Scientific Work

‘My earliest research was part of the NASA rocket programme…’

Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society

On November 19 and 20th of 2003, The Royal Society of London hosted a Discussion Meeting that had been organised by F. A. Huppert, N.V.K. Baylis, and E. B. Keverne (all members of Cambridge University.)

Founded in 1660, The Royal Society is the independent scientific academy of the UK, dedicated to promoting excellence in science. Its journal, Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society of London, is the world’s longest running international science journal, and the volume that came out of the conference is called The Science of Well-Being. This was the Society’s first ever conference on this subject.

The specific issue is Series B, Volume 359, Number 1449, Pages 1329-1451. Edited by Huppert, Baylis and Keverne. (Published 29th September 2004; ISSN 0962-8436.)

This issue contains 10 of the 12 papers presented. The following are those who made presentations at our Discussion Meeting:

Randolph M. Nesse (Michigan)
Eric B. Keverne (Cambridge)
David J.P. Barker (Southampton)
Barbara L. Fredrickson (Michigan)
Martin E.P. Seligman (Pennsylvania)
Carol D. Ryff (Wisconsin-Madison)
Barbara Maughan (King’s, London)
Richard. J. Davidson (Wisconsin-Madison)
Harry Kroto (Sussex)
Sonia J. Lupien (McGill)
Robert J. Sternberg (Yale)
Robert D. Putnam (Harvard)
Johan Galtung (Transcend Network for Peace and Development, France)

Chairing the discussions that followed the formal presentations, were Richard Layard (London School of Economics), Robert Hinde (Cambridge), Lewis Wolpert (University College London), and Felicia Huppert (Cambridge).

The Royal Society two-day Discussion Meeting was open to the public, but the speakers and chairs then took part in a final day of round-table ‘think tanking’, courtesy of The Novartis Foundation in Portland Place, London. Visit to purchase copies of Philosophical Transactions.

The Science of Well-Being

I was delighted when Oxford University Press invited Felicia Huppert, Barry Keverne and myself to jointly produce a book on our theme of The Science of Well-Being, building on the foundations of our Royal Society Discussion Meeting of November 2003.

This Oxford book is intended for lecturers and researchers in a broad range of scientific and social scientific disciplines, as well as for policy makers. It contains some outstanding ideas from leading voices in their respective fields, and is available in both paperback and hardback, Oxford University Press, 2005.
(All of my income as co-editor of The Science of Well-Being will go to the Wonderful-Lives Benevolent Fund.)

This is an itinerary of the chapters in The Science of Well-Being:

1. Evolution and Development

Randolph Nesse
Natural selection and the elusiveness of happiness

Barry Keverne
Understanding well-being in the evolutionary context of brain development

David J.P. Barker
The developmental origins of well-being

Sonia Lupien & N Wan
Successful aging: from cell to self

2. Physiology and Neuroscience

Richard J. Davidson
Well-being and affective style

Stuart J.H. Biddle & Panteleimon Ekkekakis
Physically active lifestyle and well-being

Bernard Gesch
The potential of nutrition to promote physical and behavioural well-being

3. Psychology of Well-being

Barbara L Fredrickson
The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions

Nick Baylis
Relationship with Reality – and its role in the well-being of young adults.

Martin E.P. Seligman, Acacia C. Parks & Tracy Steen
A balanced psychology and a full life

Daniel Kahneman & Jason Riis
Living, and Thinking About it: two perspectives on life

Felicia A Huppert
Positive mental health in individuals and populations

4. Cultural Perspectives

Susan Verducci & Howard Gardner
Good Work: Its nature, Its nurture.

Robert J. Sternberg & Elena Grigorenko
Intelligence and Culture: how culture shapes what intelligence means and the implications for a science of well-being

Antonella Delle Fave & Fausto Massimini
The relevance of subjective well-being to social policies

George Burns
Naturally happy, naturally healthy: the role of the natural environment in well-being

5. Social and Economic Considerations

John Helliwell & Robert D. Putnam
The social context of well-being

Robert Frank
Does money buy happiness?

Johan Galtung
Meeting basic needs; peace and development

Nic Marks and Hetan Shah
A well-being manifesto for a flourishing society

The Science of Well-Being (Oxford University Press) is a thoroughly detailed academic text. Its back cover reads:

This landmark volume heralds the emergence of a new field of science that endeavours to understand how individuals and societies thrive and flourish, and how this new knowledge can be applied to foster happiness, health and fulfillment.Taking a dynamic cross-disciplinary approach, it sets out to explore the most promising routes to well-being, derived from the latest research in psychology, biomedical science, social science, economics, and the effects of our natural environment. Contributions come from some of the world’s leading researchers, practitioners, and policy advisors.Designed for a general readership, this volume will be of compelling interest to all those in the social, behavioural and biomedical sciences, the caring professions, and policy makers. It provides a stimulating overview for any reader with a serious interest in the latest insights for enhancing our individual well-being and the well-being of the communities in which we all live and work.
(This book costs £80 in hardback, and £30 in paperback, from the Oxford University Press and leading academic book stores).

Phil Hanlon, Professor of Public Health at Glasgow University, kindly wrote of the book:
‘It is probably the best single source of authoritative information on this important and rapidly developing field.‘