Congratulations to Dr. Van Cappellen for receiving this grant funding from the John Templeton Foundation! In collaboration with Dr. Daryl Van Tongeren of Hope College (Principal Investigator), Dr. Julie Exline and Dr. Joshua Wilt of Case Western University (Co-Investigators), Dr. Van Cappellen serves as Co-Investigator on this grant ($509,623). It is titled “Spiritual yearning as a psychological construct: Associations with spiritual struggles and existential growth”, a three-year project spanning September 2023 to 2026.
Increasingly, more people are seeking transcendent and spiritual connection outside of traditional religion. Research should thus address how those not served by traditional religion – including religious dones, nones, and the spiritual but not religious – find meaning and address existential concerns. Here, spiritual yearning is defined as the motivation for deeper existential meaning and security through a connection with something greater than oneself. This yearning may manifest in a desire for belief in something greater, transcendent connection, moral guidance, or belonging to a broader community. The co-presence of these motives, in the absence of religion as the answer, makes spiritual yearning unique compared to religious quest, search for meaning, and openness to experience. The aim is to collect data through 10 studies to (a) develop a reliable assessment of spiritual yearning that will permit the (b) clarification of the psychological nature of spiritual yearning, and (c) better understand of those who are underserved by traditional religion and situate the trajectory of such individuals over time. The proposed research will establish and catalyze an empirical science of spiritual yearning, breaking new ground in this frontier of spirituality, through strong collaborative relationships, presentations at national and international conferences, and publications in high-visibility outlets.