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Document Type


Organizational Units

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Psychology


Transformative experiences, Moral orientation, Mass gatherings, Secularism


Humans have long sought experiences that transcend or change their sense of self. By weakening boundaries between the self and others, such transformative experiences may lead to enduring changes in moral orientation. Here we investigated the psychological nature and prosocial correlates of transformative experiences by studying participants before (n = 600), during (n = 1217), 0–4 weeks after (n = 1866), and 6 months after (n = 710) they attended a variety of secular, multi-day mass gatherings in the US and UK. Observations at 6 field studies and 22 online followup studies spanning 5 years showed that self-reported transformative experiences at mass gatherings were common, increased over time, and were characterized by feelings of universal connectedness and new perceptions of others. Participants’ circle of moral regard expanded with every passing day onsite—an effect partially mediated by transformative experience and feelings of universal connectedness. Generosity was remarkably high across sites but did not change over time. Immediately and 6 months following event attendance, self-reported transformative experience persisted and predicted both generosity (directly) and moral expansion (indirectly). These findings highlight the prosocial qualities of transformative experiences at secular mass gatherings and suggest such experiences may be associated with lasting changes in moral orientation.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the authors. User is responsible for all copyright compliance. This article was originally published as:

Yudkin, D.A., Prosser, A.M.B., Heller, S.M., McRae, K., Chakroff, A., & Crockett, M. J. (2022). Prosocial correlates of transformative experiences at secular multi-day mass gatherings. Nature Communications 13, 2600.

Rights Holder

Daniel A. Yudkin, Annayah M. B. Prosser, S. Megan Heller, Kateri McRae, Aleksandr Chakroff, and M. J. Crockett


Received from author

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English (eng)


13 pgs

File Size

6.85 MB

Publication Title

Nature Communications



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