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Since its emergence in 1998, positive psychology has flourished. Among its successes is the burgeoning field of applied positive psychology (APP), involving interventions to promote wellbeing. However, the remit of APP is currently unclear. As such, we offer a meta-theoretical conceptual map delineating the terrain that APP might conceivably cover, namely, the Layered Integrated Framework Example model. The model is based on Wilber’s (J Conscious Stud 4(1):71–92, 1997) Integral Framework, which features the four main ontological ‘dimensions’ of the person. We then stratify these dimensions to produce a comprehensive conceptual map of the person, and of the potential areas of application for APP. For example, we deconstruct the collective dimensions of Wilber’s framework using the levels of Bronfenbrenner’s (Am Psychol 32(7):513–531, 1977) experimental ecology. The result is a detailed multidimensional framework which facilitates a comprehensive approach to promoting wellbeing, and which charts a way forward for APP.
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Journal of Happiness Studies
An Interdisciplinary Forum on
Subjective Well-Being
ISSN 1389-4978
J Happiness Stud
DOI 10.1007/s10902-014-9563-y
The LIFE Model: A Meta-
TheoreticalConceptual Map for Applied
Positive Psychology
Tim Lomas, Kate Hefferon & Itai Ivtzan
1 23
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REVIEW ARTICLE
The LIFE Model: A Meta-Theoretical Conceptual Map
for Applied Positive Psychology
Tim Lomas Kate Hefferon Itai Ivtzan
Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014
Abstract Since its emergence in 1998, positive psychology has flourished. Among its
successes is the burgeoning field of applied positive psychology (APP), involving inter-
ventions to promote wellbeing. However, the remit of APP is currently unclear. As such,
we offer a meta-theoretical conceptual map delineating the terrain that APP might con-
ceivably cover, namely, the Layered Integrated Framework Example model. The model is
based on Wilber’s (J Conscious Stud 4(1):71–92, 1997) Integral Framework, which fea-
tures the four main ontological ‘dimensions’ of the person. We then stratify these
dimensions to produce a comprehensive conceptual map of the person, and of the potential
areas of application for APP. For example, we deconstruct the collective dimensions of
Wilber’s framework using the levels of Bronfenbrenner’s (Am Psychol 32(7):513–531,
1977) experimental ecology. The result is a detailed multidimensional framework which
facilitates a comprehensive approach to promoting wellbeing, and which charts a way
forward for APP.
Keywords Positive psychology Applied psychology Wellbeing Practice
Intervention
It is just over 16 years since Martin Seligman used his 1998 APA presidential address to
inaugurate the new field of positive psychology (PP) (Fowler et al. 1999). Since then, PP
has flourished, drawing in graduate recruits and established scholars, and attracting funding
and interest from diverse sources within academia and beyond (Rusk and Waters 2013).
One of the most successful aspects of PP is the emergent discipline of applied positive
psychology (APP), which can be defined as the science and practice of improving well-
being. At the heart of APP is a growing corpus of positive psychology interventions (PPIs)
designed to promote wellbeing in practical ways, as elucidated throughout this article. APP
T. Lomas (&)K. Hefferon I. Ivtzan
Department of Psychology, University of East London, Stratford Campus, London E15 4LZ, UK
e-mail: t.lomas@uel.ac.uk
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J Happiness Stud
DOI 10.1007/s10902-014-9563-y
Author's personal copy
has proved to be a very fruitful branch of PP, as reflected in the number of postgraduate
courses devoted to APP. However, in spite of, or rather because of, the rapid emergence of
APP, the development and accumulation of PPIs has accelerated ahead of any systematic
theoretical conceptualisation of the field (Parks and Biswas-Diener 2014). As such, the
present article offers one such conceptualisation, in the form of a model which we have
labelled the Layered Integrated Framework Example (LIFE) model. The article is in three
parts. In the first section, we examine the nature and remit of APP, and consider what
constitutes a PPI. In the second section, we outline the need for a multidimensional
approach to wellbeing. In the third section, we articulate the LIFE model itself, and use it
to organise the field of APP, thus providing a comprehensive strategy for enhancing
wellbeing.
1 Applied Positive Psychology and Positive Psychology Interventions
Turning first to the nature and remit of APP, the spirit of APP is one of praxis. In the
Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle [2000 (350 BCE)] constructed a tripartite classification of
human activities: poie¯sis (productive/creative disciplines); theo¯ria (contemplative
endeavours); and praxis (practical occupations involving the skilful application of ideas).
In more recent times, an eloquent articulation of praxis was formulated by Marx
[1978(1845), p. 145], who suggested that ‘The philosophers have only interpreted the
world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.’ The concept of praxis has been
influential in the social sciences, where it is defined as ‘practical action informed by
theory’ (Foster 1986, p. 96). In the case of APP, this ‘practical action’ is specifically in the
direction of improving wellbeing. This spirit of praxis has seen PP being applied in various
practical domains, from positive education (Seligman et al. 2009) to positive clinical
psychology (Wood and Tarrier 2010). In formulating our LIFE model, we offer a way of
conceptualising the diverse ways in which APP can promote wellbeing across different
areas of life.
