Penn LPS Coronavirus COVID-19 Update
The College of Liberal and Professional Studies staff is working remotely to comply with University protocols as we navigate the COVID-19 virus. Penn is committed to maintaining a safe campus and workplace for faculty, students, staff, and visitors. While we are not onsite, we are still available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. by phone and online in case you need support: (215) 898-7326 or

Visit, the University's dedicated coronavirus COVID-19 web page, for the latest updates.
close alert box button

In Awe of Each Other: An Exploration of Awe in Close Relationships

You are here

By Marianna Graziosi

This capstone seeks to further what is known about the complex emotion of awe. In most studies on awe, the stimuli used to elicit the emotion involves nature, music, space or grand theories—but awe elicited by the actions of other people has generally not been studied. The current study explores whether awe can be elicited in close interpersonal relationships and how this experience may be distinct from awe elicited by other stimuli. This capstone begins by exploring awe in existing psychological literature, focusing on findings related to awe in the interpersonal domain. Then, an empirical study (N = 636) on awe is described. Using both quantitative and qualitative approaches, this mixed methods study found empirical support for the claim that awe is elicited by close relationships, referred to here as “interpersonal awe.” Interpersonal awe seems to sit somewhere between the experience of awe in nature and general positivity, as revealed by significant differences in ratings of awe between all three conditions. Qualitative analyses revealed that interpersonal awe was defined by themes of virtue or excellence of character. Interpersonal awe is positioned as a distinct form of emotional experience, distinguished from related states of admiration and elevation, and, lastly, discussed in terms of the implications of these findings for well-being. Perhaps awe, while an ordinary response to the extraordinary, is also an extraordinary response to the ordinary.

Penn LPS

The lifelong learning division of Penn Arts & Sciences

3440 Market Street, Suite 100
Philadelphia, PA 19104-3335

(215) 898-7326