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PsychologyOur news, events & seminars

The Pursuit of Happiness: What Works and Why Seminar

15:00 - 16:00
5 February 2020
University of Southampton Highfield Campus Building 44 (Shackleton) Room 1041 (L/T A)

For more information regarding this seminar, please telephone Sue McNally on 02380 595150 or email .

Event details

Visiting speaker seminar on behalf of the Centre for Research on Self and Identity (CRSI)

The “pursuit of happiness” is a right enshrined in the American Declaration of Independence.  But given strong genetic influences on happiness, is it even possible to “go up and then stay up?” Or, are we always doomed to return to our happiness set-points after any positive life-change, like coming down from a sugar high?  I will summarize my research on this topic, much of it with Sonja Lyubomirsky, showing that under the right conditions, happiness changes can be maintained.  However it requires a) proper selection of happiness activities and changes, b) continuing active engagement with those changes, and c) avoidance of premature hedonic adaptation to those changes.  I will explain the relevance of my Eudaimonic activity model, our Hedonic Adaptation Prevention model, and the basic psychological needs mini-theory of Ryan and Deci’s Self-determination theory. 

Speaker information

Professor Kennon M Sheldon, University of Missouri. Professor Sheldon studies motivation, goals, and well-being, from both a self-determination theory and a positive psychology perspective. Prominent research questions include “Can happiness go up, and then stay up?”, “Can people be helped to pick life-goals that better express their developmental potentials?”, and “how can the concept of personal agency be reconciled with the concept of a deterministic universe?

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