Before we introduce this model, it is worth asking what APP does in these applied
domains. PPIs constitute the core of APP; however, there is on-going debate around the
necessary and sufficient criteria for recognising interventions as PPIs. Parks and Biswas-
Diener (2014) identify and critique three broad conceptualisations of PPIs. Content-level
definitions define PPIs as interventions that focus on ‘positive topics.’ A weakness here is
that this encompasses any pleasant activity, with no requirement that any positive outcome
(after the event) be generated. Variable level definitions identify PPIs as interventions that
work upon a positive mechanism (e.g., broaden-and-build; Fredrickson 2001) or produce a
positive outcome (e.g., positive cognitions). While this definition is more selective, at issue
is that the concept of a ‘positive’ outcome is often vaguely operationalized. A third type of
definition identifies PPIs as practices designed to promote wellness, rather than fix dys-
function and alleviate distress. However, this definition overlooks recent developments
around using PPIs for the treatment of mental disorders, e.g., positive psychotherapy for
depression (Seligman et al. 2006). Moreover, all these definitions struggle to accommodate
recent theorising in PP around the inadequacy of simplistic binary polarisations of ‘posi-
tive’ and ‘negative.’ For example, ostensibly positive emotions/qualities can have adverse
outcomes; e.g., optimism is implicated in under-appreciation of risk (Peterson and Vaidya
2003). Conversely, negative emotions may ultimately serve wellbeing; e.g., anxiety can
alert us to potential threats (Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi 2000). Going further, Lazarus
(2003) queries the very possibility of even assigning a singular valence to emotions; for
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example, hope is co-valenced, comprising both the wish for a desired outcome, and fear
that it will not happen. Moreover, from a wider psychosocial perspective, the significance
and desirability of emotions cannot be judged without taking context into account; for
example, forgiveness can be maladaptive in the context of an on-going abusive relationship
(McNulty 2011). More philosophically, the relationship between positive and negative is
inherently dialectical; these are binary terms that are by definition conceptually co-
dependent (Ryff and Singer 2003). Thus, Resnick et al. (2001) caution against polarising
psychology into ‘good’ and ‘bad,’ but urge us to appreciate the complexities of the good
life. This more nuanced approach to wellbeing has been labelled ‘positive psychology 2.0’
(Wong 2011).
Given these conceptual debates around the term ‘positive,’ it can be difficult to state with
certainty what constitutes a PPI. Moreover, it may not be possible to categorise a particular
intervention as being exclusively a PPI. For example, since Kabat-Zinn (1982) operational-
ized the concept of mindfulness, it has been applied in diverse settings: in being used to treat
physical illness, like chronic pain, it could be regarded as a medical intervention (Kabat-Zinn
1982); in being adapted for the treatment of mental illness, like depression, it might be
deemed a clinical psychology intervention (Teasdale et al. 2000). However, mindfulness has
also been extensively used in non-clinical settings, not for alleviating distress per se, but for
promoting general wellbeing (Smith et al. 1995). This last example might offer us one
potential way of identifying PPIs: PPIs may be defined not so much by the practices them-
selves as by the population they are applied to; we could thus broadly define PPIs as
empirically-validated interventions designed to promote wellbeing in a non-clinical popu-
lation. For example, one-to-one PPIs might be viewed as ‘therapy for people who don’t want
therapy.’ It is important to state that this would not stop PPIs still being used to address mental
health issues, as with positive psychotherapy (Seligman et al. 2006). The salient point here is
how one conceptualises such issues, and classifies those people deemed to be suffering from
them. The question of when dysphoria become recognised and treated as clinical disorders is
much debated (Flett et al. 1997). Nevertheless, one can identify situations in which a person is
judged to be experiencing a mental health problem, but this is not regarded as a clinical
disorder, either by clinicians or by the person themselves. For instance, a person may ascribe
their distress to a ‘legitimate’ sense of existential anomie, rather than view it as a psycho-
pathology. In such cases, some people may have previously undertaken psychotherapy;
others may now choose to engage with a psychologist who could provide a relevant PPI.
Furthermore, this general definition of PPIs (interventions to promote wellbeing in a non-
clinical population) would not prevent PP informing treatment in clinical settings; for
example, activities typically regarded as PPIs (e.g., gratitude journals; Emmons and
McCullough 2003) may be used in clinical psychology as adjunctive treatments alongside
more conventional therapies (Wood and Tarrier 2010). Nevertheless, this general definition
does offer a potential heuristic for ascertaining what constitutes a PPI. Having considered
what PPIs are, the LIFE model below can help us identify the areas of application in which
PPIs might be used. However, before articulating this model, we discuss the value of, and
need for, a multidimensional approach to wellbeing.
2 Multidimensional Approaches to Wellbeing
The proposed LIFE model involves a multidimensional conceptualisation of the person,
and therefore offers a multidimensional approach to wellbeing. Such approaches to health
and wellbeing are increasingly common. An early pioneering example is the World Health
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Organization’s (1948) definition of health as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and
social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity.’ This recognises
three main dimensions to the person, and their health/wellbeing: physical, mental, and
social. The same dimensions are also evident in Engel’s (1977) biopsychosocial model of
health. More closely related to PP, Jahoda’s (1958) ‘positive mental health’ construct
featured a biopsychosocial approach to wellbeing. However, our LIFE model is based on a
newer multidimensional conceptualisation of the person, the Integral Framework, devel-
oped by the American philosopher Wilber (1997). We shall first outline Wilber’s frame-
work, and its relevance to PP, before explaining below how we have adapted it through a
process of stratification to create our own LIFE model. Wilber’s framework is described as
an ontological ‘map’ elucidating ‘the basic dimensions of an individual’ (Esbjo
¨rn-Hargens
2010, p. 73). The particular innovation of Wilber’s framework is that it identifies four
dimensions, rather than the three dimensions of the WHO, Engel, and Jahoda models.
These dimensions are produced by juxtaposing two common binaries, creating a logically
appealing framework.
