Positive Psychology Progress: Empirical Validation of Interventions

Positive Psychology Center, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA.
American Psychologist (Impact Factor: 6.87). 07/2005; 60(5):410-21. DOI: 10.1037/0003-066X.60.5.410
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Positive psychology has flourished in the last 5 years. The authors review recent developments in the field, including books, meetings, courses, and conferences. They also discuss the newly created classification of character strengths and virtues, a positive complement to the various editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (e. g., American Psychiatric Association, 1994), and present some cross-cultural findings that suggest a surprising ubiquity of strengths and virtues. Finally, the authors focus on psychological interventions that increase individual happiness. In a 6-group, random-assignment, placebo-controlled Internet study, the authors tested 5 purported happiness interventions and 1 plausible control exercise. They found that 3 of the interventions lastingly increased happiness and decreased depressive symptoms. Positive interventions can supplement traditional interventions that relieve suffering and may someday be the practical legacy of positive psychology.

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Available from: Tracy A Steen, Aug 28, 2015
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    • "Adler and Fagley (2005) found that certain rituals, such as expressing thanks when beginning a meal, correlate with appreciative functioning. Rituals such as gratitude journaling before going to sleep help to cultivate gratefulness (Seligman et al. 2005). These rituals may be important for understanding the formation of grateful dispositions. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Growing evidence is linking gratitude with well-being, yet insufficient scholarly attention has been given to how it is defined, understood and measured. To address this issue, gratitude and gratefulness can be usefully distinguished as two types of appreciative functioning. Applying complex dynamic systems theory, appreciative functioning is conceptualised as a pattern of cognition and behaviour that involves the interaction of awareness, comprehension, emotions, goals, and relationships. The aim of the current work was to explore this system of appreciative functioning in greater detail. Methods A deductive thematic analysis of relevant literature was performed in Study 1 to identify psychological and social components of appreciative functioning within an empirically-based systems framework. Study 2 used a content analysis methodology to quantify the extent to which the components identified in Study 1 are covered by existing scales that assess gratitude and gratefulness. Results Study 1 identified 32 theoretical components within five overarching domains that comprise the system of appreciative functioning. Gratefulness and gratitude were found to involve many components, with some shared in common. Study 2 found that existing instruments do not cover the full set of components. Moreover, results indicated that existing scales confound gratitude and gratefulness, and thus they cannot determine the extent to which each construct uniquely relates to well-being outcomes. Conclusions This work supports the view that gratefulness and gratitude are distinct, yet related, multi-component constructs within a complex system of appreciative functioning. Together, these studies provide theoretical groundwork for the construction of multidimensional measurement instruments to extend research into the underlying mechanisms through which appreciative functioning influences well-being.
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    • "Research has shown that using one's signature strengths can become a virtuous cycle creating positive emotions, which then reinforce the use of those specific signature strengths (Gusewell & Ruch, 2012), which may widen the gap. Six-month longitudinal studies have shown that constantly using one's signature strength led to increases in long-term happiness (Seligman et al., 2005; Mongrain & Anselmo-Matthews, 2012; Gander, Proyer, Ruch & Wyss, 2013), subjective wellbeing (Quinlan, Swain & Vella-Brodrick, 2012), self-efficacy (Proctor, Maltby & Linley, 2011), life satisfaction (Lavy & Littman-Ovadia, 2011; Lounsbury, Fisher, Levy & Welsh, 2009), self-esteem, vitality, and positive affect (Wood et al., 2011). This virtuous cycle likely reinforces the desire to use the signature strengths that come most naturally. "
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    ABSTRACT: This poster illustrates an important practical application of recent theoretical findings that may aid in increased use of signature strengths and Psychological Capital. It is likely that the self-regulation of psychological resources increases from both state-like and trait-like capacities combined. The awareness and practice of using trait-like characteristics of signature strengths creates a more permanent resource for the individual, which an individual can always rely on but may lack motivation to use. The motivational state-like characteristics of PsyCap may open or close one’s perception of having the strength or the drive to use the strength. Because it is more transient, PsyCap may be reinforced by the knowledge and past use of more permanent traits of signature strengths. Similarly, the use of signature strengths may be bolstered by the practice of combined use with PsyCap. By combining both of these in training toward the creation and pursuance of an individual’s goals, there should be an interactive effect that causes both the state and trait psychological resources to be more accessible than either by themselves. Because the use of each is associated with positive emotions and intrinsic reward, a virtuous cycle should occur that reinforces the use of both over time.
    International Positive Psychology Association's - 4th World Congress on Positive Psychology, Buena Vista, Florida; 06/2015
    • "This suggests that positive activities may be more successful only for certain individuals, particularly for those who know about and are motivated to use the interventions to bolster their well-being. Additionally, Seligman et al. (2005) found that the durability of the beneficial effects over the intermediate-term (e.g., 6 months) was mediated by the degree to which participants continued the positive activity on their own. Hence, continued adherence to the activities (i.e., practice and duration of intervention) and the effort invested impacted their beneficial effects on wellbeing . "
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    ABSTRACT: Building on the empirical evidence that demonstrates that positive interventions successfully enhance well-being, this article examines the factors that would moderate their efficacy. First, it briefly discusses the theoretical and empirical support for the importance and benefits of well-being. Second, the article presents empirical evidence illustrating how positive interventions promote well-being and how they can be incorporated into traditional psychotherapy as a form of positive psychotherapy. Third, it examines the mechanisms that may undermine or improve the effectiveness of positive interventions. In addition to examining the factors that moderate the effects of positive interventions on enhancing happiness, the article focuses specifically on the moderating role of personality by exploring the personality-well-being associations. Finally, the article proposes strategies to counteract the attenuating moderating influences. The conclusion of the article suggests that it is important to customize positive psychology interventions for individuals to maximize their efficacy.
    Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy 06/2015; 45(2). DOI:10.1007/s10879-014-9291-y
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