A perspective…and then?

Hi to everyone!

Finally, my perspective has been published! So happy! It was a beautiful team work, I really have to thank you my supervisors and David B. Yaden, a brilliant research fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center.

You can find the pdf of the article here! 223153_chirico_provisionalpdf

A new perspective on awe and transformative experiences..maybe the way to reach that sudden and unexpected change that we are investigating now…VR is definitely the way..

It is just the first step, and we need to work more and harder, but

Roma non fu fatta in un giorno

(Rome has not been built in a single day).

What’s next?



Pieces of a researcher’ life

Some moments of our lives are devoted to deep and excruciating reflections on our actions, choices, on ourselves…

Some of these moments belong to the category “DAMN! THEY HAVE REJECTED MY ARTICLE”…

Suddenly something has happened to me, as I was having my cup of tea!

I guessed I really caught the true meaning of this lyric from Cranberries Animal Instinct…

And, please, consider that I love tea and that something really happened to me…since I was “rejected”.. I know that was my article to be rejected, but a part of me was so wounded in that moment, as they’ve stolen a piece of my life, of my efforts.

I really needed to “accommodate” this new information…

Anyway, in these moments the most important element to survive is social support from colleagues. Sometimes they are the only ones who can really understand what is going on..

These moments are also exhilarating, your friends and colleagues started telling about their most strangest rejections, editors’ answers, unlimited waiting times…

Therefore, I did the only thing I have never imaged that I could do in these moments…I laughed a lot (among tears, of course).

Btw, do you know the reason of my rejection? Editor asked for more data to support my “speculative” perspective…

Well I’ve just finished my first data collection with promising results…maybe destiny!






How to define your research topic

Hello world,

If there’s a thing I learnt in these few months of PhD is that time and patience are the keys. Sometimes it seems that you are on a roller coaster that does not stop going down at high speed, other times it moves up and down so fast that you are not able to perceive the difference.

Some other times it happens that you are going to lose yourself, and the reason why you are there. But if you learn to wait, stand up, and pay attention to the very important elements of your PhD, then you’ll restore yourself. PhD is an extremely fascinating and hard experience throwing you in a wild and vast ocean where you need to learn swimming as soon as possible. My research topic and my Professor Andrea Gaggioli, along with my unique colleagues resulted as the best support to do so.

Indeed, I think that not all the young researchers have clear in mind what their research topic should be, or if they know it, sometimes they are forced to ponder on this choice in order to support it and not only take it for granted, as if it was borrowed. In other words, we are somehow to challenge ourselves and we are called into question, so that we are thrown in a deep and unknown sea.

Actually, my sea is called “awe”, but my ocean’s name is “Transformative experience”. How can I study such a complex, multifaceted, and fleeting phenomenon just in three years?

First, I should understand where and in which way I can provide new and useful knowledge regarding this issue. Then, of course, I need to prioritize.

When you study such a captivating theme as “awe”, you don’t stop asking yourself “when will experience it again?” According to its definition, when your current mental frames cannot stand anymore what you are facing, because it is too much and too far from what you knew since that moment, it is time to change. After a deep feeling of bewilderment and confusion, you will discover that you’ve became yourself more than you have ever been.

Then I felt awe. Or, at least, I came up with what it seemed a good idea to me, extremely abrupt. For sure, something was clearer in my mind. My process would not be linear but “alternative”. I should address this fleeting experience by catching it from different perspectives.

Now I chose the one of experimental psychology answering the questions: “Which is the best way to induce awe?” Starting from the fact that the relationship between it and transformative experience is still not clear and that awe could be the key to better understand it.

I know there are several ways to induce it efficiently, but I argue that there’s still something missing regarding this phenomenon which we are not able to reproduce.

I hope that this will be the way to follow, and that I am swimming in the right sea..

Awe and The Cognitive Science Arena: The first meeting

Dear All,

I am so pleased to announce to you that the first conference of my life at Cognitive Science Arena in Brixen (Italy) just finished yesterday. It was the first opportunity to present my research project and, of course, my topic. Actually, a very unexpected resource for my project development.

I met brilliant, smart, and promising new researchers that were able to show all their potential, experience and passion towards research, all combined with an enviable methodological rigor. A very enriching experience!

At the conference, I did not address the theme of transformative experience directly but I present my first attempt to become closer to this phenomenon (a poster). I introduced a research protocol about the elicitation of one of most relevant experiential correlates of transformative experiences: awe.

Italian people are not used to this concept because it actually does not exist a corresponding etiquette in our culture, even thought this phenomenon is experienced by all italian people. This appeared to me as the main challenge: two-minutes speech to explain all the complexity, the facets, the issues, and the potential of this unusual emotion. Several of my colleagues felt lost about this topic (and me too), so far from “hard cognitive science”, most of them asked me further information to better understand what I was talking about. Generally, my conventional way to explain this concept, did not work at the beginning, so I chose a new one, simpler and more direct.

I told them about the feeling of smallness we feel in front of a high mountain or among tall trees. Some of them asked me about the relationship between awe and the sublime. Actually, for sure, I understood that this is a very relevant issue to address as soon as possible and that I know very little about this.

I told them about the fear and the wonder we feel when we see something much larger than what we expected, something able to challenge us unexpectedly. I told them about my experience with awe and music (the first time I sang in front of a large audience, before taking the stage). All of them told me about his/her own experience and gave me some methodological and processual suggestion about my work.

It was a fresh and amazing experience, and I hope to be able to implement my research protocol as soon as possible. To date, I collect so many data, but I will tell you about them next time.

Closer to the phenomenon

Hello World!

I am Alice and this blog longs for being the tale of my PhD.

Not a mere summary, rather a commentary I hope also some scraps of your stories will be a part of.

You may wonder “commentary about what?”. That is the point.
My research topic concerns the fascinating and fleeting theme of Transformative Experiences.
To talk about them, maybe I could have reported some famous references, but it would not have been enough.
I believe that they can be better summed up in the brief video below.

Continua a leggere