Awe Facilitates Focused Attention at Midlife Case Study

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Julie Hicks Patrick


emotion, cognition, aging


Introduction: Although research demonstrates that emotion influences cognitive processing, most investigations have relied on college student samples and focused on happiness over other emotions.

Methods: Three non-college student adults completed a flanker task assessing focused attention before and after viewing an awe-inducing video. Measures of reaction time were derived for each person.

Results: Differential benefits of awe were observed across the differently aged adults,. The middle-aged adult, whose initial performance was the slowest, improved the most (19%) relative to the 13% improvement by the younger adults and the stable performance for the emerging adult.

Conclusions: Unlike other positive emotions that may broaden cognition, awe may help adults to focus their attention. These results suggest an avenue to support adults with attention-related deficits.  

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