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Admiration is thought to have essential functions for social interaction: it inspires us to learn from excellent models, to become better people, and to praise others and create social bonds. In intergroup relations, admiration for other groups leads to greater intergroup contact, cooperation, and help. Given these implications, it is surprising that admiration has only been researched by a handful of authors. In this article we review the literature, focusing on the definition of admiration, links to related emotions, measurement, antecedents, and associated behaviors. We propose a conceptual model of admiration that highlights admiration’s function for approaching and emulating successful models, thus contributing to social learning at the interpersonal level and to cultural transmission at the group and societal level.
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Running head: Admiration: knowns and unknowns
Admiration: A conceptual review of the knowns and unknowns
Diana Onu
, Thomas Kessler
, & Joanne R. Smith
University of Exeter,
Friedrich Schiller University
Abstract: 120 words
Text: 7,994 words
Total (including abstract, text, and references): 10,372 words
Corresponding author:
Diana Onu
University of Exeter, Business School
Streatham Court, Rennes Drive
Exeter EX4 4ST, UK
Published as: Onu, D., Kessler, T., & Smith, J. R. (in press). Admiration: A conceptual
review of the knowns and unknowns. Emotion Review. DOI: 10.1177/1754073915610438
Admiration is thought to have essential functions for social interaction: it inspires us to
learn from excellent models, to become better people, and to praise others and create
social bonds. In intergroup relations, admiration for other groups leads to greater
intergroup contact, cooperation, and help. Given these implications, it is surprising that
admiration has only been researched by a handful of authors. In this paper we review the
literature, focusing on the definition of admiration, links to related emotions,
measurement, antecedents, and associated behaviors. We propose a conceptual model of
admiration that highlights admiration’s function for approaching and emulating
successful models, thus contributing to social learning at the interpersonal level and to
cultural transmission at the group and societal level.
Keywords: admiration, role-models, social comparison, cultural transmission, social
Every year in the United States, the Gallup polling organization asks Americans
what man and woman are most worthy of their admiration. For the last six years, the
most admired man has been President Barack Obama; for the last twelve years, the most
admired woman has been former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (Jones, 2013).
Although the list is highly popular and stirs significant debate, one is left to wonder what
these rankings actually mean. What do they tell us about the qualities of those who are
admired or about the characteristics of those who admire? Do the results of such lists
serve as a barometer for where society is heading and predict future collective behavior?
Although we might intuit answers to these question, evidence to support our intuitions is
scarce – little empirical work has been conducted on admiration (Algoe & Haidt, 2009).
Admiration is seen to be a uniquely human emotion (Haidt & Seder, 2009). As a
social emotion, admiration has been theoretically linked to how people relate to role
models (Smith, 2000) and, on a wider scale, how it facilitates social learning within
groups (Fessler & Haley, 2003). It is also believed to play a part in positive behaviors
between social groups (Cuddy, Fiske, & Glick, 2007; Onu, Smith, & Kessler, 2014).
Given its links to multiple topics such as social comparison, cultural evolution, and
intergroup behavior, admiration is surprisingly little theorized or studied empirically. It
has been the focus of no more than a handful of authors, and a substantial amount of
ground remains uncovered. There are also interesting debates to settle: how is admiration
different from awe or envy; does admiration motivate modeling or does it induce passive
contemplation; and how might admiration facilitate social learning?
Admiration is an emotion with consequences at the individual, interpersonal, and
intergroup level. Admiration can help us understand why people choose certain role-
models and with what consequences, providing insights into children’s social
development (Algoe & Haidt, 2009). Understanding admiration can provide insight into
why some students appreciate their higher-achieving peers, being inspired to improve,
while others look upon them with passive resentment (Immordino-Yang & Sylvan,
2010). Knowing why people particularly admire certain leaders can help inform our
understanding of political influence and acceptance of social hierarchy (Sweetman,
Spears, Livingstone, & Manstead, 2013). Not least, studying admiration at a group level
can reveal how people manage to overcome the biases that favor their own group and
begin to appreciate other groups, learning from them and seeking cooperative relations
(Onu, Smith, et al., 2014).
In this paper, we present past results on admiration, while highlighting existing
debates and suggesting directions for future research. We explore the current state of
knowledge on admiration in five sections. The first four sections focus on definition,
measurement, elicitors, and action tendencies. For each of these aspects of admiration,
we present the ‘knowns’ and ‘unknowns’ and discuss specific directions for future
research. In the final section, we present a conceptual model of admiration – we construe
admiration as an emotion whose essential function is to support learning from and
emulating models of excellent skill or talent. As such, admiration has important functions
for social learning at the individual level and for cultural transmission at the societal level.
Definitional Issues
Admiration is an other-focused emotion (Ortony, Clore, & Collins, 1990; Smith,
2000) elicited by virtue or skill above standards (Immordino-Yang, McColl, Damasio, &
Damasio, 2009). Admiration is at the same time an acknowledgment of the superiority of
another person, as well as a sense of wonder at their excellence (McDougall, 1909); it can
be described as ‘surprise associated with pleasure’ (Darwin, 1872, cited in Algoe & Haidt,
2009). Although admiration for skill or virtue is seen to be uniquely human (Haidt &
Seder, 2009), other animals living in social hierarchies can display affiliation directed at
dominant individuals, which is seen to be related to admiration (Fessler & Gervais, 2010).
These definitions are consistent with the way admiration is employed in common
parlance as “regard for someone or something considered praiseworthy or excellent”
(‘Oxford English Dictionary’, n.d.) (for an extended discussion of the meaning and
etymology of admiration, see Schindler, Zink, Windrich, & Menninghaus, 2013).
However, Algoe and Haidt (2009) restrict the definition of admiration to the non-moral
domain, as being elicited by those individuals of skill or talent exceeding standards. By
contrast, the emotion elicited by virtue exceeding standards is termed ‘elevation’ (Haidt,
2000). In this paper, we adopt Algoe and Haidt’s narrow definition of admiration as an
emotion elicited by individuals of competence exceeding standards. The reason for
narrowing the definition of admiration from its broader sense in common parlance is
that admiration for skill and admiration for virtue (i.e., admiration and elevation) have
been shown to produce different consequences at physiological (Immordino-Yang et al.,
2009), and psychological and social (Algoe & Haidt, 2009) levels, which favors treating
them as distinct emotions (we discuss these differences below). While research interest in
elevation has increased in research years (e.g., Landis et al., 2009; Schnall, Roper, &
Fessler, 2010; Silvers & Haidt, 2008), thus addressing emotions elicited by highly virtuous
people, the current review aims to focus on the less investigated emotion elicited by
highly competent people – admiration.
Like many social emotions, admiration can manifest at various social levels
(individual, dyad, group; Keltner & Haidt, 1999). Interpersonal admiration has been
studied by emotion researchers (Algoe & Haidt, 2009; Immordino-Yang et al., 2009;
Smith, 2000) and in the social comparison literature (Van De Ven, Zeelenberg, & Pieters,
2011). Admiration as a group-based emotion (i.e., the emotion felt by an individual
towards outgroup members when they categorize themselves as an ingroup member,
Mackie, Devos, & Smith, 2000) has been investigated in the intergroup relations
literature, particularly in relation to stereotype content (Cuddy et al., 2007; Fiske, Cuddy,
Glick, & Xu, 2002) and group-based status hierarchies (Onu, Smith, et al., 2014;
Sweetman et al., 2013). The current review aims to integrate insights from these separate
lines of research and present a unitary definition of admiration.
An important step in determining admiration’s specificity is to distinguish it from
related emotions.
