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Responds to comments by A. C. Bohart and T Greening, S. B. Shapiro, G. Bacigalupe, R. Walsh, W. C. Compton, C. L. McLafferty and J. D. Kirylo, N. Abi-Hashem, A. C. Catania, G. K. Lampropoulos, and T. M. Kelley (see records 2002-15384-010, 2002-15384-011, 2002-15384-012, 2002-15384-013, 2002-15384-014, 2002-15384-015, 2002-15384-016, 2002-15384-017, 2002-15384-018, and 2002-15384-019, respectively) on the January 2000, Vol 55(1) special issue of the American Psychologist dedicated to positive psychology. M. E. P. Seligman and M. Csikszentmihalyi expand on some of the critical themes discussed in the commentaries. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Positive Psychology
An Introduction
Martin E. P. Seligman
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
University of Pennsylvania
Claremont Graduate University
A science of positive subjective experience, positive indi-
vidual traits, and positive institutions promises to improve
quali~.' of life and prevent the pathologies that arise when
life is barren and meaningless. The exclusive focus on
pathology that has dominated so much of our discipline
results in a model of the human being lacking the positive
features that make life worth living. Hope, wisdom, cre-
ativity, future mindedness, courage, spirituality, responsi-
bility, and perseverance are ignored or explained as trans-
formations of more authentic negative impulses. The 15
articles in this millennial issue of the American Psycholo-
gist discuss such issues as what enables happiness, the
effects of autonomy and self-regulation, how optimism and
hope affect health, what constitutes wisdom, and how talent
and creativity come to fruition. The authors outline a
framework .['or a science of positive psychology, point to
gaps in our knowledge, and predict that the next century
will see a science and profession that will come to under-
stand and build the factors that allow individuals, commu-
nities, and societies to flourish.
ntering a new millennium, Americans face a histor-
r ical choice. Left alone on the pinnacle of economic
and political leadership, the United States can con-
tinue to increase its material wealth while ignoring the
human needs of its people and those of the rest of the
planet. Such a course is likely to lead to increasing self-
ishness, to alienation between the more and the less fortu-
nate, and eventually to chaos and despair.
At this juncture, the social and behavioral sciences can
play an enormously important role. They can articulate a
vision of the good life that is empirically sound while being
understandable and attractive. They can show what actions
lead to well-being, to positive individuals, and to thriving
communities. Psychology should be able to help document
what kinds of families result in children who flourish, what
work settings support the greatest satisfaction among work-
ers, what policies result in the strongest civic engagement,
and how people's lives can be most worth living.
Yet psychologists have scant knowledge of what
makes life worth living. They have come to understand
quite a bit about bow people survive and endure under
conditions of adversity. (For recent surveys of the history
of psychology, see, e.g., Benjamin, 1992; Koch & Leary,
1985; and Smith, 1997.) However, psychologists know
very little about how normal people flourish under more
benign conditions. Psychology has, since World War II,
become a science largely about healing. It concentrates on
repairing damage within a disease model of human func-
tioning. This almost exclusive attention to pathology ne-
glects the fulfilled individual and the thriving community.
The aim of positive psychology is to begin to catalyze a
change in the focus of psychology from preoccupation only
with repairing the worst things in life to also building
positive qualities.
The field of positive psychology at the subjective level
is about valued subjective experiences: well-being, con-
tentment, and satisfaction (in the past); hope and optimism
(for the future); and flow and happiness (in the present). At
the individual level, it is about positive individual traits: the
capacity for love and vocation, courage, interpersonal skill,
aesthetic sensibility, perseverance, forgiveness, originality,
future mindedness, spirituality, high talent, and wisdom. At
the group level, it is about the civic virtues and the insti-
tutions that move individuals toward better citizenship:
responsibility, nurturance, altruism, civility, moderation,
tolerance, and work ethic.
Two personal stories, one told by each author, explain
how we arrived at the conviction that a movement toward
positive psychology was needed and how this special issue
of the American Psychologist came about. For Martin E. P.
Seligman, it began at a moment a few months after
being elected president of the American Psychological
The moment took place in my garden while I was
weeding with my five-year-old daughter, Nikki. I have to
confess that even though I write books about children, I'm
really not all that good with children. I am goal oriented
and time urgent, and when I'm weeding in the garden, I'm
actually trying to get the weeding done. Nikki, however,
was throwing weeds into the air, singing, and dancing
around. I yelled at her. She walked away, then came back
and said,
Editor's note. Martin E. P. Setigman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
served as guest editors Ibr this special issue.
Author's note. Martin E. P. Seligman, Department of Psychology, Uni-
versity of Pennsylvania; Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Department of Psy-
chology, Claremont Graduate University.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Mar-
tin E. P. Seligman, Department of Psychology, University of Pennsylva-
nia, 3813 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-3604. Electronic mail
may be sent to
January 2000
American Psychologist
Copyright 2000 by the American Psychological Association. lnc. 0003-066X/00/$5.00
Voh 55. No. 1. 5 14 DOI: 10.1037//0003-066X.55.1.5
Martin E. P.
Photo by Bachrach
"Daddy, I want to talk to you."
"Yes, Nikki?"
"Daddy, do you remember before my fifth birthday?
From the time I was three to the time I was five, I was a
whiner. I whined every day. When I turned five, I decided
not to whine anymore. That was the hardest thing I've ever
done. And if I can stop whining, you can stop being such
a grouch."
This was for me an epiphany, nothing less. I learned
something about Nikki, about raising kids, about myself,
and a great deal about my profession. First, I realized that
raising Nikki was not about correcting whining. Nikki did
that herself. Rather, I realized that raising Nikki is about
taking this marvelous strength she has--I call it "seeing
into the soul"--amplifying it, nurturing it, helping her to
lead her life around it to buffer against her weaknesses and
the storms of life. Raising children, I realized, is vastly
more than fixing what is wrong with them. It is about
identifying and nurturing their strongest qualities, whal
they own and are best at, and helping them find niches in
which they can best live out these strengths.
As for my own life, Nikki hit the nail right on the
head. I was a grouch. I had spent 50 years mostly enduring
wet weather in my soul, and the past 10 years being a
nimbus cloud in a household full of sunshine. Any good
fortune I had was probably not due to my grumpiness, but
in spite of it. In that moment, I resolved to change.
However, the broadest implication of Nikki's teaching
was about the science and profession of psychology: Be-
fore World War II, psychology had three distinct missions:
curing mental illness, making the lives of all people more
productive and fulfilling, and identifying and nurturing
high talent. The early focus on positive psychology is
exemplified by work such as Terman's studies of giftedness
(Terman, 1939) and marital happiness (Terman, Butten-
wieser, Ferguson, Johnson, & Wilson, 1938), Watson's
writings on effective parenting (Watson, 1928), and Jung' s
work concerning the search for and discovery of meaning
in life (Jung, 1933). Right after the war, two events--both
economic--changed the face of psychology: In 1946, the
Veterans Administration (now Veterans Affairs) was
founded, and thousands of psychologists found out that
they could make a living treating mental illness. In 1947,
the National Institute of Mental Health (which, in spite of
its charter, has always been based on the disease model and
should now more appropriately be renamed the National
Instilute of Mental Illness) was founded, and academics
found out that they could get grants if their research was
about pathology.
