Cross-cultural similarities and differences in the experience of awe


Current research on awe is limited to Western cultures. Thus, whether the measurement, frequency, and consequences of awe will replicate across non-Western cultures remains unanswered. To address this gap, we validated the dispositional awe scale (Shiota, Keltner, & John, 2006) in 4 countries (United States, Iran, Malaysia, and Poland; N = 1,173) with extensive variations in cultural values (i.e., power distance) and personality profiles (i.e., extraversion and openness). Multigroup factor analyses demonstrated that, across all cultures, a 3-factor model that treats awe, amusement, and pride as 3 unique emotions is superior to a single-factor model that clusters all 3 emotions together. Structurally, the scales of awe, amusement and pride were invariant across all countries. Furthermore, we found significant country-level differences in dispositional awe, with the largest discrepancy between the United States and Iran (d = 0.79); these differences are not likely due to cultural response biases. Results are discussed in terms of possible explanations for country-level differences and suggestions for future research.

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