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The positive moral emotions: Elevation, awe, admiration (and gratitude) Sage Lecture #3 Nov. 23, 2008 Jonathan Haidt University of Virginia.

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Presentation on theme: "The positive moral emotions: Elevation, awe, admiration (and gratitude) Sage Lecture #3 Nov. 23, 2008 Jonathan Haidt University of Virginia."— Presentation transcript:

1 The positive moral emotions: Elevation, awe, admiration (and gratitude) Sage Lecture #3 Nov. 23, 2008 Jonathan Haidt University of Virginia

2 6 Lectures on Morality 11/10: What is morality and how does it work? 11/17: The righteous mind: Why good people are divided by politics and religion 11/24: The positive moral emotions: Elevation, awe, admiration, and gratitude 12/1: Hive psychology, group selection, and leadership 12/8: The dark side: Why moral psychology is the greatest source of evil 12/15: The light side: How to pursue happiness using ancient wisdom and modern psychology ppt files available at at bottomwww.JonathanHaidt.com

3 Nativism Nature provides a first draft, which experience then revises… ‘Built-in' does not mean unmalleable; it means organized in advance of experience.“ (Marcus, 2004)

4 The Social Intuitionist Model (Haidt, 2001) A’s IntuitionA’s Judgment A’s Reasoning B’s IntuitionB’s Judgment B’s Reasoning Four main processes: 1) the intuitive judgment link 2) the post-hoc reasoning link 3) the reasoned persuasion link 4) the social persuasion link Two rare processes: 5) the reasoned judgment link 6) the private reflection link 5 6

5 Intuition tilts the table

6 The New Synthesis in Moral Psych 1) Intuitive primacy (but not dictatorship) 2) Moral thinking is for social doing 3) Morality binds and builds 4) Morality is about more than harm and fairness

7 Traditional Morality: Uses every tool in the toolbox to increase MCC

8 Liberals 2 channels, Conservatives 5 Endorsement Harm Fairness Ingroup Authority Purity

9 The positive moral emotions: Elevation, awe, admiration (and gratitude) Sage Lecture #3 Nov. 23, 2008 Jonathan Haidt University of Virginia

10 An Investment Opportunity….

11 I) Unbalanced Emotions Appraisal of Agent’s Action PraiseworthyBlameworthy SelfPride Self-satisfaction Guilt Shame OtherGratitude Awe Admiration Anger Disgust Contempt From Ortony, Clore & Collins, 1988

12 I) Unbalanced Emotions Appraisal of Agent’s Action PraiseworthyBlameworthy SelfPride Self-satisfaction Guilt 1,639 Shame 1,601 OtherGratitude Awe Admiration Anger 3,230 Disgust 306 Contempt 54 (From PsycInfo search of words in title or key concepts, journal articles only, counted on 9/08)

13 I) Unbalanced Emotions Appraisal of Agent’s Action PraiseworthyBlameworthy SelfPride 247 Self-satisfaction 27 Guilt 1,639 Shame 1,601 OtherGratitude 124 Awe 36 Admiration 19 Anger 3,230 Disgust 306 Contempt 54 (From PsycInfo search of words in title or key concepts, journal articles only, counted on 9/08) --Ratio of neg to pos is 15 to 1 --There is almost NO empirical work on the “other- praising” emotions (beyond recent work on gratitude).

14 Why So Little on the O. P. Emotions? 1) No animal models 2) No distinct facial expression 3) Not as discrete as the negative emotions 4) General neglect of positive phenomena (Seligman) 5) Lack of good theoretical approaches to positive emotions, until now: Broaden and Build (Fredrickson) 6) Lack of good theoretical approaches to moral emotions, until now: Divinity & Purity (Shweder, Rozin);

15 II) The Third Dimension of Social Space? X=Solidarity (like-dislike) Z=Divinity (elevation-disgust) Y=Hierarchy (respect upwards; Paternalist caring downwards)

16 Purity and Pollution: keep our animal/corporeal nature separated from god/divinity In Biblical Judaism: When a woman gives birth to a boy, “she shall continue in the blood of purification three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purification be fulfilled.” --Leviticus, 12:4

17 Purity and Pollution: keep our animal/corporeal nature separated from god/divinity In Islam: “O believers, when you stand up to pray wash your faces, and your hands up to the elbows, and wipe your heads, and your feet up to the ankles. If you are defiled, purify yourselves…” --Koran, V:9.

18 In Classical Hinduism: “A person should not even think about (reciting the Veda): --while expelling urine or excrement --when food is still left on his mouth and hands --when one has eaten flesh or the food of a woman who has just given birth --in a cremation ground --while wearing a garment that he has worn in sexual union --while accepting anything at a ceremony for the dead. --when one has just eaten or has not digested (his food) or has vomited or belched --when blood flows from one's limbs or when one has been wounded by weapons." From: The Laws of Manu (IV, ) –Contains 5 of the 8 categories of disgust elicitors: food, body products, sex, envelope violations, and death.

19 Purity/God/Goodness is Up Transmigration of souls: Up or down, based on Karma (right-action in this life) Hindu categorical imperative: “Any action that makes us go Godward is a good action and is our duty; any action that makes us go downward is evil and is not our duty." --Vivekananda, 1890s

20 The Scala Natura: Greek and then Christian ordering of beings based on perfection, later virtue. God at top, devil/demons at bottom Purity/God/Goodness is Up

21 In Victorian America Too "God has made no mistake in giving man a strong sexual nature, but any young man makes a fatal mistake if he allows the sexual to dominate, to degrade, and to destroy that which is highest and noblest in his nature.“ --Sylvanus Stall, 1904, What a young man ought to know.

22 II) The Third Dimension of Social Space? X=Solidarity (like-dislike) Z=Divinity (elevation-disgust) Y=Hierarchy (respect upwards; Paternalist caring downwards)

23 The Third Dimension: Divinity God Angels Saints Human Beings Monsters Animals Demons The Devil Social Disgust is felt when we see people move down, especially when they blur the human/animal boundary. What do we feel when we see people move up, blurring the human/divine boundary?

24 Example, From a Spiritual Autobiography: There’s another kind of tear. This one’s less about giving love and more about the joy of receiving love, or maybe just detecting love. It’s the kind of tear that flows in response to expressions of courage, or compassion, or kindness by others. A few weeks after Mother’s Day, we met here in the sanctuary and considered whether to become a Welcoming Congregation. When John stood in support of the resolution, and spoke of how, as far as he knew, he was the first gay man to come out at First Parish, in the early 1970s, I cried for his courage. Later, when all hands went up and the resolution passed unanimously, I cried for the love expressed by our congregation in that act. That was a tear of celebration, a tear of receptiveness to what is good in the world, a tear that says it’s okay, relax, let down your guard, there are good people in the world, there is good in people, love is real, it’s in our nature. That kind of tear is also like being pricked, only now the love pours in.

25 Tears of Elevation The stone wall inside of him has fallen, the hardness in his heart has broken down. The rest of us can, I think, imagine this by recalling our state of feeling in those temporary 'melting moods' into which either the trials of real life, or the theatre, or a novel sometimes throw us. Especially if we weep! For it is then as if our tears broke through an inveterate inner dam, and let all sorts of ancient peccancies and moral stagnancies drain away, leaving us now washed and soft of heart and open to every nobler leading. (James, p ) Free hugs New York Subway Hero Team Hoyt

26 III) Elevation: Three main features 1) Elicitors: acts of courage, kindness, loyalty.... or any other act of moral beauty 2) Phenomenology/physiology: calm/relaxed, a warm/open/pleasant feeling in the chest; sometimes getting “choked up”. 3) Motivation: emulation, moral self-improvement, (altruism?)

27 A) Recall Study (Algoe & Haidt, in press, JPP) N=110 students asked to recall one of 3 situations: 1)Elevation: “a time when you saw someone demonstrating humanity’s higher or better nature. Please pick a situation in which you were not the beneficiary, that is, you saw someone doing something good, honorable, or charitable for someone else. 2)Gratitude: “a time when someone did something really good for you. Please pick a situation in which you benefited because of someone else’s kindness, helpfulness, or generosity.” 3)Happiness: “a time when a really good thing happened to you. Please pick a situation in which something that you had really been hoping for, or wanting to happen, finally happened.”

28 Motivations % of free-response included:Elev.Grat.Happ. Moral (prosocial, emulate, moral self- improve) 71*24*3 Relationship-pos. (repay, affiliate, enhance rep., thank) 67*74*30 Energy expending (celebrate, broadcast)9*18*89 Note: Limited to cases in which an identifiable other person caused the event * = differs from Happiness p<.05 “Watching my grandmother aid this helpless, suffering woman near the days of her death, caused me to feel a sense of responsibility to those around me. I began to feel more appreciative for my well-being and the fact that I was healthy. I felt the desire to be like my grandma, and have the same goodwill and huge heart -- I wanted to help!”