There is variation among authors regarding to which family of emotions
admiration belongs. Ortony and colleagues (1990) categorized admiration as an
appreciation emotion, together with appreciation, awe, esteem, and respect. Smith (2000)
included it in the category of upward assimilative emotions, together with optimism and
inspiration. Algoe and Haidt (2009) included admiration in the category of other-praising
emotions, together with gratitude and elevation. Past studies have looked at the
differences between admiration and elevation and gratitude (Algoe & Haidt, 2009;
Immordino-Yang et al., 2009), awe (Keltner & Haidt, 2003), adoration (Schindler et al.,
2013), and envy (Smith, 2000; Van De Ven et al., 2011) – Table 1 summarizes these
Knowns and Unknowns
Admiration involves feeling positive about the achievement of an excellent other.
But so do elevation, gratitude, and awe, and to understand more about admiration we
need to know how it differs from related emotions. Although some work has
distinguished admiration and gratitude (Algoe & Haidt, 2009) and admiration and
elevation (Algoe & Haidt, 2009; Immordino-Yang et al., 2009), no empirical work
distinguishes between admiration and awe. We discuss some possible avenues for future
research below.
The distinction between admiration and envy is also intriguing. As individuals, we
know that admiration feels pleasant and envy unpleasant, but why do such feelings arise?
Does envy feel unpleasant so it can motivate improvement in order to avoid negative
consequences associated with comparing to a better other (Van de Ven et al., 2011, Study
4), or, on the contrary, is admiration pleasant in order to attract people to role models
they can learn from (Henrich & Gil-White, 2001)? With limited empirical evidence on
either side of this question, further experimental contributions are needed to answer
these questions. In the section on admiration’s elicitors, we discuss some future research
avenues regarding the distinct elicitors of admiration and envy, as well as their
motivational role.
Future Directions
We mentioned that no empirical evidence distinguishes between admiration and
awe; however, theoretical premises can be used to construct testable hypotheses. Keltner
and Haidt (2003) proposed that admiration is felt toward excellent others and motivates
self-improvement, while awe is felt towards those who are of such exceptional ability that
all we can do in response is to passively wonder and assert our submission. This
distinction and its consequences are easily testable by experimentally varying the degree
of excellence in a comparison target. For instance, imagine a student interested in
computer science. Would he feel admiration or awe for a fellow student who is the best
in computer science in their class? How about a fellow student who manages to program
a very complex game in her spare time and goes on to win a national computer science
competition and a substantial cash prize? Theory would predict that admiration is the
more likely response in the former situation, while awe more likely in the latter.
The proposed distinctiveness of behaviors associated with admiration and awe
can also be tested based on Keltner and Haidt’s (2003) study. When the fellow student is
top of the class, the perceiver (who feels admiration) should feel inspired to learn from
her and feel motivated to achieve better grades. However, when comparing himself with
a national competition winner, he should feel higher levels of awe and not be motivated
to achieve a similar performance. In turn, he should exhibit submission, for example, by
being more likely to accept to work as the other student’s apprentice in her next project.
Such manipulation of an excellent target’s performance level in an experimental setting
provides the opportunity of testing the relationship between admiration and awe and the
consequences of each.
The example above relates to the important, yet unresolved, aspect of
admiration’s definition: its level of arousal and approach function (Russell, 1980). Several
works on admiration construed it as an emotion that facilitates the approach of
successful others and motivates the admirer to learn from these models (Algoe & Haidt,
2009; Haidt & Seder, 2009; Henrich & Gil-White, 2001; Smith, 2000), which suggests
that admiration is an approach emotion that is highly energizing (see also Immordino-
Yang & Sylvan, 2010). However, some writers describe admiration as a passive emotion
and relate it to passive relationship consequences (Cuddy et al., 2007; Van de Ven et al.,
2011). We discuss these differing points of view in the following sections.
This section discusses the methods used in studying admiration. We begin by
describing how admiration has been elicited in experimental studies, continue by
analyzing how it has been measured, and end by proposing additional measures that
could be employed in future research.
Eliciting Admiration
Research has generally elicited admiration by either asking people to think of
someone they admire or by presenting them with novel admirable models. To employ
reminiscence of past experiences, Algoe and Haidt (2009) asked participants to think of a
time when they witnessed an admirable person
(see also Schindler, Paech, &
Löwenbrück, 2015); similarly, Van de Ven (2010, Study 2) simply asked participants to
remember a situation in which they felt admiration.
Consistent with the view that the essential cognitive appraisal preceding
admiration is the skill or virtue of another, researchers have also used novel role models
to elicit admiration. Algoe and Haidt (2009, Study 2a) elicited admiration using a video
taken from a documentary about basketball star Michael Jordan “and depicted scenes of
him ‘flying’ through the air to dunk the basketball into the net” (p. 113). In a follow-up
study (2b), the authors asked participants to keep a diary of events of the type they saw in
the video of the previous study, therefore creating the opportunity for admiration to be
elicited by a wide range of events participants encountered in their daily lives (for other
studies using novel models to elicit admiration, see Immordino-Yang et al., 2009; Van De
Ven et al., 2011).
Measuring Admiration
Self-report – Emotion lists. Research from the stereotype content model has
assessed group-based admiration using lists of emotion items: admiring, fond, inspired, proud,
respectful (Fiske et al., 2002) or admiring and proud (Cuddy et al., 2007). Algoe and Haidt
(2009) also used a list of emotion words and, using factor analysis, identified an
‘admiration’ factor composed of: admiration, respect, moved, inspired, and awe.
Self-report – Appraisals-based scales. Onu, Kessler, and colleagues (2014;
Study 1) measured group-based admiration by assessing the appraisals associated with
In study 1, Algoe and Haidt (2009) used the prompt “Please think of a specific time when you witnessed
someone overcoming adversity. Please pick a situation in which someone else successfully overcame an
obstacle or handicap”, but they discovered that this prompt elicited stories involving admiration mixed in
with several other emotions. They therefore abandoned that prompt and adopted the more focused
prompt in Study 3, asking participants to write a letter to someone they know “about a time when that
person displayed great skill or talent, for which they felt admiration” (J. Haidt, personal communication,
admiration by adapting a scale previously used to measure awe (Shiota, Keltner, & John,
2006)In a follow-up study, the scale was reduced to three items and adapted to measure
admiration in a specific domain (Onu, Smith, et al., 2014; Study 1) (for an alternative
scale measuring admiration, see also Schindler et al., 2015).
Autonomic nervous system (ANS) response. Only one study, to our
knowledge, has included physiological measures of admiration (Immordino-Yang et al.,
2009). The authors measured heart rate and respiration rate as independent measures of
emotional arousal. Their results indicated an energizing function of elevation, but not of
Brain state. Immordino-Yang and colleagues (2009), as reported above,
investigated admiration and elevation as distinct emotions, revealing communalities as
well as differences in the localization of these emotions. All of the social emotions
investigated (admiration, elevation, compassion) engaged some of the same brain regions
employed by primary emotions (anterior insula, anterior cingulate cortex), while also
engaging the posteromedial cortices, an area linked to making inferences about another
person’s state of mind or beliefs.
Knowns and unknowns
Most studies on admiration have employed self-report measures, and only one
study employed some ANS response and brain state measures. A much wider range of
methods could potentially be used, which could provide important theoretical insights
into the nature of admiration. Please see Table 2 for a summary of the methods
employed in the study of admiration, along with the dimensions of admiration that could
be tested employing these methods (Mauss & Robinson, 2009). Below, we outline some
limitations and caveats of current methods, as well as suggestions for the employment of
additional methodologies.
Future Directions
To measure admiration, most studies have used self-report measures, such as
scales or single-item measures. Self-report measures increase in accuracy when they relate
to currently experienced emotions rather than emotions one has felt in the past (Mauss &
Robinson, 2009). Based on this evidence, studies eliciting admiration for a novel target
using a narrative might yield more valid results than those asking participants to
remember a time when they felt admiration. Narratives, on the other hand, may impose
situations on participants that may not reflect their individual experience of the emotion.
