Living Well in Sydney

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Here are three random scenes from University of New South Wales’ 19th Sydney Symposium of Social Psychology, which recently assembled sixteen scholars from around the world to share their insights on “The Social Psychology of Living Well.”


Roy Baumeister (Florida State & Queensland) documented the overlap between a happy and a meaningful life, but then identified separate predictors of a) happiness and b) meaningfulness.

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Bill von Hippel (Queensland) explored what evolutionary theory can tell us about our basic human needs—how humans have flourished in the past and are disposed to a good life today.

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Barbara Fredrickson’s (University of North Carolina) research has turned to examining the biological underpinnings of positive well-being and purpose.

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Other contributors:

  • Yair Amichai-Hamburger  (IDC Herzliya, Israel) reviewed the social consequences of today’s age of the Internet and social media.
  • William Crano (Claremont) provided data from a large, longitudinal study of the associations of parenting with adolescent substance use.
  • Elizabeth Dunn (University of British Columbia) presented her recent experiments on the social and mood consequences of people using vs. not using smart phones (while crossing campus, eating with friends, etc.).
  • Klaus Fiedler (University of Heidelberg) offered an analysis of underlying adaptive principles pertinent to the good life.
  • Joseph Forgas (University of New South Wales) was the conference host.   He also shared his continuing work on the benefits of negative affect for human flourishing.
  • Shelly Gable (University of California, Santa Barbara) described her studies of satisfying and meaningful close relationships.
  • Felicia Huppert (Australian Catholic University) emphasized the contribution of mindfulness and compassion to living well.
  • Sonja Lyubomirsky (University of California, Riverside), author of excellent trade books on happiness, spoke on the benefits of happiness and what contributes to it.
  • Constantine Sedikides (University of Southhampton) described his creative work on nostalgia, as a positive experience.
  • James Shah (Duke University) spoke on the regulatory pleasure and purpose of a good life.
  • Ken Sheldon (University of Missouri) critiqued the sometimes ill-defined concept of eudaimonic well-being”and called for agreed-upon measures that define subject well-being.
  • Jeffry Simpson (University of Minnesota) presented the latest data from a long-term study of how preschoolers’attachment and parental care predicts their health 30 years later.
  • And yours truly presented the“religious engagement paradox”-- the curious tendency, on measures of happiness, health, and altruism, for religious individuals to be flourishing, but for lesser flourishing in religious places (countries, states).
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About the Author
David Myers has spent his entire teaching career at Hope College, Michigan, where he has been voted “outstanding professor” and has been selected by students to deliver the commencement address. His award-winning research and writings have appeared in over three dozen scientific periodicals and numerous publications for the general public. He also has authored five general audience books, including The Pursuit of Happiness and Intuition: Its Powers and Perils. David Myers has chaired his city's Human Relations Commission, helped found a thriving assistance center for families in poverty, and spoken to hundreds of college and community groups. Drawing on his experience, he also has written articles and a book (A Quiet World) about hearing loss, and he is advocating a transformation in American assistive listening technology (see