Positive psychology is different from positive thinking in three significant ways. First, positive psychology is grounded in empirical and replicable scientific study. Second, positive thinking urges positivity on us for all times and places, but positive psychology does not. Positive psychology recognizes that in spite of the advantages of positive thinking, there are times when negative or realistic thinking […]
“Happiness” is commonly defined as a state of well being or pleasurable experience, but this notion of happiness is only a small part of positive psychology. Positive psychology is the scientific study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive. According to Seligman (2002), positive psychology has three central concerns: positive emotions, positive individual traits, […]
In a word, no. Since World War II, psychology has focused its efforts on psychological problems and how to remedy them. These efforts have reaped large dividends. Great strides have been made in understanding and treating psychological disorders. Effective treatments now exist for more than a dozen disorders that were once seen as intractable (Barrett & Ollendick, 2004; Evans […]
No, it is not. Positive psychology has many distinguished ancestors. Since at least the time of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, the “good life” has been the subject of philosophical and religious inquiry. Psychologists have been working in positive psychology for decades. It just hasn’t been called positive psychology. To name just a few: Rogers (1951) and Maslow (1970) who […]
As long as there is suffering in the world, how can we justify devoting time and resources to positive psychology? Isn’t human suffering more important than well being?
Research has shown that one way to help suffering people is to focus on the building of strengths. Major strides in prevention have come largely by building strengths. Prevention researchers have discovered that there are strengths that act as buffers against mental illness: courage, future mindedness, optimism, faith, work ethic, hope, honesty, perseverance, and the capacity for flow and […]
Is the science of positive psychology descriptive or prescriptive? In other words, are we trying to tell people how they should live?
Positive psychology is descriptive, not prescriptive, at least in Seligman’s view, although others disagree. We are not telling people which choices they should make; we are merely informing them about what is known about the consequences of their choices. The good life for one person is not necessarily the good life for another. Objective, empirical research on the conditions […]
Some of the findings of positive psychology seem like common sense. Does this add anything to what we already know about the good life? It is easy to claim something is obvious after the evidence is in. It is the job of science to empirically prove or disprove what we consider as the common wisdom. Sometimes this common “wisdom” […]