The first binary is the mindbody dichotomy. The relationship between subjective ‘mind’
and objective ‘body’ has perplexed thinkers throughout the ages, and was famously
described by Chalmers (2004) as the ‘hard problem’ of philosophy. Various perspectives
have developed over the centuries: materialistic monism treats the physical body as the
primary (or even only) reality, with subjectivity treated reductively as an illusion or epi-
phenomenon; conversely, transcendental monism (or idealism) views substance as a mental
construct (e.g., a figment of mind); finally, dualistic perspectives acknowledge the reality of
both body and mind, with various theories taking different positions on the nature of their
interaction. Dualism underlies the dominant paradigm in contemporary consciousness
studies, the neural correlates of consciousness (NCC) approach, which proposes that states of
mind are accompanied by analogous neurophysical states (Fell 2004). Currently the para-
digm aims only to chart the neurophysiological correlates of mental states—our under-
standing is not sufficiently advanced to ascertain directional causality, or solve Chalmers’
(2004) ‘hard problem’ (i.e., how brain activity might generate consciousness). Nevertheless,
the NCC approach acknowledges both subjective mind and objective body/brain. This
‘mind–body’ distinction, then, is one of the two binaries that create the Integral Framework.
The second binary is the individual-collective dichotomy. This reflects the idea that there are
two fundamental ‘modes of existence’—‘agency’ and ‘communion’ (Bakan 1966). Agency
refers to the way people exist as discrete, autonomous individuals, whereas communion
reflects the idea that people are also inextricably embedded in socio-cultural networks that
sustain their being, physically and/or mentally. The study of these modes of being has tended
to be somewhat compartmentalised in academia, with psychology focusing on agency for
example, and communion addressed by fields like sociology. However, theorists have begun
to acknowledge the limitations of studying these modes in isolation, and the need to explore
their complex interactions. Thus, the term ‘psychosocial’ has become increasingly prominent
in academia (Martikainen et al. 2002). Consequently, the individual-collective distinction
constitutes the second dichotomy that forms the Integral Framework.
Wilber’s (1997) innovation was to juxtapose these two binaries, creating a two-by-two
matrix of four quadrants, as shown in Fig. 1. Beginning with the top left of the schematic,
the subjective-individual quadrant is the domain of the mind, an umbrella term encom-
passing general subjective experience, including conscious thoughts, feelings and sensa-
tions (as well as unconscious subjective dynamics). The objective-individual quadrant is
the domain of the body/brain, i.e., physiological functioning and behaviour. The sub-
jective-collective quadrant is the domain of relationships, and the common hermeneutic
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world space these generate, including shared meanings and values; we can refer to this
‘intersubjective’ domain as ‘culture’ (as in ‘the culture’ of a group of people). Finally, the
objective-collective quadrant is the domain of structural social networks, like the material
manifestations of communities (such as transport or housing infrastructure), or more
intangible processes such as economic systems; we can refer to this ‘interobjective’
domain as ‘society.’ Wilber’s framework represents a powerful tool for conceptualising
wellbeing in an integrated way. For example, Hanlon et al. (2010, p. 307) have deployed it
in public health to understand the ‘maze of interconnected problems’ which affect well-
being. Their article presents a hypothetical case-study, which is comparable to the fol-
lowing example. A person is depressed due to unemployment. Considered from the
individual-subjective perspective, their suffering can be appraised in terms of distress,
understood using cognitive theories of mental illness, and addressed through therapy. From
the individual-objective perspective, their suffering can be conceptualised in terms of brain
dysfunction, understood with neurochemical theories, and treated through medication.
From the subjective-collective perspective, their suffering can be apprehended in terms of
cultural meanings around unemployment, understood through social constructionist theo-
ries, and tackled by challenging societal norms. Finally, from the objective-collective
perspective, their suffering can be considered in terms of socio-economic factors that both
contribute to and result from unemployment, understood through economic and political
theories, and addressed through efforts towards a fairer society. Hanlon et al. argue that all
these ‘key dimensions of human experience need to be considered, harmonized and acted
on as a whole’ to fully address the wellbeing of the person (p. 311).
Before setting out our own adaptation of Wilber’s framework in the form of the LIFE
model, we can see how his framework constitutes a powerful device for organising con-
structs within PP. Its power resides partly in the fact that it is ‘content free:’ rather than
advocating theories in a given area, extant theories and research from that area can be
situated within the quadrants (this is why Wilber’s framework, and our LIFE model
adaptation, are meta-theoretical models). First, within the subjective domain, we can sit-
uate the abundance of constructs directly pertaining to mental health and illness. Here,
wellbeing can be conceptualised positively as the presence of desired outcomes, like
hedonic pleasure, or negatively as the absence of mental disorder and distress. Desirable
outcomes include the triumvirate of elements comprising the well-lived life according to
Seligman (2002): the pleasurable life (constructs like SWB); the engaged life (notions like
SUBJECTIVE OBJECTIVE
INDIVIDUAL
COLLECTIVE
SUBJECTIVE
Individual conscious
experience
MIND
OBJECTIVE
Correlated physical
substrates
BODY
CULTURE
Relationships and
shared meanings
INTERSUBJECTIVE
SOCIETY
Material systems
And structures
INTEROBJECTIVE
Fig. 1 Schematic diagram of the four quadrants, adapted from Wilber (1997)
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flow; Csikszentmihalyi 1990); and the meaningful life [as reflected in Ryff’s (1989) model
of PWB]. (Situating these constructs here does not mean they are unconnected to the other
domains. Ryff’s model encompasses relationships, for instance, which pertains to the
intersubjective domain. Indeed, the point of an integrated framework such as Wilber’s is
that the domains are interlinked.) This domain also includes the array of desirable psy-
chological qualities explored by PP, such as resilience (Masten 2001). Additionally, as
argued above, the remit of PP not only covers these ostensibly ‘positive’ constructs, but
extends to ‘negative’ phenomena like sadness (Wong 2011), which can also be located
here. As the most ‘psychological’ domain, this is the root quadrant; the others are only
relevant to PP to the extent that they impinge on this domain (e.g., affect SWB). Never-
theless, examining the other domains enables us to appreciate the multitude of factors
which can influence wellbeing.
The objective domain concerns the physiological functioning and behaviour of the
body and the brain. First, this quadrant encompasses everything relating to physical
health, and so overlaps with Seligman’s (2008) concept of ‘positive health.’ Larson (1999)
has identified numerous models of health, including: the WHO model (noted above); the
medical model, which defines health as the ‘absence of disease and disability’ (p. 124);
the wellness model, concerned with ‘progress towards higher levels of functioning’ (p.
129); and the environmental model, pertaining to successful adaptation to one’s milieu.
These models can all be situated here, as can the diverse health behaviours which impact
upon physical wellbeing, like exercise (Hefferon and Mutrie 2012). It is worth empha-
sising that some models and concepts may not ‘fit’ precisely within one quadrant, but
intersect or overlap more than one quadrant. For instance, the ‘wellness model’ of health
pertains to connections between physiological functioning and subjective states. Indeed, as
noted above, a central point about Wilber’s framework is that the quadrants are not
hermetically sealed, but interact and reciprocally influence each other. As such, a key
element of research located in this quadrant is the exploration of connections between
bodily and subjective states. For example, embracing the NCC paradigm (Fell 2004), a
‘positive neuroscience’ research program has begun exploring the ‘neural correlates of
wellbeing’ (Urry et al. 2004), such as trait asymmetric activation of the pre-frontal cortex
(Davidson 2000).
The intersubjective domain covers relationships, and the shared ‘culture’ (e.g., val-
ues) that these generate. A key construct pertaining to this domain is social capital,
defined by Bourdieu (1986, p. 248) as the ‘sum total of the resources, actual or virtual,
that accrue to an individual (or a group) by virtue of being enmeshed in a durable
network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance and
recognition.’ Social capital is a complex and elastic construct, encompassing all types of
relationship of relevance to PP. These range from bonds within the home, addressed by
specialities like positive relationship science (Fincham and Beach 2010), to relations at
school or at work, explored by positive education (Seligman et al. 2009) and positive
organizational scholarship (Cameron et al. 2003). This domain captures the manifold
ways in which relationships are central to wellbeing, from engendering positive emo-
tions (e.g., love) to being sources of social support (Umberson and Montez 2010). It
also encompasses the emergent forms of ‘culture’ generated by relationships. This
includes the way cultural systems can generate values and worldviews that are generally
considered conducive to wellbeing, like religion (Koenig 2009), or detrimental, like
materialism (Van Boven 2005). (An intriguing question here is whether Wilber’s (1997)
Integral Framework, and our LIFE model, are themselves culturally specific worldviews,
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as we explore in an endnote.
1
) This domain also includes cultural norms—e.g., in
relation to gender (Lomas 2013)—that influence behaviour and so affect wellbeing.
Lastly, the interobjective domain refers to structural aspects of society: impersonal
processes, institutions and environments which ‘scaffold’ people’s lives. These structures
range from the material conditions of the surrounding environment to macro-economic
forces that influence employment. This domain thus encompasses the work of theorists
across different fields exploring how such structures impact upon wellbeing, from eco-
nomics to international development to politics. In economics, SWB has been used as an
alternative to gross domestic product (GDP) as an index of societal progress, and conse-
quently scholars have assessed the impact of factors like income on SWB (Layard 2005).
From an international development perspective, relevant structural factors include indices
used by the UN (2013) to calculate their ‘human development index,’ i.e., living standards,
health outcomes, and education provision. Political factors influencing wellbeing include
the quality of governance, as assessed by the World Bank for instance (Kaufmann et al.
1999). Further potential factors extend to the quality of the environment (e.g., air pollu-
tion), from a local community level (Burke et al. 2009) to a wider national and even global
level (New Economics Foundation 2013).
3 The LIFE Model
Having introduced Wilber’s (1997) Integral Framework, we can now examine the way we
have adapted this to produce our own LIFE model, represented graphically in Fig. 2.
Essentially, this model introduces further nuance to our understanding of wellbeing by
viewing each domain as being layered or stratified, delineating different strands within
them. There are many possible ways of ‘carving up’ the domains, and the approach
adopted in the LIFE model is by no means the only viable option; indeed, Wilber himself
identifies different strata within his own model (focusing primarily on the emergence of
particular qualities in human evolution). This is the reason our own adaptation is called the
‘Layered Integrated Framework Example’—our model is just one example of how such
layering might be done, and of a multidimensional model generally. Our approach is to
1
The issue of whether Wilber’s (1997) Integral Framework is itself a culturally specific worldview is
somewhat complex. Wilber’s epistemological position might arguably be described as critical realist. While
critical realism recognises that truth and objectivity are problematic, it disavows radical relativism, and
holds that it is ‘‘unwise and premature to abandon wholesale, claims to objectivity and the search for ‘truth’’
(Layder 1998, p. 3). Wilber (1995) acknowledges that all viewpoints (including theories such as his own) are
inextricably perspectival and culturally situated; there is no Archimedean ‘view from nowhere’ (Nagel
1989). However, at the same time, Wilber holds that some viewpoints are more accurate than others, and
even if we cannot achieve absolute objectivity, we can make progress towards it; here he cites Thomas Kuhn
(1970, p. 206), who, despite formulating the powerful concept of shifting scientific paradigms, remained a
‘convinced believer in scientific progress’. As such, Wilber (1995) contends that his framework does
accurately capture the four basic ontological dimensions of the person. At the same time, he allows that this
framework could yet be superseded by still more accurate conceptualisations; for example, while in a
relative sense the distinction between objective body and subjective mind may be valid, people in future
may eventually deem this distinction to be ultimately illusory, as some spiritual teachings suggest [e.g., Sri
Aurobindo 1970]. The authors take a similar critical realist position with respect to the domains of the LIFE
model, which are regarded as provisionally accurate and valid. The issue is slightly different with regard to
the layering of the LIFE model. As set out in the section on layering, the identification here of five specific
layers is somewhat arbitrary; one could easily stratify the domains in any number of ways, choosing a
greater or lesser number of layers, or deciding to focus on different specific layers, depending on one’s
agenda and priorities.
