The psychology of film & TV, media, & work

Does your job give you goosebumps?

in Work Psychology by


Can you think of the last time you had goosebumps? Was it the experience of walking down a dark and spooky street or the time you listened to a moving piece of music? 

When was the last time it happened at work?

Research from the journal Motivation and Emotion suggests that goosebumps generally occur when we experience the emotion awe. Does that give you goosebumps, eh? No?

Perhaps I should tell you a bit more about awe. Awe is a positive emotion that makes us feel connected to something bigger than ourselves. It promotes a sense of connection with other people, makes us more open to learning and changing our minds, and makes us better decision-makers. Any goosebumps yet?

According to research, awe makes us feel that our existing views of the world are inadequate. The emotion inspires us to adapt and grow.

The research implies that leaders who inspire awe, by highlighting the vastness, complexity and ambition of a goal, might also be promoting cooperation, open thinking and learning.

For example, people who work in project environments, where they are working on something highly complex and ambitious, often appear to experience this emotion. Perhaps this explains the lure for some individuals of working on large scale projects.

So if you are in a position to lead a group toward a goal you might be better off inspiring your people rather than reinforcing actions, compliance, and deadlines. You might just give them goosebumps.

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