University of North Carolina

Dr. Fredrickson is the Kenan Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Principal Investigator of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Lab. She is a leading scholar within social psychology, affective science, and positive psychology. Her research centers on positive emotions and human flourishing and is supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health. Her research and her teaching have been recognized with numerous honors. Her work is cited widely and she is regularly invited to give keynote addresses nationally and internationally.

Dr. Fredrickson fundamentally studies why humans (and possibly animals) have positive emotions. Positive emotions are unique adaptations in the scheme of evolution. Seemingly, they do not provide inherent sustenance or protection. Some theorists have argued that positive emotions are markers of well-being or that they trigger approach behavior. Others have thought that positive emotions are merely offsets to negative emotions to make life more bearable! However, these explanations are not truly complete and leave many questions unanswered. Her research program challenges the assumptions of traditional models of emotion and provides a unique viewpoint on the function of positive emotions.

Barbara and I spoke about the positivity ratio, what it means to us in our daily lives, and about the benefits of challenges and getting outside one’s comfort zone. Some interesting bits of our conversation can be found here: