Gratitude to God: Psychological, Philosophical and Theological Investigations Project

Gratitude to God: Psychological, Philosophical and Theological Investigations Project

Duration: Two Years Start date between September 1, 2020 and November 1, 2020.
End date between August 31, 2022 and October 31, 2022


Biola University, with the help of a very generous grant from The John Templeton Foundation, and under the direction of Peter Hill and Robert Emmons, welcomes proposals from various disciplines to investigate questions that concern Gratitude to God.*

*[For the sake of this proposal and the anticipated projects that we hope it generates, we are using the term “God” to encompass the supreme God of monotheistic traditions, as well as other supernatural or superhuman beings with agency and powers (gods, spirits, ghosts, saints), whether personal or impersonal (Smith, 2017) with capacities to “make things happen or prevent them from happening, especially obtaining goods and avoiding bads” (Smith, 2017, p. 22). The phrase “personal or impersonal” implies that the superhuman powers may or may not be believed to possess consciousness, intentions, feelings, desires and other properties of the mind. We use the term “cosmic gratitude” in the RFP to depict the state that is felt by people who are inclined to feel gratitude for things not plausibly attributable to human agency nor to a personal supernatural or superhuman agent (Roberts, 2014)]


We anticipate proposals for empirical and non-empirical projects that address one or more of the questions listed below. Proposals may be for projects that utilize the methodologies of the behavioral sciences, philosophy, theology, or religious studies. Empirical projects may be multimethod, qualitative, theoretical, cross-cultural, employ behavioral measures, or incorporate developmental approaches (though none of these are required). For the empirical projects, experimental methodologies are encouraged. There will be 4 separate award competitions: (1) Empirical large grants, (2) Empirical early career grants, (3) Non-empirical large grants, and (4) Non-empirical early career grants.

What is Beyond the Scope of this Competition?

Projects that are fundamentally concerned with the effect of gratitude to God on health, well-being, happiness, coping or other similar outcomes are valuable, but should be excluded from the present funding competition, which focuses on foundational questions. Projects that are primarily correlational in nature and psychometric work on measures of gratitude to God in adults are not encouraged.

Projects exploring comparisons among experiences and expressions of gratitude across religious traditions. The focus of the project is not a comparative examination of gratitude (e.g. are Buddhists more or less grateful than Christians?) but rather how people experience gratitude to God and other supernatural agents or forces.

Projects that focus on collaborations between psychology, theology, or philosophy of GTG and the ministry. The John Templeton Foundation has funded numerous projects that have supported collaborative work between academics and ministry professionals, but the focus here is on advancing basic scholarship on GTG.

Projects that are historical in nature are beyond the scope of this competition.

For a detailed PDF with instructions see here:

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