Positive Emotions and Wellbeing - Dr Lisa Williams

What is this research about?

A long history of research in psychology has identified the robust relationship between negative emotions and illness, both mental and physical. This focus has left open the question of how positive emotions promote wellbeing. This project aims to identify the various ways in which positive emotional experience might be of benefit to individuals, relationships, and communities.

Studies within this project focus on positive emotions that arise in the context of social relationships and interactions, such as pride, gratitude, and compassion. We consider outcomes that include individuals’ sense of wellbeing, relational dynamics between individuals, and the development and maintenance of group identities. We also tackle questions regarding the social dynamics that underpin loneliness, with the aim to develop methods to reduce loneliness.

These studies deploy a range of methodologies, including experiments, online surveys, experience sampling, and psychophysiology, sampling from a range of populations, including students, community members, and individuals in romantic relationships. This multi-method and multi-sample approach allows robust conclusions regarding the research question at hand.

Other researchers working on this project:

Elizabeth Barrett-Cheetham (PhD candidate)
Joel Davies (PhD candidate)
Andrew Wowk (PhD candidate)
Dr Rebecca Pinkus (University of Sydney)
Dr Eliza Bliss-Moreau (University of California, Davis)
Dr Monica Bartlett (Gonzaga University)

Publications relating to this research:

Barrett-Cheetham, E., Williams, L. A., & Bednall, T. (2016). A differentiated approach to the link between positive emotion and wellbeing. Journal of Positive Psychology, 11(6), 595-608.

Bliss-Moreau, E., & Williams, L. A. (2014). Tag, you’re it: Affect tagging promotes goal formation and selection. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 37(2), 138-139.

DeSteno, D., Bartlett, M. Y., Baumann, J., Williams, L. A., & Dickens, L. (2010). Gratitude as moral sentiment: Emotion-guided cooperation in economic exchange. Emotion, 2, 289-293.

Williams, L. A., & Barrett-Cheetham, E. (2015). Social psychological perspectives on compassion. In M. Brenner (Ed.), On compassion. Createspace Publishers.

Williams, L. A., & Bartlett, M. Y. (2015). Warm thanks: Gratitude expression facilitates social affiliation in new relationships via perceived warmth. Emotion, 15(1), 1-5.

Williams, L. A., & Bliss-Moreau, E. (2016). Humans are ultrasocial and emotional. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 39, 39-40.

Williams, L. A., & Davies, J. (in press). Beyond the self: Pride felt in relation to others. In J. A. Carter & E. C. Gordon (Eds.), The moral psychology of pride (part of a series: The moral psychology of emotions). Rowman & Littlefield.




Sociality and Emotions Lab