Morality, Truth, and Motivation Lab

Predicting Human Flourishing

James Cornwell directs the Morality, Truth, and Motivation lab, which studies the ways in which morality provides us with a guiding framework for life in our social world, how the pursuit of truth provides our lives with meaning and strengthens relationships, and how differences in motivational dynamics can predict human flourishing as well as patterns of psychological distress. The lab’s research is based in psychological theory developed in conversation with insights from theology, philosophy, literature, as well as other sciences.

Anyone who is interested in big questions about how we respond to and make sense of the good, the true, and the beautiful, how we organize ourselves socially, and why we either flourish or languish is welcome to join the lab.

Some of our current projects are focused on the following topics:

  • the psychological moderators and mental health consequences of the experience of moral injury
  • the causes and consequences of the differences between the motivations to maintain moral obligations and to aspire to moral virtue
  • the discrepancy between one’s actual self and ideal and ought self-guides and their consequences for attitudes, achievement, and well-being
  • the experience of community integration and how it promotes a sense of self and protects against psychological distress
  • the nature of motivations to adopt children and their consequences for family stability
  • the development of valid and reliable measures of moral vice, and examining its causes and consequences
  • the psychological structure of virtuous character and assessments of the effectiveness of character development programs
  • assumptions about outgroups’ motivations and how they drive intergroup prejudice
  • epistemic needs and how they can lead to systematic distortions of reality
  • different motivations for being religious and their psychological and behavioral consequences
  • processes by which human beings make sense of the transcendent, and how different forms of trauma disrupt those processes

Contact Us

Psychology, Counseling, and Marriage and Family Therapy
Billy Graham Hall, Mezzanine Level
501 College Avenue
Wheaton, IL 60187