Zellerbach Family Professor of Psychology
Martin Seligman is the Director of the Penn Positive Psychology Center, Zellerbach Family Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychology, and Director of the Penn Master of Applied Positive Psychology program (MAPP).
Commonly known as the founder of positive psychology, Seligman is a leading authority in the fields of positive psychology, resilience, learned helplessness, depression, optimism, and pessimism. He is also a recognized authority on interventions that prevent depression and build strengths and well-being. He has written more than 250 scholarly publications and 20 books, which have been translated into more than 20 languages and have been best sellers both in America and abroad. Among his better-known works are Flourish, Authentic Happiness, Learned Optimism, The Optimistic Child, Helplessness, and Abnormal Psychology. His book Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification, was co-authored with Christopher Peterson.
In 1998, Seligman was elected President of the American Psychological Association. His primary aim as APA President was to join practice and science together so both might flourish—a goal that has dominated his own life as a psychologist. Since 2000, his main mission has been the promotion of the field of positive psychology. Seligman is expanding positive psychology to education, health, and neuroscience, and has applied his research to groups like teachers and students, the U.S. Army, athletes, and everyday people. His goal is to make the world happier.
Seligman was born in Albany, New York, and received his B.A. from Princeton University, Summa Cum Laude (Philosophy), 1964; Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania (Psychology), 1967; Ph.D., Honoris causa, Uppsala University, Sweden, 1989; Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris causa, Massachusetts College of Professional Psychology, 1997; Ph.D., Honoris causa, Complutense University, Spain, 2003; and Ph.D., Honoris causa, University of East London, 2006. He lives with his wife, Mandy, and their children. He is an avid bridge player and has won over 50 regional championships. He was inspired by Aaron Beck, a renowned psychiatrist at the University of Pennsylvania and the father of cognitive therapy.
About the Donor
The late William Zellerbach, W'42, former University Trustee, created this chair in 1977 to support a prominent scholar whose public policy work is innovative and has humanistic and social relevance.