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view each domain as comprising various ‘levels,’ where each level encompasses or
supersedes the level ‘below’ it. This stratification approach will become clear as we
consider the domains in turn, and outline how we have delineated various levels within. In
keeping with the focus of this paper on applied PP, we shall identify relevant interventions
for each level in turn. In many instances, we draw on existing PPIs; in that sense, the
model simply clarifies the field as it stands. At times though, the model helps us identify
potential PPIs that could be developed in future, thus pointing the way ahead for APP.
Starting with the subjective domain, four different phenomenological ‘strata’ are readily
identifiable: embodied sensations, emotions, cognitions, and conscious awareness. More
contentiously, one could regard these strata as proceeding from ‘lower’ to ‘higher’ in some
respects, with each level superseding the one before. This claim rests on two premises.
First, phylogenetically, these strata arguably emerged in this sequence: embodied sensa-
tions would have preceded discursive cognitions in our evolutionary progression (MacLean
1990). Second, and similarly, this sequence arguably also applies to ontogeny: infants are
thought to develop sensory capacities before they acquire emotions, and complex thoughts
later still (Piaget 1971). To these layers we have added a more contentious fifth stratum,
labelled tentatively as ‘awareness?.’ This level reflects the work of theorists who propose
that conscious awareness can be superseded by further advanced developmental capacities
(Josipovic 2010). Such capacities include ‘non-dual awareness,’ the experiential dissipa-
tion of the dualistic ‘subject-object construct,’ which is regarded as an advanced stage of
consciousness associated with spiritual experience and development (Wilber 1997).
From an APP perspective, we can examine PPIs that ‘work on’ the various subjective
levels. This means psychological techniques for enhancing wellbeing (i.e., the kind one
could do sitting alone at home), in contrast to PPIs involving actions/behaviour (which we
can situate in the objective quadrant), relationships (the intersubjective quadrant), or
structural features of the environment (the interobjective quadrant). Proceeding through the
strata, we can identify PPIs pertaining to each of the levels, thus providing a compre-
hensive arsenal of strategies aimed at the subjective domain. However, we must emphasise
that these levels are not rigidly separated, and most PPIs touch upon more than one level.
For example, PPIs targeted at emotions include interventions to enhance emotional
intelligence (EI; Mayer and Salovey 1997); while evidently pertaining to emotions, EI also
involves emotional awareness (i.e., consciousness) and ratiocination (i.e., cognitions).
Thus, describing PPIs as targeting a particular level is simply a heuristic device, and we
must strive to remain cognizant of the complex interrelationships between the levels.
Nevertheless, in terms of appreciating the range of PPIs available, differentiating these
according to the levels is a useful strategy.
Taking first embodiment, PP has begun to explore the relationship between embodied
subjectivity and wellbeing, for example in relation to post-traumatic growth (PTG)
(Hefferon et al. 2010). Such work has helped address Seligman’s (2008) call, in his paper
on positive health, for PP to become more than a ‘neck-up’ focused discipline. From an
APP perspective, practices like ‘body-mind’ therapy work with embodiment in promoting
wellbeing (Barratt 2009). Moving ‘up’ levels, the importance of positive emotions to PP
can hardly be overstated, these being almost the defining feature of the field. However, in
terms of identifying emotion-focused PPIs, this does not simply mean PPIs that promote
positive emotions as an outcome, as arguably most PPIs are ultimately geared towards
making people feel better in some way (e.g., engendering SWB). Rather, emotion-focused
PPIs are those that develop people’s ability to work with their emotions, i.e., emotional
management skills. There are PPIs designed to cultivate particular attitudinal qualities,
such as loving-kindness meditation to promote compassion (Fredrickson et al. 2008), or
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Japanese Naikan therapy to engender gratitude (Chan 2010). More comprehensive emo-
tion-focused interventions also exist. For instance, Mayer and Salovey’s (1997) hierar-
chical model of EI comprises four branches: emotional awareness, generation,
understanding, and management. Accordingly, PPIs have been developed which target all
four branches (e.g., Crombie et al. 2011). Moving up to the cognitive level, appreciation of
the relevance of discursive thoughts to wellbeing has generated cognitively-focused PPIs.
Some involve recalling and describing positive events in discursive prose, including
activities based around journaling (e.g., the gratitude journal; Emmons and McCullough
2003) and writing about positive memories (Burton and King 2004). Other interventions
include narrative restructuring exercises, where people reflect on ostensibly negative
experiences and develop meaningful narratives around these. For example, Garland et al.
(2007) created a 6-week intervention for cancer sufferers: through journaling and creative
arts (e.g., writing, drawing), participants engaged in narrative self-exploration, which
fostered PTG. Located here too are innovative therapies using PP in the context of the
treatment of mental health issues, such as wellbeing therapy (Fava and Ruini 2013).