One solution to measure individually-experienced current emotion is to ask participants
to keep a diary of specific emotional events (see Algoe & Haidt, 2009; Study 2b). Self-
report measures are also affected by participants’ motivation to respond in a socially
desirable way. Most research has focused on participants playing down their ratings of
negative emotions (Mauss & Robinson, 2009); however, the same effect may lead
participants to report higher admiration, especially when positive and negative emotions
are addressed in the same study. As well, in certain circumstances, feeling admiration
could be socially undesirable. Evidence suggests, for instance, that lower status social
groups might feel favorably towards higher status groups, although they will not report
this in self-report measures (Jost, Banaji, & Nosek, 2004). These limitations need to be
considered when using self-report measures.
Self-report measures seem the obvious first step in researching a relatively
unstudied emotion such as admiration, but other methods could be employed as
complements. For instance, ANS response measures (e.g., electrodermal and
cardiovascular responses) would be very useful in determining the level of arousal
associated with admiration. ANS response has only been measured in one study, as a
secondary measure with a very small sample (Immordino-Yang et al., 2009). Given the
debates surrounding the passive or active nature of admiration described earlier, the
measurement of this ANS response could advance theory on admiration by indicating its
level of arousal compared to other emotions. Another debated issue is admiration’s place
on the approach-avoidance continuum (Russell, 2003). Electroencephalographical (EEG)
assessment of frontal activation in the brain is related to approach motivation (left
hemisphere) and avoidance motivation (right hemisphere) in emotional assessment
(Mauss & Robinson, 2009). EEG has not been employed in the measurement of
admiration, and this method could shed light on the approach-avoidance nature of this
Behavioral measures have not been employed in the measurement of admiration.
These measures might include the identification of vocal characteristics (amplitude,
pitch), unique facial expression, whole-body behavior, and so on (Mauss & Robinson,
2009). Based on the assumption that discrete emotions have such strong individuality in
facial expression and behavior that they are recognizable by an observer (Ekman, 1992),
future research should describe the unique observable features accompanying admiration.
Based on such a list of features, research could employ observer ratings alongside other
measures of admiration, by-passing some of the issues surrounding self-report discussed
above. Furthermore, vocal characteristics such as pitch are related to the degree of
emotional activation (Bänziger & Scherer, 2005), so the study of pitch in admiration
could help clarify whether admiration is indeed an energizing emotion.
Elicitors of Admiration
In this review, we work within a largely consensual (Mauss & Robinson, 2009)
model of emotions according to which specific emotions arise from distinct cognitive
appraisals of the social context (named here as ‘elicitors’ and treated in the current
section; Roseman, 1996) and are followed by tendencies to perform specific behavior
(named in this paper as ‘actions’; Frijda, 1986). This model of emotion also extends to
group-based emotions – emotions are not only elicited by stimuli relevant to individuals,
but also to our social identities and group memberships (Mackie et al., 2000). Both the
elicitors and actions give emotions their specificity but are also instrumental in
understanding the functionality of emotions. We begin by describing the elicitors of
We defined admiration as the emotion elicited by those of competence exceeding
standards (in line with Algoe & Haidt, 2009). This definition is also consistent with
research conducted in an intergroup setting, where Fiske et al. (2002) found that
admiration characterizes how group members feel toward out-groups that are seen to be
competent, regardless of whether they are perceived as warm or not (Study 4). In the
social comparison literature, admiration is seen to be the positive emotion elicited during
upward comparison (Smith, 2000; Van De Ven et al., 2011), leading to the view that
admiration is elicited when the admirer is less competent than the admired. While it may
often be the case that admiration is elicited when the perceiver is less competent than the
target of admiration, admiration can also occur when people are equally competent, but
both of a level of skill or performance exceeding standards. For instance, an
accomplished athlete can admire another equally-accomplished athlete, recognizing her
Some studies have focused on competence in the context of hierarchies (i.e.
status or prestige), as well as competence as understood within particular social groups
(i.e. prototypicality). We review these results below.
Status. When people are perceived as highly competent, they are also often seen
to be of higher status or prestige within a group, although this is not always the case
(Fiske, 1991). Therefore, while admiration is elicited by others’ high competence, it may
sometimes, but not always, also be elicited by perceptions of others’ social status.
Henrich and Gil-White (2001) proposed the existence of two types of hierarchies in
social groups: dominance-hierarchies and prestige-hierarchies. While dominance
hierarchies are imposed by threat and aggression, in prestige hierarchies one’s place on
the social ladder is earned by possessing certain socially-valued attributes (such as
excellent skills or abilities). Admiration only occurs in prestige hierarchies, and not in
dominance hierarchies (Fessler & Haley, 2003). These results are supported by
sociometric research in school groups, showing that children of high-status and low-
dominance elicit more admiration than their higher-status and highly-dominant
counterparts (Lease, Musgrove, & Axelrod, 2002).
Legitimacy. Another way to express the concept of ‘earned prestige’ – captured
by Henrich and Gil-White’s (2001) prestige hierarchies described above – is to refer to
the legitimacy of status – how deserved do people believe another’s social position to be.
Onu, Smith, and colleagues (2014) showed that group-based admiration is elicited by
groups of higher status only when their high position in the status hierarchy is perceived
to be highly legitimate (for similar results, see also Sweetman et al., 2013; Van De Ven et
al., 2011).
Prototypicality. Competence and status, however, depend greatly on the social
context. If admiration is elicited by people of competence exceeding standards, it is
important to define whose standards constitute the benchmark. For instance, a person
admired for their physical fitness in a body-building competition will probably not elicit
the same response in a ballet hall – the definition of what is admirable fitness shifts with
the norms and characteristics of the social group. Admiration within a social group will
be elicited by the group-defined competence: a group member’s prototypicality (Oakes,
Haslam, & Turner, 1998). The prototypicality of other ingroup members is likely to
become important (and therefore be admired) when one is invested in (identifies with)
that particular group (Turner, Hogg, Oakes, Reicher, & Wetherell, 1987). Onu, Kessler,
and collagues (2014) looked at the dynamics of prototypicality and identification in
relation to group-based admiration. They surveyed participants in various European
countries, asking them how they rated other countries in terms of competence and
prototypicality for Europe (i.e. how representative they are of European culture). When
participants identified strongly with Europe, their feelings of admiration for European
countries other than their own were more related to their prototypicality (i.e., how typical
for Europe they were perceived to be) and less related to how competent in general they
perceived that country to be.
Appraisals of very high competence in others, however, could also elicit other
emotions, such as envy (Smith & Kim, 2007) or awe (Keltner & Haidt, 2003). Several
authors proposed that an additional appraisal that leads to the elicitation of admiration is
that of the attainability of a higher level of competence by the admirer.
In the context of upward comparison, Smith (2000) proposed that admiration
occurs only when people believe they have the potential to become like the admired.
Algoe and Haidt (2009) consider admiration’s motivational output to be inspiration
(Thrash & Elliot, 2004) to pursue one’s goals, which in turn is more likely to occur when
the target’s position is attainable (Lockwood & Kunda, 1997; Schindler et al., 2013). This
is also consistent with the view that admiration evolved to facilitate learning from role
models (Haidt & Seder, 2009; Henrich and Gil-White, 2001) – if admiration is functional
for improvement, then it should become active only when improvement is possible. In
the same vein, Onu, Smith, and colleagues (2014) found similar effects for group-based
admiration. By manipulating how likely improvement was for the group, they found that
participants reported higher levels of admiration for an outgroup only when they
believed their own group was likely to improve in the future. However, Van de Ven and
colleagues (2010, Study 4) report the opposite effect, finding higher levels of admiration
when change is unattainable.
