Category Archives: Uncategorized

New Publication: Meaning behind the movement: Attributing sacred meaning to fluid and non-fluid arm movements increases self-transcendent positive emotions and buffers the effects of non-fluidity on positive emotions

Freeburg, P. A., Van Cappellen, P., Ratchford, J. L., & Schnitker, S. A. (in press). Meaning
behind the movement: Attributing sacred meaning to fluid and nonfluid arm movements
increases selftranscendent positive emotions and buffers the effects of nonfluidity on positive emotions. Psychology of Religion and SpiritualityPre-print.

 

 

Background

Sacred meaning is regularly attributed to body movements in a variety of religious and spiritual settings, but studies have yet to disentangle the effects of the sacred meaning attributed to body movements from the effects of body movements themselves.

 

Objective

Participants (n = 422) were randomly assigned to draw six lines that were fluid or nonfluid (as a replication attempt) and to ascribe sacred or nonsacred meaning to the arm movements (as an extension of prior research). The effects of movement fluidity, movement sacredness, and their interaction were examined on affective (positive emotions, selftranscendent positive emotions, affective response to a video about the impact of racism on health) and cognitive (creativity, race conceptions) outcomes.

 

Results

The present study did not replicate previous findings that fluid movement leads to creativity and flexible race conceptions. Instead, the present study found that attributing sacred meaning to arm movements led to greater experiences of positive and selftranscendent positive emotions (and lower negative emotions) and protected against the deleterious effects of nonfluid movement on positive emotions (in addition to protecting against increases in negative emotions).

 

Conclusion

We highlight the importance of accounting for the meaning attributed to body movements and suggest embodiment may operate through more affective than cognitive processes. Future research should further investigate the amplifying and buffering effects of sacred meaning attributed to embodied actions within religious and spiritual
contexts.

New Publication: More than a momentary blip in the universe? Investigating the link between religiousness and perceived meaning in life.

Prinzing, M., Van Cappellen, P., & Fredrickson B.L. (2022). More than a momentary blip in the universe? Investigating the link between religiousness and perceived meaning in life. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. https://doi.org/10.1177/01461672211060136

 

Objective

One longitudinal and four cross-sectional studies (total N = 3,141) tested two candidate explanations for the association between religiousness and perceived meaning in life. Religiousness may foster a sense of significance, importance, or mattering—either to others (social mattering) or in the grand scheme of the universe (cosmic mattering)—which in turn support perceived meaning.

 

Results

We found that perceived social mattering mediated, but could not fully explain, the link between religiousness and perceived meaning. In contrast, perceived cosmic mattering did fully explain the association.

 

Conclusion

Overall, results suggest that perceived social and cosmic mattering are each part of the explanation. Yet, perceived cosmic mattering appears to be the stronger mechanism. We discuss how religious faith may be especially suited to support such perceptions, making it a partially unique source of felt meaning.

New publications!

Lots of announcements to make!

First, we published two papers providing needed empirical data on Christian prayer postures and how they connect to emotions and the religious experience more generally.

Van Cappellen, P., & Edwards, M. (in press). Emotion expression in context: Full body postures of Christian prayer orientations compared to secular emotions. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior. Pre-print

Van Cappellen, P., Cassidy, S., & Zhang, R. (in press). Religion as an embodied practice: Organizing the various forms and documenting the meanings of Christian prayer postures. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality. Pre-print

Second, we are super proud to announce Maria Naclerio’s first publication! Maria did her senior thesis with us when she was an undergrad at Duke. She even earned the 2019-2020 Jerome S. Bruner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research for this research! Preprint to come, check out our list of publications.

Naclerio, M., & Van Cappellen, P. (in press). Awe, group cohesion, and religious self-sacrifice. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion.

Third, stay tuned for a new book chapter summarizing the latest research, including research from our lab, on positive emotions and religion/spirituality. Happy to send a private copy if you email me.

Van Cappellen, P., Zhang, R. & Fredrickson, B. L. (forthcoming 2022). The scientific study of positive emotions and religion/spirituality. To appear in W. Davis, E. Worthington, & S. Schnitker (Ed.), Handbook of positive psychology, religion, and spirituality. Springer.

We are hiring!

*update: it looks like the position does not show up anymore on the duke careers website, please email me directly your application and when duke HR reopens the position online, I will ask you to submit your documents there as well.*

The Belief, Affect, and Behavior Lab (BABLab), directed by Dr. Patty Van Cappellen at Duke University seeks a full-time lab manager/data technician for a 12-month funded position (possibility to extend contingent on funding). The lab manager/data technician will work closely with the PI to perform the research activities of grant-funded projects in the psychology of religion and emotions working on topics related to gratitude, embodiment of emotions, and intergroup prejudice/prosociality. For more information on the lab, the PI’s research, and the specific project, see: https://sites.duke.edu/bablab/.

This position is ideal for individuals who wish to go to grad school in the near future. I am looking for someone who is passionate about research and has interest in the lab’s topic. I give the opportunity to my staff to present at conferences and to become co-authors on journal manuscripts. We will do a lot of research together as a team and you will be involved from start to finish on most projects! Start date can be arranged with me and is expected to be around August 1st, 2021. *it is expected for the candidate to move to NC and be in person, in an office on Duke campus. I am anticipating in person data collection to resume in the Fall and interactions with RAs to be in person as well*

Work Performed:

– Assisting in designing and running a series of experiments with human subjects related to multiple grant-funded projects

– Maintaining IRB records

– Managing and training a team of undergraduate research assistants

– Cleaning and analyzing data (including psychophysiology data)

– Assisting in writing manuscripts

– Assisting with media outreach

– Assisting in general administrative activities as requested including planning lab meetings

Preferred Qualifications:

Ideal candidate will have a strong undergraduate background in psychology with previous research experience, including SPSS and scientific writing. Experience with the following is desirable, but not required: Excel, Qualtrics, MTurk, Psychophysiology data collection software and equipment such as Mindware or Biopac. Seeking candidate with excellent time-management skills, attention to detail, interpersonal, communication, and writing skills, extremely efficient in email correspondence, ability to work independently, and ability to juggle multiple varied tasks.

It is the expectation that all staff members will demonstrate exceptional workplace behaviors in the execution of their specific position responsibilities. These behaviors are customer focus, collaboration, creative problem solving, continuous learning, and a commitment to diversity.

Application Process:

All applicants must apply through the Duke Human Resources system at http://www.hr.duke.edu/jobs/

Requisition number is 51039463.

Please submit a cover letter describing relevant past research experience and interests (especially regarding stats, coding of participants’ open ended responses, RA traning, psychophysiology), a writing sample (it can be your honor’s thesis or a research paper you wrote), a CV, email and phone numbers for three professional references and your relationship to them. If you have any issues uploading some of these documents through Duke HR, please send them to me by email (patty.vancappellen@duke.edu).

Education: Work requires a bachelor’s degree in a field related to the specific position.

Duke is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer committed to providing employment opportunity without regard to an individual’s age, color, disability, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status.

Duke aspires to create a community built on collaboration, innovation, creativity, and belonging. Our collective success depends on the robust exchange of ideas—an exchange that is best when the rich diversity of our perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences flourishes. To achieve this exchange, it is essential that all members of the community feel secure and welcome, that the contributions of all individuals are respected, and that all voices are heard. All members of our community have a responsibility to uphold these values.

Essential Physical Job Functions: Certain jobs at Duke University and Duke University Health System may include essentialjob functions that require specific physical and/or mental abilities. Additional information and provision for requests for reasonable accommodation will be provided by each hiring department.

 

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.