News Release

Martin Seligman, founder of positive psychology, to receive inaugural Tang Prize

Grant and Award Announcement

University of Toronto

Martin Seligman, founder of positive psychology, to receive inaugural Tang Prize and speak at University of Toronto

Martin Seligman will visit the University of Toronto to receive the inaugural Tang Prize for Achievements in Psychology and deliver an address entitled "Positive Psychology: The Cutting Edge" on Wednesday, November 12 at 4 pm.

Seligman, the director of the Penn Positive Psychology Centre and the Zellerbach Family Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, is renowned for founding a new field – positive psychology – that uses scientific understanding and effective intervention to aid in the achievement of a satisfying life.

Also a leading authority in the areas of resilience, learned helplessness, depression, optimism and pessimism, Seligman has written more than 250 scholarly publications and over 20 books, many of which have been translated into different languages.

His most famous works include 2002's Authentic Happiness and 2011's Flourish. In these books, he summarizes the cornerstones of psychological well-being as engagement, meaning, purpose and good social relationships. His 2004 book, Character Strengths and Virtues: A handbook and classification, was co-authored with Christopher Peterson as an alternative to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the reference manual used by psychologists to classify mental disorders. Seligman argued that psychology had become overly-focused on treating mental illness and he suggested more attention be paid to nurturing talent and improving normal life.

The Tang Prize was created by Fay Tang of the Tang Foundation to recognize an individual who has made an indelible impact on the field of psychology and to raise awareness of the important contributions that psychologists make to society's well-being. Worth $100,000, the prize is administered by U of T's Department of Psychology. "The University of Toronto is honoured to be home to the Tang Prize and select the recipient," said Susanne Ferber, chair of the department. "The committee was unanimous in selecting Professor Seligman as the first Tang Prize winner."


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