This arrangement has brought many benefits. There
have been huge strides in the understanding of and therapy
for mental illness: At least 14 disorders, previously intrac-
table, have yielded their secrets to science and can now be
either cured or considerably relieved (Seligman, 1994). The
downside, however, was that the other two fundamental
missions of psychology--making the lives of all people
better and nurturing genius--were all but forgotten. It
wasn't only the subject matter that was altered by funding,
but the currency of the theories underpinning how psychol-
ogists viewed themselves. They came to see themselves as
part of a mere subfield of the health professions, and
psychology became a victimology. Psychologists saw hu-
man beings as passive foci: Stimuli came on and elicited
responses (what an extraordinarily passive word!). Exter-
nal reinforcements weakened or strengthened responses.
[)rives, tissue needs, instincts, and conflicts from childhood
pushed each of us around.
Psychology's empirical locus shifted to assessing and
curing individual suffering. There has been an explosion in
research on psychological disorders and the negative ef-
fects of environmental stressors, such as parental divorce,
the deaths of loved ones, and physical and sexual abuse.
Practitioners went about treating the mental illnesses of
patients within a disease framework by repairing damage:
damaged habits, damaged drives, damaged childhoods, and
damaged brains.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi realized the need for a pos-
itive psychology in Europe during World War II: As a
child, I witnessed the dissolution of the smug world in
which I had been comfortably ensconced. I noticed with
surprise how many of the adults I had known as successful
and self-confident became helpless and dispirited once the
war removed their social supports. Without jobs, money, or
status, they were reduced to empty shells. Yet there were a
few who kept their integrity and purpose despite the sur-
rounding chaos. Their serenity was a beacon that kept
others from losing hope. And these were not the men and
women one would have expected to emerge unscathed:
]'hey were not necessarily the most respected, better edu-
cated, or more skilled individuals. This experience set me
[hinking: What sources of strength were these people draw-
ing on?
6 January 2000 ° American Psychologist
Reading philosophy and dabbling in history and reli-
gion did not provide satisfying answers to that question. I
found the ideas in these texts to be too subjective, to be
dependent on faith or to be dubious assumptions; they
lacked the clear-eyed skepticism and the slow cumulative
growth that I associated with science. Then, for the first
time, I came across psychology: first the writings of Jung,
then Freud, then a few of the psychologists who were
writing in Europe in the 1950s. Here, I thought, was a
possible solution to my quest--a discipline that dealt with
the fundamental issues of life and attempted to do so with
the patient simplicity of the natural sciences.
However, at that time psychology was not yet a rec-
ognized discipline. In Italy, where I lived, one could take
courses in it only as a minor while pursuing a degree in
medicine or in philosophy, so I decided to come to the
United States, where psychology had gained wider accep-
tance. The first courses I took were somewhat of a shock.
It turned out that in the United States, psychology had
indeed became a science, if by science one means only a
skeptical attitude and a concern for measurement. What
seemed to be lacking, however, was a vision that justified
the attitude and the methodology. I was looking for a
scientific approach to human behavior, but I never dreamed
that this could yield a value-free understanding. In human
behavior, what is most intriguing is not the average, but the
improbable. Very few people kept their decency during the
onslaught of World War II; yet it was those few who held
the key to what humans could be like at their best. How-
ever, at the height of its behaviorist phase, psychology was
being taught as if it were a branch of statistical mechanics.
Ever since, I have struggled to reconcile the twin impera-
tives that a science of human beings should include: to
understand what
is and what could be.
A decade later, the "third way" heralded by Abraham
Maslow, Carl Rogers, and other humanistic psychologists
promised to add a new perspective to the entrenched clin-
ical and behaviorist approaches. The generous humanistic
vision had a strong effect on the culture at large and held
enormous promise. Unfortunately, humanistic psychology
did not attract much of a cumulative empirical base, and it
spawned myriad therapeutic self-help movements. In some
of its incarnations, it emphasized the self and encouraged a
self-centeredness that played down concerns for collective
well-being. Future debate will determine whether this came
about because Maslow and Rogers were ahead of their
times, because these flaws were inherent in their original
vision, o1" because of overly enthusiastic followers. How-
ever, one legacy of the humanism of the 1960s is promi-
nently displayed in any large bookstore: The "psychology"
section contains at least 10 shelves on crystal healing,
aromatherapy, and reaching the inner child for every shelf
of books that tries to uphold some scholarly standard.
Whatever the personal origins of our conviction that
the time has arrived for a positive psychology, our message
is to remind our field that psychology is not just the study
of pathology, weakness, and damage; it is also the study of
strength and virtue. Treatment is not just fixing what is
broken; it is nurturing what is best. Psychology is not just
a branch of medicine concerned with illness or health; it is
much larger. It is about work, education, insight, love,
growth, and play. And in this quest for what is best,
positive psychology does not rely on wishful thinking,
faith, self-deception, fads, or hand waving; it tries to adapt
what is best in the scientific method to the unique problems
that human behavior presents to those who wish to under-
stand it in all its complexity.
What foregrounds this approach is the issue of pre-
vention. In the past decade, psychologists have become
concerned with prevention, and this was the presidential
theme, of the 1998 American Psychological Association
convention in San Francisco. How can psychologists pre-
vent problems like depression or substance abuse or schizo-
phrenia in young people who are genetically vulnerable or
who live in worlds that nurture these problems? How can
psychologists prevent murderous schoolyard violence in
children who have access to weapons, poor parental super-
vision, and a mean streak? What psychologists have
learned over 50 years is that the disease model does not
move psychology closer to the prevention of these serious
problems. Indeed, the major strides in prevention have
come largely from a perspective focused on systematically
building competency, not on correcting weakness.
Prevention researchers have discovered that there are
human strengths that act as buffers against mental illness:
courage, future mindedness, optimism, interpersonal skill,
faith, work ethic, hope, honesty, perseverance, and the
capacity for flow and insight, to name several. Much of the
task of prevention in this new century will be to create a
science of human strength whose mission will be to under-
stand and learn how to foster these virtues in young people.
Working exclusively on personal weakness and on
damaged brains, however, has rendered science poorly
January 2000 ° American Psychologist 7
equipped to effectively prevent illness. Psychologists need
now to call for massive research on human strengths and
virtues. Practitioners need to recognize that much of the
best work they already do in the consulting room is to
amplify strengths rather than repair the weaknesses of their
clients. Psychologists working with families, schools, reli-
gious communities, and corporations, need to develop cli-
mates that foster these strengths. The major psychological
theories have changed to undergird a new science of
strength and resilience. No longer do the dominant theories
view the individual as a passive vessel responding to stim-
uli; rather, individuals are now seen as decision makers,
with choices, preferences, and the possibility of becoming
masterful, efficacious, or in malignant circumstances, help-
less and hopeless (Bandura, 1986; Seligman, 1992). Sci-
ence and practice that rely on this worldview may have the
direct effect of preventing many of the major emotional
disorders. They may also have two side effects: They may
make the lives of clients physically healthier, given all that
psychologists are learning about the effects of mental well-
being on the body. This science and practice will also
reorient psychology back to its two neglected missions--
making normal people stronger and more productive and
making high human potential actual.
About This Issue
The 15 articles that follow this introduction present a
remarkably varied and complex picture of the orientation in
psychology--and the social sciences more generally--that
might be included under the rubric of positive psychology.
Of course, like all selections, this one is to some extent
arbitrary and incomplete. For many of the topics included
in this issue, the space allotted to an entire issue of the
American Psychologist
would be needed to print all the
contributions worthy of inclusion. We hope only that these
enticing hors d'oeuvres stimulate the reader's appetite to
sample more widely from the offerings of the field.
