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UC Berkeley psychologists bring science of happiness to China
Date:7/26/2010

g the cultural revolution to work on fish ponds, leaving his family behind.

But Chairman Mao's anti-intellectual movement didn't deter the young Kaiping Peng from pursuing academia. He took his college entrance exams early at age 16, and entered Beijing University intending to major in physics. University officials instead directed him to study psychology, a subject he knew little about.

Peng didn't immerse himself fully in psychology until he entered the University of Michigan in 1989 as a visiting scholar and went on to earn a Ph.D. in the subject. He interviewed for faculty positions at the University of Chicago and Cornell University, but it was UC Berkeley that he fell in love with, and whose faculty he joined in 1998.

In 2008, through UC Berkeley's fundraising arm, he was introduced to alumni Cher Wang and Wen Chi Chen, who rank among Taiwan's wealthiest entrepreneurs and philanthropists. The couple wanted to donate seed money for various projects in China. After some discussion with Peng, they agreed to support the Berkeley-Tsinghua Program for the Advanced Study in Psychology as part of a broader collaboration between the two campuses.

Peng traveled to Beijing that same year with George Breslauer, UC Berkeley's executive vice chancellor and provost, and Sheldon Zedeck, vice provost for academic affairs and faculty welfare, to propose the idea to Tsinghua University officials. The visit went well, and an agreement was struck. With seed money from Wang and Chen and a matching donation from Tsinghua University, the partnership was born and recruiting began.

Today, the 10-member psychology faculty at Tsinghua University is made up of four Chinese professors, three U.S.-trained Chinese psychologists and three American professors, including Seth Roberts, a UC Berkeley professor emeritus of psychology and author of "The Shangri-La Diet," a book that promotes weight loss through flavorless foods.

Roberts said he
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Contact: Yasmin Anwar
yanwar@berkeley.edu
510-643-7944
University of California - Berkeley
Source:Eurekalert

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