Gordon College logo
Gordon College Logo
Kaye Cook

Kaye Cook

Professor of Psychology

Chair, Department of Psychology

B.A. Georgia College
M.A., Ph.D. University of North Carolina


Kaye Cook is interested in a range of developmental issues. Recently her work has focused on cross-cultural mixed methods studies that explore such questions as the relationships among forgiveness, suffering, and grace among Christians and Muslims, everyday understandings of morality by Cambodian Buddhists and Christians, the values of Korean college students and of Brazilian and Christian immigrants, and the meaning-making of religious individuals in rapidly changing cultures (Brazil and China). Currently, she is continuing her interests in culture by carrying out a series of studies exploring attitudes and understandings of forgiveness among Christians and Muslims in Indonesia. She has been a visiting professor at Dartmouth College and a visiting fellow at Biola University’s Center for Christian Thought. Kaye is active in the Association for Moral Education, where she previously served as President.  She will be a Fulbright U. S. Scholar in Indonesia in the Spring of 2021.



Forgiveness seems to be a universal virtue, yet there are contextual distinctives, e.g., in understanding when to forgive, who is involved, and what the process of forgiveness is like. As a universal virtue, it is valued among both Muslims and Christians; yet contemporary descriptions often do not do justice to its contextualized nature in either non-Western or non-Christian contexts. In an effort to better describe what forgiveness is in two cultures (US and Indonesia) and two religions (Islam, Christianity), Dr. Cook is conducting this research in association with three Indonesian colleagues: Dr. Taganing Kurniati, Dr. Christiany Chen, and Dr. Nilam Widyarini. The research, funded by the Global Religion Research Initiative, consists of measures of individualism-collectivism, religiousness, forgiveness, social harmony, and nationalism. The goal of this research is to better describe distinctive presentations of forgiveness in various cultures, contributing to greater understanding of what it means to forgive.


Provost Summer Research Fellowship 2019 supported mixed methods analysis of surveys and interviews carried out in Indonesia in June 2019. Student Sara LePine, the 2019 recipient of the Fellowship, presented the data at NEPA during fall of 2019 and at SQIP (qualitative analysis) during June 2020. In addition, the manuscript Everyday Theology in Cultural Context was finalized and is under review for publication.


Provost Summer Research Fellowship 2018 supported research designed to encourage conversations about forgiveness in Brazilian, Chinese, and American contexts. Dr. Grace Chiou, professor of Communication Arts, and students Sara LePine and Caleb Chang co-led this project, which took place in churches, at Gordon, and on the Boston Common. This work was begun during the summer of 2017, in collaboration with fellows Adila de Souza and Carter Crossett, and has been presented in multiple venues, where the topic has triggered impassioned conversations.


The book Faith in a Pluralist Age has been published by Wipf & Stock publishers. In this book, edited by Kaye Cook, the first chapter is written by Peter Berger, sociologist, who outlines the implications of pluralism for faith. The final chapter is written by Kaye Cook in association with two students: Si-Hua Chang and Taylor-Marie Funchion. Intervening chapters respond to, challenge, and extend Berger’s chapters.


John Templeton Foundation Planning grant was designed to empower evangelical leaders in Brazil and China to better address social, political, and religious challenges in their home countries. Our hope was to establish an international center at Gordon whose purpose was to support the equipping of evangelical leaders worldwide (consistent with the Gordon mission statement). During the planning grant year, Kaye made multiple trips to Brazil and China during which she and they conducted 230 interviews in Brazil, China and Boston. She produced a book manuscript with Peter Berger (Faith in a Pluralist Age) and several chapters and presentations. Also as a result, Gordon hosted Brazilian and Chinese pastors from Boston at a luncheon and mini-conference, academics who do research on the church in Brazil and China, and multiple speakers.


Provost’s Summer Research Fellowship provided funding to examine the dominant moral ethics, religious values, and career strivings in Brazilian-American and Chinese-American subcultures in the Boston area. Isabelle Skillen worked with me as student collaborator on this project.


We received surveys from over 1,300 of you, including 80 undergraduates, and interviewed 159 of you! Thank you particularly to those 80 who completed the endless survey twice! You then participated in two interviews! We did not realize, at the beginning, how much we were asking of you. At the end, we were overwhelmed by your generosity. Thank you, in particular, to this select group.

Some findings:

  • Christian college graduates retain their faith, to a striking degree!
  • Christian college graduates show some “moralistic therapeutic deism”, a watered-down kind of faith identified by Christian Smith (preeminent sociologist and Gordon College graduate) but their faith is much more accurately characterized as a strong, orthodox faith that is practiced within community
  • Most Christian college graduates stay within their home denominations or choose to attend a denomination that is similar to their home denomination.
  • There are few differences between recent and long-term alumni. Thoughtfulness about and questioning of faith peaks around graduation and drops off afterward; ego identity commitment increases with time; and those who make commitments in faith, love, and work show higher well-being.
  • First-year students perceive the most stress in their lives, and perceived stress drops off significantly during their senior year and even immediately after graduation (surprisingly enough), and continues to drop off during the next four years. Perceived stress is measured by asking participants such questions as whether they feel in control of their lives.
  • In contrast to their perception of how much stress they are under, when asked how much stress they are experiencing (e.g., did you change jobs last year? did a parent die?), participants reported that stress peaks during the first year of college and immediately after graduation.
  • Females are more stressed than males (but they do not perceive themselves as any more stressed).
  • Females cope better than males. If they are more stressed, how can this be?!
  • Females have somewhat more mature, internalized faith (as measured by intrinsic religiosity).
  • Females also use their religion to cope with stress more than males, and this improves coping.
  • Females have stronger peer attachments, that males, when they have strong peer relationships, benefit from them as much as do females.

A press release and fuller description of one component of the study, which explores the power of Freedom within the Framework of Faith, is available for download by clicking on the links to the right.

Research Report: Is a Christian Education Worth It?

A study of student development and well-being by Kaye Cook, Ph.D. (PDF)

Evangelicals in Brazil and at Gordon

An unlikely partnership? (DOCX)

Spiritual Formation in Emerging Adulthood

Essay distributed to Council of 125 (DOCX)

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism

Do Christian college undergraduates and alumni maintain their faith? (PPTX)

resume icon  RÉsumÉ/CV

Click to download (PDF)