As editors of this special issue, we have tried to be
comprehensive without being redundant. The authors were
asked to write at a level of generality appealing to the
greatly varied and diverse specialties of the journal's read-
ership, without sacrificing the intellectual rigor of their
arguments. The articles were not intended to be specialized
reviews of the literature, but broad overviews with an eye
turned to cross-disciplinary links and practical applications.
Finally, we invited mostly seasoned scholars to contribute,
thereby excluding some of the most promising young re-
searchers--but they are already preparing to edit a section
of this journal devoted to the latest work on positive
There are three main topics that run through these
contributions. The first concerns the positive experience.
What makes one moment "better" than the next? If Daniel
Kahneman is right, the hedonic quality of current experi-
ence is the basic building block of a positive psychology
(Kahneman, 1999, p. 6). Diener (2000, this issue) focuses
on subjective well-being, Massimini and Delle Fave (2000,
this issue) on optimal experience, Peterson (2000, this
issue) on optimism, Myers (2000, this issue) on happiness,
and Ryan and Deci (2000, this issue) on self-determination.
Taylor, Kemeny, Reed, Bower, and Gruenwald (2000, this
issue), and Salovey, Rothman, Detweiler, and Steward
(2000, this issue) report on the relationship between posi-
tive emotions and physical health.
These topics can, of course, be seen as statelike or
traitlike: One can investigate either what accounts for mo-
ments of happiness or what distinguishes happy from un-
happy individuals. Thus, the second thread in these articles
is the theme of the positive personality. The common
denominator underlying all the approaches represented
here is a perspective on human beings as self-organizing,
self-directed, adaptive entities. Ryan and Deci (2000) focus
on self-determination, Baltes and Staudinger (2000, this
issue) on wisdom, and Vaillant (2000, this issue) on mature
defenses. Lubinski and Benbow (2000, this issue), Simon-
ton (2000, this issue), Winner (2000, this issue), and Larson
(2000, this issue) focus on exceptional performance (i.e.,
creativity and talent). Some of these approaches adopt an
explicit developmental perspective, taking into account that
individual strengths unfold over an entire life span.
The third thread that runs through these contributions
is the recognition that people and experiences are embed-
ded in a social context. Thus, a positive psychology needs
to take positive communities and positive institutions into
account. At the broadest level, Buss (2000, this issue) and
Massimini and Delle Fave (2000) describe the evolutionary
milieu that shapes positive human experience. Myers
(200(I) describes the contributions of social relationships to
happiness, and Schwartz (2000, this issue) reflects on the
necessity for cultural norms to relieve individuals of the
burden of choice. Larson (2000) emphasizes the impor-
tance of voluntary activities for the development of re-
sourceful young people, and Winner (2000) describes the
effects of families on the development of talent. In fact, to
a degree that is exceedingly rare in psychological literature,
every' one of these contributions looks at behavior in its
ecologically valid social setting. A more detailed introduc-
tion to the articles in this issue follows.
Evolutionary Perspectives
The first section comprises two articles that place positive
psychology in the broadest context within which it can be
understood, namely that of evolution. To some people,
evolutionary approaches are distasteful because they deny
the importance of learning and sell:determination, but this
need not be necessarily so. These two articles are excep-
tional in that they not only provide ambitious theoretical
perspectives, but--mirabile dictu--they also provide up-
lifting practical examples of how a psychology based on
evolutionary principles can be applied to the improvement
of the human condition.
In the first article, David Buss (2000) reminds readers
that the dead hand of the past weighs heavily on the
present. He focuses primarily on three reasons why positive
states of mind are so elusive. First, because the environ-
ments people currently live in are so different from the
ancestral environments to which their bodies and minds
have been adapted, they are often misfit in modern sur-
8 January 2000 American Psychologist
roundings. Second, evolved distress mechanisms are often
functional--for instance, jealousy alerts people to make
sure of the fidelity of their spouses. Finally, selection tends
to be competitive and to involve zero-sum outcomes. What
makes Buss's article unusually interesting is that after
identifying these major obstacles to well-being, he then
outlines some concrete strategies for overcoming them. For
instance, one of the major differences between ancestral
and current environments is the paradoxical change in
people's relationships to others: On the one hand, people
live surrounded by many more people than their ancestors
did, yet they are intimate with fewer individuals and thus
experience greater loneliness and alienation. The solutions
to this and other impasses are not only conceptually justi-
fied within the theoretical framework but are also emi-
nently practical. So what are they? At the risk of creating
unbearable suspense, we think it is better for readers to find
out for themselves.
Whereas Buss (2000) bases his arguments on the solid
foundations of biological evolution, Fausto Massimini and
Antonella Delle Fave (2000) venture into the less explored
realm of psychological and cultural evolution. In a sense,
they start where Buss leaves off: by looking analytically at
the effects of changes in the ancestral environment and by
looking specifically at how the production of memes (e.g.,
artifacts and values) affect and are affected by human
consciousness. They start with the assumption that living
systems are self-organizing and oriented toward increasing
complexity. Thus, individuals are the authors of their own
evolution. They are continuously involved in the selection
of the memes that will define their own individuality, and
when added to the memes selected by others, they shape
the future of the culture. Massimini and Delle Fare make
the point--so essential to the argument for positive psy-
chology-that psychological selection is motivated not
solely by the pressures of adaptation and survival, but also
by the need to reproduce optimal experiences. Whenever
possible, people choose behaviors that make them feel fully
alive, competent, and creative. These authors conclude
their visionary call for individual development in harmony
with global evolution by providing instances drawn from
their own experience of cross-cultural interventions, where
psychology has been applied to remedy traumatic social
conditions created by runaway modernization.
Positive Personal Traits
The second section includes five articles dealing with four
different personal traits that contribute to positive psychol-
ogy: subjective well-being, optimism, happiness, and self-
determination. These are topics that in the past three de-
cades have been extensively studied and have produced an
impressive array of findings--many of them unexpected
and counterintuitive.
The first article in this set is a review of what is known
about subjective well-being written by Edward Diener
(2000), whose research in this field now spans three de-
cades. Subjective well-being refers to what people think
and how they feel about their lives--to the cognitive and
affective conclusions they reach when they evaluate their
existence. In practice, subjective well-being is a more sci-
entific-sounding term for what people usually mean by
happiness. Even though subjective well-being research re-
lies primarily on rather global self-ratings that could be
criticized on various grounds, its findings are plausible and
coherent. Diener's account begins with a review of the
temperament and personality correlates of subjective well-
being and the demographic characteristics of groups high in
subjective well-being. The extensive cross-cultural re-
search on the topic is then reviewed, suggesting interesting
links between macrosocial conditions and happiness. A
central issue is how a person's values and goals mediate
between external events and the quality of experience.
These investigations promise to bring psychologists closer
to understanding the insights of such philosophers of an-
tiquity as Democritus or Epictetus, who argued that it is not
what happens to people that determines how happy they
are, but how they interpret what happens.
One dispositional trait that appears to mediate be-
tween external events and a person's interpretation of them
is optimism. This trait includes both little optimism (e.g., "I
will find a convenient parking space this evening") and big
optimism (e.g., "Our nation is on the verge of something
great"). Christopher Peterson (2000) describes the research
on this beneficial psychological characteristic in the second
article of this set. He considers optimism to involve cog-
nitive, emotional, and motivational components. People
high in optimism tend to have better moods, to be more
persevering and successful, and to experience better phys-
ical health. How does optimism work? How can it be
increased'? When does it begin to distort reality? These are
some of the questions Peterson addresses. As is true of the
other authors in this issue, this author is aware that complex
psychological issues cannot be understood in isolation from
the social and cultural contexts in which they are embed-
ded. Hence, he asks questions such as the following: How
does an overly pessimistic culture affect the well-being of
its members? And conversely, does an overly optimistic
culture lead to shallow materialism?
David Myers (2000) presents his synthesis of research
on happiness in the third article of this section. His per-
spective, although strictly based on empirical evidence, is
informed by a belief that traditional values must contain
importanl elements of truth if they are to survive across
generations. Hence, he is more attuned than most to issues
that are not very fashionable in the field, such as the
often-found association between religious faith and happi-
ness. The other two candidates for promoting happiness
that Myers considers are economic growth and income (not
much there, after a minimum threshold of affluence is
passed) and close personal relationships (a strong associa-
tion). Although based on correlational survey studies of
self-reported happiness, the robustness of the findings, rep-
licated across time and different cultures, suggests that
these findings ought to be taken seriously by anyone inter-
ested in understanding the elements that contribute to a
positive quality of life.
In the first of two articles that focus on self-determi-
nation, Richard Ryan and Edward Deci (2000) discuss
January 2000 American Psychologist 9
another trait that is central to positive psychology and has
been extensively researched. Self-determination theory in-
vestigates three related human needs: the need for compe-
tence, the need for belongingness, and the need for auton-
omy. When these needs are satisfied, Ryan and Deci claim
personal well-being and social development are optimized.
Persons in this condition are intrinsically motivated, able to
fulfill their potentialities, and able to seek out progressively
greater challenges. These authors consider the kinds of
social contexts that support autonomy, competence, and
relatedness, and those that stand in the way of personal
growth. Especially important is their discussion of how a
person can maintain autonomy even under external pres-
sures that seem to deny it. Ryan and Deci's contribution
shows that the promises of the
humanistic psychology
the 1960s can generate a vital program of empirical
Is an emphasis on autonomy an unmitigated good?
Barry Schwartz (2000) takes on the subject of self-deter-
mination from a more philosophical and historical angle.
He is concerned that the emphasis on autonomy in our
culture results in a kind of psychological tyranny--an
excess of freedom that may lead to dissatisfaction and
depression. He finds particularly problematic the influence
of rational-choice theory on our conception of human mo-
tivation. The burden of responsibility for autonomous
choices often becomes too heavy, leading to insecurity and
regrets. For most people in the world, he argues, individual
choice is neither expected nor desired. Cultural constraints
are necessary for leading a meaningful and satisfying life.
Although Ryan and Deci's (2000) self-determination the-
ory takes relatedness into account as one of the three
components of personal fulfillment, Schwartz's argument
highlights even further the benefits of relying on cultural
norms and values.
Implications for Mental and Physical Health
One of the arguments for positive psychology is that during
the past half century, psychology has become increasingly
focused on mental illness and, as a result, has developed a
distorted view of what normal--and exceptional--human
experience is like. How does mental health look when seen
from the perspective of positive psychology? The next
three articles deal with this topic.
Beethoven was suicidal and despairing at age 31, yet
two dozen years later he composed the "Ode to Joy,"
translating into sublime music Schiller's lines, "Be em-
braced, all ye millions .... " What made it possible for him
to overcome despair despite poverty and deafness? In the
first article of this section, the psychiatrist George Vaillant
(2000) reminds readers that it is impossible to describe
positive psychological processes without taking a life span,
or at least a longitudinal, approach. "Call no man happy till
he dies," for a truly positive psychological adaptation
should unfold over a lifetime. Relying on the results ob-
tained from three large samples of adults studied over
several decades, Vaillant summarizes the contributions of
mature defenses--altruism, sublimation, suppression, hu-
mor, anticipation--to a successful and joyful life. Even
though Vaillant still uses the pathocentric terminology of
his view of mature functioning, which takes into
full account the importance of creative, proactive solutions,
breaks the mold of the victimology that has been one
legacy of psychoanalytic approaches.
It is generally assumed that it is healthy to be rigor-
ously objective about one's situation. To paint a rosier
picture than the facts warrant is often seen as a sign of
pathology (cf. Peterson, 2000; Schwartz, 2000; and Vail-
lant, 2000, in this issue). However, in the second article of
this section, Shelley Taylor and her collaborators argue that
unrealistically optimistic beliefs about the future can pro-
tect people from illness (Taylor et al., 2000). The results of
numerous studies of patients with life-threatening diseases,
such as AIDS, suggest that those who remain optimistic
show symptoms later and survive longer than patients who
confront reality more objectively. According to these au-
thors, the positive effects of optimism are mediated mainly
at a cognitive level. An optimistic patient is more likely to
practice habits that enhance health and to enlist social
support. It is also possible, but not proven, that positive
affective states may have a direct physiological effect that
retards the course of illness. As Taylor et al. note, this line
of research has enormously important implications for
ameliorating health through prevention and care.
At the beginning of their extensive review of the
impacts of a broad range of emotions on physical health,
Peter Salovey and his coauthors (Salovey et al., 2000)
ruefully admit that because of the pathological bias of most
research in the field, a great deal more is known about how
negative emotions promote illness than is known about
how positive emotions promote health. However, as posi-
tive and negative emotions are generally inversely corre-
lated, they argue that substituting the former for the latter
can have preventive and therapeutic effects. The research
considered includes the direct effects of affect on physiol-
ogy and the immune system, as well as the indirect effects
of affect, such as the marshalling of psychological and
social resources and the motivation of health-promoting
behaviors. One of the most interesting sets of studies they
discuss is the one that shows that persons high in optimism
and hope are actually more likely to provide themselves
with unfavorable information about their disease, thereby
being better prepared to face up to realities even though
their positive outcome estimates may be inflated.
Fostering Excellence
If psychologists wish to improve the human condition, it is
not enough to help those who suffer. The majority of
"normal" people also need examples and advice to reach a
richer and more fulfilling existence. This is why early
investigators, such as William James (1902/1958), Carl
Jung (1936/1969), Gordon Allport (1961), and Abraham
Maslow (1971), were interested in exploring spiritual ec-
stasy, play, creativity, and peak experiences. When these
interests were eclipsed by medicalization and "physics
envy," psychology neglected an essential segment of its
agenda. As a gesture toward redressing such neglect, the
last section of this issue presents six articles dealing with
10 January 2000 ° American Psychologist
phenomena at the opposite end of the pathological tail of
the normal curve--the end that includes the most positive
human experiences.
Wisdom is one of the most prized traits in all cultures;
according to the Old Testament, its price is above rubies
(Job 28:18). It is a widespread belief that wisdom comes
with age, but as the gerontologist Bernice Neugarten used
to say, "You can't expect a dumb youngster to grow up to
be a wise senior." Although the first president of the
American Psychological Association, G. Stanley Hall, tried
to develop a model of wisdom in aging as far back as 1922
(Hall, 1922), the topic has not been a popular one in the
intervening years. Recently, however, interest in wisdom
has revived, and nowhere more vigorously than at the Max
Planck Institute of Berlin, where the "Berlin wisdom par-
adigm" has been developed. Paul Baltes and Ursula
Staudinger (2000) report on a series of studies that has
resulted in a complex model that views wisdom as a cog-
nitive and motivational heuristic for organizing knowledge
in pursuit of individual and collective excellence. Seen as
the embodiment of the best subjective beliefs and laws of
life that have been sifted and selected through the experi-
ence of succeeding generations, wisdom is defined as an
expert knowledge system concerning the fundamental
pragmatic issues of existence.
