Emiliana R. Simon-Thomas
Emiliana R. Simon-Thomas, Ph.D., is the science director of the Greater Good Science Center, where she oversees the GGSC’s fellowship program, is a co-instructor of its Science of Happiness online course, and helps run its Expanding Gratitude project.
Emiliana is a leading expert on the neuroscience and psychology of compassion, kindness, gratitude, and other “pro-social” skills. She earned her doctorate in Cognition Brain and Behavior at UC Berkeley, where her dissertation used behavioral and neuroscience methods to examined how negative states like fear and aversion influence thinking and decision-making. During her postdoc, Emiliana transitioned to studying pro-social states like love of humanity, compassion, and awe. From there, Emiliana served as Associate Director/Senior Scientist at CCARE (the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University), focusing on how compassion benefits health, well-being, and psychosocial functioning.
Today, Emiliana’s work spotlights the science that connects health and happiness to social affiliation, caregiving, and collaborative relationships, as she continues to examine the potential for – as well as the benefits of – living a more meaningful life.
Stories by Emiliana R. Simon-Thomas
Articles: Are the Rich More Lonely?By Emiliana R. Simon-Thomas | June 1, 2016
Two new studies disagree about the link between income and social connections. Emiliana Simon-Thomas takes a closer look.
Articles: Where Does Kindness Come From?By Emiliana R. Simon-Thomas | May 5, 2016
A new study fuses methods from several different branches of science to reveal the forces that shape kindness.
A new study contradicts prior research by suggesting that a happy life isn’t necessarily a longer one. But a closer look reveals that there's more to the story.
New data from our Science of Happiness course confirm the link between well-being and relationship quality.
Here’s what we learned from The Science of Happiness 2015 pre-course survey.
Articles: Do Happiness Practices Work?By Emiliana R. Simon-Thomas, Tchiki Davis | June 3, 2015
Yes, they do. But first, you have to try them!
Articles: Can an Online Course Boost Happiness?By Emiliana R. Simon-Thomas, Juliana Breines | April 22, 2015
Based on the results from our “Science of Happiness” class, the answer seems to be Yes!
Articles: Measuring Compassion in the BodyBy Emiliana R. Simon-Thomas | March 9, 2015
What happens in Vagus… may make or break compassion.
Articles: Five Ways to Get the Gift RightBy Emiliana R. Simon-Thomas | December 15, 2014
Do presents make you anxious? Here are research-based techniques to help bring joy back into the holidays.
Videos and Podcasts: The Biology of Mindfulness and CompassionBy Emiliana R. Simon-Thomas | September 2013
In this presentation from the GGSC’s “Practicing Mindfulness & Compassion” conference, GGSC Science Director Emiliana R. Simon-Thomas explains why mindfulness meditation can help support the growth of compassion in the brain.
Articles: Where to Find Love on FacebookBy Jeremy Adam Smith, Emiliana R. Simon-Thomas | February 12, 2014
The GGSC worked with Facebook to develop a new type of emoticon. Can you guess which one proved most popular?
The most surprising, provocative, and inspiring findings published this past year.
See how it compares with the results from our Compassionate Organizations Quiz.
Articles: Here’s How Much You Love HumanityBy Emiliana R. Simon-Thomas | May 21, 2013
Results from the Greater Good Science Center's "Love of Humanity" quiz.
Articles: Meditation Makes Us Act with CompassionBy Emiliana R. Simon-Thomas | April 11, 2013
A new study suggests mindfulness meditation can help us overcome the "bystander effect."
Articles: Can a Bad Deed Lead to a Good One?By Emiliana R. Simon-Thomas | April 3, 2013
A new study reveals how our frame of mind shapes our sense of right and wrong.
Articles: How Grateful are Americans?By Emiliana R. Simon-Thomas, Jeremy Adam Smith | January 10, 2013
A new poll finds that Americans think their own gratitude is increasing, while everyone else’s is going down. The good news? This is impossible!
Articles: A “Thnx” a Day Keeps the Doctor AwayBy Emiliana R. Simon-Thomas | December 19, 2012
Research predicts gratitude will make people happier and healthier. But we didn't expect our new online gratitude journal, Thnx4.org, to have such a positive impact on participants.
Articles: The Cooperative InstinctBy Emiliana R. Simon-Thomas | September 21, 2012
A new study finds that our first, quickest impulse is to cooperate, not compete.
A recent gathering of compassion researchers reveals new discoveries about how and why humans help each other.
A new study teases out the different benefits of four kinds of meditation.
Self-criticism and low self-worth can hold us back. Here’s how to start banishing those negative beliefs.
These research-based practices can help kids (and adults) foster authentic happiness.
Greater Good Events
December 9-10, 2016
This workshop is an introduction to Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC), an empirically-supported training program based on the pioneering research of Kristin Neff and the clinical perspective of Chris Germer.
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Take a Greater Good Quiz!
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Watch Greater Good Videos
Talks by inspiring speakers like Jon Kabat-Zinn, Dacher Keltner, and Barbara Fredrickson.Watch
Greater Good Resources
- "Gratitude and Prosocial Behavior"
Finds that feeling gratitude produces kind and helpful behavior, even when that behavior is costly to the individual actor.
- "Compassion: An Evolutionary Analysis and Empirical Review"
Compassion evolved as a distinct affective experience whose function is to enable cooperation and protection of those who...
- "From Jerusalem to Jericho"
This article on bystander intervention in emergency situations suggests that we are likely to help a “shabbily dressed”...
- Jeffrey J. Froh’s Laboratory for Gratitude in Youth
Learn more about one of the leading researchers of gratitude.
- Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude
The GGSC’s new project which aims to expand the scientific database of gratitude and promote practices of gratitude in...
- The Research Project on Gratitude and Thankfulness
The Research Project on Gratitude and Thankfulness, co-directed by Robert A. Emmons and Michael E. McCullough, is a...
Book of the Week
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Best-selling author and founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program