The FORT research programme (forté = strength) includes several research projects focusing on the exploration of the nature, prevalence, patterns, dynamics and enhancement of psychological wellbeing in various contexts and the validation of psychometric instruments for the South African and international context. The FORT projects build unto each other:

FORT1 = A Trans-University research programme in Fortology: clarification and advancement of psychosocial wellbeing in adults and children, and in various contexts;

FORT2 = Understanding and promoting psychosocial health, resilience and strengths in an African context;

FORT3 = The prevalence of levels of psychosocial health: dynamics and relationships with biomarkers of (ill-)health in South African social contexts (with sub-projects: Meaning and relational wellbeing as core facets of functioning well and psychosocial health; and Meaning, relatedness and cultures of positivity: Measures, dynamics and models);

and currently:

FORT4 = Embracing well-being in diverse contexts - Context-sensitive conceptualization, measurement dynamics and correlates of well-being.

The FORT programme also dovetails with the international Eudaimonic Hedonic Happiness Investigation (EHHI) project in which we are involved.

We conceptualize health and well-being as multi-dimensional (physical, psychological, social and spiritual) and as more than the absence of symptoms and pathology. Our assumption is that it is not enough to remedy problems, but that we should also build biopsychosocial strengths and competencies in order to develop protective buffers against the risks for poor health. Such interventions will be more cost effective and improve the quality of life for many people, and not only those with illnesses.

In general, FORT focuses on the understanding of psychosocial wellbeing and strengths on individual and group levels, what makes life worthwhile for people in various contexts, and how it is associated with various socio-demographic and physical variables. FORT also considers how psychosocial wellbeing can be measured in a valid and trustworthy way in diverse contexts with the implementation of modern psychometric techniques and the prevalence of psychosocial wellbeing in an African context. In addition, we develop and evaluate programmes to improve psychosocial wellbeing targeting specific African contexts. Lastly, we contribute to developing theoretical models of psychosocial health for guidance of research and interventions.


The team

Prof Lusilda Schutte

Prof Marié Wissing

Dr Christelle Liversage 


Current research projects

The current FORT4 project forms part of the FORT (forte = strengths) research programme and is a follow-up of FORT1, FORT2 and FORT3. The research programme seeks to understand and promote well-being and quality of life, despite life’s inevitable difficulties. Internationally, theory and practice in positive psychology and well-being science are strongly based on Western research with limited attention to cultural diversity. In South Africa, research based on Western philosophies and data often inform the science and practice. This research aims to contribute to diversity in well-being research by studying the conceptualization, measurement, dynamics and correlates of well-being while taking cognisance of context. Specific aims are to: (1) further the measurement of well-being in diverse contexts; (2) qualitatively explore participants from diverse South African samples’ understanding and experiences of facets of well-being; and (3) explore the dynamics, patterns, and correlates of well-being in diverse samples. This project also links with the multidisciplinary longitudinal Prospective Urban and Rural Epidemiology – South Africa (PURE-SA) project which is hosted within the the Africa Unit for Transdisciplinary Health Research (AUTHeR).


Study with us

Students enrolled for the MA in Positive Psychology (MAPP) or PhD in Health Sciences with Positive Psychology, can conduct research projects on various facets of psychosocial wellbeing and its measurement and promotion.


For further information contact Prof Lusilda Schutte, Prof Marié Wissingor Dr Christelle Liversage.