Interview with Sanaz Talaifar, Summer Session Participant

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This post is part of a series of interviews with our participants for the “Virtue, Happiness, & Self-Transcendence” 2017 Summer Seminar.  Sanaz Talaifar is earning her PhD in Social-Personality Psychology at the University of Texas, Austin. Valerie Wallace is Associate Director, Communications, for Virtue, Happiness, & the Meaning of Life.


Valerie Wallace: Where are you from?


Sanaz Talaifar: I grew up in North Texas, and I live in Austin now.


VW: Tell me about your research.

ST: I study the self and identity. I am interested in how our personal and social identities inform our moral values and well-being. More specifically, how does the strength of attachment to a group, rather than the content of the group’s values, influence our personal moral values? And how does making a group identity a core part of one’s personal identity influence well-being?


VW: What are you most looking forward to about this summer’s seminar?

ST: I’m really excited to meet researchers in disciplines other than my own. I am in the Social-Personality Psychology area at UT Austin, and I often think about how the research questions that psychologists pose (e.g. What does it mean to lead a happy or meaningful life?) are similar to the questions that religious scholars and philosophers have also posed for centuries. I’m looking forward to learning how other branches of knowledge have tried to answer these very human questions.


VW: What are your non-academic interests?

ST: I love reading (mostly fiction), listening to podcasts, taking walks, and traveling.