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
THE PSYCHOLOGICAL AND SOCIAL IMPORTANCE OF POSTURES DURING WORSHIP
by Sheridan Wilbur & Patty Van Cappellen
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.
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.
Ruixi Zhang, a graduate from Wellesley College, has joined the lab as a full time Study Coordinator for the Embodiment of Worship project—an exciting research project funded by a 3-year grant from the John Templeton Foundation.
BABLab is currently hiring for a Study Coordinator position!
This is a full-time research coordinator position starting during the fall of 2019.
APPLY NOW! See the Join the Lab page for more details!
Van Cappellen, P. (in press). The emotion of joy: A commentary on Johnson. Journal of Positive Psychology.
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.
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.”
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.
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
Paweł Łowicki is joining the Belief, Affect & Behavior Lab for the semester! He is a visiting graduate student from the University of Warsaw in Poland. He is currently doing research related to the psychology of religion, empathy and mentalizing abilities. See more about him on our People page.
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.
Embodying the Religious Experience: Full body representations of religion related feelings and prayer orientations.
Authors: Megan Edwards & Patty Van Cappellen, PhD
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