St. Paul’s insight that “Suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3-4) has great intuitive appeal, and echoes Susan Hayward’s claim, “Every ending is a new beginning” (Templeton, 1997, p.115). Although the theme of "strength from adversity" is attractive and central to many disciplines and cultural narratives, these claims lack robust empirical evidence, with unanswered questions remaining. Specifically, do character virtues grow following adversity and what are the rigorous tools for prospectively assessing potential growth? The proposed project will promote research that rigorously examines whether adversity, challenge, or failure can strengthen character, with a focus on the virtues of altruism, humility, gratitude, relatedness/empathy, spirituality and open-mindedness. Through the innovating nature of our project, we aim to achieve the following goals: 1) Address the most pressing questions on this topic, including accurately conceptualize adversity and character growth, research designs for prospectively assessing character growth following adversity, moderating and mediating factors associated with this process, and any long-term benefits. These and other questions have the promise to be answered through projects funded by the RFP and our own empirical projects 2) Identify bright young scholars with amenable research programs to work on questions related to character growth following adversity through an RFP. This strategy will ensure that these scholars’ interest in the topic will remain past initial investment 3) Promote interdisciplinary research on this topic through the involvement of scholars from psychology, philosophy, and religious studies 4) Highlight and promote best research practices when studying character growth following adversity, challenge and failure 5) Ensure that JTF has the largest impact on the field in promoting research on this topic in the most cost-effective manner
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