The Columns

Barbara Fredrickson is Inaugural Lecturer in Questioning Passion Seminar

— by on September 8th, 2015

Kenan Distinguished Professor of Psychology

Barbara Fredrickson, the Kenan Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) and director of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Lab (PEPLab) at UNC, will give the inaugural lecture in the Questioning Passion interdisciplinary seminar series at Washington and Lee University. This series will run through the 2015-2016 academic year.

Fredrickson’s lecture will be Sept. 17, at 4:30 p.m. in Stackhouse Theater, Elrod Commons. The title of her lecture, which is free and open to the public, is “On Passions, Positivity and Love.”

It will be streamed live online.

Her talk is also sponsored by the Root Lecture Fund which was established by Robert W. Root (W&L ’42) in 1991 to support guest speakers selected by the Departments of Philosophy, Psychology and Religion.

“Barbara Fredrickson will launch the Questioning Passsion series by considering what many would call the most essential passion: love,” said Karla Murdock, Elmes Professor of Psychology at W&L. “As a psychologist whose research relies heavily on biological measures, Dr. Fredrickson’s lecture will describe how experiencing micro moments of love can be associated with physiological changes in cardiac vagal tone, blood pressure, oxytocin and immune functioning. She will also describe research showing emotional benefits of learning how to foster positive micro moments of social connection.”

Fredrickson is best known for her broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions, which suggests that positive emotions lead to novel, expansive or exploratory behavior, and that, over time, these actions build knowledge, social relationships and physical health. Her scientific contributions have influenced scholars, readers and the business community worldwide, in disciplines ranging from finance to healthcare.

Fredrickson is the author of two books, “LOVE 2.0” (2013) and “Positivity” (2009) and the co-author of “Hilgard’s Introduction to Psychology” (14th, 15th and 16th ed.). She also is the author or co-author of more than 80 peer-reviewed articles.

“LOVE 2.0” provides a new way of thinking about love in addition to romantic or passionate love but also focusing more on momentary interactions and ordinary, everyday experiences that generate love.

Fredrickson has received more than 16 consecutive years of research funding from the National Institutes of Health. Her research and teaching have been recognized with numerous honors, including, in 2000, the American Psychological Association’s inaugural Templeton Prize in Positive Psychology; in 2008, the Society for Experimental Social Psychology’s Career Trajectory Award; and in 2013, the inaugural Christopher Peterson Gold Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the International Positive Psychology Association.

Her work has been featured in the New York Times, The Economist, CSS, NPR, PBS, U.S. News & World Report, USA Today, Oprah Magazine, and elsewhere. She has twice been invited to brief His Holiness the Dalai Lama on her research.

Fredrickson earned her B.A. from Carleton College and her Ph.D. from Stanford University. She was a professor at the University of Michigan for 10 years before moving to UNC.