Awe-Inducing Interior Space: Architectural Causes and Cognitive Effects
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The purpose of the present work was to investigate whether religious monumental architecture facilitates religious feeling by inducing a sense of awe. In order to elucidate how church interiors elicit awe and otherwise shape affective and cognitive processes, we developed a rating scale for the measurement of physical properties of interior spaces in order to determine which architectural properties in an interior space can predict a sense of awe (Experiment 1). By having participants rate affective response to a set of images pre-rated on architectural properties, we were able to establish a predictive relationship between architectural properties and elicited emotion. Properties reflecting immensity and adornment significantly predicted a feeling of awe. The results from Experiment 1 guided the selection of stimuli for Experiment 2, in which we explored the effects of visually priming participants with photographs of high and low awe-inducing architectural interiors on time perception and spirituality, as well as the effects of priming participants with photographs of religious and non-religious building interiors on participant religiousness. Feeling awe led to a greater overestimation of time in a time-estimation task, and religious priming through photographs of church interiors rated low in properties of immensity and adornment led to an increase in religious feeling. This work establishes an initial understanding of cognitive processes underlying affective and social responses to the environmental cues of church interiors.