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January 2011



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“A table, a chair, a bowl of fruit and a violin;
what else does a man need to be happy?”

Albert Einstein

Producers of New PBS Series Joined By Experts to Reveal Science Behind Happiness

This Emotional Life Series to Provide Help and Hope to Millions of Americans

NEW YORK, Oct. 8 /PRNewswire/ — Psychologists and individuals profiled in the new PBS documentary This Emotional Life joined best-selling author and Harvard professor Daniel Gilbert at the Paley Center for Media in New York for a discussion on what scientists have learned about how early life moments can shape a lifetime pursuit of happiness.

“The secrets of happiness aren’t secrets anymore,” said Gilbert, psychologist and host of the series, which is a co-production of Vulcan Productions and the WGBH/NOVA Science Unit. “As scientists now know, social relationships, more than any other factor, are the key to human happiness.”

This Emotional Life unfolds across three, two-hour episodes, exploring ways we can improve our social relationships, cope with negative emotions such as depression and anxiety and become more positive, resilient individuals. Each episode weaves together the compelling personal stories of ordinary people and the latest scientific research, along with revealing comments from celebrities such as Chevy Chase, Larry David, Elizabeth Gilbert, Alanis Morissette, Katie Couric and Richard Gere.

At the midday briefing, Senior Executive Producer Richard Hutton of Vulcan Productions and Executive Producer Dyllan McGee of Kunhardt McGee Productions provided a preview of “Families, Friends and Lovers,” the first episode, which explores how human relationships go right, how they go wrong and what we can do to improve them.

“The human stories in this series are deeply moving; they open a window into our very nature, helping us understand why we behave the way we do,” said Hutton.

This Emotional Life is about human connections and understanding how our social interactions are deeply wired in our brains,” said Paula Apsell, Senior Executive Producer, WGBH/NOVA Science Unit. “The series looks at the latest, cutting-edge biological and social science behind our human nature to help us better understand what drives our emotions and what can lead us to happiness.”

“With This Emotional Life we wanted to explore some of the problems real people are dealing with, what science tells us about the nature of those problems and how individuals can address these problems,” added McGee. “What we found out is that good social relationships play an important role in improving our overall wellbeing.”

Psychologist Dr. Jessica Zucker provided insights into how research on human emotions has informed her work with mothers and infants. “We are just beginning to understand scientifically the importance of parent – infant interactions in laying the foundation for healthy relationships with siblings, friends, co-workers and lovers,” Zucker said.

The panel also included Lois Ross, who appears in the documentary with her son Jason, a 29 year-old sonographer living in New York who was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a neurological disorder that makes it difficult to read others’ emotions. Ross is among several parents profiled in This Emotional Life who have helped their children understand social and relationship skills that did not come naturally.

“There’s one thing about Jason and it always warms my heart,” Ross said. “He never gives up. In the face of adversity, he just keeps going along.”

In the series, viewers have a front-row seat with panelist Dr. Xavier Amador as he worked with a couple who made a connection, but are now struggling to save it.

“Our ability to sustain and grow healthy relationships get tested almost daily when we pick a life partner and start out own family,” Amador said. “Research shows that many people can heal and nurture failing relationships by applying well studied, but underutilized, psychological principles. Marriage therapy is a tremendously important, powerful tool to which more people should become open.”

The film is complemented by a content-rich website, www.pbs.org/thisemotionallife, designed by New York digital communications firm Method. It provides vetted resources and opportunities to build social support networks around topics highlighted in the series, such as the importance of early attachment, how to heal strained or damaged relationships, PTSD, stress, depression, grief, resilience and our pursuit of happiness.

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