The second article in this section, by David Lubinski
and Camilla Benbow (2000), deals with excellence of a
different sort. In this article, the authors review the large
literature concerning children with exceptional intellectual
abilities. If one asked a layperson at what point in the
distribution of intelligence the largest gap in ability is
found, the modal answer would probably be that it is the
gifted people in the top 1% or 2% who differ most in ability
from the rest of the population. As the authors point out,
however, one third of the total ability range is found within
the top 1%--a child with an IQ of 200 is quite different and
needs a different educational environment from a gifted
student with "only" an IQ of 140. Lubinski and Benbow
consider issues of how to identify, nurture, counsel, and
teach children in these high ability ranges, arguing that
neglecting the potentialities of such exceptional children
would be a grievous loss to society as a whole.
One of the most poignant paradoxes in psychology
concerns the complex relationships between pathology and
creativity. Ever since Cesare Lombroso raised the issue
over a century ago, the uneasy relationship between these
two seemingly opposite traits has been explored again and
again (on this topic, cf. also Vaillant, 2000, in this issue). A
related paradox is that some of the most creative adults
were reared in unusually adverse childhood situations. This
and many other puzzles concerning the nature and nurture
of creativity are reviewed in Dean K. Simonton's (2000)
article, which examines the cognitive, personality, and de-
velopmental dimensions of the process, as well as the
environmental conditions that foster or hinder creativity.
For instance, on the basis of his exhaustive historiometric
analyses that measure rates of creative contributions decade
by decade, Simonton concludes that nationalistic revolts
against oppressive rules are followed a generation later by
greater frequencies of creative output.
The topics of giftedness and exceptional performance
dealt with in the previous two articles are also taken up by
Ellen Winner (2000). Her definition of giftedness is more
inclusive than the previous ones: It relates to children who
are precocious and self-motivated and approach problems
in their domain of talent in an original way. Contrary to
some of the findings concerning creative individuals just
mentioned, such children tend to be well-adjusted and to
have supportive families. Winner describes the current
state of knowledge about this topic by focusing on the
origins of giftedness; the motivation of gifted children; and
the social, emotional, and cognitive correlates of excep-
tional performance. As is true of most other contributors to
this issue, this author is sensitive throughout to the practical
implications of research findings, such as what can be done
to nurture and to keep giftedness alive.
Developing excellence in young people is also the
theme of Reed Larson's (2000) article, which begins with
the ominous and often replicated finding that the average
student reports being bored about one third of the time he
or she is in school. Considering that people go to school for
at least one fifth of their lives, this is not good news. Larson
argues that youths in our society rarely have the opportu-
nity to take initiative, and that their education encourages
passive adaptation to external rules instead. He explores the
contribution of voluntary activities, such as participation in
sport, art, and civic organizations, to providing opportuni-
ties for concentrated, self-directed effort applied over time.
Although this article deals with issues central also to pre-
vious articles (e.g., Massimini & Delle Fave, 2000; Ryan &
Deck 2000: Winner, 2000), it does so from the perspec-
tive of naturalistic studies of youth programs, thereby
adding a welcome confirmatory triangulation to previous
Challenges for the Future
The 15 articles contained in this issue make a powerful
contribution to positive psychology. At the same time, the
issues raised in these articles point to huge gaps in knowl-
edge that may be the challenges at the forefront of positive
psychology. What, can we guess, are the great problems
that will occupy this science for the next decade or two?
The Calculus of Well-Being
One fundamental gap concerns the relationship between
momentary experiences of happiness and long-lasting well-
being. A simple hedonic calculus suggests that by adding
up a person's positive events in consciousness, subtracting
the negatives, and aggregating over time, one will get a
sum that represents that person's overall well-being. This
makes sense, up to a point (Kahneman, 1999), but as
several articles in this issue suggest, what makes people
happy in small doses does not necessarily add satisfaction
in larger amounts; a point of diminishing returns is quickly
reached in many instances, ranging from the amount of
income one earns to the pleasures of eating good food.
January 2000 American Psychologist 11
What, exactly, is the mechanism that governs the rewarding
quality of stimuli?
The Development of Positivity
It is also necessary to realize that a person at time N is a
different entity from the same person at time N + 1; thus,
psychologists can't assume that what makes a teenager
happy will also contribute to his or her happiness as an
adult. For example, watching television and hanging out
with friends tend to be positive experiences for most teen-
agers. However, to the extent that TV and friends become
the main source of happiness, and thus attract increasing
amounts of attention, the teenager is likely to grow into an
adult who is limited in the ability to obtain positive expe-
riences from a wide range of opportunities. How much
delayed gratification is necessary to increase the chances of
long-term well-being? Is the future mindedness necessary
for serious delay of gratification antagonistic to momentary
happiness, to living in the moment? What are the childhood
building blocks of later happiness or of long-lasting
Neuroscience and Heritability
A flourishing neuroscience of pathology has begun in the
past 20 years. Psychologists have more than rudimentary
ideas about what the neurochemistry and pharmacology of
depression are. They have reasonable ideas about brain loci
and pathways for schizophrenia, substance abuse, anxiety,
and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Somehow, it has gone
unobserved (and unfunded) that all of these pathological
states have their opposites (LeDoux & Armony, 1999).
What are the neurochemistry and anatomy of flow, good
cheer, realism, future mindedness, resistance to temptation,
courage, and rational or flexible thinking?
Similarly, psychologists are learning about the herita-
bility of negative states, like aggression, depression, and
schizophrenia, but they know very little of the genetic
contribution of gene-environment interaction and covari-
ance. Can psychologists develop a biology of positive
experience and positive traits?
Enjoyment Versus Pleasure
In a similar vein, it is useful to distinguish positive expe-
riences that are
from those that are
Pleasure is the good feeling that comes from satisfying
homeostatic needs such as hunger, sex, and bodily comfort.
Enjoyment, on the other hand, refers to the good feelings
people experience when they break through the limits of
homeostasis--when they do something that stretches them
beyond what they were--in an athletic event, an artistic
performance, a good deed, a stimulating conversation. En-
joyment, rather than pleasure, is what leads to personal
growth and long-term happiness, but why is that when
given a chance, most people opt for pleasure over enjoy-
ment? Why do people choose to watch television over
reading a challenging book, even when they know that their
usual hedonic state during television is mild dysphoria,
whereas the book can produce flow?
Collective Well-Being
This question leads directly to the issue of the balance
between individual and collective well-being. Some hedo-
nic rewards tend to be zero-sum when viewed from a
systemic perspective. If running a speedboat for an hour
provides the same amount of well-being to Person A as
reading from a book of poems provides to Person B, but the
speedboat consumes 10 gallons of gasoline and irritates
200 bathers, should the two experiences be weighed
equally? Will a social science of positive community and
positive institutions arise?
It has been a common but unspoken assumption in the
social sciences that negative traits are authentic and posi-
tive traits are derivative, compensatory, or even inauthen-
tic, but there are two other possibilities: that negative traits
are derivative from positive traits and that the positive and
negative systems are separate systems. However, if the two
systems are separate, how do they interact? Is it necessary
to be resilient, to overcome hardship and suffering to
experience positive emotion and to develop positive traits?