29 Did your feelings towards the other person change? --All positive emotions may improve relationships (Fredrickson) --Other-praising emotions adjust our representations of others. % who’s free-response included:Elev.Grat.Happ. Gained respect46*65 Changed mind, in positive direction43*39*5 Wanted to build/deepen relationship3271*52 Liked person more4*2352 Note: Limited to cases in which an identifiable other person caused the event * = differs from Happiness p<.05

30 A) Video and Diary Studies (Algoe & Haidt, in press, JPP) 3 groups (N=136), watch one of 3 videos, then fill out “event record” Elevation (Trevor) Admiration (Jordan) Amusement (comedians) Then given packet of event records and further instructions: For 3 weeks, fill out a record each time you see/hear someone: --Do something good or kind for someone else [elevation] --Exceed normal standards of skill or performance [admiration] --Tell a joke [amusement, positive affect control]

31 Results: Physical Feelings Video InductionDiary Study % reporting:ElevAdmirAmusElevAdmirAmus Warm Chest51*43*20 Chills1037*2 High energy1052*20 Increased Heart rt1320*4 *=differs from amusement at p<.05

32 Results: Physical Feelings Video InductionDiary Study % reporting:ElevAdmirAmusElevAdmirAmus Warm Chest51*43* Chills1037*2628*2 High energy1052*201656*36 Increased Heart rt1320* *=differs from amusement at p<.05 --Elevation causes feelings in the chest (but all pos em’s do) --Admiration linked to chills and energy

33 Results: Changes in Motivations *=differs from amusement at p<.05 -4=much less, +4=much more Video InductionDiary Study ElevAdmirAmusElevAdmirAmus Do good deeds2.62*1.39*.44 Become better prsn2.28*1.57*.16 Emulate the other2.03*1.85*.33 Be successful1.82*2.70*.62

34 Results: Changes in Motivations *=differs from amusement at p<.05 --Elevation is linked to moral motivations -Admiration is linked to motivations to copy and work hard -4=much less, +4=much more Video InductionDiary Study ElevAdmirAmusElevAdmirAmus Do good deeds2.62*1.39* * Become better prsn2.28*1.57* *1.13*.49 Emulate the other2.03*1.85* *2.15*.49 Be successful1.82*2.70* *.49

35 B) Cross-Cultural Interviews Method: Structured interviews with small samples in --India --Japan (Yuki Amano) --among Born-again Christians (Carter Chandler) --among Palestinian Americans (Mona Hasan) Results: In all groups, we find linkage among --virtuous acts --feelings in body (chills or chest) --motivation to help others or work for a higher cause

36 Q: Have you ever had positive feelings due to something others did? A: Yes I have. For example, when there is a natural disaster in another country, those who actually go there and help people as volunteers…. Q: Can you explain the feelings in detail? A: I wonder if there is anything that I can do with my own strength. For example, donating money, giving clothes, and I have done that before myself.... I think how I could join those people even though what I have done is not much compared to what they do. Q: When you have these feelings, do you have any physical feeling? A: When I see news of a disaster, I feel pain in my chest, and tears actually come out when I read the newspaper. Then after that, seeing volunteers and finding out that there are helping people out there, the pain goes away, the heart brightens up [akarui] and I feel glad [yokatta], relieved [anshin], admiration [sugoi] and respect [sonkei]. When I see volunteers, the heart heavy from sad news become lighter.

37 Elevation and Suicide Bombing (Mona Hasan) Question: Does suicide bombing cause elevation? Participants: 36 Palestinians and Palestinian Americans recruited from a mosque in Northern Virginia, interviewed 11/01-2/02, during period of heavy suicide bombing in Israel Reem RiyashiReem Riyashi, 22 & daughter

38 Elevation and Suicide Bombing (Mona Hasan) Method: Structured interviews about 4 situations: 1) Good deed (“when you saw or heard about someone doing something good, kind, or compassionate for someone else”) 2) Self-sacrifice (“when you saw or heard about someone who risked or lost his life to further his cause”) 3) Rescue (“when you saw or heard about someone who risked or lost his life to help others, or save someone else’s life”) ) Achievement (“when you accomplished a goal”)

