Awesome play: Awe increases preschooler’s exploration and discovery

AbstractAffective states, exploration, and learning are tightly intertwined. For example research has connected surprise to play and learning in early development, but less is known about potential influence of other affective states and how they might influence exploration and subsequent discovery. Past research has suggested that awe may increase feelings of uncertainty and lead to pursuit of cognitive accommodation in adults. We posit that awe-induced uncertainty may similarly lead children to ‘think-outside-the-box’ and explore more. We modify emotion-inducing videos and validate them on adult participants using the ‘perceived self-size’ Circle Task. In Experiment 2, children were presented with the awe or control videos and exploratory play with a novel toy was recorded. Results revealed a significant effect of the manipulation and a significant influence of the videos on play. Children in the Awe condition played more and explored more variably then children in the control conditions.

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