Positive Psychology News Digest | No. 11/2017 (World Happiness Day Ed.)

My favorite news and blog articles covering Positive Psychology and adjacent topics from (roughly) the last seven days.


Forbes: Steal Tesla’s Strategy For Growing Grit by Jessica Amortegui

Fast Company: Why A Happy Career Can Still Feel Unfulfilling by Marc Crowley

Inc: Science Says Happier People Are Raised by Parents Who Do This 1 Thing by Jeff Haden

Sloan Management Review: The Smart Way to Respond to Negative Emotions at Work by Christine Pearson

Harvard Business Review: Pressure Doesn’t Have to Turn into Stress by Nicholas Petrie

GretchenRubin.com: For the International Day of Happiness: The Most Important Thing I’ve Learned About Happiness by Gretchen Rubin

Greater Good Science Center: Is the Placebo Effect More Powerful Than We Think? by Alex Shashkevich

Greater Good Science Center: How to Awaken Compassion at Work by Jill Suttie

Greater Good Science Center: What Positive Leadership is Not by Chris White

Huffington Post: The World Is Waking Up To The Importance Of Happiness by Mark Williamson

Guardian: I ❤ you: meet the NYU professor whose love course is becoming a phenomenon by Paul Willis

Angus Deaton, the Nobel Prize, and Positive Psychology

Angus DeatonYesterday, the 2015 Nobel Prize for economics was awarded to British-American researcher Angus Deaton. While he received that honor for “for his analysis of consumption, poverty, and welfare” – Deaton also conducted a lot of research (mostly later in his career) that is heavily related to Positive Psychology.

By way of example, he was involved in research on the relationship of:


Grapes of Wrath: On Morality and Fairness in the Monkey House

One of the guest speakers at the recent MAPP onsite has been Isaac Prilleltensky, who is the Dean of Education at the University of Miami. His research focus is on community well-being and its antecedents. In his lecture, he elaborated on the notion of well-being as a consequence (or at least: side-effect) of perceived fairness and justice in our lives. There is now considerable scientific evidence that these issues can have a major influence on our satisfaction with life and other important measures of psychological functioning. E.g., there´s a substantial statistical connection between a nations´ overall well-being and those countries´ Gini coefficient which, roughly speaking, measures the level of inequality in the wealth distribution of a country. I do not want to take a deep-dive into this here. If you want to know more, I would like to direct you to one of Prilleltensky´s recent papers by the name of Wellness as Fairness.

What really caught my attention is just how deeply the notion of fairness is rooted in our mammalian, tribal nature. I´ve already written a post on Paul Bloom´s research on the intuitive moral judgments of babies. But that´s by far not the end of the (moral) story. In the following video clip, you´ll see a snippet from a TED talk given by Frans de Waal, a Dutch primatologist a Emory University. He shows footage of an experiment involving capuchin monkeys. Bascially, two of them are “paid” for repeatedly carrying out a certain task by receiving cucumbers. Everything is OK. But then, the researcher starts to give one of the animals grapes instead – which (very obviously…) is considered to be a higher paycheck in the capuchin society. Watch what happens…

Can you feel that little monkey´s rage? And just for a moment: Transfer this to the realm of human emotion, multiply it by 10,000,000 (or so) – and try to understand what´s going on in countries like Egypt, Syria, and the Ukraine over the last years?



If you´d like to learn even more on Prilleltensky´s work on community well-being, you might want to watch his TED talk on that subject…