Travis Institute Receives $1.3 Million Grant to Study Love and Virtue

The John Templeton Foundation is funding this project by Fuller's Travis Research Institute

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The Travis Research Institute at Fuller Theological Seminary's Graduate School of Psychology is pleased to have received a $1.3 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation to fund a two-year project titled "Love, Compassion, and Care: Virtue Science and Exemplarity in Real Life and in the Laboratory."

The project will be conducted in partnership with the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). The principle investigators on this project are Warren S. Brown (professor of psychology, Fuller), Steven Quartz (professor of philosophy, Caltech), Michael Spezio (associate professor of psychology, Scripps College, and visiting researcher, Caltech) and Kevin Reimer (professor of psychology, Azusa Pacific University).

This project has a unique focus on people who exemplify the virtues of care and compassion. The project will study caregivers who serve and live with those who are disabled. These caregivers demonstrate compassion, care, and love over a long period of time and at significant personal cost. Researchers will test the hypothesis that these virtues are based primarily in one's habitual orientation to situations and persons, and are less influenced by calculations of likely benefits or obedience to moral rules.

The project will use sophisticated methodologies, including computer methods that analyze the semantics of interview responses, behavior in economic games that reveal tendencies to be generous and caring at personal cost, and observations of brain functioning using fMRI and EEG imaging. This research is a continuation of research done through a previous grant from the Science and Transcendence Advanced Research Series (STARS) grant competition hosted by the Center for Theology and Natural Science at Berkeley.

Dr. Brown stated, "We hope that this research will teach us to better identify people who are likely to flourish in the important work of long-term caregiving. We also believe that this research will uncover the life experiences that cause people to become compassionate and loving." Dr. Quartz added, "Past studies of moral behavior tended to focus on deficits. By focusing on examples of love instead, this grant gives us a great opportunity to understand virtue and its psychological and neural foundations.

For more information, please contact the project coordinator Claire Okeke at 626-584-5615 or by email at


The John Templeton Foundation ( serves as a philanthropic catalyst for discoveries relating to the Big Questions of human purpose and ultimate reality.

Fuller's School of Psychology has been creating a pioneer program that integrates faith and psychology since 1965. The Travis Research Institute (TRI) has been part of the School of Psychology for 25 years. TRI is committed to fostering interdisciplinary research into the relationships between social systems, the environment, personality, mental and emotional states and spiritual practices.

The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is a world-renowned science and engineering research and education institution, where extraordinary faculty and students seek answers to complex questions, discover new knowledge, lead innovation, and transform our future.

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