The FORT research programme (forté = strength) includes several team 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; and currently FORT3 = The prevalence of levels of psychosocial health: dynamics and relationships with biomarkers of (ill)health in South African social contexts. FORT3 dovetails with the international Eudaimonic Hedonic Happiness Investigation (EHHI) project in which we are involved. Two recent sub-projects in FORT3 are 1) Meaning and relational wellbeing as core facets of functioning well and psychosocial health, and 2) Meaning, relatedness and cultures of positivity: Measures, dynamics and models.
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.
Prof Marié Wissing – Project leader
Dr Lusilda Schutte – Co-leader
Ms Christelle Liversage – Participating member
Ms Amanda Cromhout – PhD candidate
Mr R Appiah – PhD candidate
*Research interns and master’s degree students.
Current research projects
The current FORT3 focuses on the prevalence of levels of psychosocial health: dynamics and relationships with biomarkers of (ill-)health in South African social contexts. This project in some instances links to other multidisciplinary projects in the Africa Unit for Transdisciplinary Health Research (AUTHeR), such as PURE-SA. FORT3 also overlaps with the international EHHI (Eudaimonic–Hedonic Happiness Investigation) project. Subprojects are 1) Meaning and relational wellbeing as core facets of functioning well and psychosocial health, and 2) Meaning, relatedness and cultures of positivity: Measures, dynamics and models, and 3) Understanding positive mental health and its correlates in diverse South African samples: A proactive approach to the mental health burden. Current subprojects in FORT3 mainly focus on the understanding, measurement and promotion of (bio)psychosocial health and well-being on individual, interpersonal and community levels with reference to what people in diverse contexts find the most meaningful in their lives, what their most important goals are, what makes them happy, what their most important relationships are, how they view wellbeing in a community, and how these link with sociodemographic variables and indicators of physical (ill-) health and other wellbeing facets in an African and multicultural context. We explore how these can be understood as hanging together from the perspective of an interconnectedness model of wellbeing.
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.