Examining awe in information seeking
Keywords:Awe, Curiosity, Information experiences, Presence, Virtual reality
How, if at all, does awe foster information seeking? This question was examined through a two-pronged approach. First, in a laboratory setting, participants (n = 34) were exposed to a variety of awe elicitors through a virtual reality (VR) head-mounted display. Participants’ quantitative and qualitative responses were gathered immediately after exposure in the laboratory as well as 24 hours later through questionnaires. Second, a stratified sample of participants who voluntarily conducted information seeking (n = 8) completed phenomenologically-informed interviews. Findings indicate that although awe is primarily experiential, information seeking may arise from surprising learners with unknown and unexplained phenomena. Additionally, feelings of perceptual envelopment and accessing the inaccessible characterized participants’ VR-based awe experiences. Emergent findings also reveal that creating awe-inspiring VR content may require reduced didactic information to generate feelings of presence. These findings point to ways that VR may increase learners’ intrinsic motivations for informal and formal research.
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