Arthur Raney (Florida State University), Mary Beth Oliver (Penn State), Sophie Janicke (University of Arkansas) and Robert Jones (Public Religion Research Institute) will spend the next three years researching whether good news can help make us better people.
The proposal that got them $1.95 million from the John Templeton Foundation was titled, “Your Daily Dose of Inspiration: Exploring How People Use and Are Impacted by Media Content that Elicits Self-Transcendent Emotions.”
From the Penn State release:
Inspirational media can take many forms: viral videos, social media, television and films, and even newspaper stories.
The research team will take a deeper look at what makes media inspiring, who seeks out such content and why, and how people use it to stimulate positive emotions. It will also explore how those emotional experiences might build character and promote greater care and concern for other people.
I’ve asked lead researcher Raney if he’ll share his proposal with us. Update – “The proposal is actually quite long and (at times) technical/jargony,” Raney writes in an email. “So, we have no plans to post it. However, we will launch a website this Fall for the project (which officially begins in August). It will contain information that might prove interesting to you and your readers.”