Learn everything about our Center for Applied Research on Well-Being
Natura and FAPESP have just inaugurated their Center for Applied Research on Well-Being and Human Behavior. It’s is located at the Phycology Institute of the University of São Paulo (IPUSP), in the city of São Paulo and is already in operation and. It is formed by a network of more than 30 researchers, who work in the fields of psychology and neurosciences in the University of São Paulo (USP), the Federal University of São Paulo (Unifesp) and Mackenzie Presbyterian University (UPM).
We’ve prepared a list of questions & answers that is going to help you get a better understanding of the objectives of the Center, which will be granted BRL 40 million throughout ten years to study human well-being.
Check it out!
Questions and Answers
1. What is the Center for Applied Research on Well-Being and Human Behavior?
The Center for Applied Research on Well-Being and Human Behavior articulates a team of 30 scientists who are connected in collaborative networks and conduct research in several institutions, like USP, Unifesp and Mackenzie.
The objective of the Center is to structure a sound knowledge base in human well-being based on the integration of different areas like neuroscience, positive psychology, social psychology and healthy, human and applied social sciences.
It’ll be the largest scientific nucleus of the country focused on well-being research and its objective is to drive further knowledge in the area based on multidisciplinary studies.
Natura and Fapesp will invest BRL 20 million (10 million each) throughout ten years. The partner universities will also contribute with institutional and administrative support to the researchers involved.
The projects are going to be elaborated and developed collectively by researchers from Natura and the universities.
The Center will not have an exclusive physical location. The researchers are going to use the infrastructure provided by the partners.
2. Which fields of knowledge will be studied at the Center?
The fields of knowledge that are going to be studied are neuroscience, phycology and health, human and applied social sciences.
3. How many researchers will the Center have?
It’ll have about 30 researchers.
4. What is innovative about the Center for Applied Research?
The initiative stands out for being unique in the domestic and international spheres. It aims at connecting high-end science, application, innovation and the desire to generate positive impacts in society by understanding well-being through collaboration between the private initiative and a network of partners from the academy, government agencies and others. It’s the first Center dedicated to Human Sciences ever created by shared funding between a private company and a public agency for research support.
With the Center we’ve created intersections between human and applied social sciences, generating new opportunities for innovative research in this field. The Center conciliates two pillars: psychology (emphasizing positive psychology and its notion of well-being, including the objective conditions of life, health and housing) and neuroscience.
The Center is in the avant-garde of open innovation. Natura is a pioneer in this way of promoting innovation in Brazil. Since 2001 it has been forming partnerships and as of 2006 it launched the Natura Campus Program, which fosters scientific and technologic collaboration externally, involving national and international partners like research institutes, governments, companies and entrepreneurs. Currently, the cosmetic manufacturer develops projects in a global open innovation network that has more than 200 partners.
5. What will be researched at the Center?
The Center’s researchers are going focus on 11 projects aimed at developing well-being indicators. They are going to conduct studies on recognition and regulation of emotions, as well as on the influences of family and society in human relations. Topics connected to the cosmetic industry, like the way in which fragrances and makeup can change the mood and self-esteem of people, are also going to be studied.
6. What will be the object of study of the Center for Well-Being and Human Behavior?
The Center focuses on science, it aims at disseminating knowledge for society and transferring technology.
The results of the research studies are going to orient projects that promote the search for well-being on behalf of Natura and other stakeholders. This is why the Well-Being Center has a specific department for education and dissemination of knowledge, which will translate the knowledge resulting from the research studies for society into initiatives that can be applied to improve people’s lives. It also has a department for technology transference, which will translate the knowledge for Natura.
Well-being is a widely studied topic from a scientific perspective, but it also has a social application. Our goal is to increase people’s awareness and even generate public policies aimed at improving people’s quality of life. Today, people usually seek the lack of ill-being instead of well-being itself.
The Center will try to seek further scientific knowledge about well-being in many different spheres.
7. Since there are so many partners, who will be responsible for the Center?
The Center will use a shared governance model. Its director will be Professor Emma Otta and vice-director, Patricia Tobo, the scientific manager of Natura’s department of Well-being Sciences.
8. What types of technologies and equipment will be used to conduct the research studies?
The Center will use conventional psychologic materials, like questionnaires and scales, on-line data collection tools and even more advanced Technologies – such as eye tracking, electroencephalography and infrared brain imaging. The latter is a mobile technology that can be used instead of MRI, which is a highly disruptive technology and little available in Brazil.
