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, 4 (2), 105-127

Witnessing Excellence in Action: The 'Other-Praising' Emotions of Elevation, Gratitude, and Admiration


Witnessing Excellence in Action: The 'Other-Praising' Emotions of Elevation, Gratitude, and Admiration

Sara B Algoe et al. J Posit Psychol.


People are often profoundly moved by the virtue or skill of others, yet psychology has little to say about the 'other-praising' family of emotions. Here we demonstrate that emotions such as elevation, gratitude, and admiration differ from more commonly studied forms of positive affect (joy and amusement) in many ways, and from each other in a few ways. The results of studies using recall, video induction, event-contingent diary, and letter-writing methods to induce other-praising emotions suggest that: elevation (a response to moral excellence) motivates prosocial and affiliative behavior, gratitude motivates improved relationships with benefactors, and admiration motivates self-improvement. Mediation analyses highlight the role of conscious emotion between appraisals and motivations. Discussion focuses on implications for emotion research, interpersonal relationships, and morality.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Conceptual model in which increases in emotional experience (assessed via ratings) are predicted to account for the effect of the manipulation (the condition) on increases in emotion-specific mental content; in turn, this mental content should influence context-specific behavior. As predicted in Study 3, the direct path from condition to prosocial motivations was no longer significant once gratitude ratings were taken into account, suggesting that the manipulation of emotion changed mental content, which predicted choice of the prosocial interaction partner. ***p<0.001; **p<0.01; *p<0.05.

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