New Publication

Van Cappellen, P., Catalino, L. I., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2019). A new micro-intervention to increase the enjoyment and continued practice of meditation. Emotion. doi:10.1037/emo0000684
New work revealing the importance of experiencing positive emotions during spiritual practices in order to sustain engagement in the practice.
Abstract:
New health behaviors are difficult to maintain and meditation is no different. We tested two key pathways of the upward spiral theory of lifestyle change (Fredrickson, 2013), which identifies positive emotions as critical ingredients for the maintenance of new health behaviors. The present experiment combined a laboratory session that introduced novices to meditation with a 3-week follow-up period to assess the extent to which study participants maintained this new health behavior. In a 2 × 2 experimental design, midlife adults (N = 240) were randomized to (a) learn about judicious ways to prioritize positivity (labeled “prioritizing positivity plus”) or about a control topic that also featured the science of positive emotions and (b) follow a guided meditation based on either loving-kindness, which provided an opportunity to self-generate positive emotions, or mindfulness, which did not. All participants rated their emotions following the initial guided meditation and reported, week by week, whether they meditated during the ensuing 21 days. Analyses revealed that being exposed to the prioritizing positivity plus microintervention, relative to a control passage, amplified the effect of engaging in loving-kindness (vs. mindfulness) meditation on positive emotions. Additionally, the degree to which participants experienced positive emotions during first exposure to either meditation type predicted the frequency and duration at which they practiced meditation over the next 21 days. These findings show that the enjoyment of meditation can be experimentally amplified and that initial enjoyment predicts continued practice. Discussion spotlights the importance of differentiating effective and ineffective ways to pursue happiness.

New publication

Van Cappellen, P. (in press). The emotion of joy: A commentary on Johnson. Journal of Positive Psychology.

Abstract:

In this contribution, I push for a deeper understanding of the emotion of joy as compared to happiness and to other discrete positive emotions, by specifying its appraisals and functions. I suggest that joy connects us to our core identity, values, and priorities. It is the emotion that makes life worth living in the moment. I further discuss the distinction between an objective versus subjective account of instances of joy, a distinction I find important to bear in mind when dealing with morally problematic cases of joy. Finally, I discuss points of connection between the psychologies of joy and religion and suggest multiple lines of future research.

American Psychological Association Div. 36 Award

Dr. Patty Van Cappellen received the Margaret Gorman Early Career award from the American Psychological Association Div. 36 and gave an address entitled:
“Religion/spirituality: From the mind to the body.”

Abstract:

I will present a summary of my own research that showcases the importance of studying religion as a practice in addition to a system of beliefs. First, I’ll discuss the fact that religious and spiritual practices (e.g., attending a place of worship, praying, meditating) are associated with the experience of meaningful positive emotions. To explain this association, I’ll specifically focus on embodied processes showing that the very body postures adopted in worship and prayer are associated with distinct religious experiences. I’ll then turn my attention to the implications of experiencing positive emotions in religious practice describing research on well-being and spirituality. Finally, I’ll briefly describe an ongoing investigation on the psychological and biological factors that amplify the positive emotions experienced in spiritual practices with attendant consequences for sustained adherence to these practices. Together, I aim to argue for the importance of moving the study of religion beyond the mind and for taking seriously the role that positive emotions play when experienced during religious and spiritual practices.

Mindfulness Publication

Do Contemplative Moments Matter? Effects of Informal Meditation on Emotions and Perceived Social Integration.

Fredrickson, B. L., Arizmendi, C., Van Cappellen, P., Firestine, A. M., Brantley, M. M., Kim, S. L., . . . Salzberg, S. (2019). Do Contemplative Moments Matter? Effects of Informal Meditation on Emotions and Perceived Social Integration. Mindfulness. doi:10.1007/s12671-019-01154-2

In this study we showed that informal meditation practice (both mindfulness and loving-kindness) increases daily positive emotions and perceptions of social integration over time (independently of the effects of a formal meditation practice). Think about it as you go about your day! “Informal mindfulness meditation (MM) may entail a simple shift of awareness toward one’s breath, whereas informal loving–kindness meditation (LKM) may entail a passing, yet heartfelt wish for another person’s well-being.”

See full paper here: https://rdcu.be/bCufA

SPSP 2019

BABLab will have the following presentations at the 2019 Society for Personality and Social Psychology Convention in Portland, OR.

 

Please join us at the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality preconference on Thursday, February 7th. Two of our presentations will cover current research related to our ongoing Embodiment of Worship grant funded by the John Templeton Foundation.

Data Blitz

Embodying the Religious Experience: Full body representations of religion related feelings and prayer orientations.

Authors: Megan Edwards & Patty Van Cappellen, PhD

Poster Presentation

Are Postures Adopted During Church Service Related to Worship Experience?

Authors: Stephanie Cassidy & Patty Van Cappellen, PhD

 

Also! Poster Presentation from a visiting graduate student from the University of Warsaw, Poland

Religious belief and social cognition: The role of empathy and self-reported mind-reading skills

Authors: Pawel Lowicki & Marcin Zajenkowski

 

Early Career Award!

Congratulations to Patty Van Cappellen, PhD. for receiving the

Margaret Gorman Early Career Award

Recipients of this award have shown innovative research in the psychology of religion, marked by scholarly excellence, and has implications for theory, practice or further research. Dr. Van Capellen received her Ph.D. in Psychology at the Université catholique de Louvain in 2012. Her research in religion and spirituality has encompassed the topics of emotions, health, biology, embodiment, antisocial behaviors, as well as qualitative research with the Hebrew Bible. You can read more about her research on the psychology of religion and spirituality here.

International Association of the Cognitive Science of Religion

Two presentations were given at this year's International Association of the Cognitive Science of Religion conference in Boston, MA.

The panel - Embodiment of Religion in Mind and Experience - was lead by Dimitris Xygalatas, PhD. and showcased two presentations related to our current research on the Embodiment of Worship:

"The Physicality of Religious Experiences: Relationships Between Body Postures and Feelings"    Presenter: Megan Edwards    Co-authors: Patty Van Cappellen, PhD & Stephanie Cassidy

"Influence of Religious Postures on Emotions, Humility and Image of God: Preliminary Findings"    Presenter: Stephanie Cassidy    Co-authors: Patty Van Cappellen, PhD, Kevin Ladd, PhD & Megan Edwards