39 Results: % who mentionedGood Deed Self- Sacrifice RescueAchieve -ment Affect words: self-praising (pride, bold) other-praising (adm., awe, grat) 0* 32* 3* 31* 0* 62* 80 3 Physical symptoms: goosebumps, chills, chest, tears35*26*177 Motivations: Self-focused (celebrate, continue) Other-focused (help, emulate) 3* 74* 0* 83* 0* 72* 47 7 * = differs from achievement p<.05

40 Discussion of Suicide Bombings --Half were supportive, half ambivalent. None opposed. --Some mentions of revenge, hate, “negative” moral motives --No mentions of rewards in heaven --What feelings do you have when you hear about a successful suicide attack in Israel? Satisfaction (67%) happiness (61%), admiration (61%), gratitude (56%). Conclusions: --Self-sacrifice in suicide bombers often causes other- praising emotions in other members of the group. --These emotions include motivations to do the same thing --Terrorism is better understood as motivated by moral emotions than by free-floating “evil”

41 C) Physiology of Other-Praising Emotions (Gary Sherman) 1) Warm chest plus calm: --Parasympathetic activity + --Oxytocin? Endorphins? 2) Chills plus energy: --Parasympathetic activity + --Adrenaline? (no cortisol)

42 Lactation Study (Silvers & Haidt, 2008, Emotion) Method: --44 Lactating women come to lab with infant --insert nursing pad, watch neutral baseline video --watch elevation or amusement video (IV) --left alone for 5 minutes, behavior videotaped (DV) --nursing pads weighed (DV)

43 % of Mothers Who…. * * p=.06

44 Thomas Jefferson was here

45 When any …act of charity or of gratitude, for instance, is presented either to our sight or imagination, we are deeply impressed with its beauty and feel a strong desire in ourselves of doing charitable and grateful acts also. On the contrary when we see or read of any atrocious deed, we are disgusted with its deformity and conceive an abhorrence of vice..... And whether the fidelity of Nelson, and generosity of Blandford in Marmontel do not dilate his breast, and elevate his sentiments as much as any similar incident which real history can furnish? Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Robert Skipwith, 1771 Elevation: Discovered in Charlottesville!

46 When any …act of charity or of gratitude, for instance, is presented either to our sight or imagination, we are deeply impressed with its beauty and feel a strong desire in ourselves of doing charitable and grateful acts also. On the contrary when we see or read of any atrocious deed, we are disgusted with its deformity and conceive an abhorrence of vice..... And whether the fidelity of Nelson, and generosity of Blandford in Marmontel do not dilate his breast, and elevate his sentiments as much as any similar incident which real history can furnish? Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Robert Skipwith, 1771 Appraisal Action tendency Physical changes Affective phenom- enology Elevation: Discovered in Charlottesville!

47 Elevation and Disgust are Opposites DisgustElevation ElicitorPeople moving down, blurring human/animal divide People moving up, blurring human/god divide Physical feelingsGut (unpleasant)Chest (warm glow) Motiv. TendencySeparate, close off, reject Merge, open up, copy virtuous example ContaminationNegativePositive

48 Rembrandt: The Good Samaritan

49 Serrano: Piss Christ

50 Elevation opens people to new moral commitments “I can’t believe I just shook the Dalai Lama’s hand!” Jocelyn Diaz, a 21-year old senior, shouted… “I feel changed by this. You get so caught up with your life and then you see these people who are making so much of a difference.” “Attending even a single event can have a consciousness-raising effect,” said Christina Bull, a 19-year-old junior… “It just reminds you that there are people who care so much about causes,” she added. “It makes you want to get involved.”

51 Elevation and Politics Ask not...

52 It was a creed written into the founding documents that declared the destiny of a nation. Yes we can. It was whispered by slaves and abolitionists as they blazed a trail toward freedom. Yes we can. It was sung by immigrants as they struck out from distant shores and pioneers who pushed westward against an unforgiving wilderness. Yes we can. It was the call of workers who organized; women who reached for the ballots; a President who chose the moon as our new frontier; and a King who took us to the mountaintop and pointed the way to the Promised Land. Yes we can to justice and equality. Yes we can to opportunity and prosperity. Yes we can heal this nation. Yes we can repair this world. Yes we can. We know the battle ahead will be long, but always remember that no matter what obstacles stand in our way, nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change. (We want change.) We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics…they will only grow louder and more dissonant ……….. We’ve been asked to pause for a reality check. We’ve been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope. But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope. Now the hopes of the little girl who goes to a crumbling school in Dillon are the same as the dreams of the boy who learns on the streets of LA; we will remember that there is something happening in America; that we are not as divided as our politics suggests; that we are one people; we are one nation; and together, we will begin the next great chapter in the American story with three words that will ring from coast to coast; from sea to shining sea: Yes We Can.

