The multidisciplinary journal Cognitive Science recently published a paper co-authored by former Sinai and Synapses fellow Sara Gottlieb on “Awe as a Scientific Emotion.”

Researchers, including University of California at Berkeley psychology professors Dacher Keltner and Tania Lombrozo, found that while awe is traditionally considered a religious emotion, scientists often report that awe motivates them to answer questions about the natural world. They discovered that the tendency to experience awe is positively associated with scientific thinking and that a disposition to experience awe predicts a more accurate understanding of how science works.

The study outlines that ‘awe’ also predicts a rejection of creation and rejection of unwarranted teleological explanations more broadly.

In an interview published on Sinai and Synapses’ website, Gottlieb said she is really interested in finding out why people tend to “gravitate either toward science or towards religion and why there is sometimes conflict at the more cognitive level.”

While she is no longer at UC Berkeley, she was a fellow at Sinai and Synapses.

The focus of the research was to see how people who experience awe in their daily lives at a high frequency tend to have a better understanding of how science works and they tend to be more comfortable with theory revision, she said.

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