Cognition & emotion.
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. They found that those in the positive control condition and the neutral control condition were not significantly different. Those who were more religious tended to be more spiritual at the end of the experiment. However, those who were lower in religiousness at the beginning and who were placed in the elevation group had a significantly greater level of spirituality than those who were lower in religiousness that were put in the control groups.
Study 2 was similar to Study 1, but they added in admiration as another self-transcendent positive emotion. They also used video clips in Study 2 instead ol having participants remember a time where they experienced something. They found that elevation and admiration, two self-transcendent positive emotions, were both significantly associated with increased levels of spirituality. The positive emotion control conditions, as well as the neutral control condition, were not shown to be significantly associated with an increase in spirituality. Both studies help to provide a better understanding of spirituality in showing that as individuals observe people and situations, their appraisals of those observations can influence their values and woridview.
This section of the Journal attempts to keep readers informed ot current resources of an integrative nature or those related to die general field of the psychology of religion appearing in other professional journals. A wide range of psychological and theological journals are surveyed regularly in search of such resources. The editor of the Journal File welcomes correspondence from readers concerning relevant theoretical or research articles in domestic or foreign journals which contribute directly or indirectly to the task and process of integration and to an understanding of the psychology of religion.