Peter is Assistant Professor of Psychology at Calvin College whose research focuses on the cultivation of character virtues. Previously, he researched character education interventions as a postdoctoral fellow with the Character Lab at the University of Pennsylvania.
Study #1: Manipulating Narrative Points of View: A Potential Key Mechanism for Exemplar Interventions
In Manipulating Narrative Points of View: A Potential Key Mechanism for Exemplar Interventions, Meindl and his team pay close attention to the contexts that enable the success of exemplar interventions, particularly in middle schools and high schools. Building on their past work in moral psychology, character education, and psychological interventions, they will develop a set of school-based interventions based on insights derived from innovations on “wise” interventions that consistently shape middle and high school students’ character virtues. Additionally, they will tailor these interventions in a classroom-friendly manner that motivates middle- and high-school teachers to utilize their interventions in the classroom.
Study #2: The Role of Emotions in Exemplar Interventions for Academic Character Building
In Exemplar Narratives as Teaching Tools for Academic Character Building, Engelen’s team will focus on identifying key mechanisms that can influence the success of exemplar interventions in the university context. Specifically, they will run a longitudinal study examining the efficacy of different exemplar interventions with a focus on the role of self-transcendent and other-praising emotions in promoting character growth. Emotions have been hypothesized to promote character virtues by reinforcing key values. Additionally, emotions such as admiration, elevation, inspiration, compassion, gratitude, and awe may plan a particularly important role in promoting character virtues. In addition to examining the role of these emotions, Engelen and his team will employ a contextualized approach that examines which specific exemplar narratives are effective for which types of students.
Study #3: Educating Character through Exemplars: Designing Research-Based Interventions for Colleges and Universities
In Educating Character through Exemplars: Designing Research-Based Interventions for Colleges and Universities, Lamb and his interdisciplinary collaborators will draw on theoretical and empirical research to design a series of creative exemplar-based interventions to build character virtues among students at Wake Forest University. They aim to answer three key questions about promoting character in an institutional context: Which types of exemplar interventions are most effective for shaping the character of “emerging adults” in a university context? Which functions of exemplars are most relevant for students in this developmental stage? And how can exemplar interventions be integrated organically into both curricular and co-curricular offerings? By designing and assessing multiple types of exemplar interventions, their team will develop resources to enable other colleges and universities to adapt exemplar interventions for their own contexts.
Study #4: Using Exemplars to Facilitate Growth Following Adversity: Developing the SecondStory 2.0 Intervention
The question of how exemplar interventions promote specific character virtues is a core goal of Jayawickreme’s study, Using Exemplars to Facilitate Growth Following Adversity: Developing the SecondStory 2.0 Intervention. Jayawickreme and his interdisciplinary team will examine whether narratives of moral exemplars who have experienced and overcome adversity can facilitate the promotion of specific character virtues. Recent philosophical work has highlighted how moral exemplars who have experienced adversity may lead to increased admiration for the exemplar, enable more effective emulation, and affirm important truths about the human condition. Jayawickreme’s team will develop an interdisciplinary account of how such exemplars can be successfully employed to develop character growth in the wake of adversity and test a modified intervention designed to promote such growth in a randomized controlled trial.
Study #5: The Role of Spiritual and Literary Exemplar Narratives in Cultivating Character
In The Role of Spiritual and Literary Exemplar Narratives in Cultivating Character, Gulliford and her team will employ textual analysis to analyze different genres of exemplar narratives from diverse disciplinary perspectives. Their analysis will provide important information about how exemplar narratives appeal to individuals, as well as how they promote emulation and admiration. In doing so, Gulliford and her team will identify some of the psychological, pedagogical, and spiritual mechanisms that imbue moral exemplar narratives with their motivational and inspirational impact. By providing researchers and practitioners with important insights about the active ingredients of different types of exemplar narratives, they will facilitate the development of new interventions and narratives.