Dr. William Whitney, Associate Professor of Psychology, received a $219,915 grant from John Templeton Foundation's Academic Cross-Training (ACT) Fellowship. Funding will support Dr. Whitney as he undertakes a three-year research project entitled, “Understanding the Virtues of Purpose, Patience, and Hope in the Midst of Suffering or Significant Stress.” His study will focus on how certain virtues hold potential to uniquely contribute to human flourishing.
To explore this topic, Whitney and his team will interview and survey people undergoing times of hardship, such as patients waiting to receive a formal cancer diagnosis. His findings will join the body of research on the benefits of hope, patience, and purpose, deepening the understanding of these virtues in times of suffering and enriching his work as a professor and licensed therapist.
“We all have difficulties in our lives—and this is a topic that holds meaning for everyone,” said Whitney. “This research will investigate mindsets and virtues that can ground us in things that matter during adversity, helping us cope more effectively.”
In a quest to address life’s “big questions,” the Templeton ACT fellowship specifically seeks out professionals with degrees in theology or philosophy and equips them to engage further in the empirical sciences. With a Ph.D. in systematic theology, Whitney brings his theological expertise to the study of virtue science within positive psychology. At the end of the three-year grant, Whitney will also have completed coursework for a second Ph.D. in developmental psychology at Claremont Graduate University.
“Christianity’s insights on purpose, patience, and hope contribute valuable perspectives to current research," said Whitney. “They are virtues that can lead to perseverance in the present and are theological topics that overlap with positive psychology’s emphasis on virtues and virtue development.”