Derrick Wirtz

(He, Him, His)

Associate Professor of Teaching

Other Titles: Director of Undergraduate Research; Co-Director, Centre for Obesity and Well-Being Research Excellence (CORE)
Office: ART 328
Phone: 250.807.8276

Graduate student supervisor. Not considering Psychology graduate students for September 2024 intake.

Research Summary

Subjective well-being; happiness; the “good life”; cross-cultural differences in emotion; flourishing & thriving; positive emotions; interventions to increase well-being.

Courses & Teaching

Introduction to psychology; introduction to research methods and design; positive psychology; social bases of behavior.


Derrick Wirtz is a Senior Instructor and Director of the PhD program in Psychological Science at the University of British Columbia in Kelowna, BC. Dr. Wirtz’s research focuses on the science and application of subjective well-being, as well as cross-cultural psychology and concepts of the good life. He has published nearly 30 peer-reviewed articles and chapters on these topics. Dr. Wirtz has also been recognized for his innovation in pedagogy. He has received nearly $100,000 in grants to explore effective and innovative teaching, is a Curricular Innovation Award recipient at UBC, and previously a recipient of the Distinguished Professor for Teaching Award and the Scholar-Teacher Award at East Carolina University.


Center for Obesity and Well-being Research Excellence
Google Scholar


BSc University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
MA University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
PhD University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Research Interests & Projects

My research laboratory focuses on the topics of happiness and subjective well-being. A current area of focus is ENHANCE (Enduring Happiness and Continued Self-Enhancement), a randomized controlled trial investigating the ability of a comprehensive well-being intervention to produce lasting changes in subjective well-being. Additional research interests include concepts of the “good life,” cross-cultural differences in the predictors of happiness, and the measurement and assessment of well-being.

Selected Publications & Presentations

2020 Wirtz, D., Tucker, A., Briggs, C., & Schoemann, A.M. (2020). How and Why Social Media Affect Subjective Well-Being: Multi-Site Use and Social Comparison as Predictors of Change Across Time. Journal of Happiness Studies. DOI 10.1007/s10902-020-00291-z
2020 Kushlev, K., Heitzelman, S., Lutes, L., Wirtz, D., Kanippayoor, M., Leitner, D., & Diener, E. (2020). Does happiness improve health? Evidence from a randomized controlled trial. Psychological Science, 31(7), 807-821.
2020 Heintzelman, S. J., Kushlev, K., Lutes, L. D., Wirtz, D., Kanippayoor, J. M., Leitner, D., Oishi, S., & Diener, E. (2020). ENHANCE: Evidence for the efficacy of a comprehensive intervention program to promote subjective well-being. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 26(2), 360- 383.
2017 Diener, E., Heintzelman, S. J., Kushlev, K., Tay, L., Wirtz, D., Lutes, L. D., Oishi, S. Findings all psychologists should know from the new science on subjective well-being. Canadian Psychology, 58, 87-104.
2017 Kushlev, K., Heintzelman, S. J., Lutes, L. D., Wirtz, D., Oishi, S., & Diener, E. ENHANCE: Design and rationale of a randomized controlled trial for promoting enduring happiness and well-being. Contemporary Clinical Trials, 52, 62-74.
2017 Alvarez-Bell, R., Wirtz, D., & Bian, H. Identifying keys to success in innovative teaching: Student engagement and instructional practices as predictors of student learning in a course using a team-based learning approach. Teaching and Learning Inquiry, 5, 128-146.
2016 Galinha, I., Garcia-Martin, M., Oishi, S., Wirtz, D., & Esteves, F. Cross-cultural comparison of personality traits, attachment security, and satisfaction with relationships as predictors of subjective well-being in India, Sweden, and the United States. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 47, 1033-1052
2016 Wirtz, D., Stalls, J., Scollon, C., & Wuensch, K. (2016). Is the good life characterized by self-control? Perceived regulatory success and judgments of life quality. The Journal of Positive Psychology, DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2016.1152503
2014 Wirtz, D., Gordon, C. L., & Stalls, J. (2014). Gratitude and spirituality: A review of theory and research. In C. Kim-Prieto (Ed.), Cross-Cultural Advancements in Positive Psychology: Religion and Spirituality Across Cultures, 287-301. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer Science + Business Media.
2014 Koh, S., Scollon, C. N., & Wirtz, D. (2014). The role of social relationships and culture in the cognitive representation of emotions. Cognition and Emotion, 28, 507-519.
2014 Scollon, C. N., & Wirtz, D. (2014). Money, materialism, and the good life: Cultural perspectives. In M. Tatzel (Ed.), Consumption and Well-Being in the Material World, 109-125. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer Science + Business Media.
2013 Galinha, I., Oishi, S., Periera, C., Wirtz, D., & Esteves, F. (2013). Adult attachment, love styles, relationship experiences and subjective well-being: A cross-cultural and gender comparison between Americans, Portuguese, and Mozambicans. Social Indicators Research. doi:10.1007/s11205-013-0512-7.
2013 Lemm, K., & Wirtz, D. (2013). Exploring “rosy” bias and goal achievement in marathon runners. Journal of Sport Behavior, 36, 66-81.
2013 Galinha, I., Oishi, S., Periera, C., Wirtz, D., & Esteves, F. (2013). The role of personality traits, attachment style, and satisfaction with relationships in the subjective well-being of Americans, Portuguese, and Mozambicans. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 44, 416-437.
2012 Wirtz, D., & Scollon, C. N. (2012). Culture, visual perspective, and the effect of material success on perceived life quality. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 43, 367-372.
2012 Scollon, C. N., Wirtz, D., & Xuan-yi, W. (2012). Culture and subjective well-being: Culture influences the ingredients of a good life and conceptualizations of happiness. In J. J. Froh, & A. C. Parks (Eds.), Activities for teaching positive psychology: A guide for instructors, 85-91. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association (APA Books).
2010 Wirtz, D., Kruger, J., Miller, D. T., & Mathur, P. (2010). On first versus false instincts. In R. M. Arkin, K. C. Oleson, & P. J. Carroll (Eds.), Handbook of the uncertain self, 160-175. New York, NY: Psychology Press.
2010 Diener, E., Wirtz, D., Tov, W., Kim-Prieto, C., Choi, D., Oishi, S., & Biswas-Diener, R. (2010). New well-being measures: Short scales to assess flourishing and positive and negative feelings. Social Indicators Research, 97, 143-156.

Selected Grants & Awards

Principal Investigator


Irving K. Barber School of Arts & Sciences Curricular Innovation Award
University of British Columbia, A Hybrid Approach to Team-Based Learning, Open Science, and Professional Presentation

Funding Amount: $9,380
Principal Investigator


UNC Leveraging Technology to Strengthen Academic Quality Course Redesign Grant
University of North Carolina, General Administration, Using Technology to Teach Psychology as a Science: Promoting Student Success in Today’s Introductory Psychology

Funding Amount: $29,708
Co-Principal Investigator


National Center for Academic Transformation (NCAT)
Learner-Centered Education Course Redesign Initiative Grant

Arizona Department for Education, Board of Regents, Introduction to Psychology Redesign: Student Success and Active Student Involvement Through Technology and Team Teaching, Funding Amount: $49,992
Co-Principal Investigator


Curriculum Development in Electronically-Mediated Instruction
Northern Arizona University, E-Learning Center, Enhancement of Learning and Success in Freshmen Courses: Building Student Engagement through Web-Based Interaction in Psychology 101, Funding Amount: $17,494


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