Total Solar Eclipse 2024: Here's how the cosmological event can powerfully influence human psychology - Hindustan Times
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Total Solar Eclipse 2024: Here's how the cosmological event can powerfully influence human psychology

ByNikhita Mehta
Apr 04, 2024 07:43 PM IST

With the anticipation of the total solar eclipse on April 8, scientists are delving into the psychological effects that the cosmic phenomena can evoke.

With the anticipation of the total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024, scientists are delving into the psychological effects, such as awe, that the cosmic phenomena can evoke.

 The eclipse, with its rare alignment of the Moon and the Sun resulting in a spectacular corona, was highly likely to trigger feelings of awe.(AP)
The eclipse, with its rare alignment of the Moon and the Sun resulting in a spectacular corona, was highly likely to trigger feelings of awe.(AP)

Defined as a sense of wonder and amazement triggered by the perception of vastness, awe has been increasingly recognised for its potential to shape human behavior and perception.

"It's an emotion you feel when you perceive something that is vast and which challenges your view of the world," explains Jennifer Stellar, a psychologist at the University of Toronto., according to BBC. "It is the feeling that you have towards an object or a person that is so extraordinary as to be beyond comprehension.”

Awe, as described by Dacher Keltner of the University of California, Berkeley, can quiet the self-critical voice of the ego, empowering individuals to collaborate and perceive the deep patterns of life. Stellar adds, "Our ego guides our perceptions and decision making, but when you feel a self-transcendent emotion like awe, it diminishes the power that it has over you.”

Besides fostering humility, awe may also enhance social connection. "When I have diminished focus on myself, the line between you and me can blur. I might see us as all part of the web of humanity," says Stellar.

Also Read: Total Solar Eclipse: US issues warning to pet owners; Here's why do animals freak out during cosmic event

What did the 2017 total solar eclipse tell us about human psychology?

The 2017 total solar eclipse presented a unique opportunity for researchers like Sean Goldy, who sought to study people's spontaneous reactions to such momentous natural events. Awe was anticipated to be sparked by the eclipse because of the Moon and Sun's unusual alignment, which produced a magnificent corona.

Also Read: Total Solar Eclipse: Delta offers 'path of totality' flights for up-close view, here's how much it will cost you

Goldy's analysis of social media posts surrounding the eclipse revealed intriguing insights. Those who witnessed the event were more likely to express awe, humility, and pro-social behavior. Furthermore, their language reflected a sense of collective experience, with increased use of pronouns like "we" or "us."

The effects, however, were relatively short-lived, lasting only within a 24-hour period.

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