Photo of John M. Zelenski

John M. Zelenski


Degrees:Ph.D. (Washington University in Saint Louis)
Phone:613-520-2600 x 1609
Office:A525 Loeb Building
Website:Carleton University Happiness Laboratory

 Research Interests

My research focuses on emotions, especially individual differences in emotional experience, and the role emotions play in modulating cognition. The topic of happiness unifies my primary research questions. At a descriptive level, I ask the question, who is happy? That is, what are the personality characteristics that predict the experience of many positive emotions and few negative emotions? At a process level, I ask, how do happy people think and behave differently than unhappy people? In other words, how do transient mood states and stable individual differences combine to influence cognitive processes and behaviour? Finally, at the level of personality theory, I seek to understand what ’causes’ the traits associated with happiness? That is, how do individual differences play out ‘in the moment’ and combine with situational factors to predict behaviour?

Much of this work focuses on extraversion, positive emotions, and social behaviour. Another line of research investigates differences in people’s sense of connection to nature (‘nature relatedness’) and links this to happiness and environmentally responsible behaviours.

Selected Publications

Zelenski, J. M., Dopko, R. L., & Capaldi, C. A. (2015). Cooperation is in our nature: Nature exposure may promote cooperative and environmentally sustainable behavior. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 42, 24-31.

Zelenski, J. M., & Nisbet, E. K. (2014). Happiness and feeling connected: The distinct role of nature relatedness. Environment and Behavior, 46(1), 3-23.

Zelenski, J. M., Whelan, D. C., Nealis, L. J., Besner, C. M., Santoro, M. S., & Wynn, J. E. (2013). Personality and affective forecasting: Trait introverts underpredict the hedonic benefits of acting extraverted. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104(6), 1092- 1108.

Zelenski, J. M., Santoro, M. S., & Whelan, D. C. (2012). Would introverts be better off if they acted more like extraverts? Exploring emotional and cognitive consequences of counter- dispositional behavior. Emotion, 12(2), 290-303.

Nisbet, E. K., & Zelenski, J. M. (2011). Underestimating nearby nature: Affective forecasting errors obscure the happy path to sustainability. Psychological Science, 22(9), 1101-1106.

Nisbet, E. K. L., Zelenski, J. M., & Murphy, S. A. (2009). The Nature Relatedness Scale: Linking individuals’ connection with nature to environmental concern and behavior. Environment and Behavior, 41, 715-740.

Zelenski, J. M., Murphy, S. A., & Jenkins, D. A. (2008). The happy-productive worker thesis revisited. Journal of Happiness Studies, 9, 521-537.

Zelenski, J. M., Rusting, C. L., & Larsen, R. J. (2003). Consistency in the time of experiment participation and personality correlates: A methodological note. Personality and Individual Differences, 34(4), 547-558.

Zelenski, J. M. & Larsen, R. J. (1999). Susceptibility to affect: A comparison of three personality taxonomies. Journal of Personality, 67, 761-791.