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Student Researchers Explore the Role of Humility in Romantic Relationships

Research and publication are the standard fare for scholars and university faculty worldwide. Exchanging ideas is a centuries-old academic tradition, but for one group of Regent University School of Psychology & Counseling (SPC) students, the opportunity to collaborate on a recent research study led to something they hadn’t anticipated—visibility outside of their academic community.

In May, Greater Good Magazine, a publication of the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, published an article detailing the results of a recent study led by Dr. Carissa Dwiwardani, SPC associate professor. The study, titled “Humility and relationship outcomes in couples: The mediating role of commitment,” was published in the Journal of Positive Psychology.

The research study examined how perceptions of humility impacted commitment and overall satisfaction in romantic relationships. The attention from Greater Good Magazine was significant because it provided an opportunity for this research to reach a larger population who might potentially benefit from their findings.

Working with SPC faculty Dwiwardani; Dr. Anna Ord, assistant professor; Dr. Jennifer Ripley, professor; and Dr. Jim Sells, assistant dean for academics, were Psy.D. students Matthew Fennell, Dorianne Eaves and Amber Perkins.

“I love what Greater Good does as they bridge this gap between the research published in journals and the broader population, making scientific findings like these accessible,” explained Dwiwardani. “My hope is that our work would help people experience more growth in their lives and relationships, driven by virtues such as humility and gratitude.”

The goal of the Greater Good Science Center is to turn cutting-edge research into practical resources for well-being. Their primary focus is the use of scholarly research in psychology, sociology and neuroscience to educate others toward this goal.

“The Greater Good Center at Berkeley has a lot of visibility in academic venues and pop culture, so for them to highlight this article on which our faculty and students collaborated with others about the benefits of humility is very good for our niche,” explained Dr. Bill Hathaway, dean of SPC.

For the students, the chance to have their work published in such a venue was a valuable and somewhat surprising experience.

“I was intimidated and frankly not very interested in research coming into this program,” Eaves, a current student in the Psy.D. program admitted. “But, it was eye-opening to be able to take what we had learned in classes the year prior and put it into practice into a research study.”

Besides giving her a greater respect for her chosen field of study, Eaves’ involvement in the project led her into other avenues of interest that will continue to inform her studies. Her dissertation addresses humility and other virtues in the post-traumatic growth of breast cancer survivors.

Ultimately, the chance to conduct and share research with a large audience will benefit the Regent students, both now and in the long run.

Perkins echoed Eaves’ comments. “My involvement in this study has impacted my future as a therapist,” she said. “I hope to integrate this information into the way in which I interact with clients.”

This knowledge and potential for practical applications is one of the keys to students successfully transitioning from the classroom to the workplace.

“Students gain experience in conducting research from start to finish—from idea inception all the way to manuscript revision and publication,” Dwiwardani said. “They have a publication that helps them in obtaining future positions. [In fact] there is literature that shows that publication is a factor that helps them obtain doctoral psychology internships.”