Social Support TAT: Theory, Applications, and Technology

16 - 20 March 2015

Venue: Lorentz Center@Oort

If you are invited or already registered for this workshop, you have received login details by email.

Description and Aim

Social support is vital to human health and well-being. For example, people with larger social networks live longer (Holt-Lunstad et al, 2010). Greater social activity is associated with higher self-worth, creativity, productivity, and reduced neural, cardiovascular, endocrinological stress responses (Taylor & Broffman, 2011). In daily life, intimate relations and socializing are the most important contributors to well-being, even more important than popular soothing activities like eating and shopping (Kahneman et al., 2004). While the benefits of social support are clear, the field remains in its infancy in understanding the exact conscious and non-conscious mechanisms.


The primary goal of this workshop will be to bring together different perspectives on social support (e.g. biological, neurological, psychological), thereby getting a better understanding of why and how social support is so important to human beings. Importantly, another goal of this workshop will be to use these insights to develop technological applications of indirect social support that can be used both for research purposes and for society (e.g. use in therapy). The workshop itself will be considered a success if participants (as a group) can offer a first concrete solution for innovative and feasible technological developments to 1) use in research, 2) apply in therapy, while also lasting collaborations are forged. In other words, the academic thirst of our guests should be quenched, while we explicitly aim at developing applications of our knowledge.


The workshop program offers multiple opportunities for insightful discussions and knowledge exchange, such as

Talks. Speakers will share their thoughts and work on social support from different perspectives. In the so-called “Debate” sessions speakers will present contradictory perspectives in order to elicit discussions on the following topics: embodied, non-conscious, and social support; sharing of emotions; and social relationships and health.

Brainstorm sessions. The brainstorm sessions will be used as a first step to developing technological applications together with the Maker Communities.

Flash & poster presentations. Research Master and PhD student from around the world will give 2-minute flash presentations on their work. They will also present their work through posters, and these posters will be available during the rest of the workshop.

Complementary to the workshop's talks and discussions, a group of entrepreneurs, designers and developers will work on innovative e-mental health concepts and products, together forming an "open living lab" - a real-life development environment where researchers, technologists and creatives co-create innovations as driven and inspired by our workshop's research goal.

The living lab will employ four main activities:

1.         Co-Creation: co-design by creatives, developers, researchers and therapists.

2.         Exploration: discovering emerging usages, behaviors and market opportunities

3.         Experimentation: implementing live scenarios within research and therapy

4.         Evaluation: assessment of concepts, products and services according to socio ergonomic, socio-cognitive and socio-economic criteria.

Members of the living lab will therefore be free to walk in and out of talks and discussions during the workshop, and vice versa, encouraging a free exchange of ideas. We hope, and expect, these interactions to inspire long term collaborations and partnerships criss-crossing disciplines, producing new and innovative solutions, and, potentially, products for some of the problems that therapists face - be it through technological applications facilitating future research or by envisioning new tools that therapists could use to help patients.

This workshop is being organized as part of the NIAS-Lorentz Program, to stimulate research bridging the natural sciences with the humanities and social sciences.

For more information about the NIAS-Lorentz Theme Group 2014/15: Social Support, please see: 


Follow us on:

Niels Bohrweg 1 & 2

2333 CA Leiden

The Netherlands

+31 71 527 5400