Comparing spiritual transformations and experiences of profound beauty

Adam Cohen, June Gruber, Dacher Keltner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Certain highly emotional experiences have the potential to produce long-lasting and meaningful changes in personality. Two such experiences are spiritual transformations and experiences of profound beauty. However, little is known about the cognitive appraisals or narrative elements involved in such experiences, how they are similar, and how they differ. In a study of emotion-related narratives, these experiences were found to share many features but also differ in their valence. Experiences of profound beauty are almost always positive, but spiritual transformations are both positive and negative. Moreover, spiritual transformations seem to produce long-lasting change, but experiences of profound beauty, although evocative, do not seem to produce long-lasting change. An emotion approach helps to elucidate two understudied but important emotional experiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-135
Number of pages9
JournalPsychology of Religion and Spirituality
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2010


  • awe
  • beauty
  • conversion
  • religion
  • spirituality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Religious studies
  • Applied Psychology


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