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According to Broaden and Build Theory, positive emotions expand the scope of attention, cognition, and actions, as evidenced by more creative and elaborate responses to problems. While some research suggests that awe, defined as the emotion that arises when one encounters something strikingly vast, may be an extension of positivity, it has not been tested within the context of Broaden and Build Theory. The current study was modeled after and utilized methods from previous research on how positive emotions affect decision-making and expanded on them to include materials demonstrated to inspire awe. Participants viewed emotion-eliciting videos, responded to writing prompts, suggested solutions to problems, and responded to measures of personality and attitudes. There were three conditions: neutral/control (no emotional content), positive manipulation condition, and awe manipulation condition. The hypothesis that those in the awe group would be most engaged in their tasks was supported; they spent more time on the tasks and wrote more words compared to the other groups. Those in the positive group were not more engaged than participants in the neutral conditions. The results imply that the awe manipulation had a greater and different effect on participants, and supports previous research suggesting that awe should be considered a different category within positive emotions.



Thesis Comittee

Dr. Elizabeth Spievak, Thesis Advisor

Dr. Joseph Schwab, Committee Member

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Original document was submitted as an Honors Program requirement. Copyright is held by the author.

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Psychology Commons