Knowns and Unknowns
High competence has been the focus of most research concerning the
antecedents of admiration. Whether authors define it as general competence (Cuddy et
al., 2007; Fiske et al., 2002) or related concepts, such as skill or talent (Algoe & Haidt,
2009), legitimate status (Onu, Smith, et al., 2014; Sweetman et al., 2013), or
prototypicality (Onu, Kessler, et al., 2014), they seem to generally agree that possessing a
degree of excellence is a prerequisite for being admired. Nonetheless, research conducted
on this category of elicitors offers opportunities to extend the results to different levels
of analysis and test results at the intergroup and interpersonal level respectively. We
discuss some possible avenues below. For a general overview of research on
admiration’s elicitors, please refer to Table 3.
Future Directions
Little empirical work overall has focused on the elicitors of admiration. One of
the interesting avenues for future research is the relation of admiration to prototypicality
for a particular group. If admiration is elicited by people of competence exceeding
standards, then it is important to explore whose standards are considered. Considering
prototypicality (defined in terms of the group’s ideal; van Knippenberg, 2011) as an
antecedent of admiration would help clarify the way in which group-defined standards
determine when admiration is elicited. For instance, research could test whether
members of a group who are seen as more prototypical do indeed elicit more admiration
from other group members. An interesting expansion of this research could be to
experimentally manipulate the extent to which a person identifies with one group or
another (e.g., by asking them to spend time thinking about what they have in common or
how they are different from other group members). We would expect admiration for
highly prototypical individuals to be stronger for perceivers who identify highly with the
group. Given that social group members often choose leaders who best embody the
identity of their group (Haslam, Reicher, & Platow, 2012), admiration might describe the
emotional response of followers towards prototypical leaders.
Another issue related to the excellence of the admiration target concerns the
domain of excellence. Smith (2000) argued that admiration occurs in those domains that
are relevant and important to the self and one’s goals. Van de Ven et al. (2011), on the
other hand, proposed the opposite – admiration will occur for high performing others in
domains that are not directly relevant (and thus not threatening) to the admirer. None of
these studies, though, assessed how important the domain was for the person, and
exploring the moderating role of goal relevance of the domain would be a good avenue
for further research.
The most striking contradiction in empirical data so far relates to the conditions
under which others’ competence becomes an elicitor for admiration. Here, more
empirical work is needed to elucidate the role of attainability in the elicitation of
admiration. As shown earlier, while some results suggest that attainable performance
leads to admiration (Onu, Smith, et al., 2014), others suggest that, on the contrary,
unattainable conditions lead to admiration (Van de Ven et al., 2011). Both assumptions
stem from a functionalist view of admiration. Those who believe that admiration is
energizing for self-improvement (following the theoretical conception of Henrich & Gil-
White, 2001) will assume that it is only natural for admiration to be activated only when
improvement is possible. However, Van de Ven and colleagues’ (2011) argument is based
on data demonstrating that admiration (as opposed to benign envy) is a pleasant but
passive state, so it only makes sense for its activation to occur with unattainable higher
One possible explanation for Van de Ven and colleagues’ (2011) contrasting
result may be their experimental situation. Across four studies, the target of admiration
was a capable fellow student. In Study 4, they introduced attainability as control over
one’s fate (by priming that intelligence is either malleable or fixed). They found that
participants in the attainable conditions (who believe intelligence is malleable) felt greater
envy for a superior student and marginally lower levels of admiration; this result was
interpreted to show that there is a negative relationship between appraisals of attainability
and admiration. However, the experimental situation may have signaled a particular type
of attainability: past feasibility, the perception that ‘it could have been me’, as opposed to
future feasibility (i.e., expectations that we will achieve our goal in the future, ‘it could be
me’) (Cook, Crosby, & Hennigan, 1977). Although both past and future feasibility reflect
expectations of goal attainability, they produce very different effects following
comparison with a better other – high past feasibility is associated with higher resentment
and higher defensive reactions following upward social comparison, while high future
feasibility is associated with lower resentment (Bernstein & Crosby, 1980). Therefore, the
manner in which attainability is defined and manipulated will probably produce different
consequences for admiration. Future research can elucidate the role of attainability by
disentangling the two forms of past and future attainability and their relation to
admiration. We suggest that attainability as a future-focused perspective is the dimension
essential for a motivating effect of admiration (see also Onu, Smith, et al., 2014).
One of the most interesting aspects of admiration is what it does, the kind of
behaviors it facilitates. Below, we discuss the consequences of admiration as they occur
at the intraindividual level (consequences for the admirer), interpersonal level or
intergroup level for group-based admiration (consequences for the relationship), and
group and cultural level (consequences for the group) (Keltner & Haidt, 1999).
Consequences for the Admirer
Algoe and Haidt (2009) found that admiration will be experienced physically as
an energizing sensation that motivates modeling and working harder towards one’s
success. To facilitate imitation, admirers are likely to display heightened attention to the
skill displayed, display prolonged gazes at the target, and seek their proximity (Henrich &
Gil-White, 2001). Similarly, Schindler and colleagues (2015) have found that admiration
leads to self-expansion through the emulation of an outstanding model. In an intergroup
context, Onu, Smith, and colleagues (2014) have also found that group-based admiration
is associated with a desire for intergroup learning. However, in a series of studies
assessing admiration’s relation to actual performance on a task, Van de Ven and
colleagues (2011) found that admiration does not stimulate higher performance.
Consequences for the Relationship
Algoe and Haidt (2009) also found specific relationship consequences following
admiration; participants who felt admiration reported intentions to enhance the
reputation of the admired target by praising them to others, and to acknowledge their
performance. Several studies link group-based admiration with positive consequences for
intergroup relations. Surveying the attitudes of U.S. participants towards a variety of
ethnic, professional, or social groups, Cuddy et al. (2007) demonstrated a positive link
between intergroup admiration to two categories of behavior towards outgroups: active
facilitation (helping and protecting others) and passive facilitation (cooperating or
associating with others. Onu, Smith, and colleagues (2014) also found evidence that
group-based admiration is associated with willingness to receive help from an admired
outgroup. In a study on national group members’ reactions to more successful countries,
they found that admiration for a high-performing outgroup is related only to a desire for
autonomy-related help (e.g., receiving training or guidance to improve) from a higher-
status outgroup but not dependency-oriented help (e.g., donations). Admiration also
characterizes how people feel towards those they see as allies and with whom they wish
to cooperate (Brewer, Alexander, Mackie, & Smith, 2002).
Consequences for the Group
Henrich and Gil-White (2001) propose that admiration has a unique function for
cultural transmission in human groups; admiration facilitates the approach of skillful
group members and the learning of skills from them, thus facilitating the diffusion of
excellent skills throughout the group. These admired individuals are also praised for their
skill, increasing their prestige within the group. The authors suggest that subordinates’
admiration towards superiors characterizes a particular type of social hierarchy that is
based on earned prestige. Sweetman and colleagues (2013) tested the effect of admiration
on social hierarchy and found that admiration for higher-status members promotes
hierarchy maintenance.
Knowns and Unknowns
For the perceiver, admiration has been found to be associated with imitation
intentions and an increased motivation to improve, for both individual (Algoe & Haidt,
2009; Schindler et al., 2015) and group-based admiration (Onu, Smith, et al., 2014),
although some empirical findings cast doubt on admiration’s energizing role on actual
performance (Van De Ven et al., 2011). As a social emotion, admiration also affects how
the perceiver relates to the admiration target. Admiration is associated with wishing to
praise the admired targets (Algoe & Haidt, 2009), associate or cooperate with them
(Cuddy et al., 2007), or receive their guidance (Onu, Smith, et al., 2014). Admiration is
also involved in the maintenance of social hierarchy in groups (Sweetman et al., 2013; see
also Michel, Wallace, & Rawlings, 2013), at least when these hierarchies are based on
earned prestige (Henrich & Gil-White, 2001). Please see Table 4 for an overview of the
action tendencies associated with admiration.
