BABLab at SPSP 21!

In February of this year, two of our Research Assistants and our Lab Manager had the opportunity to present their research at the Religion and Spirituality Preconference of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology Conference! Although the conference was virtual this year due to COVID-19, our lab members were thrilled to be able to disseminate their work among other enthusiastic social psychologists. Read more about the poster presenters & presentations below:

Strength and Robustness of the Relationship Between Hope and Religiosity in the 2016 General Social Survey

Pranav Athimuthu & Patty Van Cappellen

Prior studies on hope and religion involve restrictive samples and do not control for confounding variables. To fill this gap, we examined data from a sample of Americans in the GSS (N = 1,426). Results show a small correlation between religiosity and hope that remains significant when controlling for other variables. Thus, we recommend expanding the current narrow conceptualization of hope.

 

To God All the Glory: Prevalence of and Ways to Express Gratitude to God

Kerry O’Brien, Patty Van Cappellen, & Sara Algoe

Gratitude to God (GTG) is a common feeling but understudied compared to interpersonal gratitude. This study adds needed data on the prevalence and content of GTG expressions when reflecting on a personal success. Participants write about a personal success, express gratitude, and answer questions on gratitude attribution. Lastly, they describe the various ways they show GTG in everyday life.

 

Confess While Raising My Hands? Comfort in Various Prayer Postures Across Prayer Themes and Emotions

Gwyn Reece & Patty Van Cappellen

This study(N = 84 U.S. Christians) investigates self-reported comfort praying in six postures varying on body’s orientation (upward vs. downward) and use of space (expansive vs. constrictive) when praying in general, about specific common themes (e.g., humility, thanksgiving) and when feeling certain positive and negative emotions. Findings show that prayer postures are meaningfully associated with the topics of the prayer and the emotions felt while praying.

New publication: Understanding Engagement in and Affective Experiences During Physical Activity: The Role of Meditation Interventions

Objective: Meditation interventions promote an array of well-being outcomes. Yet, the way in which these interventions promote beneficial outcomes is less clear. Here, we expanded on prior work by examining the influence of mindfulness and loving-kindness meditation on a key health behavior: physical activity. Methods: To test our hypotheses, we drew upon two randomized intervention studies. In Study 1, 171 adults (73.0% female) received 6 weeks of training in either mindfulness meditation, loving-kindness meditation, or were assigned to a control condition. In Study 2, 124 adults (60.0% female) were assigned to a 6-week mindfulness or loving-kindness meditation group. Results: Study 1 demonstrated that individuals who received mindfulness training reported sustained levels of physical activity across the intervention period (Pre: M = 4.09, SD = 2.07; Post M = 3.68, SD = 2.00; p = .054), while those in the control (Pre: M = 3.98, SD = 2.25; Post M = 3.01, SD = 2.07; p < .001) and loving-kindness (Pre: M = 4.11, SD = 2.26; Post M = 3.45, SD = 1.96; p < .001) conditions reported lower levels. Study 2 demonstrated those who received mindfulness training experienced increases in positive emotions during physical activity from pre to post-intervention (Pre: M = 6.06, SD = 2.51; Post: M = 6.54, SD = 2.43, p = .001), whereas those trained in loving-kindness meditation experienced decreases in positive emotions during physical activity (Pre: M = 6.45, SD = 2.35; Post: M = 6.09, SD = 2.46, p = .040). Conclusions: These results suggest mindfulness training (but not loving-kindness training) promotes sustained physical activity, and one plausible reason why this occurs is enhanced positive emotion during physical activity.

Don, B., P., Van Cappellen, P., & Fredrickson, B. L. (in press). Understanding engagement in and affective experiences during physical activity: The role of meditation interventions. Psychosomatic Medicine. 

