Skip to main content
Patty Van Cappellen

Patty Van Cappellen

Director of IBRC

Patty Van Cappellen, PhD. is the PI of BABLab and the Director of the Interdisciplinary Behavioral Research Center (IBRC)at Duke University. Patty earned her Ph.D. in Social Psychology in 2012 from the Univeristé catholique de Louvain, Belgium. She then moved from her home country for a postdoctoral position (with Barbara Fredrickson) and then a faculty position at UNC-Chapel Hill. Patty is an experimental social psychologist investigating such questions as “Why do people turn to religion or spirituality?” and “What are the psychological, contextual, and biological underpinnings of religion’s best and worst outcomes?”

Dr. Van Cappellen received the Early Career Award from the International Association for the Psychology of Religion (IAPR) in 2017. She is currently Associate Editor of the peer-reviewed journal “Archive for the Psychology of Religion.”

Currently, she is particularly interested in the study of self-transcendent emotions (e.g., awe, elevation), their relation to meaning in life, and their biological underpinnings. She is also investigating the mechanisms explaining religion’s link to prejudice and real antisocial behaviors.

For more information on her work and publications see:

For more information about the IBRC see:

Outside of academia, Patty enjoys horseback riding, discovering new restaurants, and taking in the sun of North Carolina (Belgium is typically gray and rainy). You may also occasionally find her helping her husband who opened Belgian Waffle Crafters.


Durham, NC 27708 | 919.681.6019


Gross Hall, 2nd Floor
140 Science Drive
Durham, NC 27708


Erwin Mill Building
2024 W. Main St.
Durham, NC 27705

Social Media

Follow @dukessri on twitter