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Applied Positive Research is at the core of all our projects.

Shawn Achor and Michelle Gielan founded the Institute for Applied Positive Research to anchor GoodThink research efforts. The Institute works to bridge the gap between cutting-edge academic research in the field of positive psychology and best practices within corporate and community cultures around the world. We provide research services to companies in order to raise employee engagement and success by:

    • - Offering Metrics for evaluating engagement and employee performance
    • - Identifying return on investment for different interventions and training programs
    • - Providing long term support for ensuring that a company is running at optimal levels

The goal of science is turning observation into prediction. The goal of business is turning prediction into profit. Thus good science means great business. If you can quantify predictors of success, it’s like adding GPS to your company as it navigates new terrain.” —Shawn Achor

Call for Research Participants


Memorable News Stories and the Brain - Michelle Gielan, Founder of the Institute, is currently running a research project in conjunction with Dr. Martin Seligman PhD, Margaret Kern PhD, and Libby Benson from the University of Pennsylvania. If you would like to participate in this study, please follow this link to a 10-15 minute online survey. We appreciate your participation!

Featured Research

“Stress as Enhancing” Mindset

In partnership with Yale and UBS, this study used a three minute video to teach employees how to view stress as enhancing–creating a 23% drop in fatigue related health problems (headaches, back aches, fatigue) six weeks later. A one hour training was conducted to deepen the learning. The results showed that this additional training resulted in a increase in the duration of the “stress is enhancing” mindset.
Note: This research is being developed into an online training program–visit ReThinkStress.com to learn more.

Defining Positive Intelligence

Harvard Business Review magazine’s Jan/Feb 2012 cover story is all about Shawn’s argument that most of us have the secret to success backwards. It is NOT that success will lead to happiness, but with documented studies at KPMG and Pfizer, Shawn explains how happiness precedes success. Shawn found that happy employees are more productive, more creative, and better at problem solving than their unhappy peers. In the article, Shawn explains three of his strategies for harnessing the power of happiness.

The Happiness Dividend

In the midst of the worst tax season in history, Shawn did a three hour intervention describing how to reap the happiness advantage by creating a positive habit for 50% of the tax managers in NY and NJ at KPMG. Four months later, the optimism, life satisfaction and job satisfaction of these tax managers were retested, and were significantly elevated compared to the control group that received no training. These tax manager’s reported levels of happiness moved from 22 to 27 on a 35 point scale, a 24% improvement in job and life satisfaction. This is one of the first long term return on investment studies, proving that happiness leads to long term quantifiable positive change.

The Predictors of Success Assessment (Social Support)

Based on the study Shawn performed on 1600 Harvard students in 2007, he found that there was a 0.7 correlation between perceived social support and happiness. Following up on this data, Shawn developed three metrics, each 10 questions long, which are even more predictive than previous measures for work optimism, provision of social support, and positive stress management. Individuals high on provision of social support are 10 times more engaged at work, and have a 40% higher likelihood of promotion over the next four years.