Does too much positive experience create a fragile and
brittle personality?
As positive psychology finds its way into prevention and
therapy, techniques that build positive traits will become
commonplace. Psychologists have good reason to believe
that techniques that build positive traits and positive sub-
jective experiences work, both in therapy and perhaps more
importantly in prevention. Building optimism, for example,
prevents depression (Seligman, Schulman, DeRubeis, &
Hollon, 1999). The question is, how? By what mechanisms
does courage or interpersonal skill or hope or future mind-
edness buffer against depression or schizophrenia or sub-
stance abuse?
Descriptive or Prescriptive
Is a science of positive psychology descriptive or prescrip-
tive? The study of the relations among enabling conditions,
individual strengths, institutions, and outcomes such as
well-being or income might merely result in an empirical
matrix. Such a matrix would describe, for example, what
talents under what enabling conditions lead to what kinds
of outcomes. This matrix would inform individuals'
choices along the course of their lives, but would take no
stand on the desirability of different life courses. Alterna-
tively, positive psychology might become a prescriptive
discipline like clinical psychology, in which the paths out
of depression, for example, are not only described, but also
held to be desirable.
What is the relationship between positive traits like opti-
mism and positive experiences like happiness on the one
hand, and being realistic on the other? Many doubt the
possibility of being both. This suspicion is well illustrated
12 January 2000 American Psychologist
in the reaction attributed to Charles de Gaulle, then Presi-
dent of the French Republic, to a journalist's inquiry:
"Mr. President, are you a happy man?"
"What sort of a fool do you take me for?"
Is the world simply too full of tragedy to allow a wise
person to be happy? As the articles in this issue suggest, a
person can be happy while confronting life realistically and
while working productively to improve the conditions of
existence. Whether this view is accurate only time will tell;
in the meantime, we hope that you will find what follows
enjoyable and enlightening to read.
We end this introduction by hazarding a prediction about
psychology in the new century. We believe that a psychol-
ogy of positive human functioning will arise that achieves
a scientific understanding and effective interventions to
build thriving in individuals, families, and communities.
You may think that this is pure fantasy. You may
think that psychology will never look beyond the victim,
the underdog, and the remedial, but we want to suggest that
the time is finally right for positive psychology. We well
recognize that positive psychology is not a new idea. It has
many distinguished ancestors, and we make no claim of
originality. However, these ancestors somehow failed to
attract a cumulative, empirical body of research to ground
their ideas.
Why didn't they attract this research, and why has
psychology been so focused on the negative? Why has
psychology adopted the premise--without a shred of evi-
dence-that negative motivations are authentic and posi-
tive emotions are derivative? There are several possible
explanations. Negative emotions and experiences may be
more urgent and therefore may override positive ones. This
would make evolutionary sense. Because negative emo-
tions often reflect immediate problems or objective dan-
gers, they should be powerful enough to force people to
stop, increase their vigilance, reflect on their behavior, and
change their actions if necessary. (Of course, in some
dangerous situations, it is most adaptive to respond without
taking a great deal of time to reflect.) In contrast, when
people are adapting well to the world, no such alarm is
needed. Experiences that promote happiness often seem to
pass effortlessly. Therefore, on one level, psychology's
focus on the negative may reflect differences in the survival
value of negative versus positive emotions.
Perhaps, however, people are blinded to the survival
value of positive emotions precisely because they are so
important. Like the fish who is unaware of the water in
which it swims, people take for granted a certain amount of
hope, love, enjoyment, and trust because these are the very
conditions that allow them to go on living. These condi-
tions are fundamental to existence, and if they are present,
any number of objective obstacles can be faced with equa-
nimity and even joy. Camus wrote that the foremost ques-
tion of philosophy is why one should not commit suicide.
One cannot answer that question just by curing depression;
there must be positive reasons for living as well.
There are also historical reasons for psychology's
negative focus. When cultures face military threat, short-
ages of goods, poverty, or instability, they may most nat-
urally be concerned with defense and damage control.
Cultures may turn their attention to creativity, virtue, and
the highest qualities in life only when they are stable,
prosperous, and at peace. Athens in the 5th century B.C.,
Florence in the 15th century, and Victorian England are
examples of cultures that focused on positive qualities.
Athenian philosophy focused on the human virtues: What
is good action and good character? What makes life most
worthwhile? Democracy was born during this era. Florence
chose not to become the most important military power in
Europe, but to invest its surplus in beauty. Victorian En-
gland affirmed honor, discipline, valor, and duty as central
human virtues.
We are not suggesting that American culture should
now erect an aesthetic monument. Rather, we believe that
the nation--wealthy, at peace, and stable--provides the
world with a historical opportunity. Psychologists can
choose to create a scientific monument--a science that
takes as its primary task the understanding of what makes
life worth living. Such an endeavor will move all of the
social sciences away from their negative bias. The prevail-
ing social sciences tend to view the authentic forces gov-
erning human behavior to be self-interest, aggressiveness,
territoriality, class conflict, and the like. Such a science,
even at its best, is by necessity incomplete. Even if utopi-
anly successful, it would then have to proceed to ask how
humanity can achieve what is best in life.
We predict that positive psychology in this new cen-
tury will allow psychologists to understand and build those
factors that allow individuals, communities, and societies
to flourish. Such a science will not need to start afresh. It
requires for the most part just a redirecting of scientific
energy. In the 50 years since psychology and psychiatry
became healing disciplines, they have developed a highly
transferable science of mental illness. They developed a
usable taxonomy, as well as reliable and valid ways of
measuring such fuzzy concepts as schizophrenia, anger,
and depression. They developed sophisticated methods--
both experimental and longitudinal--for understanding the
causal pathways that lead to such undesirable outcomes.
Most important, they developed pharmacological and psy-
chological interventions that have allowed many untreat-
able mental disorders to become highly treatable and, in a
couple of cases, even curable. These same methods and in
many cases the same laboratories and the next generation
of scientists, with a slight shift of emphasis and funding,
will be used to measure, understand, and build those char-
acteristics that make life most worth living. As a side effect
of studying positive human traits, science will learn how to
buffer against and better prevent mental, as well as some
physical, illnesses. As a main effect, psychologists will
learn how to build the qualities that help individuals and
communities, not just to endure and survive, but also to
January 2000 American Psychologist 13
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14 January 2000 American Psychologist
... Second, positive psychology is designed to be descriptive rather than prescriptive (Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi 2001). This means that positive psychology explores the results of a positive concept rather than arguing about what is positive and what is negative, which makes it a value-free science. ...
... The fourth methodological issue in previous positive psychological studies on IMs is the lack of sufficient value clarification. As noted above, through investigating eight major spiritual traditions around the world, positive psychology identified six common virtues that were believed to be strong enough to cross cultural divides (Peterson and Seligman 2004;Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi 2001). However, positive psychology research has done little to clarify the tacit cultural and moral assumptions that in fact convey values (see Christopher and Hickinbottom 2008). ...