Stepping up to the level of conscious awareness, the exemplar PPI in this regard is
mindfulness. Following Kabat-Zinn’s (1982) pioneering mindfulness-based stress reduc-
tion (MBSR) programme, interest in mindfulness has exploded, with over 500 studies in
2012 alone (Shonin et al. 2013). The MBSR protocol has led to a proliferation of adap-
tations, ranging from mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, designed to prevent depressive
Fig. 2 The layered integrated framework example (LIFE) model
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relapse (Teasdale et al. 2000), to novel treatments such as smoking cessation (‘surfing the
urge’; Bowen and Marlatt 2009). Finally, we might note that meditation is also associated
with the kind of advanced developmental skills and states of consciousness that we are
tentatively referring to here as ‘awareness?’ (Wilber 1997). Awareness?also serves as a
helpful overarching term for practices that might otherwise be referred to as ‘spiritual.’
Spirituality is a contested concept. Some conceptualisations explicitly bind it to numinous
experiences; the Encyclopaedia of Religion and Society defines it as the ‘quality of an
individual whose inner life is oriented toward God, the supernatural, or the sacred’ (Ya-
mane 1998, p. 492). Less contentiously perhaps (from a metaphysical perspec-
tive),‘intrinsic origin’ definitions depict spirituality simply as an ‘inner search for meaning
and fulfilment’ (Graber 2001, p. 40). Inclusion of spirituality in the LIFE model is in
keeping with Wilber’s (1997) Integral Theory; Wilber himself was influenced by spiritual
philosophers, particularly the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo [1970 (1939–1940)]. Thus,
under the rubric of awareness?we can locate the various practices people worldwide have
created to help them access a sense of spirituality. Most cultures have developed spiritual
practices, usually in the context of specific religious traditions. For instance, in Sufi Islam,
‘Sama’ involves ‘reverently listening to music and/or the singing of mystical poetry’
(Lewisohn 1997, p. 3). In future, PP could draw on such practices in creating new PPIs. An
example in this respect is Mardiyono et al. (2011), who discuss using Islamic ‘relaxation
techniques,’ incorporating prayer and recitation of the Qur’an, in the context of nursing
practice.
Turning to the body/brain domain, hierarchical stratification of levels here is perhaps
easier to envisage: biochemical molecules and atoms (e.g., sodium ions) form neurons;
neurons combine in neural networks; such networks are part of the larger nervous system;
and the nervous system is one aspect of the whole body. (Reinforcing the point about our
stratification being just one ‘example,’ one could easily identify other viable hierarchies,
perhaps featuring more gradations or highlighting other elements.) In terms of APP, we can
examine the influence of each level on wellbeing, and moreover, design interventions to act
on that level. For example, at the biochemical level, mental illness can be conceptualised in
terms of the activity of neurotransmitters like serotonin; interventions here aim to alter
biochemical ‘imbalances,’ as with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) treatments
(Ferguson 2001). Such interventions are presently limited to medical disciplines like
psychiatry, used in the treatment of psychopathology. However, research has pointed to the
potential positive impact on wellbeing of psychoactive drugs such as MDMA (Adamson
and Metzner 1988). It is conceivable that clinicians will in future harness such substances
to pro-actively promote wellbeing; for example, Sessa (2007, p. 220) argues that psychi-
atrists could explore ‘MDMA-assisted psychotherapy’ as an adjunct to more conventional
treatments.
Moving up levels, we can explore the impact of neural networks on wellbeing. These
networks refer to the way mental activities are produced by the interaction of distributed
brain areas, assessed by paradigms such as electroencephalography (EEG). As per the NCC
approach, EEG analysis connects wellbeing to patterns of neural activity, such as greater
left-sided hemispheric activation (Davidson 2000). Moreover, from an APP perspective,
such patterns can be promoted by interventions like neurofeedback; for instance, Gruzelier
et al. (2013) used neurofeedback with children to enhance music creativity and general
wellbeing. Neurofeedback activities can be situated within a larger framework of bio-
feedback, which targets the nervous system more generally. For example, Kleen and
Reitsma (2011) developed a promising intervention that combined heart rate variability
(HRV) biofeedback training (reduced HRV is associated with outcomes like anxiety) with
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mindfulness. In terms of the body as a whole, scholars have begun to explore the complex
intersections between physical health/illness and SWB and PWB (Hefferon 2013). From an
APP perspective, PPIs focusing on the body include exercise (Hefferon and Mutrie 2012)
and dance therapy (Puig et al. 2006).
Finally, we turn to the collective domains of the LIFE model—the intersubjective and
interobjective realms. Incorporating these domains into PP can help address one of the
most prominent criticisms levelled against the field, namely that it pays insufficient
attention to the social dimensions of wellbeing. Critical theorists such as Becker and
Marecek (2008) argue that conceptualisations of wellbeing in PP reflect a culturally-
specific version of the good life, building upon a North American tradition of expressive
individualism, where happiness is framed as a private concern, achieved through self-
determined choices. Although social institutions are one of Peterson’s (2006) ‘three pillars’
of personal fulfilment, there has been little analysis within PP of structural factors that
might affect a person’s ability to flourish, like educational and economic opportunities
(Prilleltensky and Prilleltensky 2005). As such, learning from such critics, PP can develop
a more comprehensive approach to wellbeing by taking the collective domains into
account. In the LIFE model, we have stratified these domains using Bronfenbrenner’s
(1977) influential experimental ecology, which identifies various socio-cultural ‘levels’
ranging in scale from micro to macro. This model can be used for both collective domains,
as it straddles the two quadrants: one can analyse all levels from either an intersubjective
(e.g., shared values) or an interobjective perspective (e.g., structural aspects of that level).
