Dr. Charlotte vanOyen-WitvlietProfessor of Psychology, Psychology Department Chair
Charlotte vanOyen-Witvliet is a professor of psychology and has been a member of the Hope faculty since 1997. Her teaching responsibilities have included:
- Introductory Psychology
- Positive Psychology
- Behavior Disorders
- Clinical Psychology
- Advanced Research Lab
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.
She has enjoyed mentoring many Hope students in research on mental health, physiology and embodied virtue (e.g., forgiveness, gratitude, hope). She has co-authored a dozen peer-reviewed publications with students and over sixty professional conference presentations. Her research teams have won 10 Psi Chi Regional Research Awards, and several of her lab students are now psychology professors who mentor their students.
Prof. Witvliet has published dozens of peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters about her research, and has given over 100 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 and leading from the soul.
She has conducted more than 120 media interviews about forgiveness, with her research featured in venues such as Time, Newsweek, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, CNN, ABC, CBS, Michigan Radio and international newspapers. Her research is referenced in blogs and books, most recently The Book of Joy, co-authored by Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama in 2016, and The Science of the Virtues: Why Positive Psychology Matters to the Church by Mark McMinn in 2017.
AREAS OF Expertise
Professor Witvliet's primary research contributions have focused on forgiveness and its emotional and physiological side effects. Her team's experiments have tested compassionate and benefit-focused reappraisal strategies that facilitate granting forgiveness.
Additionally, Professor Witvliet has conducted research in trauma, mental health, emotion and psychophysiology. Her lab also studies forgiveness, repentance, self-forgiveness, empathy, gratitude, humility, accountability and hope.
Prof. Witvliet was awarded the Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Purdue University in 1997. After training as a scientist-practitioner, Prof. Witvliet completed her American Psychological Association predoctoral internship at the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center affiliated with Duke University, focusing on trauma and associated disorders, neuropsychological assessment, behavioral medicine, inpatient and outpatient care.
HONORS, GRANTS, & AWARDS
- John H. and Jeanne M. Jacobson endowed professor, 2011–2015
- Ruth and John Reed Faculty Achievement Award, 2008
- Towsley Research Scholar Award, 2000–2004
- Ten Psi Chi Regional Research Awards won by Professor Witvliet's student research teams
Professor Witvliet has received external grants for her research from:
- John Templeton Foundation
- Fetzer Institute
- Howard Hughes Medical Institute
- “Gratitude predicts hope and happiness: A two-study assessment of traits and states,” with F.J. Richie, L.M. Root Luna, and D.R. Van Tongeren, The Journal of Positive Psychology, 2018
- “Virtue, positive psychology, and religion: Consideration of an overarching virtue and an underpinning mechanism,” with L. Root Luna and D.R. Van Tongeren, Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 9, 2017
- “Body esteem and appearance-based self-worth: A test of religious moderators in men and women,” with M. Inman, Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 36, 2017
- “Positive reappraisals after an offense: Event-related potentials and emotional effects of benefit-finding and compassion,” with J.C. Baker, J.K. Williams and P.C. Hill, The Journal of Positive Psychology, 12, 2017
- “Self-forgiveness and forgiveness-seeking in response to rumination: Cardiac and emotional responses of transgressors,” with S.P da Silva and B. Riek, The Journal of Positive Psychology, 12, 2017
- “Transforming or restraining rumination: The impact of compassionate reappraisal versus emotion suppression on empathy, forgiveness, and affective psychophysiology,” with A.J. Hofelich Mohr, N.G. Hinman and R.W. Knoll, The Journal of Positive Psychology, 10, 2015
- “Compassionate reappraisal and emotion suppression as alternatives to offense-focused rumination: Implications for forgiveness and psychophysiological well-being,” with N.J. DeYoung, A.J. Hofelich and P.A. DeYoung, The Journal of Positive Psychology, 6, 2011
- “Responding to our own transgressions: An experimental writing study of repentance, offense rumination, self-justification, and distraction,” with N.G. Hinman, J.J. Exline and T. Brandt, Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 30, 2011
- “Compassion-focused reappraisal, benefit-focused reappraisal, and rumination after an interpersonal offense: Emotion regulation implications for subjective emotion, linguistic responses, and physiology,” with R.W. Knoll, N.G. Hinman and P.A. DeYoung, The Journal of Positive Psychology, 5, 2010
- “Not so innocent: Does seeing one’s own capability for wrongdoing predict forgiveness?” with J.J. Exline, R.F. Baumeister, A.L. Zell and A.J. Kraft, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 94, 2008
- “Retributive justice, restorative justice, and forgiveness: An experimental psychophysiology analysis,” with E.L. Worthington Jr., L.M. Root, A.F. Sato, T.E. Ludwig and J.J. Exline, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44, 2008
- “Posttraumatic mental and physical health correlates of forgiveness and religious coping in military veterans,” with K.A. Phipps, M.E. Feldman and J.C. Beckham, Journal of Traumatic Stress, 17, 2004
- “Granting forgiveness or harboring grudges: Implications for emotions, physiology, and health,” with T.E. Ludwig and K.L. Vander Laan, Psychological Science, 12, 2001
Outside the college
One of Professor Witvliet's great joys is the opportunity to connect with people as they discern their vocations — the ways in which they can use their God-given gifts and opportunities to meet real needs in this world. Witvliet’s own multi-faceted sense of vocation includes co-parenting four children with her husband, John.