Julia Boehm, PhD
Jennifer Morozink Boylan, PhD
Many fields of research ranging from psychology to medicine have focused primarily on preventing illness or disease, alleviating pain, and repairing deficits. This makes sense because such problems not only garner attention but can also threaten quality of life and even existence. However, such an emphasis only captures one end of the continuum of human experience. Humans are uniquely poised to pursue higher forms of cognitive, emotional, and social well-being that transcend mere survival. These include but are not limited to:
- Living a life of purpose
- Feeling positive emotions
- Maintaining optimism for the future
- Experiencing a sense of mastery or accomplishment
- Having close connections with other people
All of these contribute to the overarching construct of psychosocial well-being, which can be defined as effective psychosocial functioning. In recent decades, markers of well-being have demonstrated consistent links with health and longevity in prospective studies. Moreover, increasing evidence suggests that these markers of well-being are malleable and can be enhanced via intervention.
This Special Interest Group (SIG) seeks to create a scientific network to advance theoretical and methodological developments in psychosocial well-being and health research, including relevant biobehavioral mechanisms. The SIG also seeks to outline objectives for the next decade by identifying key forms of well-being and contexts that promote well-being for better health across the lifespan.
Researchers who are interested in incorporating well-being related topics into their own research are encouraged to visit repositories of well-being measures provided by the Lee Kum Sheung Center for Health and Happiness at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and the University of Connecticut or explore existing datasets with well-being assessments at the Catalogue of Mental Health Measures.