The Social Fitness Model
Our second foundational model comes to us from the work of Dr. Lynne Henderson: The Heroic Imagination Project’s Director of Applied Social Research. The Social Fitness model was pioneered and developed by Dr. Henderson at the Stanford Shyness Clinic, based on her decades of research at Stanford University and her 25-year tenure as the clinic’s director. Social Fitness includes a set of psychological and behavioral techniques that anyone can use to practice desired behavior and gain insight into themselves, as well as to grow across a broad range of important self-attributes, as desired and selected by them. The Social Fitness model is also central in our attempt to help individuals acquire the skills and experience necessary to relate to and interact effectively with others.
Social Fitness is an evolutionary metaphor, which demonstrates how social, emotional, and cognitive skills can be trained in a manner similar to physical abilities. In other words, social fitness, like physical fitness, is a state of behavioral, emotional, and mental conditioning that includes adaptive social functioning and a sense of well-being. It is something each of us can choose to improve and develop at any time throughout our lives.
The idea is that just as physical fitness is composed of well-developed muscles and athletic skills, Social Fitness is composed of well-developed behavioral habits and social and cognitive skills. Just as maintaining and developing physical fitness requires regular and targeted exercise, developing and maintaining Social Fitness is achievable through the regular use of research-based, targeted skills training exercises and social role-play simulations. Each person is encouraged to create their own unique goals for developing the aspects of Social Fitness that matter most to them.
In the context of our education model, there are three aspects to Social Fitness: