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Ross A. Oakes Mueller, Ph.D.

Professor of Psychology

Dr. Ross Oakes Mueller began teaching at PLNU in 2007. He is married to Dr. Kendra Oakes Mueller, with whom he has four children: Nolan, Nash, Nora, and North. His research and teaching interests lie in the domain of moral psychology and character development. He and Dr. Leffel currently advise students who research the formation of virtues, including gratitude and empathy, among others. Past projects have involved understanding the role of moral emotions (such as gratitude and empathy) in promoting prosocial behaviors, as well as the role of vice-like emotions (such as disgust and personal distress) in inhibiting prosocial behaviors. Their most recent project — conducted in collaboration with the University of Chicago — involves examining the virtues and vices of physicians-in-training to assess the predictors of physician generosity with their patients.

In his free time, Oakes Mueller enjoys taking his children to the park, and embarrassing himself on the tennis court. (You can pick him out as the one who chunks at least one tennis ball over the fence per game.) He also enjoys photography, and is what you might call a "technology enthusiast" (just ask him about the latest gadget — as long as you're willing to waste an entire afternoon on the subject).


  • Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, Fuller Theological Seminary
  • M.A., Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary
  • B.A., Psychology, Brown University

Courses Taught

  • Psychology of Personal Development – PSY 101
  • General Psychology – PSY 103
  • Clinical and Community Interventions – PSY 325
  • Moral Psychology and Cultural Values – PSY 330
  • Research Methods and Design I – PSY 390
  • Research Methods and Design II – PSY 391
  • Pursuing Goodness: The Science of Moral Change (Senior Capstone) – PSY 420
  • Independent Research in Psychology – PSY499

Experience in Field

  • Professor, Point Loma Nazarene University, San Diego, CA, 2010 – present
  • Research Consultant, Fuller Graduate School of Psychology, Pasadena, CA, 2005 – 2007

Professional and Community Involvement

  • Point Loma Nazarene University Psychology Department Chair
  • American Psychological Association Member
  • Point Loma Nazarene University Student Mentor, 2009 – present
  • Society for Research in Child Development Member, 2003 – 2006
  • "Institute Planning Group, participated in a task force to propose and request grant
  • funds for a university center/institute in the area of practical engagement of Christian faith, science, and
  • culture, summer 2013"
  • IRB Committee, served as member, 2009 – 2010; 2012 – 2013, and as chair, 2010 – 2012

Awards and Honors

  • John Stauffer Memorial Merit Fellowship, Fuller Theological Seminary, 2005
  • Dean’s List, Fuller Theological Seminary, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 
  • Graduation with Honors, Brown University, 2000
  • "Harold Schlosberg Memorial Premium in Psychology, Brown University (awarded for
  • excellence in academic writing on senior honors thesis), 2000"
  • Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society, Brown University, 2000

Dissertations, Presentations, and Publications

  • Leffel, Oakes Mueller, Ham, Curlin & Yoon (2016). Project on the Good Physician: A proposal for a moral intuitionist model of virtuous caring. Teaching and Learning in Medicine, 0(0), 1-10.
  • Leffel, G. M., Oakes Mueller, R. A., Curlin, F. A., & Yoon, J. D. (2014). Relevance of the rationalist–intuitionist debate for ethics and professionalism in medical education. Advances in Health Sciences Education, 20, 1371-1383.
  • King, P. E., Oakes Mueller, R. A, & Furrow, J. (2013). Cultural and contextual issues in exemplar research. In M. K. Matsuba, P. E. King, & K. C. Bronk (Eds.), Exemplar methods and research: Strategies for investigation. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 142, 41–58
  • Mueller, R. A. & King, P. E. (2006). Parental influence on adolescent religiosity. In E. Dowling & G. Scarlett (Eds.) Encyclopedia of Religious and Spiritual Development in Childhood and
  • Adolescence. Thousand Oaks: Sage. 365-366.
  • King, P. E., Schultz, W., Mueller, R. A., Dowling, E. M., Osborne, P., Dickenson, E., & Lerner, R. M. (2005). Positive Youth Development (PYD): Is there a nomological network of concepts used in the developmental literature? Applied Developmental Science, 9(4), 215-227.
  • Krueger & Mueller (2002) Unskilled, Unaware, or Both? The better-than-average heuristic and statistical regression predict errors in estimates of own performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82(2), 180-188.
  • Doctoral Dissertation: Values and Identity in Prosocial and Delinquent Youth: The Contribution of Value Endorsement, Value Salience, and Moral Identity to Behavior, Fuller Theological Seminary, Co-Chairs: Linda Wagener, Ph.D. & James Furrow, Ph.D. (defended July, 2005)
  • Oakes Mueller, R. A. (March 15, 2011) Developing compassionate youth: Creating environments to grow Christ-like habits. Nazarene Compassionate Ministries. Originally written for publication on Youth Ministry Academy, a ministry of Nazarene Youth International
  • Flint, D.D., Ahmand, M., Leffel, G.M., & Oakes Mueller, R.A. (2016, April). Good Physician 1 of 3): Redemptive Life Narratives Predict Growth In Generosity. Poster session
  • presented at the 96th Annual Convention of the Western Psychological Association, Long Beach, CA.
  • Flint, D. & Oakes Mueller, R.A. (2016, March). Good Physician (Part 2 of 2): Redemptive Narratives and Their Relationship to Physician Virtues. Paper presented at the 2016 Society for the Study of Psychology and Wesleyan Theology Conference held at Point Loma Nazarene University, San Diego, CA.
  • Carlson, K.J., Russell, K.N., Leffel, G.M., & Oakes Mueller, R.A. (2016, April). Good Physician (3 of 3): Contamination Narratives Predict Physician Generosity, Mindfulness, and
  • Life Meaning. Poster session presented at the 96th Annual Convention of the Western Psychological Association, Long Beach, CA.
  • Frankot,M., Donason, A., & Oakes Mueller, R.A. (2016, April). The Effect of Mortality Salience on Moral Competence. Poster session presented at the 96th Annual Convention of the Western Psychological Association, Long Beach, CA.
  • Hussey, J., & Oakes Mueller, R.A. (2012, April). Distress and Empathy: The Relationship Between Emotion and Prosocial Behavior. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association, San Francisco, CA.