The physical changes that were taking place in societies exposed to the Industrial Revolution were accompanied by an equally significant transformation in the arena of culture. Before 1914, most Westerners continued to believe in the values and ideals that had been generated by the impact of the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment. The ability of human beings to improve themselves and achieve a better society seemed to be well demonstrated by a rising standard of living, urban improvements, and mass education. Between 1870 and 1914, however, a dramatic transformation in the realm of ideas and culture challenged many of these assumptions. A new view of the physical universe, alternative views of human nature, and radically innovative forms of literary and artistic expression shattered old beliefs and opened the way to a modern consciousness. Although the real impact of many of these ideas was not felt until after World War I, they served to provoke a sense of confusion and anxiety before 1914 that would become even more pronounced after the war.