Patty Van Cappellen, Ph.D.




Patty Van Cappellen is the Associate Director of the Interdisciplinary Behavioral Research Center at Duke University. Patty earned her Ph.D. in Social Psychology in 2012 and then a Master in Biblical Studies in 2014 from the Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium. She then moved to do a postdoc with Barbara Fredrickson on positive psychology at UNC-Chapel Hill where she became Research Assistant Professor.

Dr. Van Cappellen received the Early Career Award from the International Association for the Psychology of Religion (IAPR) in 2017. She is currently Associate Editor of the peer-reviewed journal “Archive for the Psychology of Religion”.

She is an experimental social psychologist investigating such questions as “Why do people turn to religion or spirituality?” and “What are the psychological, contextual, and biological underpinnings of religion’s best and worst outcomes?” Currently, she is particularly interested in the study of self-transcendent emotions (e.g., awe, elevation), their relation to meaning in life and well-being, and their biological underpinnings. She is the recipient of a 3-year grant (2017-2020) from the John Templeton Foundation to investigate: “The embodiment of worship: Relations among postural, psychological, and physiological aspects of religious practice.”

For the latest information check out Dr. Van Cappellen’s lab website: Belief, Affect, and Behavior (BABLab)