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A growing body of research has found that experiencing awe — a feeling of being in the presence of something bigger than you — transcends your understanding of the world, improves your physical health, and may make you more altruistic.

But who experiences the most awe? To answer this question, scientists who study positive emotions at University of California–Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center (GGSC), which is led by director Dacher Keltner, PhD, created a 21-question quiz.

Overall, the findings indicate that respondents experienced a high level of awe with an average score of 63 out of 75 — suggesting that they feel awestruck regularly.

The results also showed that the older a respondent is, the more awe they feel. Awe increased significantly until around age 60, at which point it seemed to plateau.

Further, the findings revealed a strong connection between spirituality and awe. Those who answered that they were more spiritual had higher awe scores. Extremely spiritual people scored an average of 67 out of 75, whereas people who see themselves as not at all spiritual scored 59, on average.

The researchers didn’t find noticeable differences in awe scores based on geography — rural versus suburban versus urban neighborhoods.

Quiz results noted, however, that respondents earning less than $25,000 reported lower levels of awe, while those making $25,000 or more — whether it is $50,000 or $150,000 — likely experienced similar levels of awe.

Want to experience more awe-inspiring moments? These practices can help create more awe in your daily life:

  • Spend time in nature. Gazing at cloud formations or other natural wonders reminds us of our place in the vast universe.
  • Meditate. It will help you become more attentive.
  • Cultivate solitude. You’ll notice your environment more, and have more room for self-reflection.
  • Visit museums and attend live performances. They are easy ways to be moved by something powerful.
  • Volunteer at places that serve others, such as hospice centers, animal shelters, or nursing homes. These places all remind us that life is a temporary gift.
  • Write about past experiences. Memories are a valuable source of awe, and writing detailed accounts of memorable moments of awe has been shown to increase it.
Photo credit: Lydia Anderson

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