What can we learn from the minds of high performers?


How do purpose, gratitude, and discipline lead to higher performance?

The PSI's research focuses on uncovering, improving, and implementing mental skills training that leads to healthy, long-term and sustainable high performance. Studies have shown that individuals who focus on stress as a challenge rather than a threat, and who connect obstacles to opportunities tend to have longer careers and smoother transitions into other life chapters. Under the direction of Dr. Ben Houltberg, we are striving to understand how shaping personal purpose and meaning changes motivation, resilience, and interpersonal relationships so we can train, generate, and enhance these outcomes and translate them into business settings in particular.

Performance is a universal need and lifelong challenge. Our research aims to identify how we can sustain our mental models for the long haul by focusing on healthy emotion regulation, maintaining physical health, and fostering close personal relationships.

We work with USC Athletics, elite military units, and professional sports organizations to study the role of personal purpose, gratitude, and cultural climate in determining outcomes and performance, and iterate on our models to uncover what is necessary and sufficient for high performance.

Our undergraduate research training wing is the Research Design Studio, which strives to provide applied and in depth research training to students. Interested students can apply here.

If you are a graduate student or faculty member interested in developing research related to performance science, please contact Dr. Ben Houltberg at