Martin E P Seligman

Martin E P Seligman
University of Pennsylvania | UP · Department of Psychology

About

156
Publications
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Publications

Publications (156)
Article
Objective We explore the personality of counties as assessed through linguistic patterns on social media. Such studies were previously limited by the cost and feasibility of large-scale surveys; however, language-based computational models applied to large social media datasets now allow for large-scale personality assessment. Method We applied a...
Article
Full-text available
We examined the prediction of affective well-being to work performance in the United States Army. We found that high positive affect (PA), low negative affect (NA), and high optimism predicted awards for performance and heroism in a sample of 908,096 U.S. Army soldiers (mean age 29.60 years old, SD = 9.16 years; with over ¼ of a million ethnic mino...
Article
Full-text available
Technology now makes it possible to understand efficiently and at large scale how people use language to reveal their everyday thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. Written text has been analyzed through both theory-based, closed-vocabulary methods from the social sciences as well as data-driven, open-vocabulary methods from computer science, but thes...
Article
Full-text available
Aims Optimism is associated with reduced cardiovascular disease risk; however, few prospective studies have considered optimism in relation to hypertension risk specifically. We investigated whether optimism was associated with a lower risk of developing hypertension in U.S. service members, who are more likely to develop high blood pressure early...
Preprint
Objective: Despite a narrative of post-traumatic growth and resilience, research reliably demonstrating positive character development following adversity has proved elusive. In the current study, we examined changes in character strengths in Army soldiers deploying for the first time. The sample was comprised of 212,386 Army soldiers (Mage = 26.5...
Article
Full-text available
Objective Despite a narrative of post‐traumatic growth and resilience, research reliably demonstrating positive character development following adversity has proved elusive. In the current study, we examined changes in character strengths in Army soldiers deploying for the first time. Method The sample was comprised of 212,386 Army soldiers (Mage...
Article
Full-text available
Background Cardiovascular conditions are common in US Army and civilian populations. The recently developed concept of ideal cardiovascular health provides a new approach to evaluating population cardiovascular status. Methods and Results We defined a cohort of 263 430 active duty Army personnel, aged 17 to 64 years, who completed a 2012 physical...
Article
Full-text available
Importance Pain after deployment is a major health care concern. While risk factors have been previously studied, few studies have explored protective factors. Objective To examine the prospective association between predeployment optimism and the onset of new pain after deployment in US Army soldiers. Design, Setting, and Participants This prosp...
Article
Full-text available
We used the Army Person-Event Data Environment to explore risk and protective factors for diagnosed posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We examined the entire eligible cohort of 79,438 active duty soldiers who deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan between 2009 and 2013, an unusually large and complete cohort. Soldiers highest on catastrophic thinking w...
Book
For over a century the focus of psychotherapy has been on what ails us, with the therapeutic process resting upon the assumption that unearthing past traumas, correcting faulty thinking, and restoring dysfunctional relationships is curative. But something important has been overlooked: the positives. Shouldn't making us happier, better people be ex...
Article
Full-text available
Beck’s insight—that beliefs about one’s self, future, and environment shape behavior—transformed depression treatment. Yet environment beliefs remain relatively understudied. We introduce a set of environment beliefs— primal world beliefs or primals —that concern the world’s overall character (e.g., the world is interesting, the world is dangerous...
Article
Facets of positive psychological well-being, such as optimism, have been identified as positive health assets because they are prospectively associated with the 7 metrics of cardiovascular health (CVH) and improved outcomes related to cardiovascular disease. Connections between psychological well-being and cardiovascular conditions may be mediated...
Article
Determinados aspectos del bienestar psicológico positivo, como el optimismo, se han identižcado como activos de salud positivos, ya que se han asociado prospectivamente a los 7 parámetros de salud cardiovascular (SCV) y a una mejora de los resultados relacionados con la enfermedad cardiovascular. Las relaciones entre el bienestar psicológico y los...
Chapter
Session Seven presents clients with the concepts of maximizing, which involves aiming to make the best possible choice, and satisficing, which involves making a “good enough” choice. Clinicians will help clients figure out whether they are maximizers or satisficers. The central positive psychotherapy practice covered in this session is Toward Satis...
Chapter
In Session One, clients learn about the clinical environment; this chapter also clarifies client and clinician roles and responsibilities. This session teaches how to start the ongoing practice of cultivating gratitude through journaling positive experiences and appreciating the impact of gratitude on well-being. The two positive psychotherapy prac...
Chapter
In Session Thirteen, clients learn about four styles of responding to good news. These include active constructive, active destructive, passive constructive, and passive destructive responding. Of these styles, only Active Constructive Responding (ACR) —the central practice covered in this session—predicts relationship satisfaction. Self-disclosure...
Chapter
This final session integrates the three phases of positive psychotherapy (PPT): the narrative of resilience (positive introduction), the hope of cultivating a better version of the self, and the aspiration of leaving a positive legacy. Meaning refers to a coherent understanding of the world that promotes the pursuit of long-term goals that provide...
Chapter
Clients report that despite doing many things each day, most of which are done quickly, they still feel stressed, underaccomplished, and tired. Despite speeding up almost everything, including human maturation, we are not any happier or healthier. That is why the “Slow Movement” is attracting attention. In Session Eleven, clients learn how to delib...
Chapter
Session Six teaches clients that forgiveness is a process for change rather than an event. This session explains what forgiveness is and what it is not. The central positive psychotherapy (PPT) practices covered in this session are writing a Forgiveness Letter and REACH , which is an approach to forgiveness, as follows: Step One: R = Recall an even...
Chapter
Positive psychotherapy (PPT) is a therapeutic approach that attempts to counteract symptoms with strengths, weaknesses with virtues, and deficits with skills. The human brain pays more attention and responds more strongly to negatives than to positives, and PPT helps by teaching us to build our positives. PPT practices help to assess our strengths...
Chapter
Session Eight expands the concept of gratitude—which was first introduced in Session One in the form of the Gratitude Journal . Session Eight facilitates the client recalling and writing to someone who is alive now and who in the past did something positive but who the client has never fully thanked. The positive psychotherapy practices covered in...
Chapter
In Session Five, clients recall, write, and process their open and closed memories. They learn to develop skills for dealing with open memories through the positive psychotherapy (PPT) practice of Positive Appraisal. PPT refers to memories that are not fully understood and those that trigger negative emotional responses as “open memories.” Memories...
Chapter
Altruism is helping others without being asked for it and without any financial reimbursement. In positive psychotherapy (PPT), meaning entails using one’s signature strengths to belong to and serve something that one believes is bigger than the self. One wants to make a life that matters to the world and create a difference for the better. The psy...
Chapter
In Session Three, clients learn about the Aristotelian concept of practical wisdom, that is, the adaptive use of strengths to be used to live a good, meaningful, and virtuous life. These skills teach us how to adaptively apply signature strengths in a balanced way to solve problems. The central positive psychotherapy practice covered in this sessio...
Chapter
Session Four is the last of the sessions focusing on character strengths and looks at articulating and implementing a written plan of positive, pragmatic, and persistent self-development. The central positive psychotherapy practice covered in this session is A Better Version of Me . The chapter provides a list of readings, videos, and websites that...
Chapter
Positive relationships come in many forms, including family. Biological or otherwise, all family members possess strengths and resources. Due to negative attributions and the negativity bias, these strengths may be less evident. In Session Twelve, clients learn the significance of recognizing the strengths of their loved ones. The central positive...
Chapter
The central point of positive psychotherapy (PTT) at enhancing our strengths, along with improving our symptoms, is an effective therapeutic approach—like health is better than sickness, security is better than fear, relaxation is better than stress, cooperation is better than conflict, and hope is better than despair. The PPT practices in this wor...
Chapter
Thinking about a different and desirable future and finding paths to achieve that future are one of the most remarkable human capacities. Hope and optimism are inherent in this capacity. In Session Nine, clients learn to see the best possible, realistic outcomes. They learn that challenges are temporary and how to develop a sense of hope. The centr...
Chapter
Following trauma, some individuals develop posttraumatic stress disorder, a serious condition requiring serious treatment. However, following trauma, most people also develop what is called posttraumatic growth (PTG). PTG entails a change of insight into the meaning of life and the importance of relationships. Session Ten invites clients to explore...
Chapter
Session Two is the first of three sessions focusing on Character Strengths and Signature Strengths , which are positive traits that can be developed through practice and can contribute to personal growth and wellness. Taken together, Sessions Two to Four cover assessing strengths; understanding their contextualized, situation-specific usage; and ho...
Article
Online, social media communication is often ambiguous, and it can encourage speed and inattentiveness. We investigated whether Actively Open Minded Thinking (AOT), a dispositional willingness to seek out new or potentially threatening information, may help users avoid these pitfalls. In Study 1, we determined that correctly assessing social media a...
Article
Facets of positive psychological well-being, such as optimism, have been identified as positive health assets because they are prospectively associated with the 7 metrics of cardiovascular health (CVH) and improved outcomes related to cardiovascular disease. Connections between psychological well-being and cardiovascular conditions may be mediated...
Book
For over a century the focus of psychotherapy has been on what ails us, with the therapeutic process resting upon the assumption that unearthing past traumas, correcting faulty thinking, and restoring dysfunctional relationships is curative. And indeed, they are - but in the rush to identify and reduce symptoms of mental disorder, something importa...
Chapter
The core concept of psychopathology in positive psychotherapy rests on the notion that positives (e.g., character strengths, positive emotions, meaning, positive relationships, and accomplishments) are as central as symptoms in assessing and treating psychopathology. This is a significant departure from the traditional view of psychopathology, in w...
Chapter
Session Six teaches that forgiveness is a process for change rather than an event. This session explains what forgiveness is and what it is not. The central positive psychotherapy practices covered in this session are writing a Forgiveness Letter and REACH , which is an approach to forgiveness, as follows: Step One: R = Recall an event; Step Two: E...
Chapter
Session Eight expands the concept of gratitude—which was first introduced in Session One in the form of the Gratitude Journal . Session Eight facilitates recalling and writing to someone who is alive now and who in the past did something positive but who the client has never fully thanked. The positive psychotherapy (PPT) practices covered in this...
Chapter
Positive psychology interventions applied in diverse clinical settings and tackling complex clinical issues are advancing the knowledge base of psychotherapy and health outcomes. Positive psychotherapy (PPT) is based primarily on two major theories: Seligman’s PERMA (Positive emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment) concept...
Chapter
Character strengths are universal traits that are valued in their own right and do not necessarily lead to instrumental outcomes. Throughout the course of positive psychotherapy, the clinician actively looks for events, experiences, and expressions of strengths in the lives of clients. These may manifest through abilities, skills, talents, capaciti...
Chapter
Session Four, the last of the sessions focusing on character strengths, looks at articulating and implementing a written plan of positive, pragmatic, and persistent self-development. The central positive psychotherapy practice covered in this session is A Better Version of Me .
Chapter
In Session Five, clients recall, write, and process their open and closed memories. They learn to develop skills for dealing with open memories through the positive psychotherapy (PPT) practice of Positive Appraisal. PPT refers to memories that are not fully understood and those that trigger negative emotional responses as “open memories.” Memories...
Chapter
There are three broad phases of positive psychotherapy (PPT): In Phase One, the client creates a personal narrative, recalling and writing a story that brought out the client’s best, especially in overcoming a challenge. The bulk of therapeutic work in this phase focuses on assessing and assembling a signature strengths profile and acquiring the sk...
Chapter
Following trauma, some individuals develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a serious condition requiring serious treatment. However, following trauma, most people also develop what is called posttraumatic growth (PTG). PTG entails a change of insight into the meaning of life and the importance of relationships. Session Ten invites clients to...
Chapter
This chapter introduces the generic positive psychotherapy (PPT) session structure and provides an overall orientation to PPT. The nuts and bolts of PPT, in terms of its 14 sessions, broadly parsed in three phases are described. The factors that support therapeutic process including ground rules, confidentiality, relaxation, therapeutic relationshi...
Chapter
Session One orients clients to the clinical milieu and clarifies client and clinician roles and responsibilities. This session also teaches how to start the ongoing practice of cultivating gratitude through journaling positive experiences and appreciating the impact of gratitude on well-being. The two positive psychotherapy practices covered in thi...
Chapter
Positive psychotherapy (PPT) is an emerging therapeutic approach that is broadly based on the principles of positive psychology (PP). PP studies the conditions and processes that enable individuals, communities, and institutions to flourish. PPT is the clinical or therapeutic arm of PP. PPT integrates symptoms with strengths, risks with resources a...
Chapter
The core feature of Session Three is to teach clients the Aristotelian concept of practical wisdom, that is, the adaptive use of strengths to be used to live a good, meaningful, and virtuous life. These skills teach us how to adaptively apply our signature strengths in a balanced way to solve problems. The central positive psychotherapy practice co...
Chapter
Altruism is benefitting others, at one’s own will, without being asked for it and without any financial reimbursement. In positive psychotherapy (PPT), meaning entails using one’s signature strengths to belong to and serve something that one believes is bigger than the self. One wants to make a life that matters to the world and create a difference...
Chapter
Positive relationships come in many forms, including family. Biological or otherwise, all family members possess strengths and resources. Due to negative attributions and the negativity bias, these strengths may be less prominent. In Session Twelve, clients learn the significance of recognizing the strengths of their loved ones. The central positiv...
Chapter
Session Seven presents the concepts of maximizing (aiming to make the best possible choice) and satisficing (making a “good enough” choice). Clinicians will assess whether their clients are maximizers or satisficers. The central positive psychotherapy (PPT) practice covered in this session is Toward Satisficing .
Chapter
This final session integrates the three phases of positive psychotherapy (PPT): the narrative of resilience (positive introduction), the hope of cultivating a better version of the self, and the aspiration of leaving a positive legacy. “Meaning” refers to a coherent understanding of the world that promotes the pursuit of long-term goals that provid...
Chapter
Thinking about a different and desirable future and finding paths to achieve that future are one of the most remarkable human capacities. Hope and optimism are inherent in this capacity. In Session Nine, clients learn to see the best possible, realistic outcomes. They learn that challenges are temporary and how to develop a sense of hope. The centr...
Chapter
Session Two is the first of three sessions focusing on Character Strengths and Signature Strengths , which are positive traits that can be developed through practice and can contribute to personal growth and wellness. Taken together, Sessions Two to Four cover assessing strengths; understanding their contextualized, situation-specific usage; and ho...
Chapter
In Session Thirteen, clients learn about four styles of responding to good news (active-constructive, active-destructive, passive-constructive, and passive-destructive). Of these styles, only Active Constructive Responding —the central practice covered in this session—predicts relationship satisfaction. Self-disclosure of positive events is critica...
Chapter
Clients report that despite doing many things each day, most of which are done quickly, they still feel stressed, underaccomplished, and tired. Despite speeding up almost everything, including human maturation, we are not any happier or healthier. That is why the “Slow Movement” is attracting attention. In Session Eleven, clients learn how to delib...
Article
In our 2004 “Beyond Money” article, we argued that national accounts of psychological and subjective well-being should complement the economic indicators that frequently guide policy decisions. We claimed that economic indicators fail to reflect important aspects of quality of life that well-being indicators capture. Since the time of our article,...
Article
In a past Psychological Science article, Diener and Seligman (2002) explored the characteristics of extremely happy individuals and found that strong social relationships characterized the entire group. The study was popular, perhaps because the authors focused on the very happiest people, not merely on correlations across the entire spectrum of su...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter reviews the state of Positive Education across the globe as of the end of 2017. Throughout the chapter we underscore the components of what we consider the best practices: rigorous ongoing evaluation, analyses of effect sizes and intervention duration, cultural adaptation of evidence-based interventions, treatment fidelity measurements...
Article
Download Now Gratitude Letter 10 minutes | Gratitude How do I do it? Write a letter to a person who has influenced you life in a positive way. This could be a teacher, relative, mentor, or coach. If you can, read your letter aloud to the person you chose. How does it work? Gratitude letters help you focus on the positive influence of another person...
Article
How do I do it?In this daily reflection, you list three things that went well for you, and why they went well. How does it work?This brief exercise helps you reflect on the many things that happen every day. Over time, you begin to look for things in your day to add to your list!
Article
Full-text available
Religious affiliation is an important identifying characteristic for many individuals and relates to numerous life outcomes including health, well-being, policy positions, and cognitive style. Using methods from computational linguistics, we examined language from 12,815 Facebook users in the United States and United Kingdom who indicated their rel...
