Category Archives: Media

Shared media that is related to our research!

Article: Is Online Research Losing Its Edge? The Case for In-Person Research in the Age of AI

The landscape of research has been profoundly transformed by the COVID-19 pandemic, propelling a mass transition to online research methodologies. However, the advent of sophisticated AI technologies capable of mimicking human responses has introduced new complexities, potentially undermining the authenticity of data collected through online surveys.

How can researchers best address this phenomenon in a growing digital age? What of the value of in-person research? Read Dr. Van Cappellen’s article, published by the Duke Social Science Research Institute (SSRI) here: The Case for In-Person Research in the Age of AI.

Research Feature Makes Most Popular ‘Greater Good’ Articles of 2023

In April 2023, Dr. Van Cappellen’s research on the embodiment of emotions was featured in an article by Jill Suttie for the Greater Good magazine: How Your Body Posture Communicates Feelings to Others. Greater Good is published by the Greater Good Science Center (GGSC) at the University of California, Berkeley, whose mission is to share the science of a meaningful life. We are excited to announce that this feature has made the Top 25 most-read and highly-rated articles of 2023 at Greater Good!

Check out our Embodiment page for more on our research about postures, emotion, and religion!

On Pew’s Podcast: Why Americans Are More Spiritual Than Ever

After the Fact, Episode 23: Rising Spirituality. Listen to it here.

Does one have to go to a church, temple, or mosque to be religious or spiritual? According to the Pew Research Center, a growing number of American adults would say no. In fact, U.S. spirituality is at its highest level ever even as traditional religious beliefs and practices decline. To dig into this phenomenon, I recently sat down with Dan LeDuc. He’s the host of “After the Fact,” a podcast from The Pew Charitable Trusts. We talked about the reasons people turn to religious or spiritual practices in the first place, and the benefits that come from both.

Divine Data

“After the Fact” begins each episode with a data point that reveals something about our world – and in this case, it’s the number 59. That’s the percentage of Americans who say they experience a “deep sense of spiritual peace and well-being” at least once a week, and it’s up seven points since 2007. Nearly 40 percent also say they feel a “deep sense of wonder about the universe” on a weekly basis. What’s more? Even those who say they are agnostic, atheist, or don’t belong to a particular religion are feeling increasingly spiritual. Before talking with me, Dan explored this finding and other trends with the Pew Research Center’s Greg Smith. The numbers show that adherence to traditional religious beliefs and practices such as attending services or identifying with a formal religion has dropped—but America is far from being a nation of non-believers.

Seeing the Forest

How do we explain this spiritual surge? And what are the effects of religious and spiritual experiences? My research at Duke University’s Belief, Affect, and Behavior Lab (“The BABLab”) offers a few clues.

  • It feels good: Research has shown that religion and spirituality can create many positive outcomes, whether by sparking greater connection with others, healthier habits, or a greater overall sense of well-being.
  • The power of positivity: While it’s long been accepted that people turn to religion in order to cope with difficult life events, my research suggests that positive emotions are just as important for sparking religious and spiritual feelings. For example, when we show people video clips eliciting a meaningful positive emotion—such as viewing a beautiful sunset or the birth of a child—they tended to say they felt a higher sense of benevolence or meaning in the world.
  • Beyond the bear: Positive emotions like awe and wonder may actually change how people look at the world by allowing them to focus on the bigger picture. For example, if you’re experience something negative such as being attacked by a bear, you are unable to focus on anything but the bear. But when you’re able to relax, your perspective broadens. You can see the forest—or imagine a higher connection and purpose to life.

Whatever the cause may be, there’s no doubt that religion and spirituality have a significant impact on the lives of many Americans. I encourage you to listen to the full episode to learn more, as well as hear how Greg and I came to our findings. You can also follow my research at the BABLab here.

More from “After the Fact”

“After the Fact” goes beyond the data to bring you nonpartisan analysis and compelling stories. If you like what you heard, click here to check out more “After the Fact” episodes, subscribe to the podcast, and share.