• Event Brief
  • Social Interactions, Identity & Well Being

Building Better Lives: New Thinking on How Social Interactions Shape Human Behaviour and Well-Being

by CIFAR Nov 7 / 16

CIFAR researchers met with policy-makers, community leaders and others at a symposium which examined the complex ways in which health, happiness and well-being are shaped by social identities and interactions. The symposium in Brisbane, Australia included three members of CIFAR’s program in Social Interactions, Identy & Well-being: John Helliwell (University of British Columbia), Phil Oreopolous (University of Toronto) and Alexander Haslam (University of Queensland). They presented new research insights from their work in how social interactions and identity impact our psychology and our social and economic behavior. Attendees of the event included leaders in public policy, healthcare, social services, and academia as well as interested public.


Research increasingly shows how important social identity and social interactions are to people’s sense of well-being. Factors like civic engagement, connections with family and friends, and good government have all been shown to play an important role in how satisfied people are with their lives, and can even outweigh the effect of income alone. Researchers in CIFAR’s Social Interactions, Identity & Well-Being program have helped to switch well-being focus from merely measuring wealth to looking at other issues, such as the nature of leadership, barriers to education, the welfare and happiness of children, policy issues around the economics of poverty, crime and punishment, the identity and well-being of migrants, and others.

Read the full report