Chapter
Full-text available
Although drug use is common in adolescence, only some adolescents experience drug dependence. This chapter reviews the neurobiological mechanisms that make addictive drugs appealing and that can ultimately lead to symptoms of drug dependence, in which drug use is motivated more by its ability to relieve the stress associated with withdrawal than by...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter reviews the major theories of drug use progression and their implications for prevention in adolescents, including the gateway model, the general liability model, and the developmental cascade model. Prevention interventions designed for universal (e.g., school-based, environmental), selective (e.g., family-focused), and indicated appr...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter covers positive youth development, positive psychology, and positive education, which suggest that mental health is more than the absence of mental illness and involves proactively supporting the mental well-being of young people. The assets of youth that protect against problems and allow young people to do well include both individua...
Article
People associate certain behaviors with certain social groups. These stereotypical beliefs consist of both accurate and inaccurate associations. Using large-scale, data-driven methods with social media as a context, we isolate stereotypes by using verbal expression. Across four social categories—gender, age, education level, and political orientati...
Article
The factor structure of the Values in Action Inventory of Strengths (VIA-IS) (Peterson & Seligman, 2004) has not been well established as a result of methodological challenges primarily due to a global positivity factor, item cross-loading across character strengths, and questions concerning the unidimensionality of the scales assessing character s...
Article
Two concepts, positive health and cardiovascular health, have emerged recently from the respective fields of positive psychology and preventive cardiology. These parallel constructs are converging to foster positive cardiovascular health and a growing collaboration between psychologists and cardiovascular scientists to achieve significant improveme...
Article
Full-text available
Using a large social media dataset and open-vocabulary methods from computational linguistics, we explored differences in language use across gender, affiliation, and assertiveness. In Study 1, we analyzed topics (groups of semantically similar words) across 10 million messages from over 52,000 Facebook users. Most language differed little across g...
Article
Full-text available
Using a large social media dataset and open-vocabulary methods from computational linguistics, we explored differences in language use across gender, affiliation, and assertiveness. In Study 1, we analyzed topics (groups of semantically similar words) across 10 million messages from over 52,000 Facebook users. Most language differed little across g...
Article
Full-text available
Indicators of social progress are the primary drivers of public policy. If existing economic measures of prosperity are complemented with wellbeing metrics that better capture changes in individuals’ quality of life, decision makers will be better informed to assess and design policy. The science of wellbeing has yielded extensive knowledge and mea...
Article
Full-text available
We present the task of predicting individual well-being, as measured by a life satisfaction scale, through the language people use on social media. Well-being, which encompasses much more than emotion and mood, is linked with good mental and physical health. The ability to quickly and accurately assess it can supplement multi-million dollar nationa...
Chapter
This chapter presents an overview of salient positive psychology findings in clinical, educational, and organizational realms. It highlights the implications for treatment of focusing on the intact resources of the patient such as positive emotion, character strengths, positive relationships, and meaning, in order to optimize outcome. Character str...
Article
This study reports secondary outcome analyses from a past study of the Penn Resiliency Program (PRP), a cognitive-behavioral depression prevention program for middle-school aged children. Middle school students (N = 697) were randomly assigned to PRP, PEP (an alternate intervention), or control conditions. Gillham et al., (2007) reported analyses e...
Article
Presents an obituary for Christopher M. Peterson. "Other people matter. Period," said Christopher M. Peterson when asked for a concise definition of "positive psychology," the field he helped to found and then helped to guide through the first decade of the 21st century. He researched, taught, and lived positive psychology. When Chris died prematur...
Chapter
Some of the most common psychological disorders in children and adolescents are internalizing disorders such as depression and anxiety. Research on the development of depression and anxiety suggests that internalizing disorders can be reduced, even prevented, by promoting more accurate cognitive styles, problem-solving skills, and supportive family...
Article
"Most approaches to health over the centuries have focused on the absence of illness. In contrast, we are investigating Positive Health —well-being beyond the mere absence of disease. In this article, we describe our theoretical framework and empirical work to date on Positive Health. Positive Health empirically identifies health assets by determin...
Article
Depression is a common psychological problem in adolescence. Recent research suggests that group cognitive-behavioral interventions can reduce and prevent symptoms of depression in youth. Few studies have tested the effectiveness of such interventions when delivered by school teachers and counselors (as opposed to research team staff). We evaluated...