Past Event! Note: this event has already taken place.

The Importance of Connection and Positive Psychology for Mental Health

May 5, 2020 at 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM

Location:You will receive a calendar invitation to join the virtual event within a few days of registering.
Audience:Staff and Faculty

In this virtual session, Professor John Zelenski will consider how (parts of) positive psychology can be useful, even during times that do not seem very positive. Resilience has been central to the moment, and looking to other troubled situations can offer some suggestions about current circumstances. Those lessons include the observations that many people maintain wellbeing through difficult times, and that positive emotions are often associated with successful coping. As such, Professor Zelenski will also discuss what social science has learned about happiness and about changing happiness over time. He will give particular focus to two topics that he has studied: social connection and introversion-extraversion, and how people connect with nature. In addition to research findings, he will include some speculation about how lessons might apply in a pandemic world.

This event is being offered as part of Mental Health Week 2020.

About the Researcher

Professor John Zelenski’s research focuses on emotions, especially individual differences in emotional experience, and the role emotions play in modulating cognition. The topic of happiness unifies his primary research questions. At a descriptive level, he asks 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, he asks, 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, he seeks 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.

Mental Health Speaker Series

This session is part of the Healthy Workplace Mental Health Speaker Series 2019/2020, in collaboration with the Department of Psychology. Find out more.


To register, please fill out the form below. More information will be sent to you via email closer to the session date.

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