Category Archives: Grants

BABLab Receives Grant Funding to Investigate Lived Experiences of Hope!

Congratulations to Dr. Van Cappellen for being awarded with grant funding from the John Templeton Foundation! Dr. Van Cappellen serves as Principal Investigator on this grant ($259,979) titled “What is Hope? Bridging the Gap Between Lived Experience, Practice, and Research”, a three-year project beginning in September 2024 to March 2027.

Hope is an important human experience and a valuable resource for practitioners working with people facing adversity. Pioneering work by Snyder (1994, 2002) focuses on goal pursuit motives of hope; this project aims to further expand the psychological study of hope by engaging with lived experiences of practitioners and community members, including people of faith. To do so, “stories of hope” will be collected from people of varied religious and cultural backgrounds. In addition, an interdisciplinary scientific meeting (psychology, theology, nursing and medicine, other practitioners) will be held to co-construct an expanded definition of hope that is both phenomenologically-grounded and scientifically precise. This project will build foundational basis and provide the impetus for a renewed study of hope in psychology, one that sits more closely at the interface of healthcare, spiritual care, and lived experiences.

BABLab Receives Joint Grant Funding to Investigate the Spiritual Yearning of Those Who Left Religion!

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.

BABLab Receives Grant Funding to Investigate the Role of Religion in Promoting Compassion & Empathy!

A big congratulations to Dr. Van Cappellen for receiving this funding from the Templeton Religion Trust! She will serve as the Principal Investigator on this grant ($233,052) entitled “Building the psychology of compassion: Insights from religion” beginning in August 2022 and ending in 2025. See below for a description of the grant!
Grant Abstract:

Compassion, or the capacity to understand, share, and care about someone else’s emotions, is often viewed as a virtue that leads to helping behavior and a harmonious society. Yet, experiencing compassion is not automatic nor easy. This project sets to deepen our understanding of the factors that promote compassion. Specifically, we suggest that religion provides the teachings and the experiences necessary for people to overcome typical hurdles to compassion. Our first aim will be to examine specific religious practices’ associations with the latest measures of compassion, including behavioral measures. We will replicate and extend the limited available evidence and provide a preliminary test of the causal influence of religious practice engagement on compassion. Our second aim will be to explain why religiosity is related to greater compassion by testing whether religion 1) provides normative, affective, and social motivations for compassion, and 2) affects perceptions of the emotional and cognitive costs of compassion. We propose a series of 9 empirical studies, accompanied by direct and conceptual replication efforts. We will produce scientific publications and conference presentations to build robust scientific knowledge with practical interest for the religious communities.

New 2-year grant funded project on gratitude to God

On Thanksgiving: How Gratitude to God is Demonstrated, with Consequences for the Grateful Person and Witnesses

Principal Investigator: Patty Van Cappellen, Ph.D., Duke University

Co-Investigator: Sara Algoe, Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The expression of gratitude to God (GTG) is present in virtually all religious practices. However, despite the recent rapid growth in scientific knowledge of gratitude, we still know little about the expressions and functions of GTG. In particular, the study of GTG compared to interpersonal gratitude (IG) poses an interesting set of scientific questions made all the more important by the pervasiveness of GTG in human experience. Building on the PI’s expertise in affective processes in religious cognition and the Co-I’s find-remind-and-bindtheory of gratitude (Algoe, 2012) and evidence on the functional value of public expressions of IG (Algoe, Dwyer, Younge, & Oveis, 2019), we propose to address three specific aims that will work together to elucidate the basic distinctions between GTG and IG, deeper understanding of expressions of GTG, and the functions of GTG.

Specifically, like prior research on IG, it is critical to take a systematic approach to understand the personal and social (public) functions of GTG, which may be similar to IG but may also bear unique features. A key starting point is to characterize demonstrations of GTG, using this foundation to begin to test personally-relevant functions and social reactions to these expressions. Collectively the proposed studies are designed to provide a generative foundation for future research on GTG. Simultaneously, they speak to the broader literature in affective, relationship, and behavior maintenance science.

Aim 1: Characterizing how people demonstrate GTG. 

Aim 2: Illuminating factors that predict negative vs. positive reactions to GTG demonstrations. 

Aim 3: Collecting preliminary evidence on two personally-relevant functional outcomes of GTG demonstrations: relationship with God strength and spiritual quest.