Character and Formation


The Forgiveness project aims to study how forgiveness itself powerfully affects subsequent health and well-being, and seeks to promote forgiveness as a public health issue. Forgiveness, understood as replacing ill-will with good-will towards an offender, can powerfully change lives. Given the nearly universal experience of being wronged, it is important that a commitment to the good of the other be extended, even in difficult circumstances, if we are to move forward and bring about the good in society. This is not an ignoring or denying of the wrong, nor is it a denial of seeking a just outcome (which is in fact compatible with forgiveness). Rather it is a hope that, ultimately, the person who committed the wrong will turn to, and experience, the good. We aim to evaluate in randomized trials recently developed forgiveness workbook interventions so as to be able to promote forgiveness for individuals and communities. 

Publications on Character


VanderWeele, T.J. (2022). The importance, opportunities, and challenges of empirically assessing character for the promotion of flourishing. Journal of Education, 202:170–180.

VanderWeele, T.J. (2022). Virtues, mental health, and human flourishing. In: J.R. Peteet (ed.). Virtues in Psychiatric Practice. Oxford University Press.

Kaftanski, W.T. (2022). Admiration, affectivity, and value: critical remarks on exemplarity. Journal of Value Inquiry, in press.

Weziak-Bialowolska, D., Lee, M.T., Bialowolski, P., Chen, Y., VanderWeele, T.J., and McNeely, E. (2022) Prospective associations between strengths of moral character and health. Longitudinal evidence from survey and insurance claims data. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, in press.

Wilson, M.F. (2022). High-fidelity experiments, situationism, and the measurement of virtue. Journal of Value Inquiry, 56:263-281.

Węziak-Białowolska, D., Białowolski, P., VanderWeele, T.J., and McNeely, E. (2021). Character strengths involving an orientation to promote good can help your health and well-being. Evidence from two longitudinal studies. American Journal of Health Promotion, 35:388-398.


Hope and Optimism:

VanderWeele, T.J. and Kubzansky, L.D. (2021). Facets of optimism. American Psychologist, 76:1191-1193.

Long, K.N.G., Kim, E.S., Chen, Y., Wilson, M.F., Worthington, E.L., and VanderWeele, T.J. (2020). The role of hope in subsequent health and well-being for older adults: an outcome-wide longitudinal approach. Global Epidemiology, 2:100018.



VanderWeele, T.J. (2022). On an analytic definition of love. Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy, in press.

Hanson, J. (2022). 'That is giving a banquet’: neighbor-love as spiritualizing romantic loves in Works of LoveJournal of Religious Ethics, in press.

Lee, M.T. (2021). Love as a foundational principle for humanistic management. In Michael Pirson (Ed.). Love and Organization: Lessons of Love for Human Dignity, Leadership and Motivation. Routledge.

Chen, Y., Haines, J. Charlton, B., and VanderWeele, T.J. (2019). Positive parenting improves multiple aspects of health and well-being in young adulthood. Nature Human Behavior, 3:684-691.

Chen, Y. Kubzansky, L., and VanderWeele, T.J. (2019). Parental warmth and flourishing in mid-lifeSocial Science and Medicine, 220:65-72.



Nakamura, J.S., Lee, M.T., Chen, F.S., Archer Lee, Y. Fried, L.P., VanderWeele, T.J., and Kim, E.S. (2022). Identifying pathways to increased volunteering in older US adults. Scientific Reports, 12:12825.

Kim, E.S., Whillans, A.V., Lee, M.T., Chen, Y. and VanderWeele, T.J. (2020). Volunteering and subsequent health and well-being in older adults: an outcome-wide longitudinal approach. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 59:176-186.


Suffering, Adversity, and Resilience:

Cowden, R.G., Węziak-Białowolska, D., McNeely, E., and VanderWeele, T.J.  (2022). Are depression and suffering distinct? an empirical analysis. Frontiers in Psychology, 13:970466.

Cowden, R.G., Rueger, S.Y., Davis, E.B., Counted, V., Kent, B.V., Chen, Y., VanderWeele, T.J., Rim, M., Lemke, A.W., Glowiak, K.J., and Worthington, E.L. (2021). Suffering, mental health, and psychological well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic: a longitudinal study of U.S. adults with chronic health conditions. Wellbeing, Space and Society, 2:100048.

VanderWeele, T.J. (2019). Suffering and response: directions in empirical research. Social Science and Medicine, 224:58-66.



Long, K., Worthington, E.L., VanderWeele, T.J. and Chen, Y. (2020). Forgiveness of others and subsequent health and well-being in mid-life: a longitudinal study on female nurses. BMC Psychology, 8:104.

Long, K., Chen, Y., Potts, M., Hanson, J., and VanderWeele, T.J. (2020). Spiritually motivated self-forgiveness and divine forgiveness, and subsequent health and well-being among middle-aged female nurses: an outcome-wide longitudinal approach. Frontiers in Psychology, 11 (Article 1337):1-12.

    Chen, Y., Harris, S.K, Worthington, E.L., and VanderWeele, T.J. (2019). Religiously or spiritually-motivated forgiveness and subsequent health and well-being among young adults: an outcome-wide analysisJournal of Positive Psychology, 187:2355-2364.

    VanderWeele, T.J. (2018). Is forgiveness a public health issue? American Journal of Public Health, 108:189-190. 




    Philosophy of Character

    The Philosophy of Character project aims to explore the connection between philosophical issues in virtue and character studies and the ongoing empirical research related to character traits and the measurement of character and specific virtues.