Future Directions
One of the disputed – and most interesting – aspects of admiration is its potential
to motivate self-improvement. First, evidence to support the energizing potential of
admiration is limited, and more physiological response measures could be employed to
test whether admiration is actually energizing (as discussed in relation to measures of
admiration). If admiration does motivate improvement, it is not clear whether it only
motivates improvement in the specific domain of admiration and through copying the
admired (as suggested by Henrich & Gil-White, 2001; Smith, 2000) or if it produces a
general feeling of motivation towards becoming better in a variety of domains (as
suggested by empirical evidence in Algoe & Haidt, 2009). These are valid questions for
future research. Regarding self-improvement, of the few available empirical results, most
studies employed scales measuring learning or self-improvement intentions. However,
the inclusion of behavioral measures would represent a stronger test of the motivational
effect of admiration. The effect of admiration on learning can easily be tested through
recall tasks, and the effects on motivation through motivation-sensitive tasks (e.g., the
Remote Associates Task used by Van de Ven et al., 2011, Study 2).
In terms of relationship consequences, researchers generally agree that admiration
has a variety of positive (i.e., approach) consequences, such as contact, receiving help,
cooperation, or praising the admired. However, it is difficult to say whether admiration
facilitates positive intentions or actual positive behavior. Given that the studies cited
above measured only intentions and have not included any behavioral measures, this is a
good avenue for advancing research. One notable exception is Pettigrew (1998) who
measured the actual number of out-group friends participants have. For example, in
relation to group-based admiration, in addition to asking participants how they feel
towards outgroups and to report their intentions for intergroup contact, participants
could also be asked to sign up for inter-group contact activities, or to donate to charities
organizing inter-group activities and exchanges. If admiration does indeed motivate
positive intergroup contact as discussed earlier, then it should not only be reflected in
reported intentions, but also in intergroup behavior.
In the previous sections, we focused on past research on admiration, highlighting
specific directions for future research in relation to the antecedents and consequences of
admiration. Below, we integrate insights from past research and recent developments in
emotion theory to propose a conceptual model of admiration.
Admiration – A Conceptual Model
In line with existing research on admiration (Algoe & Haidt, 2009; Fessler &
Haley, 2003; Haidt & Seder, 2009; Henrich & Gil-White, 2001; Smith, 2000), we propose
that admiration’s essential function is to facilitate social learning in the competence
domain. We restrict the definition of admiration to the competence domain, although
admiration in common parlance can also be used to denote the emotion elicited by highly
virtuous individuals (i.e., occurring in the moral domain). However, admiration as
discussed in this review refers only to the competence domain in order to differentiate it
from the positive emotion felt towards virtuous others, termed elevation (Haidt, 2000), as
discussed earlier. Such ‘competence exceeding standards’ can take many forms (such as
legitimate social status or prototypicality, as discussed above). As illustrated in Figure 1,
we propose that admiration is elicited by people of competence exceeding standards, and
is associated with reflection on the target’s competence and a tendency towards imitation,
which facilitates social learning.
By competence exceeding standards we refer to the admiration target’s
performance, ability, or skill, relative to social standards. Such standards are contextual
and will depend on the frame of reference employed for comparison. For instance,
someone may be admired for their sales pitch skill in their particular call centre, but not
in the wider sales industry. What is meant by performance or ability will also be defined
in context; for instance, an athlete can admire another athlete of much lower sporting
ranking, knowing that he has overcome considerable disadvantage and achieved against
odds. As such, they would not admire his sporting performance, but his perseverance or
capacity to maintain focus exceeding standards. To understand the situations when
admiration occurs, one needs to pinpoint within the context of the relationship the
relevant standards that apply and the relevant skill or trait that is admired.
Reflection on the Target’s Competence
In a recent theoretical paper, Baumeister, Vohs, DeWall, and Zhang (2007)
challenge the commonly held assumption that emotions directly cause behavior, and
propose that an essential function of emotions is to provide feedback and encourage
reflection on the emotion stimulus in order to facilitate learning. For instance, feeling
ashamed informs the person about the transgression of social norms and encourages
them to reflect on the nature of norms and learn how to avoid such transgression in the
future. The conception of emotions as serving a learning function is particularly relevant
for admiration and its role in facilitating social learning. Applied to admiration, this
would suggest that admiration serves to focus attention on the admired skills and
facilitates memorizing these skills for future use. After all, much of social learning is not
applied immediately but stored in order to be employed in the future as appropriate
(Bandura, 1977). The view that admiration focuses individuals on the particular skills or
techniques to be learned is consistent with admiration’s association with prolonged stares
(Henrich & Gil-White, 2001) and contemplation of the target (Van De Ven et al., 2011).
Onu, Smith, and colleagues (2014) have also found that higher admiration is associated
with higher recall of information about the competent target, suggesting a role for
admiration in facilitating memorizing of the admiration stimulus.
Social learning is contingent on a range of processes such as heightened attention,
information processing, and memory (Bandura, 1977). Considering that “emotion’s role
is to focus attention on certain information and instigate further cognitive processing of
it” (Baumeister et al., 2007, p. 187), it seems pertinent that admiration would be involved
in instigating the heightened attention and cognitive processes that facilitate social
learning. The importance of reflecting on the admired target’s competence in order to
learn their skill is consistent with theory of goal implementation that posits two distinct
tasks for the individual pursuing a goal: a deliberative task, where the person decides on
the best course of action for goal pursuit, and an implementation stage, focused on
implementing these actions (for an overview, see Gollwitzer & Bayer, 1999). For
example, consider an aspiring guitarist taking part in a workshop delivered by an expert
guitar player. Admiring the expert’s mastery in playing the guitar, he would probably first
pay very close attention to the different actions of the expert and decide which one is
most likely to produce a specific sound (the deliberative stage) and then attempt to
imitate the expert’s action thought most likely to produce a the desired sound (the
implementation stage). Therefore, we propose that admiration facilitates the focus of
attention and cognitive resources to reflect on how the admired person achieves their
performance or skill, and this step is likely to be particularly important in the case of
complex actions (Gollwitzer & Bayer, 1999).
The proposition that admiration is related to attention and cognitive processing
preceding social learning can be subject to empirical exploration, for instance by using
eye gaze measures to explore attention focus or recall tasks to test memory effects. On a
broader theoretical level, admiration as an emotion performing a learning function is an
ideal candidate for further exploring the role of emotions in encouraging feedback and
reflection on the emotion stimulus (Baumeister et al., 2007).
Admiration, however, is not just associated with reflection; it energizes the
admirer towards social learning. Algoe and Haidt (2009) found that participants reported
admiration to be associated with increased energy, heart rate, and muscle tension,
suggesting action readiness. We argue that this action readiness is geared towards
emulating the skill of the target, so that admiration is associated with an action tendency
(Frijda, 1986) to imitate the admired skill or technique. This tendency to imitate is
supported by admiration’s association with intentions to learn from the admired person
or group (Algoe & Haidt, 2009; Onu, Smith, et al., 2014; Schindler et al., 2015; Sweetman
et al., 2013), and reflects admiration’s function for social learning (Fessler & Haley, 2003;
Haidt & Seder, 2009; Henrich & Gil-White, 2001). As noted earlier, however, empirical
evidence for its energizing role is equivocal. However, the proposition that admiration is
associated with an action tendency for social learning does not imply that the act of
imitation will occur each time a person feels admiration. Whether imitation of an
admired model does occur will depend on contextual and motivational factors, such as
whether modeling is appropriate in the situation (Bandura, 1977) and whether it is
consistent with the person’s goals (Gergely, Bekkering, & Király, 2002). Drawing on
goal-directed action research, likely moderators of the relationship between admiring and
reflecting on the target’s competence, on the one hand, and pursuing imitation, on the
other, are the feasibility of imitation (whether it can be done at the time) and its
desirability (whether it is beneficial within the given context) (Gollwitzer & Bayer, 1999).
Rather than seeking to establish whether admiration does instigate behavior or not, it
may be more useful for future research to look at such moderating variables in the
relation of admiration to modeling.
