Templeton Foundation announces positive psychology dissertation award

October 25, 2006

The abundance of evidence supporting the relationship between positive mental health and physical well-being has spurred a growing interest in how different forms of psychological well-being can impact one's physical health. Recently, McGill University Post Doctoral Scholar Dr. Paule Miquelon closely examined how both hedonism (pleasure) and eudemonism (purposeful life engagement) relate to physical health, and won the Eighth Annual Martin E.P. Seligman Award for Outstanding Dissertation Research in Positive Psychology.

The award, funded by the John Templeton Foundation, included a $1000 cash grant and travel expenses to the Gallup International Positive Psychology Summit in Washington D.C., where the presentation recently took place.

Now in its eighth year, the Seligman Award seeks to recognize talent and promise among young researchers exploring topics in the emerging field of positive psychology. Psychology traditionally has been problem-focused, but the new movement stresses building human strengths and focuses more on positive vs. negative behavior.

Dr. Miquelon's research suggests that individuals who pursue their goals because of their own personal choices rather than external pressures, achieve more pleasure (hedonistic well-being), and more purposeful life engagement (eudemonistic well-being). These individuals also experience less stress and display greater improvement in physical health over time than those who pursue goals due to external pressures or a sense of guilt.

For her future research, Miquelon hopes to build a link between her interest in social psychology, psychological well-being and physical health by examining the role of resilience in psychological adjustment/well-being and health maintenance in reaction to major life challenges such as the onset of a chronic disease.

Currently a postdoctoral scholar in the Psychology Department of McGill University, Miquelon received her B.S. in psychology, as well as her M.S. and Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Quebec. Commenting on her recent award, she notes, "I was delighted to be nominated and felt privileged to have been chosen as the winner of this year's (Seligman) competition. As completing my thesis was an "autonomous" goal, receiving this award provides me with both feelings of "hedonic" and "eudemonic" well-being.
Established by renowned global investor Sir John Templeton, the core mission of the John Templeton Foundation is to serve as a philanthropic catalyst for scientific discovery in areas engaging life's biggest questions in science and philosophy. Ranging from scientific questions about the laws of nature to the nature of love, forgiveness, purpose, complexity, the mind and creativity, the Foundation's philanthropic vision is derived from Sir John's resolute commitment to rigorous scientific research and related cutting-edge scholarship. The Foundation's motto, "how little we know, how eager to learn" exemplifies our support for open-minded inquiry and our hope for advancing human progress through breakthrough discoveries. For more information about the Templeton Foundation, go to www.templeton.org.

Specific information about the Seligman Positive Psychology Award can be found at www.templeton.org/SeligmanAward/

John Templeton Foundation

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