However, we have omitted the first level of Bronfenbrenner’s model—the individual
person themselves (e.g., their cognitive processes)—from these collective domains, since
in our LIFE model, Bronfenbrenner’s first level has been massively expanded, constituting
in effect the entire subjective and objective domains. Thus, in terms of the intersubjective
and interobjective domains, we begin the stratification at the second tier of Bronfen-
brenner’s model, the ‘microsystem.’ We shall consider these levels in turn, highlighting
examples of PPIs that pertain to each level.
The micro-system is the immediate social setting of the person, e.g., their family or
workplace. To reinforce the point about Bronfenbrenner’s model straddling both collective
domains, we can approach these settings from an intersubjective (e.g., a family’s shared
values) and/or an interobjective perspective (e.g., their material circumstances). When PP
has taken social dimensions into account, it has usually been limited to this level. In PP, the
importance of the micro-system is recognised in studies highlighting the powerful asso-
ciation between relationships and wellbeing; indeed, according to Helliwell and Putnam’s
(2004) analysis of the World Values Survey, close relationships such as marriage are the
most important contextual determinant of wellbeing. More broadly, a wealth of studies
attest to the importance to wellbeing of friendship and good relationships with others
generally (Umberson and Montez 2010). From an APP perspective, one approach to the
micro-system involves enhancing the quality of relationships. We have already touched
upon some relevant PPIs above; for example, practices to promote pro-social emotions,
like loving-kindness meditation, can enhance relational connectedness (Fredrickson et al.
2008). (The fact that many PPIs have positive outcomes across multiple domains serves to
reinforce the point that the four domains—of both the LIFE model and Wilber’s Integral
Framework—intersect and reciprocally influence each other. Moreover, multiple-domain
outcomes are also indicative of the potency of a PPI, i.e., its ability to positively impact
upon manifold aspects of a person’s life.) There are also more comprehensive PPIs aimed
at enhancing relationships. Kauffman and Silberman (2009) highlight the use of PP in
couple’s therapy. For instance, they suggest that ‘growth-fostering relationships’ can be
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engendered by teaching people effective communication strategies, like responding posi-
tively to good news, so-called ‘active-constructive responding’ (Gable et al. 2004). Such
PPIs aimed at enhancing relationships are transferable to other micro-systems: active-
constructive communication is promoted in positive organizational scholarship as an
effective leadership strategy, for example (Avolio et al. 1999). Alternatively, from an
interobjective perspective, APP might involve improving the material environment of the
micro-setting, e.g., enhancing its aesthetics. Gesler’s (1992) work on therapeutic land-
scapes has emphasised the twin beneficial effects of pleasing environments: rewarding to
appreciate and create. For example, natural light and greenery are conducive to emotional
wellbeing, which is why gardens are often incorporated into healthcare settings (Marcus
and Barnes 1999). Moreover, creating such environments in itself constitutes a PPI: gar-
dening is a therapeutic activity, a potent combination of ‘achievement, satisfaction, and
aesthetic pleasure’ (Milligan et al. 2004, p. 1781), and also social bonding if done
collectively.
Next, the broader network of the meso-system refers to the interaction between micro-
systems. This level recognises that people ‘exist in inter-locking contexts’ which together
affect functioning (Sheridan et al. 2004, p. 7). Indeed, Prilleltensky et al. (2001, p. 151)
argue that ‘clinical and community interventions are inseparable.’ Unfortunately though,
Prilleltensky et al. suggest the meso-system perspective is often overlooked in psychology:
‘we typically psychologize children’s problems and ignore the social and political context
in which their problems occur’ (p. 157). However, researchers are beginning to appreciate
the importance of taking a meso-system approach to wellbeing and general psychological
development. Meso-level PPIs involve working with clients across diverse settings. For
example, Sheridan et al. argue that, for children, their two primary micro-systems are home
and school, which have a ‘bidirectional, reciprocal influence over each other’ (p. 11). As
such, Sheridan et al. have formulated a child-focused meso-system intervention—‘family-
centred positive psychology’ (FCPP)—which establishes partnerships between families
and schools through a process of ‘conjoint behavioural consultation.’ Parents and teachers,
together with an FCPP ‘consultant,’ engage in a structured problem-solving process,
spanning home and school, to address the ‘academic, social, or behavioural needs’ of a
child who is troubled in some way (p. 10). Another successful meso-system intervention is
the ‘Families and Schools Together’ (FAST) programme (McDonald et al. 1997), a
multifamily school-centred intervention, designed to build protective factors for children
(e.g., enhancing bonds with parents), which has been endorsed by Save the Children in the
UK and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Scaling up still further, the ‘exo-system’ refers to structures that ‘encompass the
immediate settings,’ such as the wider community in which micro-systems are situated
(Bronfenbrenner 1977, p. 515). Community factors have a significant impact upon well-
being. Burke et al. (2009) identified 120 factors, aggregated into six main categories, which
were a blend of interobjective and intersubjective elements: necessary human and social
services; neighbourhood support (i.e., social capital); green areas and natural environment;
social make-up of people (e.g., age-diversity); neighbourhood affordability; and an absence
of negative community factors (e.g., noise). From an APP perspective, any action to
enhance any of these factors could be deemed a PPI, since this would have the effect of
improving the neighbourhood, thereby enhancing the wellbeing of people within it. This
could be done in a top down way, i.e., local authorities designing neighbourhoods
according to wellbeing principles. For example, open communal spaces where people
can safely interact serve to enhance the collective wellbeing of a community, particularly
if these incorporate greenery, as per the concept of therapeutic landscapes (Chiesura 2004).