9. What is the role played by Fapesp on Center’s daily routine?
Fapesp developed criteria for periodical assessment of the Center. The institution will have dedicated coordinators prepared support the demands that may arise and work on compliance with the Grant Agreement that defines the funds that have to be granted to the Center’s operation.
10. Will researchers from other universities (rather than USP, Unifesp and Mackenzie) be able to present projects to be developed in the Center?
Only those who are part of the Center will be able to present projects. However, researchers from other institutions can establish partnerships with the Center’s researchers to propose new partnerships and collective activities.
11. What are the main fields of knowledge that are going to guide the research studies?
Phycology and neurosciences.
12. What is positive psychology and neuroscience? In what ways will the Center approach those sciences?
Psychology studies human behavior and the causes of those behaviors. Positive psychology represents an important shift on emphasis – from illness to health. Our goal is to understand this in a better way, considering that health is not exactly the lack of illnesses, as well as well-being is not exactly opposed to ill-being.
Neurosciences study the physiological grounds of behavior – the way in which the brain controls our body. What happens when we smell a pleasant or unpleasant fragrance, when we interact with someone we like or don’t like, when we see positive or negative scenes.
The innovative aspect of our Center relies on the fact that it combines those two pillars – the psychology pillar (emphasizing positive psychology) and the neuroscience pillar.
13. What is well-being from the point of view of psychology?
Psychology works with a subjective concept of well-being that has two main dimensions. One dimension relates with what we think about our conditions of life, housing, food and health. Well-being also entails another dimension, the emotional one, which is the way in which we feel things throughout life – happiness, sadness, anger, fear, gratitude, affection we feel in relation to other people.
The first dimension – the way in which we think about the objective conditions of our lives – is related to our material conditions in a quite linear way. The second dimension is more complex. It is related to the simple gestures that make us feel better, for example, expressing gratitude to those who are important for us, being lovely with the others.
14. How the research studies in the field of psychology are going to be designed?
Many projects are going to be grounded on observational studies, combining subjective evaluations – which measure how individuals feel, using questionnaires and
scientifically validated scales – and objective measurements – which asses how the body reacts to certain stimuli.
Based on positive psychology, the researchers assume that well-being isn’t only ensured by avoiding ill-being. For example: if you have no pain or illness will this ensure you have a sensation of well-being? No, it won’t. Well-being is not static, it changes all the time. If you achieve well-being and don’t do anything, you’ll no longer feel like that shortly after.
The focus on negative emotions results from the following rationale: “if everything is all right, why worry?” The Well-being Center aims at shifting the role of positive emotions from a supportive to a protagonist one.
15. In what ways research studies about well-being can be used to manufacture Natura’s products?
Over the past ten years Natura has been developing methodologies to measure people’s well-being using research studies and objective methods that involve physiological reactions (like the voice, heart-beat, sweating) and subjective methods (by using questionnaires and spontaneous testimonials).
These methodologies have been applied to develop many product lines, for example:
- We have recently launched Mamãe e Bebê Hora do Sono (Mom and Baby Bedtime): we’ve developed and tested a moisturizing lotion with a relaxing fragrance and a massage ritual. Later on, we’ve evaluated the efficacy of this product on babies’ sleeping routines.
- Mamãe e Bebê massage oil: mom’s well-being was measured objectively and subjectively before and after applying the product and massaging the baby while listening to a relaxing list of songs compiled on a CD.
- The VôVó (grandpa-grandma) line, launched in 2011; methods to measure well-being were applied to develop a memory album for grandparents and grandchildren along with massage gestures that the children could apply to their grandparents’ hands.
16. How important is the Well-being Center for Natura?
The initiative stresses Natura’s pioneering role in well-being research. Well-being is Natura’s driving force. The company has been studying this topic for more than ten years and Well-being Sciences are part of one of its main research fields. With the Center for Applied Research we want to seek even more depth and relevance in the scientific sphere in a collaborative way, to further knowledge, technology and innovation applied to the topic.
The existing literature is based on foreign countries. With the Center, we’ll have the possibility to produce knowledge and develop methodologies, indicators, concepts and new products focused on the Brazilian population at first and then on Latin America, where Natura has a strong presence.
The results of the research studies can offer insights, concepts and methodologies to generate new innovative products and services that aggregate more value to what Natura currently offers. The Center stresses our desire to understand human relations and emotions in order to develop products and experiences that move our consumers.