Cambridge Prosociality and Well-Being Lab

Charting Prosociality

What makes people kind? When do we cooperate? Who can we trust and how can we know? These--and the many other questions--are at the core of our lab's research interest in prosociality.

We aim to understand prosocial behavior from a broad lens, integrating insights from biology (e.g. genetics, epigenetics, neuroscience) with psychology (e.g. emotions, social contexts, development, culture).

Our aim is to build an intergrated framework of prosociality that combines genetic, epigenetic, neurological, psychological, and cultural mechanisms that shape people's prosocial proclivities. Through an understanding of the underlying mechanisms, we hope to promote greater kindness and cooperation, bridging the chasms that divide and working towards a more peaceful global society.

Building Sustainable Well-being

The pursuit of happiness is at the center of virtually all human behavior. Yet as our economies have become more complex, few gains have been made in increasing happiness. At the same time, our planet has become increasingly more strained under the charge of the industrial complex.

From this backdrop, we face a new challenge: How can we build a society with sustainable well-being?

Our lab views sustainable well-being in two ways. First, from a psychological perspective, people enjoying high levels of happiness and flourishing over the long term. And second, from an ecological perspective, well-being predicated not on consumption (that our planet increasingly cannot sustain), but on resources that are abundant: love, compassion, and social connections.

Understanding Relationships

Romantic relationships are one of the most important predictors of our happiness and health. Our relationships set the context for who we are, what we do, and why we make many of our most enduring decisions.

Unfortunately, the importance of romantic relationships is matched by their difficulties. With ever increasing divorce rates, the question of "how can we have happier, healthier relationships?" is a central societal dilemma.

Our lab attempts to tackle this question by examining the positive behaviours couples can engage in to promote and sustain relationship happiness and health. For example, we have examined the roles of being prosocially motivated both in general and in the domain of sex, sacrificing for approach and avoidance motives, and appreciation in predicting relationship happiness.

2014 University of Cambridge, Department of Psychology