Templeton Religion Trust grant awarded for NZ Attitudes and Values Study

27 July 2017

Professor Chris Sibley from the School of Psychology has been awarded a $NZ 4.6m grant from the Templeton Religion Trust to support and expand the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study (NZAVS). The grant is shared with Chris’ long-time collaborator and co-PI Professor Joseph Bulbulia from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Victoria University of Wellington.

Now in its eighth year, the NZAVS is a large-scale national longitudinal panel study of social attitudes, religion, personality, and health among adult New Zealanders. In the last eight years, the study has surveyed over 22,000 people, with the existing longitudinal sample following about 15,000 participants over time.

The project will expand upon the team’s previous efforts to understand how individual differences and social circumstances combine to support moral character development throughout adulthood, and whether, in turn, acting for other people practically affects employment, health, and life satisfaction over the lifespan. Though these basic questions have long been debated, and we teach children about the importance of moral character and virtue, currently science knows very little about its lifelong effects. The upcoming grant will support the development of new measures for generosity, gratitude, humility, and forgiveness, and extend the longitudinal sample.

“Longitudinal panel studies are powerful because they can help us to understand how important events such as divorce, becoming a parent, changes in employment, purchasing one’s first home or being unable to purchase a home, recessions and natural disasters affect people over time” says Chris.

“For the first time, we’ll be able to understand where other-regarding behaviors and attitudes fit in this mix – how they are cultivated, and whether serving and acknowledging the help of others in our lives contributes to our sense that life is meaningful”, adds Joseph.

Additional information: