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BPS News

Feeling awe can sometimes be awful

15 February 2017

New research investigates the fresh concept of threatening awe.

The majority of past research into the emotion of awe - a response to something vast or overwhelming - has focused on the positive aspects, classifying it alongside delight or pleasure.

A new investigation published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, however, has looked at what the researchers call "threatening awe", defined as a strong feeling of wonder or fear.

They looked at times where people experienced awe in response to overwhelming stimuli such as huge storms or the vastness of the universe, and found that these feelings activated the sympathetic automatic nervous system, which is associated with negative emotional states.

Read more on our Research Digest blog.

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