Cambridge Prosociality and Well-Being Lab


The Cambridge Prosociality and Well-Being laboratory's primary aim is to investigate the psychology and biology of human kindness and well-being. What makes people kind to one another? What leads to a happy, fulfilling life? How are our bodies (i.e. genes, peripheral physiology, hormones, brain, etc) related to these outcomes? How do our experiences, cultures, and contexts influence the ability of our bodies and minds to promote kinder, happier living? These are the broad questions our lab focuses on.

We work closely with scholars around the world, including at Yale, U.C. Berkeley, University of Hong Kong, Harvard, University of Toronto, U.C. San Diego, U.C. Santa Barbara, Oxford, and York University.

Latest Publications

The sociocultural appraisals, values, and emotions (SAVE) framework of prosociality: Core processes from gene to meme.

What are latest insights in the study of why people act prosocially towards one another?

Vagal activity is quadratically related to prosocial traits, prosocial emotions, and observer perceptions of prosociality.

The complex way the vagus nerve is related to prosociality.

Happiness is best kept stable: Positive emotion variability associated with poorer psychological health

Theoretical perspectives diverge on whether its best to keep positive emotions stable or variable. However, we demonstrate that positive emotion stability is linked with greater mental health.

Recent News

ESRC Future Research Leaders Grant
July 2013: The ESRC has selected Alex to receive a 3-year grant to study the role of the oxytocin system in well-being. As part of the grant, new postdoc will be hired

ESRC National Centre for Research Methods Grant
June 2013: The lab has been awarded an 18-month grant from the ESRC NCRM. Programming, event-sampling, and genetics, here we come!

Youyou's Fellowship
May 2013: Congradulations to Youyou Wu, who has received the Jardine Foundation Scholarship Award which will generously support her Ph.D. studies in our lab. So she's stuck with us for another three years.

Website Redesign
April 2013: The 90s are over. So we've retired our old website and entered the 21st century--animations, images, and all. Check back here for regular updates on new papers, blog posts, and lab news.

Lab blog launches!
April 2013: See it here.

New papers in press
March 2013: Emotions, bipolar disorder, cardiac vagal tone, sacrifices in romantic relationships, and religion--new papers are now in press on these topics! Final PDFs are not available just yet, but check back here and our publications page in the near future to catch them!

Grant news
January 2013: Alex receives a grant from the Welcomme-Newton Trusts. Research will now be done.

2014 University of Cambridge, Department of Psychology