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Researcher Wins Prize for Happiness

UCR Researcher Among the Winners of Psychology’s
Largest Monetary Prize for Research on Happiness

(May 22, 2002)

Sonja LyubmoirskyA University of California, Riverside researcher will receive one of psychology's largest monetary prizes for her work on developing a "science of human happiness."

Sonja Lyubomirsky (LU-BO-MIR-SKI), associate professor of psychology, is the second place winner of the 2002 Templeton Positive Psychology Prize. The $50,000 award is divided as a cash prize of $15,000 to be used as Dr. Lyubomirsky chooses, and a grant of $35,000 to support her research in the positive psychology field.

The American Psychological Association, with underwriting support from the John Templeton Foundation, created the awards program. Now in its third year, the prizes are intended to encourage first-rate mid-career scientists to devote their best efforts to positive psychology topics, such as optimism, moral identity, self-control, goal-focused living, thrift, courage and future-mindedness.

Dr. Lyubomirsky's research shows that exceptionally happy people construe themselves, their peers and life events in ways that seem to maintain their happiness, such as reacting to life circumstances in relatively more positive and more adaptive ways than unhappy people. Several investigations have revealed that unhappy individuals are more likely than happy ones to dwell on negative or ambiguous events. Such "dwelling" or rumination may make things worse, rather than better.

Quoting Socrates, Lyubomirsky said, “Not only is the ‘unexamined life’ worth living, but it is potentially full of happiness and joy.”
Three other researchers will also receive Templeton Positive Psychology Prizes during a ceremony Thursday, May 23, in Philadelphia.

Suzanne C. Segerstrom, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky will receive the first place prize of $30,000 cash and a $70,000 grant for her research showing the health benefits of optimism.

The third place award of $10,000 cash and a $20,000 grant will go to Kennon M. Sheldon, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Missouri. Dr. Sheldon's research focuses on personal goals and how these goals affect people's growth, development and well-being.

The fourth place award of $7,500 cash prize and $12,500 grant will go to Laura D. Kubzansky, assistant professor in the Department of Health and Social Behavior at the Harvard School of Public Health. Her research centers around the role of resilience in health and disease prevention.

The Templeton Positive Psychology Prize is open to researchers from any country in all the social sciences, not just psychology. To be eligible, candidates must not be more than 40 years of age, or if older than 40, not more than 12 years past receiving their doctoral degree.

The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, DC, is the world’s largest association of psychologists. APA’s membership includes more than 155,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students.

The Templeton Prize for Positive Psychology recognizes scientific excellence in the new science of positive psychology by encouraging the most visionary of today’s young researchers to devote their work to a better understanding of what makes life worth living.

Professor Lyubomirsky can be reached by telephone at (909) 787-5041 or by email:

The American Psychological Association can be reached through Dave Partenheimer, 202-336-5706 or via email:

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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