Full-text available
Chinese spiritual traditions such as Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism all emphasize the cultivation of idealistic mentalities (IMs) which are (1) not yet achieved, (2) clear in value judgment, (3) systematic and stable, and (4) cultivated with systematic training. While IMs are of interest to positive psychology, the methodology of positive psychology limits research on IMs. Fundamentally, positive psychology focuses on widely existing positive concepts and emphasizes being value-free, which conflicts with the features of IMs. Positive psychological studies relevant to IMs also suffer from methodological limitations: (1) recruiting samples without a spiritual background (realistic assumption); (2) ignoring qualitative differences between levels of actualization of IMs (linear assumption); (3) dividing systematic mental patterns into separate elements (reductionism); and (4) lacking value clarification during interventions. In summary, this article illustrates the methodological limitations of positive psychology in research on IMs. It encourages further research on IMs and supports the necessity of developing a new idealistic psychology for better research on IMs.
... Positive psychology is a scientific study of positive human functioning developed at several levels, namely the personal, biological, relational, institutional, cultural, and global dimensions of life (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2001). The approach aims to generate positive emotions and focus on individual strengths (Seligman, 2013). ...
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Nurses have a heavy workload, which has become heavier during the COVID-19 pandemic, putting them at risk of psychological stress and affecting their psychological well-being, which impacts their mental health, work productivity, and self-development. In addition, their worship activities also decrease. However, there has been little research on Islamic-based interventions to improve the psychological well-being of nurses. This study seeks to determine the effectiveness of Islamic-based positive psychology training on improving such well-being by comparing the pre-test and post-test results of the control and experimental groups employed. The Ryff Psychological Well-being Scale and training were given to 38 respondents using consecutive sampling. The data were analyzed using SPSS 25.0, observation, independent assignments, and open questionnaires. The Mann-Whitney test results (Z = -2.416; p ˂ .05) and those of Wilcoxon (Z-experiment = -2.774; p ˂ .05 and Z-control = -0.081; p .05) show that Islamic-based positive psychology training is effective in improving the psychological well-being of nurses. This research contributes to providing alternative interventions that can be used to foster positive activities and emotions that can improve such well-being.
... Dans cette étude nous analysons leur « côté lumineux » à travers leurs liens positifs avec l'EPT et les CCO-I (Pettigrew & Tropp, 2008). Dans ce sens, nous privilégions l'étude de facteurs et processus contribuant à optimiser la santé psychologique (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2001). En référence à Rozkwitalska et Basinska (2015), nous le mettons en lien avec la vitalité et l'apprentissage dans un contexte de travail multiculturel. ...
... Such effectiveness has seen mindfulness shift towards non-clinical adult populations and become increasingly popular. It is being employed in a proactive, preventative way in line with positive psychology, which, instead of focusing on pathology, aims to understand and build those factors that allow individuals, communities and societies to flourish (Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi, 2001). Positive psychology interventions, therefore, aim to increase positive feelings, behaviours and cognitions; these are aims in common with secular mindfulness. ...
Research on mindfulness in education for supporting pupils’ mental health and wellbeing has predominantly focused on potential psychological and behavioural benefits. Broader, more philosophical issues regarding the purpose of its implementation and associated ethical dilemmas are neglected areas. Consequently, little research exists regarding the acceptability of mindfulness in schools. This qualitative study reports on the potentiality and acceptability of mindfulness taught via an MBI (mindfulness-based intervention) in a junior school. This study adds an extra critical dimension to the findings by exploring how the MBI is experienced by the recipients, i.e., teachers and pupils. It is an unusual aspect of research on mindfulness and education, as demonstrated by the notable lack of in-depth qualitative data offering such perspectives. The study’s qualitative research methodology is the autoethnographic method of journaling synthesised with a method influenced by action research. Thus, researcher reflexivity is woven throughout the research process via auto ethnographical journal entries. Data was gathered using semi-structured pupil focus group interviews and one-to-one teacher interviews. The findings relating to the teachers' and pupils' perspectives on the potential for mindfulness to support pupil wellbeing align with current research; however, the data reveals differences in teachers' and pupils' perspectives regarding acceptability. Attention is also drawn to numerous psychological, social and functional factors impacting the participants' experiences and ethical dilemmas, contradictions and concerns that emerge. The findings have implications for practice: - there is a need for a different approach to teaching and learning, one embracing a more contemplative pedagogy. The necessity for more detailed investigations of MBIs aims in education alongside greater transparency. Greater consideration of the ethical dilemmas, contradictions and concerns inherent when introducing MBIs into schools, invariably consisting of a vulnerable and conscripted audience.
... The concept of positivity stems from the positive psychology framework (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000) which emphasizes that these positive individual qualities help foster adaptation and resilience to stressful situations. Positive psychology has shifted the paradigm of psychology from assessing and treating mental illness to strengthening individual positive traits for optimal functioning. ...
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The current study examined how two theoretical constructs change individually and in conjunction with each other over a twelve-year period during young adulthood (i.e., ages 19 to 31). Assessments included prospective self-report measures (n = 546) collected during seven developmental time points at two-year intervals. Research questions regarding intra-individual variability in the change and inter-individual differences in economic pressure and positivity and the interplay between these developmental processes were investigated by using an autoregressive latent trajectory model. Results showed that there was no evidence of a causal relationship between economic pressure and positivity while there were correlational associations between economic pressure and positivity across time. The negative correlations may imply that individuals who generally had high levels of economic pressure were more likely to have low levels of positivity during young adulthood. These results suggest that prevention efforts should strive to promote positivity as well as reduce the root causes of economic pressure. Further implications of the results are discussed.
... Work engagement cover the entire spectrum running from employee unwellbeing (burnout) to employee well-being [17]. It is defined as "a positive, fulfilling, affective motivational state of work-related well-being" [18] and reflects some aspects of positive psychology when the concern is the positive aspects of employee health [19]. ...
Conference Paper
The COVID-19 pandemic has been considered a major cause that led to high levels of mental health problems among employees. This study examined mental health which relates to impact of anxiety on employee engagement. Studies on employee engagement in Vietnam are gaining traction, but are primarily conducted by individual companies, which tend to investigate the situational factors. This study contributes to employee engagement theory focusing on work engagement which is considered an individual factor to be as important as the situational factor and investigates the relevance of personal anxiety for work engagement and informal workplace learning.
... SWB consists of three components: satisfaction with their life, positive affect, and negative affect (Andrews & Withey 1976;Diener, 1984;Proctor, 2014); PWB is related to reaching and achieving one's potential measured through positive relationships engagement, meaning, self-esteem, self-acceptance, competence, optimism, and social contribution (Ryff, 1989;Ryff & Keyes, 1995). Since the inception of Positive Psychology in 1998 (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2001), models of flourishing have begun to emerge, describing a combination of hedonic and eudaimonic dimensions of well-being. Currently, there are four main frameworks for measuring flourishing (Hone et al., 2014). ...
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Nursing burnout is a challenge for both the nursing profession and healthcare organizations. While research on burnout in healthcare is robust, including its contribution to the absence of wellbeing, e.g., depression and anxiety; little is known about its association with positive dimensions of wellbeing, e.g., engagement and life meaning, which is what the current research aimed to address. A total of 146 practising nurses, mostly female (98%), aged M= 45.03, SD= 13.31 residing in the United States completed an online survey assessing their burnout on the Copenhagen Burnout Inventory and wellbeing on the Mental Health Continuum and Workplace PERMA Profiler. Hierarchical multiple regression showed that after controlling for physical health, (1) wellbeing constructs explained various types of burnouts differently, (2) wellbeing, as measured by mental health continuum, did not predict work-related and client-related burnout, (3) the presence of positive emotions predicted lower levels of personal and work-related burnout; however, engagement was instrumental in predicting client-related burnout. The results highlight the need to measure positive outcomes using flourishing models of wellbeing. Furthermore, given that not all positive outcomes showed association with burnout, the research identified the need for nuanced approach to addressing burnout in nurses when using flourishing models. These findings can assist researchers and practitioners in further understanding of the impact of burnout on wellbeing and become a springboard for exploring the application of positive psychology interventions for reducing and preventing burnout and enhancing wellbeing.
