ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2021, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (3): 520-530.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2021.00520

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The psychological model and cognitive neural mechanism of awe

ZHAO Xiaohong1,2, TONG Wei3, CHEN Taolin1,2(), WU Dongmei4, ZHANG Lei1,2, CHEN Zhengju1, FANG Xiaoyi3, GONG Qiyong1,2, TANG Xiaorong2   

  1. 1West China Magnetic Resonance Research Center, Department of Radiology, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, Chengdu 610041, China
    2Department of Sociology and Psychology, School of Public Administration, Sichuan University, Chengdu 610065, China
    3Faculty of Psychology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
    4The Fourth People's Hospital of Chengdu, Chengdu 610036, China
  • Received:2020-05-01 Online:2021-03-15 Published:2021-01-26
  • Contact: CHEN Taolin


The awe is though as a complex awe experience, even a self-transcendent emotion, caused by something mysterious, vast and beyond the current cognitive schema. The psychological research of awe has recently received great attention, but the nature of awe or the psychological mechanism is still unclear. To address the scientific question of “what is the psychological process of awe”, the existing awe-related literature is reviewed and a Psychological Model of Awe is proposed to explain the psychological process of awe and its cognitive neural mechanism on the basis of clarifying the evolution of the concept of aw, related theoretical development and empirical research of awe. It has been discovered that the generation of awe involves the psychological processes including expectation estimate, outcome evaluation and self-transcendent. Vastness and the need for accommodation are the two core factors of awe which also has two dimensions including internal and external vastness, and positive and negative affection. Future research should focus on the development of awe-related assessment, verification of awe theory and comparative analysis of awe behavior in different cultural people by carrying out multi-disciplinary basic and clinical research.

Key words: awe, vastness, need for accommodation, cognitive evaluation, self-transcendent emotion, cognitive neural mechanism

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