Improving the science of wellbeing

Soldier and his family walking on a meadow
Military family (credit: EvgeniyShkolenko/iStock)

Anna Alexandrova’s research on the measurement of wellbeing has influenced how international institutions, including NATO, professional bodies, consultancies and charities define and use forms of wellbeing as outcome measures.

Although there is much literature on wellbeing in philosophy, it has come for the most part from ethics and political philosophy. Alexandrova, on the other hand, has formulated these issues using concepts from philosophy of science, pioneering analysis of wellbeing as an object of scientific study.

In particular, she has promoted the use of multiple indicators as a way of reflecting and respecting the complex and contextual nature of wellbeing, and has changed international policy and practice in Autonomous and Intelligent System development.

Alexandrova’s research on child wellbeing has resulted in multiple positive citations of this work in the NATO Science and Technology Organisation report ‘Impact of military life on children from military families’, which is a blueprint for improving programs and support for military parents and their children. The framework that NATO has developed for this draws explicitly on Alexandrova’s research with US public health scientist Ramesh Raghavan.

Her research has also changed the way that charities in the UK and USA measure wellbeing. For instance, she has collaborated with Centre 33 on a project to improve the organisation’s outcome measurement. Centre 33 is a young people’s charity that works with over 2,000 young people annually across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough offering free support regarding mental health, homelessness and young carers.

“Anna’s research provided an important and incredibly helpful tool for us to critically evaluate our own outcomes, as well as explore new ones.”

– Centre 33