“Polarizing people is a good way to win an election, and also a good way to wreck a country,” famous indomitable journalist Molly Ivins.
In the 20-plus years since Ivins penned these phrases, political polarization has had an affect on previous and new democracies around the globe. It’s so commonplace that greater than 35 books on partisan dynamics have been revealed prior to now decade alone.
Outlining the issue is straightforward, however discovering options to those more and more rancorous divisions is difficult.
Enter University of California–Berkeley researchers Daniel Stancato and Dacher Keltner, PhD. The pair got down to see how awe — a commingled feeling of marvel, veneration, and dread — may improve social connection and thereby scale back polarization.
Stancato and Keltner induced awe in a single group of members by displaying them a time-lapse video of the night time sky and by asking them to recall instances once they’d skilled awe prior to now. Two different teams watched both a impartial or an amusing video.
Following the experiments, the researchers measured the members’ sense of conviction round capital punishment, racial bias in policing, and immigration in addition to their antagonism towards those that didn’t share their views. They additionally explored how members felt about partaking with political opponents, together with somebody who was a neighbor.
The outcomes, revealed within the journal Emotion, recommend that the group who skilled awe had elevated humility and decreased want for distance from political opponents.
“What we found is that people experiencing awe expressed less conviction and less certainty in their own beliefs,” Stancato says. “And that in turn predicted the extent to which they would be more likely to say, ‘Yeah, I wouldn’t be so upset if I had a coworker who felt differently than me. Or if I had a roommate who felt differently than me.’”
The findings are in keeping with prior analysis displaying that experiencing awe can enhance our sense of altruism and strengthen relationships.
“I don’t want to give people the impression that awe is yet another quick fix that can be ‘used’ when handy or necessary while the rest of its implications . . . for a whole new way of living, a reformed society — at the level of childrearing, education, ecology, religion and spirituality, and even legislative and diplomatic deliberation — are completely overlooked,” explains Kirk Schneider, PhD, creator of Rediscovery of Aweand Awakening to Awe.
“Most anything that aspires to the quick fix and absolute answer interferes with awe cultivation. On the other hand, almost anything that’s approached with maximal presence or whole-body awareness tends to be more conducive to awe,” he says.
“It’s important for people to find out what elicits that emotion in you,” Stancato suggests. “It could be architecture, it could be art, it could be music.”
And when you follow experiencing that sense of awe, you may need the power to interrupt by way of your personal polarizing ideas.
For extra tips on cultivating awe, learn “Awestruck.”
This article initially appeared in Experience Life, Life Time’s whole-life health and fitness journal.