Thus, we propose that admiration is associated with a tendency to imitate the
admired target, but that motivational and situational factors will determine whether the
act of imitation does occur. Algoe and Haidt (2009) have found that participants report
feeling more energized to achieve their goals in general, and not only to imitate the
specific admired skill. This tendency to pursue general achievement may be due to
participants not necessarily admiring the particular skill of the admiration target, but a
higher-order ability or trait (such as perseverance or ambition). It may also be due to a
general propensity of positive emotions to encourage self-transcendence, including
working harder to pursue one’s goals (Fredrickson, 2001).
Social Functions of Admiration
We propose reflection and imitation as the immediate consequences of
admiration, serving its social learning function. However, as a social emotion, admiration
has a range of secondary consequences at various social levels (Keltner & Haidt, 1999),
which we have discussed earlier. We will briefly reiterate some of the consequences
below in order to discuss the broader social functions of admiration.
Because admiration is elicited by competence exceeding standards, it can perform
a communication function (Keltner & Kring, 1998), signaling to the admired person that
they possess an admirable performance or skill. Little attention has been given in
admiration research to how admiration regulates the relationship between the admirer
and the admired person. There is some indication that the admirer will seek proximity
with the admired person (Henrich & Gil-White, 2001) and that admiration is associated
with increased willingness to receive help (Onu, Smith, et al., 2014), but there is little
indication of what the admired person will do in response to being admired. Since
admiration would signal to them that they possess a prestigious skill, being admired
should signal to the person that they possess high status (Henrich & Gil-White, 2001),
which in turn would elicit pride (Tracy, Shariff, & Cheng, 2010). As such, being admired
would be rewarding and the admired person should be motivated to prolong contact by
accepting and encouraging the admirer’s proximity and sharing their skills. Admiration
should thus be involved in a host of relationships based on skill sharing, such as teacher-
student or group leader-follower relationships. Group-based admiration, as well, should
regulate relations between social groups, such as helping, knowledge-transfer, and
cooperation relations (Cuddy et al., 2007; Onu, Smith, et al., 2014).
Ultimately, due to its function of signaling to the admired person that they are
recognized by the admirer as excellent and of high social standing, admiration will serve
to regulate merit-based hierarchy at group level (as shown in Sweetman et al., 2013).
While pride has been shown to be involved in hierarchy regulation as individuals signal
their own higher status by displaying pride (Tracy et al., 2010), admiration may signal the
recognition of higher status in others.
On a broader cultural level, the social learning from skilful individuals facilitated
by admiration will lead to the transmission of skills and techniques among members of
the social group (Henrich & Gil-White, 2001; see also Boyd & Richerson, 1985). Indeed,
some authors propose that admiration has evolved in order to facilitate such skill
transmission (Haidt & Seder, 2009). Therefore, on the most inclusive level of human
society, admiration serves an essential function for cultural transmission.
Admiration for others encourages people to learn valuable skills (Immordino-
Yang & Sylvan, 2010) and praise those of extraordinary talent (Algoe & Haidt, 2009).
Admiration for other groups helps build positive intergroup relationships, even between
groups of unequal status (Onu, Smith, et al., 2014). Given its role and potential
implications, it is surprising that so little research has been conducted on admiration, in
psychology (Haidt & Seder, 2009) or the broader social sciences (Storey, 2011), although
this does reflect a general tendency to focus emotion research on basic, negative
emotions rather than complex, social emotions (Haidt & Morris, 2009; Immordino-Yang,
The study of admiration may help inform a variety of research areas. Haidt and
Seder (2009) propose that admiration has evolved to facilitate social learning, and the
study of admiration can provide insight into one of the psychological mechanisms that
underlies the cultural evolution of complex human societies (Boyd & Richerson, 1985). It
can also provide insight into how we relate to the talented individuals in our societies and
why we bestow them with higher social status (Henrich & Gil-White, 2001), and how we
maintain and regulate such status hierarchies (Sweetman et al., 2013). Admiration may
also provide insight into the nature of upward social comparison, and what drives people
to prefer upward comparison targets in certain situations (Collins, 1996).
The study of admiration is also valuable for advancing emotion theory. We
proposed that attention and cognitive processing of the admired stimulus is an essential
outcome of admiration, in line with the view that many emotions encourage feedback
rather than immediate action tendency (Baumeister et al., 2007). Given its links to
reflection and learning, admiration is an ideal candidate to illustrate the feedback and
learning functions of emotion. As well, the study of admiration would contribute to
understanding the less-investigated positive emotions (Fredrickson, 2001), and in
particular positive social emotions (Haidt & Morris, 2009). The case of admiration
provides support for the self-transcendence effect of such positive social emotions
(Haidt & Morris, 2009), although this self-transcendence occurs in the competence and
skill domain, and not in the moral domain as in the case of those emotions investigated
in past research. As the study of admiration also needs to distinguish it from related
states and emotions, it should inform the communalities and differences of admiration
and related emotions, such as awe (Keltner & Haidt, 2003), elevation (Haidt, 2000;
Schnall et al., 2010; Silvers & Haidt, 2008), adoration (Schindler et al., 2013), and envy
(Smith & Kim, 2007), and the related motivational state of inspiration (Thrash & Elliot,
Although the knowns about admiration point to a fascinating emotion, the
empirical evidence is limited, and there is room and scope for further development. The
unknowns in admiration research are equally fascinating, and we have suggested several
routes for further research looking at the role of admiration in how people relate to the
most talented individuals, in how they learn from them, and ultimately how admiration
contributes to wider cultural transmission.
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Table 1.
Admiration and related emotions - Summary
Distinction from Admiration
Theoretical predictions Empirical evidence
Valence Elicitors Actions Valence Elicitors Behaviors
Elevation Same
Elevation is
elicited by
admiration by
(Algoe &
Haidt, 2009)
motivates being
kind to others,
while admiration
motivates self-
(Algoe & Haidt,
Algoe and
Haidt (2009)
Algoe and
Haidt (2009)
Gratitude Same
Gratitude is
elicited by
beneficiary of
another’s moral
admiration and
elevation are
repaying the
benefactor, while
admiration only
praising the
admired to
others (Algoe &
Algoe and
Haidt (2009)
Algoe and
Haidt (2009)
elicited by
witnessed, but
not targeted to
the self (Algoe
& Haidt, 2009
Haidt, 2009)
Awe Same
Admiration is
elicited by
excellence in
others, while
awe is elicited
by ability so
that it is
difficult to
grasp (Keltner
& Haidt, 2003)
motivates self-
awe motivates
and submission
(Keltner &
Haidt, 2003)
No empirical
No empirical
Envy Opposite
(envy has a
Authors agree
that both envy
and admiration
are elicited by
the competence
of others, but
some authors
believe that
Admiration is
either viewed as
an energizing
motivating self-
improvement, as
opposed to envy
(Smith, 2000;
Van de
Ven et al.
- Admiration
occurs in
Onu, Smith,
et al. (2014)
- Admiration
occurs in
- Admiration
is energizing:
Algoe and
Haidt (2009);
Yang et al.
- Admiration
admiration is
triggered by
believing the
target’s ability
is attainable for
the self (e.g.,
Smith, 2000),
while others
support the
opposite view
(Van de Ven et
al., 2011)
Yang, 2011); or
as a passive
opposed to envy
which motivates
(Van de Ven,
Van de Ven et
al. (2011)
is passive,
envy is
Van de Ven et
al. (2011)
Adoration Same
elicited by
while adoration
by excellence
not attainable
or fully
(Schindler et
al., 2013).
Admiration leads
to emulation,
while adoration
elicits the desire
to affiliate and
unite to the
target (Schindler
et al., 2015).
et al.
Schindler et
al. (2015)
Schindler et al.
