Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Theology

Cognition & Emotion

Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Theology

Cognition & Emotion

Article excerpt

Van Cappellen, P., Saroglou, V., Iweins, C., Pio-vesana, M., &: Fredrickson, B. L.

Self-transcendent positive emotions increase spirituality through basic world assumptions.

Published online. (2013)

Spirituality has been shown to significantly predict positive emotions, but positive emotions may also affect one's level of spirituality. The authors suggest, however, that not all positive emotions increase spirituality, but only something called self-transcendent positive emotions, which are the emotions that come from seeing something or someone greater than the self (e.g., elevation, awe or admiration). Induced awe has already been shown to affect one's perception of their own spirituality, but elevation and admiration are much more difficult to study. Elevation is the response to witnessing exemplars' kindness or virtue, and admiration is the response to witnessing exemplars' talent and skill. They hypothesized that elevation and admiration would lead individuals to be more open to a spiritual belief.

The current project consisted of two studies. Study 1 consisted of ninety adults from Spain and Italy. Seventy percent were self-reported Catholics and the other 30% were either atheists or agnostics. Participants were randomly assigned to either an elevation, a mirth (a non-self-transcendent positive emotion), or a neutral control group. The first section of the questionnaire consisted ol two items regarding religiosity, and the second part was given at least seven days later. Participants were asked to remember a time when they saw someone helping someone else in need (i.e., elevation condition), a time when they laughed a lot (i.e., positive control condition), or they were asked to remember the last time they went to the movies (i.e., neutral control condition). Lastly, the participants were asked to rank their spirituality and meaning in life.

Participants in the elevation condition were significantly higher in spirituality than both the control groups. …

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