Major Research Initiatives

The Thrive Center's research seeks to investigate and further understand the psychological components of thriving and further the promotion of the process of thriving. Specifically, the Thrive Center works at the integration of science and spirituality.

CI Study of Positive Youth Development

Dr. King and partners study the impact of Compassion International's programs on youth.

The Joyride Project

Dr. King explores the nature of joy and how to nurture joy in youth in order to promote thriving.

Spiritual Exemplars Project

A continuation study, Dr. King follows up on the spiritual journeys of elected youth exemplars.

The Telos Project

Scholars use teleology to further understand the ends of human development and thriving.

Shades of Gratitude Project

Scholars test and develop a theoretical framework to help guide future research on gratitude to God.

Study of Spirituality in America

Scholars use cutting-edge structural model analysis to understand diverse spirituality in the U.S.


Research Projects Archive

Emotional Health in Elite Athletes

Identity in Elite Athletes

Dr. Houltberg and scholars examine the role of self-narrative profiles in elite athletes' well-being.


Virtue Interventions in Young Athletes

Drs. Schnitker and Houltberg examine the contexts in which teen athletes develop character strengths.


Evolutionary Psychology on Thriving

Drs. King, Barrett, and Furrow engage scholars on evolutionary psychology, spirituality, and thriving.


Goal Sanctification & Prayer on Virtues

Dr. Schnitker studies the impact of goal sanctification on gratitude, generosity, and thrift.


I:5 Circles of Care Project

Dr. King evaluates a high school mentorship program to see how mentors help youth thrive.


Love Thy Neighbor Project

Dr. Schnitker and researchers examine the connection between intercessory prayer and generosity.


Goals, Virtues & Well-Being

Does goal satisfaction increase goal achievement? Dr. Schnitker examines personality dynamics.

The Good Physician

The Good Physician Project

Longitudinal study by Dr. Schnitker to explore spirituality and virtue formation in physicians.


The Thrive Center has an established body of scholarly work in positive youth development, religion and spirituality, character virtue and emotion regulation.

Access peer-reviewed publications, scholarly articles, and essays produced from our research here.

Religion as Fertile Ground

Drs. King, Schnitker, and Houltberg provide an overview of how religion is linked to moral and virtue development in youth.

Joy as a Virtue: the Means & Ends of Joy

Dr. King and Thrive Fellow, Defoy propose a definition and framework for understanding joy through thriving.

Exploring Religiousness & Hope Among Salvadoran Youth

The CI research team test whether religiousness is related to hopeful future expectations.

Joy Distinguished

Dr. King provides a teleological perspective on joy as a virtue that can lead to thriving.

Determinants of Health & Well-Being

Dr. Rojas-Flores and Thrive student, Jennifer Vaughn report on the potential health crisis among children of immigrants.

The Big 3 Components of PYD Programs in Rwanda

The CI Research Team report on the data collected from Rwandan participants to assess the traits of effective PYD programs.

Evaluating the MDAS in Mexican & Salvadoran Youth

The CI research team apply the MDAS to indicate the extent to which spirituality was integrated into the lives of youth.

Illuminating the Use of the Specificity Principle

The CI research team explore the use of the specificity principle in future assessments of Sustainable Development Goal indicators.

Religion, Spirituality & Thriving

Drs. Schnitker, King, and Houltberg propose that religion/spirituality is related to thriving through telos, virtues, and transcendence.

Adolescent Religion & Spirituality

Drs. King and Hardy capture the latest research on religion and spirituality for youth thriving in this special issue.