... positive activities positive psychology; randomised controlled intervention studies; resourcebased-interventions; wellbeing Positive psychology interventions (PPIs) have been gaining in popularity to promote occupational health and wellbeing (Mills et al., 2013), but evidence regarding their effectiveness is varied. They have their origins in positive psychology, which emerged in the USA in the late 1990s as a counter-movement to a deficit-oriented psychology focusing on mental illness and health impairments (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). Instead, positive interventions focus on generating positive cognitions, emotions and/or behaviours with the aim to promote positive experiential states such as wellbeing, positive affect and satisfaction (Burke, 2017). ...
In the design of practical products and services, an issue is how to deal with the high heterogeneity of older adults. Older adults with mild cognitive impairment can complete their daily activities but have declined cognitive functions beyond normal aging, and those with severe cognitive impairment may lose the ability to speak, write, and understand, thus resulting in the inability to live independently. Understanding the age-related changes is not sufficient; anthropometric data on older adults is also important in the design process. In comparison with younger adults, older adults have higher odor thresholds, poor odor magnitude matching, and poor odor identification. Older adults are often described as a vulnerable group in empirical studies that reported the different extents of age-related declines with respect to physical, perceptual, and cognitive aspects. User-centered design and participatory design are classic approaches to engage older adults in the design process.
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Purpose: Based on the social cognitive theory and cognitive-affective system theory, the purpose of this study is to explore how and when paradoxical leadership enhances employees' bootlegging innovation. To achieve this purpose, the authors proposed a double-chain mediation model in this study. Methods: Data with 342 questionnaires were collected for effective matching between employees and leaders at two time nodes. The hypotheses were validated by structural equation modeling and bootstrap approaches. Results: Results indicate that paradoxical leadership has a significant and positive impact on employees' bootleg innovation. In addition, psychological capital and thriving at work play a partial mediating role between paradoxical leadership and employees' bootlegging behaviors respectively and a chain mediating role between the two together. Moreover, there is no significant difference among the three mediating paths. Conclusion: The present research advances our understanding of bootleg innovation with a focus on the specific role of paradoxical leadership. Our findings, and especially those related to the role of psychological capital and thriving at work, reveal the influence mechanisms of paradoxical leadership on employees' bootleg innovation. At the same time, it is useful for understanding what leadership style can effectively stimulate employees' bootleg innovation.
Research from the individual-differences tradition pertinent to the optimal development of exceptional talent is reviewed, using the theory of work adjustment (TWA) to organize findings. The authors show how TWA concepts and psychometric methods, when used together, can facilitate positive development among talented youth by aligning learning opportunities with salient aspects of each student's individuality. Longitudinal research and more general theoretical models of (adult) academic and intellectual development support this approach. This analysis also uncovers common threads running through several positive psychological concepts (e.g., effectance motivation, flow, and peak experiences). The authors conclude by underscoring some important ideals from counseling psychology for fostering intellectual development and psychological well-being. These include conducting a multifaceted assessment, focusing on strength, helping people make choices, and providing a developmental context for bridging educational and industrial psychology to facilitate positive psychological growth throughout the life span.
Psychology needs a metric for positive mental health that would be analogous to the IQ tests that measure above-average intelligence. The Defensive Function Scale of the DSM-IV offers a possible metric. In the present article the author links the transformational qualities of defenses at the mature end of the Defensive Function Scale - altruism, suppression, humor, anticipation, and sublimation - to positive psychology. First, the methodological problems involved in the reliable assessment of defenses are acknowledged. Next, the use of prospective longitudinal study to overcome such difficulties and to provide more reliable definition and measurement of defenses is outlined. Evidence is also offered that, unlike many psychological measures, the maturity of defenses is quite independent of social class, education, and IQ. Last, evidence is offered to illustrate the validity of mature defenses and their contribution to positive psychology.
Biological and cultural inheritance deeply influence daily human behavior. However, individuals actively interact with bio-cultural information. Throughout their lives, they preferentially cultivate a limited subset of activities, values, and personal interests. This process, defined as psychological selection, is strictly related to the quality of subjective experience. Specifically, cross-cultural studies have highlighted the central role played by optimal experience or flow, the most positive and complex daily experience reported by the participants. It is characterized by high involvement, deep concentration, intrinsic motivation, and the perception of high challenges matched by adequate personal skills. The associated activities represent the basic units of psychological selection. Flow can therefore influence the selective transmission of bio-cultural information and the process of bio-cultural evolution.
Although many psychologists have expressed an interest in the phenomenon of creativity, psychological research on this topic did not rapidly, expand until after J. P. Guilford claimed in his 1950 APA presidential address, that this topic deserved far more attention than it was then receiving. This article reviews the progress psychologists have mane in understanding creativity, since Guilford's call to arms. Research progress has taken place on 4 fronts: the cognitive processes involved in the creative act, the distinctive characteristics of the creative person, the development non manifestation of creativity across the individual life span, and the social environments most strongly associated with creative activity. Although some important questions remain unanswered, psychologists now know more than ever before about how individuals achieve this special and significant form of optimal human functioning.
Pleasures of the mind are different from pleasures of the body. There are two types of pleasures of the body: tonic pleasures and relief pleasures. Pleasures of the body are given by the contact senses and by the distance senses (seeing and hearing). The distance senses provide a special category of pleasure. Pleasures of the mind are not emotions; they are collections of emotions distributed over time. Some distributions of emotions over time are particularly pleasurable, such as episodes in which the peak emotion is strong and the final emotion is positive. The idea that all pleasurable stimuli share some general characteristic should be supplanted by the idea that humans have evolved domain-specific responses of attraction to stimuli. The emotions that characterize pleasures of the mind arise when expectations are violated, causing autonomic nervous system arousal and thereby triggering a search for an interpretation. Thus pleasures of the mind occur when an individual has a definite set of expectations (usually tacit) and the wherewithal to interpret the violation (usually by placing it in a narrative framework). Pleasures of the mind differ in the objects of the emotions they comprise. There is probably a
About 100 years ago the idea became popular that a precocious child was doomed to early death or insanity and could be saved only by guarding him from all intellectual stimulation. Although still persisting, this point of view has had to give way before the findings of the investigation begun at Stanford in 1922. We now know that the gifted child is above average for his age not only in intelligence but also in achievement (regardless of years in school), in play interests, social traits, emotional and moral development, and health and physical measurements. A follow-up of the group studied through college and later years shows that they made better than average college records, have largely gone into advanced study and professions, and have been more than ordinarily successful financially. A current study, by comparing the least and the most successful, is attempting to discover the non-intellectual factors that affect success in school or life. One of these seems to be motivational difficulties arising from an unsuitable educational regime. That the gifted student is not insured against this is indicated by the Learned-Wood report on achievement test scores in 49 Pennsylvania colleges. There is little relation between number of credits gained in our package system of instruction and tested achievement. An endowed university for the highest decile of students, and university-supported research in such problems, are suggested. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)