How Awe Expands Our Perception of Time

Time & wonder are partners at this blog and in our Outpost Shoppe. In fact, the Mind Rooms Guide came out of my own experience coupled with my research into time, creative minds, and wonder.

As the video below explains, a new study shows how awe – wonder’s more reverent and exalted cousin – affects people’s perceptions of time. 

A little context: Time-tracker and mind-tracker William James was on the trail early on in 1890 regarding our subjective experiences of time’s passage. I’ve spoken with awe-and-wonder-trackers Dacher Keltner of Berkeley and Jonathan Haidt of U. of Virginia, both psychologists and engaging authors as well as human beings, about their studies of awe.

Keltner and Haidt’s study (2003) reviews awe in response to nature, powerful human beings, and art and also distinguishes awe from admiration. The study helped elevate (pardon the pun) the emotion as worthy of further study.

Now Melanie Rudd, a PhD candidate at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, has published a study that combines James’s focus on time perception with Keltner’s and Haidt’s focus on awe. Her research team includes Jennifer Aaker, professor of marketing.

I’m intrigued that these studies are coming not out of psychology departments but out of the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Right on. Who needs a fresh orientation to time perception more than those of us in business?

In this engaging video, Rudd discusses our misperceptions of time, what awe is, and how awe expands our sense of time.

Bonus: Those people who experience awe are more likely to practice altruistic acts. Makes sense, right?

Check it out, and let me know what you think.

What are the implications for your work place? Your studio? Your solo-enterprise?


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