Effat University launches first positive psychology lab in Saudi Arabia

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SOURCE: Saudi Gazette

Time: April 02, 2018

JEDDAH — Effat University has announced the launch of the Kingdom’s first-ever Positive Psychology and Wellbeing Research Lab (PPWRL). The announcement came during the International Symposium on Positive Psychology for a Vibrant Society (ISPP), held in Jeddah on March 28-29.

Princess Lolowah Al-Faisal inaugurated the new lab at the event organized by Effat University.

The first of its kind lab in Saudi Arabia was founded by Dr. Saddiqa Al-Ghalib, assistant professor of psychology, with the assistance of her students Afeefah Salim, Rana Dahlawi and Shaden Alkhalifah.

The PPWRL team scientifically explores practical uses of positive psychology in fostering individual wellbeing as part of a mission to provide Effat students with an opportunity to improve their research skills through practical involvement with all aspects of academic research.

“The future holds many opportunities of growth for the PPWR lab,” said Effat University President Dr. Haifa Jamal Al-Lail. “Effat University is committed to embracing research excellence by working to the highest international standards and the Positive Psychology and Wellbeing Research Lab is a key addition to our four other research labs, which give students access to world-class technologies as they investigate and develop innovative and sustainable approaches.”

The PPWR team is planning to collaborate with other scholars, universities and psychiatric clinics to produce quality research and deliver its services to a large number of individuals in the community.

The two-day symposium which attracted more than 200 delegates featured nine papers presented by academics and researchers from different countries followed by discussion panels and the presentation of awards.

In addition, there were three keynote speeches on the second day of the symposium.

Dr. David Creswell, associate professor of psychology, Carnegie Mellon University, USA, spoke about the the benefits of self-affirmation.

Opening by stating that the goal is to maintain an overall self-image of being a competent, worthy and adaptive person, he went on to explain that positive psychology focuses on ways to study people’s strengths.

“Self-affirmation is a way to summon positive aspects of the self and is a resource we can call on in times of stress, and that it may have myriad health benefits for a broad-range of stress-related conditions and diseases,” Creswell said.

Dr. Saddiqa Al-Ghalib delivered the second keynote speech and presented a research paper titled Positive Psychology in Effat University and Saudi Arabia in which she stated that there are almost no comprehensive and culture sensitive mindfulness based wellbeing programs in Arab society, even though it has a rich culture that highly values spirituality. Accordingly, a control group of Effat University students conducted a pre- and post- test experimental study to investigate the effectiveness of a new mindfulness based wellbeing program titled “Mindful Jeddah” on a Saudi Arabian academic society.

Dr. Saddiqa also presented an important paper titled The Perception of Women Driving in Saudi Arabia: Its Relationship with Openness to Experience, Life Satisfaction and Happiness

The third keynote speaker Dr. Louise Lambert, associate professor of psychology, Canadian University, Dubai, and Chief Editor of Middle East Journal of Positive Psychology Journal, gave a presentation titled Trends of Positive Psychology in the Middle East and Future Endeavors. In her research paper, Dr. Lambert stated that positive psychology is a new field that considers not ill-being, but, rather, well-being, and focuses on the positive elements in life, which include positive emotions, meaning, engagement, character strengths, relationships and achievement.

The symposium also included a panel discussion titled Youth Matter moderated by Rozana AlBanawi, a leadership development coach, with panelists Khalid Sendi, Nirmeen Alireza, Enji Sabbagh, Rola Ashoor, Dr. Majed Ashi and Afnan Tash.

The symposium concluded with an afternoon of interactive workshops covering subjects such as Positive Thinking in The Workplace; Cultural Intelligence; and Building Relationships.

“A vibrant society is one of the three main pillars of Vision 2030, which we support at every level,” said Dr. Al-Lail. “A positive attitude is the key to a thriving society and the purpose of the symposium is to promote the scientific understanding and implementation of positive psychology through various evidence-based methodologies, encourage youth to embrace positive psychology in their lives, understand the relationship between Islamic values and psychology, and promote positive psychology research in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf region, North Africa and the Middle East.”

Concluding her comments, Dr. Al-Lail said, “We are delighted with the excellent attendance, which included researchers, teachers, students and practitioners of positive psychology from around the world.”

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