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APS Convention

2014 APS Convention
May 22–25, 2014 | Hilton Union Square | San Francisco, CA

Psi Chi Distinguished Lecturer

Toward a Science of Awe

Awe remains perhaps the least studied emotion, and the emotion that may most shape our lives. In this talk, I will detail how laboratory and in vivo (near tall trees and expansive views) experiences of awe trigger increased humility, prosociality, and curiosity. I will highlight recent findings illuminating physiological correlates of awe, including covariations with dopamine polymorphisms and cytokine levels. I will conclude with a discussion of our creation of emoticons at Facebook, including those of awe, and their cultural associations.

Dacher Keltner, PhD
University of CA, Berkeley

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Dacher Keltner received his BA from UC Santa Barbara in 1984 and his PhD from Stanford University in 1989. After a post-doc at UCSF with Paul Ekman, in 1992 he took his first academic job, at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. In 1996, he returned to Berkeley’s Psychology Department, where he is now a full professor and director of the Berkeley Social Interaction Lab (

Dacher’s research focuses on the biological and evolutionary origins of compassion, awe, love, beauty, power, social class, and inequality. He is the coauthor of two textbooks, as well as the best-selling Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life, and The Compassionate Instinct.

Dacher has published over 160 scientific articles, he has written for the New York Times Magazine, The London Times, and Utne Reader, and has received numerous national prizes and grants for his research. His research has been covered in TIME, Newsweek, the New York Times, the BBC, CNN, NPR, The Wallstreet Journal, and in many other outlets, and been a focus in two panels with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. He has collaborated with directors at Pixar, a design team at Facebook, on projects at Google, and was recently featured in Tom Shadyac’s movie I Am. He has received the outstanding teacher and research mentor awards from UC Berkeley and seen 20 of his PhD students and post-doctoral fellows become professors. WIRED magazine recently rated Dacher’s podcasts from his course Emotion as one of the five best educational downloads, and the Utne Reader selected him as one of its fifty 2008 visionaries.

Dacher serves as the faculty director of the Berkeley Greater Good Science Center ( and has taught executive education at Stanford and Berkeley for over 15 years. He lives in Berkeley with his wife, Mollie McNeil, an alumna of Berkeley, and their two daughters.




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