Not only negative experiences lead to spirituality and religion (S/R). Not all positive emotions lead to and shape S/R. Not simply a diminished self is a prerequisite for S/R experiences and key life decisions. The above ideas may be familiar for theologians and philosophers, but from an empirical perspective, at this moment, they constitute rather speculations. Through a series of eight rigorous and original studies (experiments and field studies) we aim to investigate the causal pathways that go from the experience of awe to spirituality. More specifically, we will investigate the very nature of awe as implying implicit comparisons of the self with a transcendent reality; the specificity of awe with regard to this process compared to other non-self-transcendent positive emotions; the mediating role of humility; possible consequences for altruism; and the role of awe on spiritual self-transformation in real life. Two expert meetings are also planned at key moments. Although mostly psychological in nature, this research is planned to be interdisciplinary in theoretical bases and implications. This funding opportunity occurs at a fortunate moment for our laboratory, since our research of the last years made significant steps in understanding the relation of S/R with positive emotions, including awe and humor, and values, including humility. High level scientific publications in peer reviewed journals, a journal special issue, presentations to international conferences, and press and media dissemination are among the expected outputs. Scientific citations, large interest and impact in science, professionals, and public are among the expected outcomes. This research will lead to a new way of thinking in both (a) positive psychology of emotions (importance of studying self-transcendent positive emotions) and (b) scientific approaches of spirituality (role of positive emotions in spiritual and religious experiences and impact on altruism).
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