Prejudice toward Christians and Atheists Among Members of Nonreligious Groups: Attitudes, Behaviors, and Mechanisms

Patty Van Cappellen and Jordan P. LaBouff

Much research demonstrates that people high in religiosity tend to be prejudiced against value- threatening groups. Therefore, some researchers have suggested that people who are not religious may be less prejudiced. Are nonreligious people characterized by general tolerance? If not, what are the bases of their prejudices? This research investigated prejudice toward Christians and atheists among people who identify as nonreligious (atheist, agnostic, and spiritual-but-not-religious), documented this prejudice in the form of exclusion behaviors (Study 1) and self-report of affect and social distance (Studies 2–3), and explored potential mechanisms of nonreligious prejudice toward Christians: individual differences in belief style and biases against Christians (Studies 2–3). Results showed the nonreligious are not generally tolerant and that differences among these groups in belief superiority, feelings of distrust, and fear of contamination by unpalatable ideas all explained differences in prejudice toward Christians. These findings help provide a more comprehensive picture of religious intergroup prejudice.

Van Cappellen, P. & LaBouff, J. (in press). Prejudice toward Christians and Atheists among members of nonreligious groups: Attitudes, behaviors, and mechanisms. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations. PDF

Upward Spirals of Positive Emotions and Religious Behaviors

Patty Van Cappellen, Megan E. Edwards, & Barbara L. Fredrickson

Positive emotions feel good and build psychological, social, and biological resources (Broaden-and-Build Theory, Fredrickson, 1998, 2013). People who identify as religious or spiritual value them and report feeling them frequently. They are also prevalent in religious and spiritual practices, such as prayer, meditation, and collective worship. We review the literature on the reciprocal relationship between positive emotions and religion/spirituality and identify individual differences predicting greater positive emotions derived from engaging in religious practices. We suggest that beyond building religious/spiritual people’s well-being, positive emotions play a role in sustaining otherwise costly religious behaviors. We integrate our review in the proposed Upward Spiral Theory of Sustained Religious Practice.

Van Cappellen, P., Edwards, M., & Fredrickson, B. L. (in press). Upward spirals of positive emotions and religious behaviors. Current Opinion in PsychologyPDF 

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. 

New Publication

Łowicki, P., Zajenkowski, M., & Van Cappellen, P. (in press). It’s the heart that matters: The relationships among cognitive mentalizing ability, emotional empathy, and religiosity. Personality and Individual Differences, 161, 109976.

Exciting new research on empathy and religion conducted by our visiting scholar, Paweł, in collaboration with Dr. Van Cappellen will soon be published on the Personality and Individual Differences journal!

Check out the work in advance here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886920301653

SPSP 2020

Please join us at the 2020 Society for Personality and Social Psychology Convention in New Orleans, LA. BAB Lab will be presenting five posters at the Convention and the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality Preconference. Here are the contents and times of our presentations:

SPSP Convention (Friday, Feb 28 and Saturday, Feb 29)

Friday, Feb 28, 1:30-2:30pm

Shaken to the core: A naturalistic study of awe’s effects on values, meaning, and religiosity.

Edwards, M. E., Perlin J. D., & Van Cappellen, P.

 

Saturday, Feb 29, 9:15 – 10:15am

Shades of expansiveness: Full-body expressions of joy, awe, hope, and dominance.

Van Cappellen, P., Edwards, M., & Shiota, M.


Religion and Spirituality Preconference (Thursday, Feb 27, 8:00am – 4:30pm)

Prayer postures associations with religious experience among Muslims, Christians, and Hindus.

Edwards, M. E., & Van Cappellen, P.

 

Examining the religious functions of awe through group cohesion and self-sacrifice. 

Naclerio, M. & Van Cappellen, P. 

 

The interdependence between prayer posture and religious mindset.

Zhang, R., & Van Cappellen, P.

Maria Receives Jerome S. Bruner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research!

Congratulations to Maria, the recipient of the 2019-2020 Jerome S. Bruner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research!

Maria has been conducting research at the BAB lab since Fall 2019. Currently, she is writing her honors thesis on awe with Dr. Van Cappellen.

For more information about her award-winning thesis project, please read: https://psychandneuro.duke.edu/news/senior-maria-naclerio-receives-2019-2020-jerome-s-bruner-award-excellence-undergraduate