Dr. Edward HoffmanDr. Edward Hoffman, adjunct associate clinical professor in the department of psychology at Yeshiva College, is co-author of Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness and Flourishing with Dr. William Compton, professor of psychology at Middle Tennessee State University. In March 2019, Sage Publications published the third edition, which, according to the publisher, “reflects significant growth in the field with hundreds of new references and expanded content on topics including mindfulness, money and subjective well-being, and romantic love.”

“I became an active researcher, educator and scholar in the field of positive psychology because I strongly believe it can help individuals, families and communities to be happier and enjoy greater well-being,” Dr. Hoffman noted. “Growing up in New York City, I attended Jewish day school, and the wisdom of the Jewish tradition continues to inspire me and influence my work in the field of psychology. I enjoy collaborating on research with colleagues all over the world—such as from Brazil, China, India, Italy, Japan and Norway—and learning from their cultures.”

Talia KornAt the Eastern Psychological Conference Annual Conference held in New York City from February 28-March 2, 2019, Dr. Hoffman presented a poster research paper titled “Tears of Joy: Implications for Psychological and Physical Well-Being” with Dr. Peter Lin of St. Joseph’s College in New York City and Talia Korn ’19S, who is majoring in psychology with a minor in neuroscience.

“Talia contacted me about 18 months ago to work with me as a research assistant,” Dr. Hoffman said, “and she is acknowledged by name in both of the books I have written. I have also published articles in peer-reviewed journals on the topic of tears of joy, and Talia worked on these as an assistant, such as coding surveys into Excel files, summarizing data and so on.”

He and Korn developed a survey to see if lifestyle behaviors such as prayer, vigorous physical exercise and playing a musical instrument had any bearing on how often people experience tears of joy. “I encouraged her to be the first author of our study (Dr. Lin did the statistical analysis) and to present it at the Eastern Psychological Association annual conference.”

“Tears of joy (TOJ) are a prominent phenomenon, yet not much is understood,” said Korn. “Although people throughout history have experienced TOJ, empirical research has been meager.” In the study that she and Dr. Hoffman conducted, 200 persons aged 21 to above 60 responded to a survey online concerning experiences of TOJ. Slightly over 82 percent of participants had experienced TOJ in their life, women significantly more so than men and also more frequently. Neither age nor frequency of vigorous exercise correlated significantly with TOJ frequency, but feeling better physically during TOJ was positively correlated with life satisfaction.

“I was eager to apply the research skills I had learned at school in an important way. With Dr. Hoffman’s guidance, we were able to develop this survey, strategically target an adequate sample, understand the data and ultimately write-up and present the poster.”

Her research efforts still continue. “I am currently working on clinical obsessive-compulsive disorder research at Columbia Medical Center at the New York Psychiatric Institute.”

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