality relationship predicated on the constructed theory of emotion, according to which emotion categories and cost–benefit analyses of possible subsequent actions differ across cultures and in line with enduring individual differences. To test the model, we conducted a laboratory study (N = 143) examining whether costly volunteering behavior is higher amid awe in the Czech Republic, a country where social psychological studies have often produced different results compared to the USA. Awe-inspiring and neutral primes were validated in pilot studies (N = 229). As is possible under the contextual model, awe-inspiring primes elicited not more, but less, prosocial behavior, with the relationship being moderated by various facets of Openness to Experience. Individuals higher in the Feelings facet of Openness were also found to be more awe-prone. A call is made for a cross-cultural investigation of the awe-behavior relationship that accounts for complex phylogenetic relationships between cultures.
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