Interdisciplinary Team Awarded Grant to Research Humility

Fuller Theological Seminary/Thrive Center in concert with the Templeton Foundation has awarded $245,000 to a College of Charleston led, interdisciplinary team who will research “Humility, Conviction, and Disagreement in Morality.” The Templeton Foundation is interested in projects that relate to the Big Questions of human purpose and ultimate reality – in this case, the study of humility.

“Is humility a virtue?” ask Professors Thomas Nadelhoffer (philosophy) and Jen Cole Wright (psychology), the lead researchers, “It is hard to say. On the one hand, we expect morally good people to be tolerant of others, to be open and receptive to other ways of life, to not be rigid, dogmatic, or arrogant—yet, we also expect morally good people to have conviction, to stand on principle and defend their vision of what is right, often in the face of strong social opposition. So, there is a contradiction in our conception of the morally good person,” a contradiction that their research project will help them to better understand.

Over the next two years, an international research team led by Nadelhoffer and Wright will investigate people’s attitudes and beliefs about humility, how they develop from childhood to adulthood, as well as the relationship between humility and other psychological/personality variables (such as openness, steadfastness, conscientiousness, and modesty) and the role that humility plays in the moral cognition and behavior of both everyday folk and moral exemplars.

The research team also includes College of Charleston Honors College Dean Trisha Folds-Bennett, as well as members from the University of Winnipeg, Duke University School of Medicine, and Duke University.

About the Thrive Center

The Thrive Center for Human Development was established in 2011 in Fuller’s Graduate School of Psychology with a dual mission to study human thriving and translate research into tangible resources. The Thrive Center Team is motivated not just by the generation of knowledge about thriving, but the desire to impact real youth and world communities. Collectively we seek to promote positive child and youth development through basic and applied research and the creation of interventions and resources for parents, educators, ministers, youth workers and other adults who invest in kids.

About the John Templeton Foundation

The John Templeton Foundation serves as a philanthropic catalyst for discoveries relating to the Big Questions of human purpose and ultimate reality. We support research on subjects ranging from complexity, evolution, and infinity to creativity, forgiveness, love, and free will. We encourage civil, informed dialogue among scientists, philosophers, and theologians and between such experts and the public at large, for the purposes of definitional clarity and new insights.”

For more information on the project, contact Nadelhoffer at or Wright at