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The Science of a Meaningful Life: Goodness, Evil, and Everyday Heroism

February 26, 2010
Berkeley, CA

This one-day seminar will cover strategies for promoting positive, even heroic, behavior in friends, family, children, clients, and yourself.

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This one-day seminar will cover strategies for promoting positive, even heroic, behavior in friends, family, children, clients, and yourself. Drawing on cutting-edge research from psychology and neuroscience, renowned UC Berkeley professor Dacher Keltner will help attendees understand the biological, psychological, social, and cultural roots of goodness, and he’ll document the strong connections between goodness and happiness: doing good things for others brings happiness to ourselves and those around us. He’ll discuss the factors—from our genes to our families to the media—that can either foster positive behaviors or give rise to negative ones. Dr. Keltner will not only provide research-based insight into the causes of bullying, aggression, emotional disorders like autism, and apathy. He’ll show how attendees can transcend these forces and bring out the best in themselves and others.*

The seminar will also feature a presentation by legendary psychologist Philip Zimbardo, creator of the famed Stanford Prison Experiment and author of the best-selling book The Lucifer Effect. Dr. Zimbardo’s presentation will trace his four decades of research into the situations and systems that can induce evil in ordinary people, as well as those that can nurture heroism. Dr. Zimbardo will show how the same situations that inflame the hostile imagination in some can foster the heroic imagination in others. He will help attendees become more aware of the negative power that certain situations can exert over their behavior—a vital first step toward resisting those forces and choosing to act heroically.

* Here’s what one attendee said about a previous seminar: Dacher Keltner’s ‘Science of a Meaningful Life’ seminar changed my life. The content was mind-blowing for me and my work. People should know that there is this amazing resource to help them toward making their lives, their families, and their communities happier and healthier.

Workshop Topics
There are deep evolutionary roots to humans’ pro-social behaviors—cooperation, compassion, altruism.
A variety of social factors—from our family life to media influences—help determine whether we will act on our propensities for good, pro-social behavior.
When we do act on our propensity for goodness, we don’t only benefit others; we benefit ourselves with measureable increases in happiness.
Anti-social behaviors, such as bullying and aggression, can be traced to deeply rooted biological and psychological factors. But they can also be elicited by social and situational factors.
Certain emotional disorders can be managed by practices such as meditation that cultivate goodness in ourselves and in others.
In certain situations, external influences can even make people who generally perform pro-social behavior act aggressively, or with indifference toward the suffering of others.
People can overcome negative situational or systemic factors, and start to display more kindness and even heroism, by becoming more aware of how those factors unconsciously influence their behavior.
It is possible to identify the factors that can cause anti-social behavior and take concrete steps to address these factors and promote goodness, resilience, and happiness

(All sections led by Dacher Keltner unless otherwise noted) 

8:30 - 9:00 a.m. Registration and check in
9:00 - 10:30 What makes people do good? The evolution and neuroscience of compassion and altruism
10:30 - 10:45 Break
10:45 – 12:00 Paths to goodness and happiness: Social, psychological, and cultural roots
12:00 - 1:00 p.m. Lunch (on your own)
1:00 - 2:15 Philip Zimbardo, Ph.D., on “The Journey from Evil to Heroism”
2:15 - 2:30 Break
2:30 - 3:30 Breakdowns in compassion and altruism: Bullying, aggression, the Bad Samaritan, and other social ills
3:30 - 3:45 Break
3:45 - 4:45 Practical steps toward cultivating the meaningful life for yourself, friends, family, and clients

Learning Objectives
Identify the social and psychological factors that contribute to good, pro-social behavior
Describe the role pro-social behavior plays in promoting happiness and health
Diagnose the root causes of anti-social behavior, such as bullying and aggression
Develop effective ways to respond to anti-social behavior and cultivate resilience and pro-social behavior instead
Detect the situational forces that can motivate evil or apathetic behavior, helping them transcend these forces and act heroically

Continuing Education
Course approval for Psychologists, Social Workers, Therapists, Counselors and Nurses

This seminar is approved for 6 CE hours. 

Continuing Education is co-sponsored by R. Cassidy Seminars.

Psychologists R. Cassidy Seminars is approved by the American Psychological Association to offer continuing education for psychologists.  R. Cassidy Seminars maintains responsibility for this program.  (6) hours.

Social Workers CA: Course meets the qualifications for (6) hours of continuing education credit for MFTs and/or LCSWs as required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, Provider #PCE418. This course provides 6 CE hours.

Marriage and Family Therapists CA: Course meets the qualifications for (6) hours of continuing education credit for MFTs and/or LCSWs as required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, Provider #PCE418. This course provides 6 CE hours.

Chemical Dependency Counselors Provider approved by CAADAC, Provider #4N-00-434-0210 for (6) CEHs.

Occupational Therapists: Occupational therapists will receive a certificate of attendance for 6 CE hours.

Nurses - CA: Provider approved by the CA Board of Registered Nursing, Provider #CEP12224, for (6) contact hours.

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