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Primal World Beliefs: Mapping a Final Frontier of the Cognitive Revolution Finds that Safety is Not Enough with Jer Clifton

  • 30 Jun 2016
  • 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
  • AnyMeeting Webinar: The link to join will be sent to those that register


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Primal World Beliefs: Mapping a Final Frontier of the Cognitive Revolution Finds that Safety is Not Enough

Jer Clifton

Primals represent our simplest beliefs about the essential nature of everything. For example, "the world is a fascinating place." Extensive analysis has boiled down 25 primals to only three basic beliefs about the fundamental nature of reality. Primals correlate significantly with personality, depression, life satisfaction, all five elements of PERMA, trust, grit, gratitude, optimism, psychopathy, loneliness, and curiosity. Primal world beliefs associated with decreasing ill-being are different than primal associated with increasing well-being. Join your MAPP friends with a peak into this totally new and fascinating positive psychology research being conducted at UPenn!


Jer studies primal world beliefs at the University of Pennsylvania with advisor Dr. Martin Seligman. He has a BA in philosophy from Houghton College and a Masters in Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) from the University of Pennsylvania.

Jer spent the first 18 years of his life in Taiwan and Hong Kong the child of Baptist missionaries. A loud-mouth philosopher in college, he wrote a manuscript about the utility of beliefs about the whole world. While working for the next 8 years in the non-profit sector, his hobby was getting rejected by publishers and agents.

As an AmeriCorps community organizer and Housing Director, Jer orchestrated inner-city neighborhood turnarounds. Highlights include starting a homeownership program, a philosophy club of gangsters, a refugee soccer league, and co-creating a theory of urban renewal with input from Dr. Elinor Ostrom, 2009 Nobel laureate. Using this theory, Jer created an urban improvement program that is now a replicated Habitat for Humanity best practice. He joined the CEO's office at Habitat for Humanity's headquarters as a strategic planner in 2011, designed the global five-year strategy, and managed the national planning process for Habitat Sri Lanka.

But, in the last two years, all Jer's nerdiest dreams came true. He received a grant from the Templeton Religion Trust, became a graduate student under one of the most celebrated psychologists alive, led 10 top handpicked scholars from around the country in 3 days of discussions, had a full-time research assistant, 22-interns…the list goes on.

Most excitingly, however, new empirical research suggests that primals matter, perhaps enormously, and could make the world a better place. Jer expects primals to be his life's work.

Jer is a MAPP graduate.  View his profile.

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