Table 2. Measures of admiration - Summary
Measure Theoretical implications Employed in
Self-report Emotion lists The subjective experience of admiration Algoe and Haidt (2009); Cuddy
et al. (2007); Fiske et al. (2002)
Scales The subjective experience of admiration Onu, Kessler, et al. (2014) ;
Schindler et al. (2015)
Interview In-depth exploration of the subjective experience of
No studies found employing this
Heart rate Level of arousal of admiration Immordino-Yang et al. (2009)
Level of arousal of admiration
Immordino-Yang et al. (2009)
Galvanic skin
Level of arousal of admiration
No studies found employing this
Level of arousal of admiration
No studies found employing this
Brain state fMRI Investigated the cognitive processes surrounding
admiration (e.g., for instance, useful in determining
the appraisals associated with the elicitation of
admiration as well as connected behaviors)
Immordino-Yang et al. (2009)
EEG Provides insight on the placement of admiration on
the approach-avoidance continuum
No studies found employing this
Could indicate emotional specificity – admiration’s
unique physiological manifestation
No studies found employing this
method for measurement (cf.
Adolphs, Baron-Cohen, and
Tranel, 2002, who employed an
admiring expression to elicit
Could indicate emotional specificity, as well as
indicate the level of arousal
No studies found employing this
Table 3. Elicitors of admiration
Elicitor Manifestations Relation to
Investigated in
Excellence Ability, skills Positive Algoe & Haidt (2009); Immordino-Yang et
al. (2009)
Competence Positive Cuddy et al. (2007); Fiske et al. (2002); Onu,
Kessler, et al. (2014)
Prestige Positive Fessler & Haley (2003) – theoretical only
Legitimate status
/ deservingness
Positive Onu, Smith, et al. (2014); Van de Ven et al.
Prototypicality Positive Onu, Kessler, et al. (2014)
Attainability Debated relation:
(a) Positive
(b) Negative
(a) Onu, Smith, et al., (2014)
(b) Van de Ven et al. (2011)
Table 4. Consequences of admiration
Action Relation to admiration Investigated in
Consequences for the admirer
Self-improvement Debated relation:
(a) Positive
(b) No relation
(a) Algoe & Haidt (2009);
Immordino-Yang et al.
(2009); Schindler et al. (2015)
(b) Van de Ven et al. (2011)
Learn / imitate Positive Algoe & Haidt (2009); Onu,
Kessler, et al. (2014); Onu,
Smith, et al. (2014); Schindler
et al. (2015)
Consequences for the relationship
Praising the admired Positive Algoe & Haidt (2009)
Willingness to receive
learning-related help
Positive Cuddy et al. (2007); Onu,
Smith, et al. (2014)
Cooperation / Contact Positive Cuddy et al. (2007)
Consequences for the group
Hierarchy change actions Negative Sweetman et al. (2013)
Figure 1. A conceptual model of admiration
... There is a growing body of research indicating that positive emotional states can promote prosocial behaviors, possibly by broadening an individual's mindset toward other people (Aknin et al., 2018;Snippe et al., 2018). Work conducted in the context of the stereotype content model (Fiske et al., 2007) has also found that greater admiration toward a social group is associated with enhanced social acceptance, cooperation, and help provided to outgroup members (Cuddy et al., 2008;Onu et al., 2016). Furthermore, the effects of intergroup contact on reducing prejudice toward outgroups have been demonstrated to be mediated by feelings of admiration (Seger et al., 2017). ...
... This suggests that when performances have an impact on social outcomes, this may be explained by the effects of positive emotions. This finding is consistent with previous studies that indicate positive emotions, including admiration, can increase social acceptance and prosocial behaviors (Aknin et al., 2018;Onu et al., 2016). Further exploration of the effects of emotions as a mediator for musicinduced social connectedness may be applied to music psychology research more broadly, such as research on music social interventions, music as a social surrogate , and the social evolutionary function of music (Dunbar, 2012). ...
Growing evidence shows that choirs improve the well-being of people experiencing chronic mental health conditions; however, the impact of performances by “recovery choirs” (i.e., singers with mental health conditions) on their community audience members has not been examined. In three studies, we explored whether performances foster positive emotions toward recovery choristers. In Study 1, we surveyed 50 audience members before and after a public concert and found that watching the recovery choir sing increased positive emotions and attitudes toward mental health recovery. In a randomized experiment, Study 2a ( n = 322) and 2b ( n = 403) found that watching a short film of both a recovery choir and an amateur community choir singing increased positive emotions toward the choristers in comparison with a control activity condition. There was mixed evidence for effects on social connectedness, acceptance, and belief in mental health recovery. The effects of watching the choirs singing on social connectedness and acceptance of the choristers were mediated by positive emotions. Our results provide new evidence of the audience’s responses to amateur choir performances, by demonstrating that witnessing both community and recovery choir performances can foster admiration, respect, and positive regard toward choristers regardless of their mental health status.
... However, the last two decades witnessed the development of a rich literature differentiating positive emotions, an important part of which has focused on the so-called self-transcendent emotions (Stellar et al., 2017). As such, psychologists have investigated potential self-transcendent emotions as diverse as "Gratitude" (Emmons & McCullough, 2004), "Elevation" (Haidt, 2003a), "Awe" (Keltner & Haidt, 2003), "Admiration" (Onu et al., 2016), "Adoration" (Schindler et al., 2013), "Wonder" (Lamont, 2017), "Being Moved" (Cova & Deonna, 2014;Zickfeld et al., 2019), and "Kama Muta" . ...
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In the past decade, there has been a growing amount of research on so-called self-transcendent emotions, mainly in the domain of positive emotions. However, most candidate self-transcendent emotions (e.g., Awe, Gratitude, Being Moved, Wonder) have been studied in isolation, leaving the commonalities and the differences of their phenomenology unknown. In the present paper, we sought to identify the phenomenological nature of main families of self-transcendent emotions. We drew on two large datasets ( N 1 = 3,113; N 2 = 1,443) in which participants had to recall an emotional episode or to watch emotional videos and had to report their emotions through a list of 40 emotion labels. Participants were also presented with a large list of items probing their cognitive appraisals, bodily feelings, and action tendencies. Using a principal component analysis, we identified three main dimensions of positive emotions: hedonic, social, and epistemic states. Candidate self-transcendent emotions were distributed across two dimensions, suggesting that at least two main different families of self-transcendent emotions should be distinguished. Our results also allowed us to identify self-reported cognitive appraisals, bodily feelings, and action tendencies characteristic of each family.
... Indeed, TEs would emerge by combining and manipulating specific (1) emotional and (2) epistemic affordances embedded in new technologies, especially VR. Specifically, emotional affordances can be perceived as cues that elicit complex emotions (e.g., awe, admiration, elevation, the sublime) that would be infrequent in real-world contexts and have been extensively studied in recent years (e.g., see Piff et al. 2015;Chirico 2020;Gordon et al. 2017;Onu 2016). Epistemic affordances are cognitive hints that promote knowledge restructuring. ...
Empirical research has explored the potential of the emotion of awe to shape creativity, while theoretical work has sought to understand the link between this emotion and transformation in terms of imagining new possible worlds. This branch of study relies on the transformative potential of virtual reality (VR) to examine and invite cognitive and emotional components of transformative experiences (TEs) within the interdisciplinary model of Transformative Experience Design (TED) and the Appraisal-Tendency Framework (ATF). TED suggests using the epistemic and emotional affordances of interactive technologies, such as VR, to invite TEs. The ATF can provide insight into the nature of these affordances and their relationship. This line of research draws on empirical evidence of the awe-creativity link to broaden the discourse and consider the potential impact of this emotion on core beliefs about the world. The combination of VR with these theoretical and design-oriented approaches may enable a new generation of potentially transformative experiences that remind people that they can aspire to more and inspire them to work toward imagining and creating a new possible world.
