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Science + Research




Greater Good Science Center at University of California, Berkeley


The Greater Good Science Center studies the psychology, sociology, and neuro-science of well-being, and teaches skills that foster a thriving, resilient, and compassionate society.


Core Themes of research and practice: altruism, compassion, empathy, forgiveness, gratitude, happiness and mindfulness

The Greater Good Science Center is a Charter Partner

Based at the University of California, Berkeley, the GGSC is unique in its commitment to both science and practice: not only do we sponsor groundbreaking scientific research into social and emotional well-being, we help people apply this research to their personal and professional lives. Since 2001, we have been at the fore of a new scientific movement to explore the roots of happy and compassionate individuals, strong social bonds, and altruistic behavior—the science of a meaningful life. And we have been without peer in our award-winning efforts to translate and disseminate this science to the public.

The Greater Good Science Center pursues its mission through the following core activities

Fellowship Program. Fellowships to UC Berkeley undergraduate and graduate students are the foundation of the Center’s scientific initiatives. The GGSC’s fellowship program supports scholars whose work relates to our mission, from across a broad spectrum of academic disciplines. Previous GGSC fellows have gone on to top research and teaching positions at universities nationwide, providing a significant boost to the science of compassion, resilience, altruism, and happiness.

Greater Good, the online magazine of the GGSC—the cornerstone of this website and the Center’s efforts to disseminate cutting-edge science. Greater Good fuses in-depth, practical reporting on the science of a meaningful life with inspiring stories of compassion in action. In the process, it provides a bridge between social scientists and parents, educators, community leaders, and policy makers.

The Raising Happiness blog, created by Christine Carter, Ph.D., the director of the GGSC’s Greater Good Parents program. In her award-winning, one-of-a-kind blog (formerly named Half Full), Carter offers science-based tips for more joyful kids and happier parents. She combines her work as a sociologist and happiness expert with her experiences as a mother, producing a rich, humorous, and credible guide to raising kids in the 21st century.

Events. GGSC events bring together leading scientists, educators, and members of the public to discuss concrete strategies for promoting the greater good. Most recently, our Science of a Meaningful Life seminar series has included presentations by luminaries like Paul Ekman, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Barbara Fredrickson, and Philip Zimbardo. Previous GGSC events have featured talks by distinguished figures such as Jonathan Kozol, Arlie Hochschild, and Robert Reich.

Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude. In collaboration with the University of California, Davis, we are pleased to announce a new, three-year project, “Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude,” supported with funding from the John Templeton Foundation. The goals of this initiative are to expand the scientific database of gratitude and promote evidence-based practices of gratitude in schools, workplaces, homes, and communities. To achieve these goals, we are launching a range of research and educational initiatives, from a research grant competition to a large public event to a mobile app competition.

After starting as a widely acclaimed print magazine in 2004, Greater Good relaunched in 2010 in a more dynamic, multimedia format, including these features:

  • The entire Greater Good archive—hundreds of articles that have appeared in the magazine, most of which were not previously available online;
  • New videos, including its Science of a Meaningful Life series, which boasts provocative, accessible presentations by some of the world’s top experts on compassion, mindfulness, happiness, and more;
  • New podcast series, including the Greater Good Podcast—interviews with leading researchers and thinkers on the science of social-emotional well-being—and the Happiness Matters Podcast, featuring conversations between the GGSC’s Christine Carter and nurse Rona Renner, host of the radio show “Childhood Matters”;


Our Core Beliefs

  • Compassion is a fundamental human trait, with deep psychological and evolutionary roots. By creating environments that foster cooperation and altruism, we help nurture the positive side of human nature.
  • Happiness is not simply dependent on a person’s genes. It is a set of skills that can be taught, and, with practice, developed over time.
  • Happiness and altruism are intertwined—doing good is an essential ingredient to being happy.
  • Science should do more than help us understand human behavior and emotion in the abstract; it should be applied toward improving people’s personal and professional lives.
  • Studying the roots of good, healthy, and positive behavior is just as important as studying human pathologies. To promote individual and social well-being, science must examine how people overcome difficult circumstances and how they develop positive emotions and relationships.
  • Individual well-being promotes social well-being, and social well-being promotes individual well-being. The well-being of society as a whole can best be achieved by providing information, tools, and skills to those people directly responsible for shaping the well-being of others.