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Posted on Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 1:17 p.m.

Christopher Peterson, prominent U-M psychology professor, dies

By Cindy Heflin

Prominent University of Michigan psychology professor Chris Peterson has died, the Michigan Daily reported.


Christopher Peterson giving a lecture as part of the Golden Apple Award ceremony in 2010.

Melanie Maxwell |

Peterson died Tuesday, The Daily reported. The cause of death was not known.

Peterson, 62, was a leader in the field of positive psychology, which he described in a Psychology Today article as the “scientific study of what makes life most worth living.” Peterson was one of the 100 most-cited psychologists in the world, according to Psychology Today.

He was an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor at U-M, a prestigious title given to tenured faculty members who excel at undergraduate education.

Peterson also was popular with students and received the Golden Apple Award in 2010. The award honors a professor, selected by students, for outstanding teaching.

At the time, colleague Nansook Park praised his teaching skill. "He’s a great teacher not because he’s perfect, but because he never stops trying to be a better one," Park said.

Peterson penned hundreds of scholarly articles during his career, in addition to books and chapters on topics from character strengths to terrorist rhetoric. He was also one of the most sought after speakers in psychology worldwide. He began teaching at U-M in 1986 as a professor of psychology and organizational studies.


Laurie Peterson

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 3:09 p.m.

My cousin. Truly an intelligent, warm and genuine man. Peace to all my Peterson relatives and to the many students and friends he encountered in this journey.


Fri, Oct 12, 2012 : 4:03 p.m.

I had him for Abnormal Psychology (ca. 1991). R.I.P.


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 9:46 p.m.

He was an extraordinary human being and will be sorely missed by so many.


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 9:38 p.m.

Died at the age of...? Help those of us out who know nothing about this man. PS I suggest readers go straight to the Michigan Daily article. I hate to say it, but the students ate your lunch on this story.

Cindy Heflin

Fri, Oct 12, 2012 : 4:25 p.m.

I've added his age. This article is an aggregation of the Daily article and is actually meant to point readers to that story.


Fri, Oct 12, 2012 : 4:04 p.m.

He was 62 years old. Born in 1950.


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 9:59 p.m.

the Daily article is excellent. I was wondering when was going to pick this up. Chris was an amazing guy.

Rob Pollard

Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 6:06 p.m.

Wow - had his Psych 100 (or whatever the number was) a number of years ago in MLB Auditorium 3 (i.e., a big lecture hall). The thing I remember most is that while certain professors in my undergrad years would speak to half-filled halls filled with sleepy students, his lectures were always packed - it was hard to find a seat if you were even a few minutes late. He took an inherently interesting subject and kept it interesting with good examples and enthusiasm. I am sorry for his family, and that no other students will get to learn from him.


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 5:54 p.m.

Unexpected passings are always the most painful.