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Barbara Fredrickson, Ph.D.

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Barbara Fredrickson, Ph.D.

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Dr. Fredrickson is the Kenan Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Principal Investigator of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Lab. She is a leading scholar within social psychology, affective science, and positive psychology. Her research centers on positive emotions and human flourishing and is supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health. Her research and her teaching have been recognized with numerous honors. Her work is cited widely and she is regularly invited to give keynote addresses nationally and internationally.

Dr. Fredrickson fundamentally studies why humans (and possibly animals) have positive emotions. Positive emotions are unique adaptations in the scheme of evolution. Seemingly, they do not provide inherent sustenance or protection. Some theorists have argued that positive emotions are markers of well-being or that they trigger approach behavior. Others have thought that positive emotions are merely offsets to negative emotions to make life more bearable! However, these explanations are not truly complete and leave many questions unanswered. Her research program challenges the assumptions of traditional models of emotion and provides a unique viewpoint on the function of positive emotions.

Awards and Credentials

  1. Fellow, Association for Psychological Science, 2007
  2. Fellow, American Psychological Association, Division 8: Society for Personality and Social Psychology, 2005
  3. Codirector on Rackham Graduate School Interdisciplinary Teaching Award, University of Michigan, 2005
  4. Excellence in Research Award, College of Literature, Science & the Arts, University of Michigan, 2000
  5. Templeton Prize in Positive Psychology, American Psychological Association, First-Place-Award, 2000

Related Links

Recommended Reading List

  • Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive. Fredrickson, B. (2009). Crown.
  • “The Neural Correlates of Trait Resilience When Anticipating and Recovering from Threat.” Waugh, C.E., et al. (2008). Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.
  • “Social Closeness Increases Salivary Progesterone in Humans.” Brown, S.L., et al. (2009). Hormones and Behavior.


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