In a small laboratory, a participant sits with electrodes attached to her brow and a heart rate monitor humming in the background as she considers a time in her life when someone did wrong to her. This is a glimpse into a study of forgiveness. The results of a study like this teach us a lot about what forgiveness is and how it works. And although it is a scientific endeavor, it has direct effects on our spiritual lives.
Jim Stump sat down with Charlotte vanOyen-Witvliet, a psychologist from Hope College who has run studies like this, to learn about what forgiveness is, the increased health benefits of forgiveness and how this psychological pursuit can be fruitful toward a theological and spiritual journey.
This episode is the third in a three part series we’re calling TheoPsych, an exploration of the intersection of psychology and theology. These episodes were made possible in part by the TheoPsych Project, hosted by Fuller Seminary’s office of Science, Theology, and Religion.
Charlotte vanOyen-Witvliet is the Lavern ’39 and Betty DePree ’41 VanKley Professor of Psychology at Hope College. She loves teaching and mentoring students with a vision to cultivate competence with compassion so that they are prepared for effective and faithful service and leadership in a diverse world. Charlotte has published 75 peer-reviewed journal articles about her research and has had over 125 professional presentations in local, national and international venues. She has been a member of national, multi-year, interdisciplinary work groups on the pursuit of happiness, leading from the soul, and living accountably.