Awe: More Than a Lab Experience—A Rejoinder to “Awe ‘More Than a Feeling’” by Alice Chirico and Andrea Gaggioli


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Abstract

This article is a response to Chirico and Gaggioli’s (2018) commentary “Awe: ‘More Than a Feeling’” which addressed my 2017 article “The Resurgence of Awe in Psychology: Promise, Hope, and Perils” (Schneider, 2017). First, I discuss my appreciation of the commentary including its admirable efforts to broaden the scope of mainstream inquiries into awe; its openness to my “slow simmer” conception of awe which comprises complex, potentially life-altering dimensions; and its expansion of the mainstream conception of awe from that of an emotion to that of an experience. Next, I convey my concerns about the commentary, which include the authors’ implication that virtual reality (VR) or any such “constructed” environment, is an ideal setting with which to investigate the experience of awe; the authors’ intimation that laboratory experiences, such as that of VR are psychophysiologically comparable and therefore equivalent to naturalistic experiences of awe; and the authors’ contention that experimental inductions of awe are “especially” important in the investigation of awe-based experience. I conclude that despite the authors’ laudable intentions to investigate fuller and more nuanced experiences of awe, they ironically overlook key limitations associated with the artificiality of their methodology. This omission highlights the need for increased attention to a complementary methodology, that is, phenomenology, that can address the larger and more complex dimensions of experiential awe.

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