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J Posit Psychol. 2009;4(2):105-127.

Witnessing excellence in action: the 'other-praising' emotions of elevation, gratitude, and admiration.

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Department of Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.


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.

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