53 Problem: No clear property lines Awe Elevation Admiration Inspiration

54 IV) Awe People report feeling awe towards so many things….

55

56

57 The Evolution of “Awe”: Starts with fear OED 1: From old Norse root “agi,” related to old English and German words meaning immediate and active fear; terror, dread. [Obs]. OED 2: “From its use in reference to the Divine Being this passes gradually into: Dread mingled with veneration, reverential or respectful fear; the attitude of a mind subdued to profound reverence in the presence of supreme authority, moral greatness or sublimity, or mysterious sacredness.”

58 Saul on the road to Damascus...suddenly a light from heaven flashed about him. And he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting; but rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one (Acts 9.3-7).

59 Krishna instructs Arjuna…..

60 Gives him a celestial eye... Arjuna: Things never seen before have I seen, and ecstatic is my joy; yet fear-and- trembling perturb by mind…. Krishna: Do works for Me, make Me your highest goal, be loyal-in-love to Me, cut off all other attachments.... (Gita, ) Awe  disorientation, loss of old self, commitment to new leader/goal. Awe is a reset button.

61 Awe joins up with Beauty OED 3. “The feeling of solemn and reverential wonder, tinged with latent fear, inspired by what is terribly sublime and majestic in nature, e.g. thunder, a storm at sea.” --Edmund Burke (1757) on the sublime: a feeling of expanded thought and greatness of mind that is produced by literature, poetry, painting, and viewing landscapes. --Two key features: power and obscurity –After 18th Cent. Awe becomes a kinder, gentler emotion. Link to fear and submission is weakened. Anything good becomes “totally awesome”

62 Modern American English: Anything surprising and impressive. Almost always good. Awe.jpg

63 A Theory of Awe (Keltner & Haidt, 2003) Many kinds of awe: at power, nature, skill, divinity, magic…. 2 Central appraisals: Vastness (Burke’s power) and Need for accommodation (Burke’s obscurity) 5 Peripheral or “flavoring” appraisals: Threat, Beauty, Ability, Virtue, Supernatural Evolutionary origins ? Adaptive submission to new power, then selecting best role models (Henrich & Gil-White) Function? Awe prepares the mind to switch identities, allegiances, ideas. (Rumsfeld used the word correctly. Obama uses the emotion effectively)

64 The Inspire and Rewire Hypothesis PTSD: Extraordinarily powerful experiences of fear flood the brain with cortisol/CRF/NE? leading to long- lasting changes in the amgydala and hippocampus. These changes are associated with personality changes that are experienced as greater negativity: fearfulness, irritability, and guilt. Extraordinarily powerful experiences of awe/elevation flood the brain with _____ leading to long-lasting changes in the ______. These changes are associated with personality changes that are experienced as greater positivity: love, moral growth, commitment to prosocial causes.

65 Applications (of awe, elevation, and admiration) 1) Moral development (with Jesse Graham) --Basic research on the emergence of elevation and admiration in elementary schools --Goal: design a moral development curriculum that uses other-praising emotions to foster change, malleability 2) Self-improvement (With Patrick Seder) --Can other-praising emotions catalyze psychotherapy? --Can admiration enhance exercise and weight loss? 3) Politics, rhetoric, charisma --What is the role of awe/charisma in voting? --What is the role of “moving” speech in moral persuasion?

66 The New Synthesis in Moral Psych 1) Intuitive primacy (but not dictatorship) --so look at the moral emotions 2) Moral thinking is for social doing --moral emotions change relationships 3) Morality binds and builds --pos moral emotions are about self- transcendence; I becomes WE 4) Morality is about more than harm and fairness --look to the ancients, and traditional morality, to broaden the narrow modern imagination

67 Thanks to.... Sara Algoe, Patrick Seder, Gary Sherman, Jennifer Silvers Templeton Foundation Papers & powerpoints available at:


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