BABLab Receives Grant Funding to Investigate Virtual Worship & Flourishing!

Congratulations to Dr. Van Cappellen for being awarded with grant funding from the Templeton World Charity! Dr. Van Cappellen serves as Principal Investigator on this grant ($499,489) titled “Worship 2.0: Testing the benefits and challenges of virtual
worship participation for flourishing”, a three-year project beginning in September 2024 to August 2027.

This project seeks to examine the flourishing-related benefits and challenges of worship modes in evangelical Protestant Christians and Black Protestant Christians churches, for whom virtual worship is practiced more frequently. Flourishing will be assessed at both the personal and spiritual levels: through psychological well-being and subjective happiness, and felt presence of God and spiritual well-being.

Through qualitative, quantitative, and experimental data, we address three research questions:

  1. Does virtual worship participation bring the same benefits for flourishing as in-person worship?
  2. Are the mechanisms through which worship is thought to affect flourishing still activated by virtual worship?
  3. What factors optimize the experience of virtual worship?

This project will address existing gaps in the research regarding the causal effect of virtual worship on flourishing, the factors that influence these effects, and how the social and emotional experience of worship potentially explain them. By actively partnering and collaborating with practitioners, we hope to ground the research in real-world experience in order to yield and disseminate findings that are both scientifically robust and practically relevant.


Lab Highlights: RA Presentations

Happy (almost) end of term! As we finish up the Spring semester, we’d like to highlight some of the great work by our RAs. Rohan and Abby had the opportunity to present their analyses and results based on the lab’s work on empathy and compassion — more details below!

Rohan worked together with Meredith, a senior RA, to create a presentation for a study on empathy and the effect of a prayer framework. Rohan was also able to lead the presentation at a March lab meeting, where we discussed the results and the lab’s work!

Abby created a poster presentation looking at the cognitive effort of compassion among religious people, and the effect of a prayer framework. She presented at an April lab meeting and at the 2024 Undergraduate Research Symposium!


Tabling During the 2024 Solar Eclipse!

On April 8th, 2024, our wonderful BABLab Members tabled at the BC Plaza as part of our IBRC (Interdisciplinary Behavioral Research Center) advertising and outreach efforts!

A big thank you to Rohan, Meredith, and Abby for recruiting out on the plaza! Not only was the recruitment a success, the team was also able to witness the 2024 solar eclipse together 🙂 Wishing everyone the best as we wrap up the Spring semester!


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 Opportunity! Bass Connections Project: What is Hope?

We are excited to announce an interdisciplinary Bass Connections Project Team for the 2024-2025 academic year!  Dr. Patty Van Cappellen will be serving as Team Leader alongside Dr. Erin Johnston for this project entitled, “What is Hope? Bridging the Gap between Experience and Research.”

In year-long Bass Connections project teams, faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students engage in collaborative research that explores complex societal issues. Duke students of all levels can apply! See the 2024-2025 Project Teams. Deadline for applications is February 12, 5p.m EST.

What is Hope?

Hope is a central concept not only to promoting resilience and flourishing, but also as a religious competency. Its scientific study is, however, surprisingly limited — existing conceptions range from too narrow to too broad. We aim to renew our understanding of hope through a deeper engagement with its lived experiences and existential roots.

This team will engage with the lived experience of hope as reported by practitioners and community members, including people of faith. Team members will expand the understanding of what hope is through semi-structured interviews to gather 30-60 personal stories of hope. A data repository will be created, containing rich qualitative data on experiences of hope from a diverse set of people representing different religious, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Student Opportunities:

  • The team will include 3 graduate students and 12 undergraduate students with interest and background in the social sciences.
  • Students will develop skills in project design and learn social science research methods, analytical skills, and critical evaluation.

Academic credit is available for Fall-Spring semesters.

Please see the Hope Project Team page for full details! See the 2024-2025 Project Teams call page to learn more about Bass Connections teams, FAQ, and the online application. We encourage all interested students to apply!


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!

BABLab RA Cai Liu Wins Bruner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research!

We are proud to announce that Cai, one of the BAB Lab’s current research assistants, has won the highest award for undergraduate researchers by the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience! The Jerome S. Bruner Award recognizes a senior-year Duke student for excellence in psychological research activities, intellectual curiosity, and future potential for scholarly activity. Congratulations on this honor, Cai!

More information here.


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.