Hope in History: A Model and Experiment for Civic Activists in Positive Politics

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Thesis or dissertation

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Witnessing an act of moral beauty elicits feelings of elevation, a positive emotion which can in turn increase altruistic feelings and behaviors. Reviews of scholarship on moral elevation suggest building on current findings by designing and testing the effectiveness of large-scale elevation interventions that may have powerful, widespread positive effects. The capstone’s artifact is a grant proposal for an experiment to test the impact of an experiential event for political activists with moral exemplars from a successful nonviolent social change movement that could be relevant to the present. The grant proposal will allow us to test an expected increase in civility with ideologically diverse political activists using moral elevation and building character strengths reflections of love and open-mindedness, and other strengths of character like hope, courage, and fairness. This elevation experience will be followed by a year-long, weekly related character-strength building journaling exercise or small-group dialogue with participants to assess whether elevation’s effect can be extended and amplified and to measure any improvements in civility.


moral elevation, altruism, open-mindedness, agape love, political polarization


Character Strengths and Virtues, Relationships


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Date Posted: 30 October 2019