... Konečni considered Aesthetic awe as the prototypical response to sublime in-context stimuli. (iii) Ability: the encounter with incredible instances of talent and ability, let the emotion of awe turn into the closer feeling of admiration for them (Onu et al. 2016). (iv) Virtue: when we meet examples of extraordinary morality, such as Gandhi, awe turns into the near emotional state of elevation (Haidt 2003;Shiota et al. 2017). ...
Action research is an approach to research which aims at both taking action and creating knowledge or theory about that action as the action unfolds. It starts with everyday experience and is concerned with the development of living knowledge. Its characteristics are that it generates practical knowledge in the pursuit of worthwhile purposes; it is participative and democratic as its participants work together in the present tense in defining the questions they wish to explore, the methodology for that exploration, and its application through cycles of action and reflection. In this vein they are agents of change and coresearchers in knowledge generation and not merely passive subjects as in traditional research. In this vein, action research can be understood as a social science of the possible as the collective action is focused on creating a desired future in whatever context the action research is located.
I develop three arguments in support of my contention that we should favor achievements over agents as objects of fitting moral admiration. The first argument impugns the epistemic standing with which characterological admiration is standardly issued. The second argument alleges that there is likely to be a difference between widely held folk concepts of character and traits, on the one hand, and an empirically supported view of the reality of those things, on the other. The final argument concerns one way in which characterological admiration renders some aspects of our practices of admiring subject to undesirable revision. In each case I use an analogy to athletic admiration to show how achievement admiration avoids the problems of characterological admiration. I then suggest an alternative role for characterological considerations in fitting admiration, as a loose constraint on what is appropriate to admire rather than as an object of admiration. The upshot of the article is theoretical, inasmuch as it develops a tension between the conditions governing fitting admiration and an empirically informed view of character. But there is also practical upshot, especially in the context of public practices of admiring, as when we build statues of heroes or name buildings after them.
The Cambridge Handbook of Creativity and Emotions provides a state-of-the-art review of research on the role of emotions in creativity. This volume presents the insights and perspectives of sixty creativity scholars from thirteen countries who span multiple disciplines, including developmental, social, and personality psychology; industrial and organizational psychology; neuroscience; education; art therapy, and sociology. It discusses affective processes – emotion states, traits, and emotion abilities – in relation to the creative process, person, and product, as well as two major contexts for expression of creativity: school, and work. It is a go-to source for scholars who need to enhance their understanding of a specific topic relating to creativity and emotion, and it provides students and researchers with a comprehensive introduction to creativity and emotion broadly.
Character liking, identification, and parasocial interaction/relationships are terms used in various literatures to describe character engagement. The current paper synthesizes more than six decades of research in media psychology and communication science to organize and delineate four processes related to character engagement with fictional characters: Attention, Appraisal, Affiliation, and Assessment. In addition to defining and distinguishing these four processes, we describe how they are influenced by narrative, character, and viewer features, leading to moral adjustment – that is, a viewer’s own morality being shaped and molded through exposure to fictional personae. We endeavor here to diminish conceptual confusion and to clarify causal, temporal, and reciprocal relationships between the four factors regarding moral adjustment in viewers. By uniting these processes under a single conceptual model, we provide a framework for understanding moral adjustment through character engagement that can serve as a launch point for more focused research projects.
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The social psychological literature on social change has focused on how groups overcome oppression and inequality. In this paper, we investigate an alternative strategy that groups employ for social change—the emulation of successful outgroups. We propose that lower status group members will be likely to employ a learning strategy when they perceive the status relations as legitimate (i.e., fair system) and unstable (i.e., own position is improvable). In Study 1 (Romanian undergraduate students, N = 31), we manipulated status legitimacy, while in Study 2 (British undergraduate participants, N = 94), we manipulated legitimacy and stability orthogonally. Overall, when they perceived status hierarchies as legitimate and unstable, participants exhibited higher admiration for the higher status outgroup, higher support for learning-related help (e.g., transfer of know-how, training) from the outgroup and had the most positive attitudes toward intergroup help. We propose that social change sometimes occurs gradually, through help and learning from successful models, and this paper offers insight into such gradual social change.
At the heart of emotion, mood, and any other emotionally charged event are states experienced as simply feeling good or bad, energized or enervated. These states - called core affect - influence reflexes, perception, cognition, and behavior and are influenced by many causes internal and external, but people have no direct access to these causal connections. Core affect can therefore be experienced as free-floating (mood) or can be attributed to some cause (and thereby begin an emotional episode). These basic processes spawn a broad framework that includes perception of the core-affect-altering properties of stimuli, motives, empathy, emotional meta-experience, and affect versus emotion regulation; it accounts for prototypical emotional episodes, such as fear and anger, as core affect attributed to something plus various nonemotional processes.
Stereotype research emphasizes systematic processes over seemingly arbitrary contents, but content also may prove systematic. On the basis of stereotypes' intergroup functions, the stereotype content model hypothesizes that (a) 2 primary dimensions are competence and warmth, (b) frequent mixed clusters combine high warmth with low competence (paternalistic) or high competence with low warmth (envious), and (c) distinct emotions (pity, envy, admiration, contempt) differentiate the 4 competence-warmth combinations. Stereotypically, (d) status predicts high competence, and competition predicts low warmth. Nine varied samples rated gender, ethnicity, race, class, age, and disability out-groups. Contrary to antipathy models, 2 dimensions mattered, and many stereotypes were mixed, either pitying (low competence, high warmth subordinates) or envying (high competence, low warmth competitors). Stereotypically, status predicted competence, and competition predicted low warmth.
Drawing upon a social identity approach, three studies focus on the elicitors of intergroup admiration by investigating the relationship between admiration for an outgroup and this outgroup’s prototypicality for a superordinate category. In Study 1 (N = 314), we find empirical support for a positive association between prototypicality and admiration in cross-national survey data. In Study 2 (N = 52), we provide experimental evidence for the relationship between admiration and prototypicality by manipulating different facets of prototypicality: admiration for an outgroup occurs only when the group is perceived as prototypical in relation to the ideal of the superordinate category, but not in relation to the category average. Study 3 further explores the importance of prototypicality for a superordinate category. We present an analysis of online comments to news articles (N = 477) referring to positive regard of outgroups and highlight the role of prototypicality in these discussions. Overall, we contribute to research on admiration by showing that the elicitation of admiration is dependent on the social identities involved, providing an identity-situated analysis of this positive group-based emotion.
According to John Adair, the most important word in the leader's vocabulary is "we" and the least important word is "I". But if this is true, it raises one important question: why do psychological analyses of leadership always focus on the leader as an individual - as the great "I"? One answer is that theorists and practitioners have never properly understood the psychology of "we-ness". This book fills this gap by presenting a new psychology of leadership that is the result of two decades of research inspired by social identity and self-categorization theories. The book argues that to succeed, leaders need to create, champion, and embed a group identity in order to cultivate an understanding of 'us' of which they themselves are representative. It also shows how, by doing this, they can make a material difference to the groups, organizations, and societies that they lead. Written in an accessible and engaging style, the book examines a range of central theoretical and practical issues, including the nature of group identity, the basis of authority and legitimacy, the dynamics of justice and fairness, the determinants of followership and charisma, and the practice and politics of leadership. The book will appeal to academics, practitioners and students in social and organizational psychology, sociology, political science and anyone interested in leadership, influence and power.
In this article, the author describes a new theoretical perspective on positive emotions and situates this new perspective within the emerging field of positive psychology. The broaden-and-build theory posits that experiences of positive emotions broaden people's momentary thought-action repertoires, which in turn serves to build their enduring personal resources, ranging from physical and intellectual resources to social and psychological resources. Preliminary empirical evidence supporting the broaden-and-build theory is reviewed, and open empirical questions that remain to be tested are identified. The theory and findings suggest that the capacity to experience positive emotions may be a fundamental human strength central to the study of human flourishing.