Taylor Wins Inaugural Clifton Strengths Award

APS Fellow and Charter Member Shelley E. Taylor, University of California, Los Angeles, was awarded the inaugural Clifton Strengths Prize at the Fifth Annual International Positive Psychology Summit organized by the Gallup Positive Psychology Institute. The Prize was created in memory of Donald O. Clifton — a former chair of the Gallup Organization — who founded the positive psychology movement. According to the Clifton Strengths Institute, his “core philosophy was to have people focus on what was positive and right with themselves, and to build on their strengths to achieve their full potential.” The $250,000 bi-annual prize recognizes and honors significant advances in the science and practice of strengths-based psychology and leadership.

Taylor’s work focuses on coping, stress, and social relationships. She investigates how people use social supports to cope with stress and differences in the ways men, women, and various cultural groups use social support. Her work also has shown that positive beliefs can be protective in dealing not only with psychological trauma, but also with the physical side effects of trauma and stress. Taylor was a 2001 recipient of the William James Fellow Award and will be the keynote speaker at the 20th Annual APS Convention in 2008.

Understandably, Taylor is honored to be the inaugural recipient of this award, especially since it brings attention to the field of positive psychology. According to Taylor, when she and her colleagues “started studying human strengths, positive illusions, and resilience more than 25 years ago, it was not a mainstream topic.”  In fact, a colleague told her, “You need to stop doing this health stuff, or you’ll ruin your career.” But, due to Clifton’s efforts and the work of psychologists like Taylor who followed him, she says “We now know that positive beliefs can beneficially affect health because we have the paradigms and a pretty good understanding of the mechanisms that explain these relations. It’s a science that has come a very long way in a very short time.”

Learn more about the Clifton Strengths Prize at http://www.gallupippi.com.

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