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Improvements can also be enacted in a ‘bottom-up’ way by communities themselves. For
instance, Mongkolnchaiarunya (2005) outlines a community-based waste management
initiative in Thailand. This not only addressed the interobjective factor of waste disposal, it
engendered intersubjective benefits like ‘community empowerment through self-reliance’
(p. 27). Less functionally, but still powerfully, community arts initiatives—such as dec-
orating public spaces—not only improve the aesthetics of the neighbourhood, but promote
social capital and individual wellbeing (Dunphy 2009). More comprehensive interventions
have also been attempted. For example, in the UK, the Well London project was devised to
improve health behaviours among marginalised communities in deprived areas of the city
(Wall et al. 2009). This was a non-prescriptive collaborative project, working with local
communities to identify and meet their needs; as such, the particular projects used with
each community varied. Among the successful projects were ‘Healthy Spaces’ (improving
public spaces to encourage physical activity) and ‘Be Creative Be Well’ (communal
creative arts to promote social capital).
The most expansive of Bronfenbrenner’s (1977, p. 515) levels is the macro-system—
‘overarching institutional patterns such as the economic, social, educational, legal, and
political systems’ of which the other levels are ‘concrete manifestations.’ Exemplar macro-
level analyses include the World Bank’s assessment of the ‘quality of governance’ world-
wide, examining over 200 countries across six dimensions (Kaufmann et al. 1999): voice and
accountability; stability; effectiveness; regulatory framework; rule of law; and control of
corruption. These dimensions can impact upon wellbeing; e.g., there is a negative correlation
between civil rights violations and country-level SWB (Diener et al. 1995). As summarised
by Duncan (2010, p. 165), the happiest communities are not necessarily the wealthiest, but
those who enjoy ‘effective social and political institutions.’ In terms of APP, interventions at a
macro level involve shaping public policy according to wellbeing considerations (Evans
2011). Indeed, recent UN-commissioned analyses of global happiness levels have led to just
these kinds of wellbeing-focused structural recommendations (Helliwell et al. 2013). The
pioneering example of wellbeing as a policy driver is Bhutan, which in 1972 replaced GDP as
their gauge of societal progress with gross national happiness (GNH) (Braun 2009). Cru-
cially, from an APP perspective, GNH is not simply measured, but is reportedly used by the
government to inform policy decisions, with all proposed policies systematically evaluated
according to GNH considerations.
Although Bhutan is ahead of other nations in this regard, the idea of policy being
informed by wellbeing considerations has been gathering strength for some years in other
countries. For example, in the UK, Huppert and Baylis (2004) argued that policies could be
enacted to help counter stereotypes and attitudes that were detrimental to people’s well-
being, such as making occupational age-related discrimination illegal. Such arguments
were heeded, as the Age Discrimination Act was enacted into law in the UK in 2006.
Moreover, recent years have seen more systematic top-down efforts to consider the policy
implications of wellbeing. In the UK, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) began in
2011 to include SWB items within its annual Integrated Household Survey, disseminated
to 200,000 people, thus generating a National Well-being index (ONS 2011). Moreover,
the Prime Minister David Cameron announced in 2010 that this index would help guide
governmental decisions, and consequently established an internal policy unit—the
Behavioural Insights Team, often referred to as the ‘nudge unit’—geared towards this end
(Bache and Reardon 2013). This unit has helped develop policies based on Thaler and
Sunstein’s (2003) concept of ‘libertarian paternalism.’ These policies are designed to
encourage people to make healthy choices, crucially though, without coercion, but by
arranging the ‘choice architecture’ in ways that makes the ‘right’ (i.e., healthy) choice
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more likely (e.g., by making it the default option). Other macro-system PP initiatives
pertain to economic factors. For example, Haque (2011) has called for a ‘positive eco-
nomic paradigm’ that is not only concerned with profit maximisation, but with fulfilling
‘human potential.’
Finally, we have taken the liberty of ‘adding’ another level to Bronfenbrenner’s original
model, namely the global ecosystem. The biosphere encompasses all the other systems,
being the physical matrix that supports their very existence. This level matters to PP
because, in an existential sense, human wellbeing is ultimately dependent upon planetary
wellbeing (Smith et al. 2013): concerns about flourishing are fundamentally subservient to
the survival of humankind, since one must be alive in order to flourish. This recognition is
reflected in attempts to take ecological variables into account, like societal sustainability,
when calculating macro-levels of wellbeing (New Economics Foundation 2013). More-
over, this level falls within the purview of APP since environmental wellbeing depends to
an extent on human behaviour. As such, we can devise PPIs that might impact positively
on the environment, intervening at any of the levels of Bronfenbrenner’s model to
encourage more sustainable behaviours. At a micro-system level, sustainable energy
consumption can be promoted through smart meters that provide households with feedback
about their energy expenditure (Fischer 2008). From a meso-system perspective, energy
consumption used commuting between micro-systems might be reduced, perhaps through
interventions to encourage ‘active commuting,’ like walking/cycling (Yang et al. 2010).
Exo-system PPIs could include efforts to promote recycling: in intersubjective terms, this
may involve attempting to make it a cultural norm or a valued pro-social behaviour
(Hopper and Nielsen 1991); in interobjective terms, this means enhancing the provision of
recycling services (Read 1999). At a macro-system level, PP could play a role in advo-
cating for regulatory solutions, such as national and international commitments to envi-
ronmental sustainability (Spash 2010), by advancing a wellbeing policy agenda.
4 Conclusion
The LIFE model presented here offers a comprehensive multidimensional approach to
wellbeing. It identifies different dimensions of relevance to PP, including subjective mind,
objective body/brain, intersubjective culture and interobjective society. Moreover, it
stratifies these domains into various levels, introducing further nuance and complexity into
the model. The LIFE model represents the potential terrain for APP, which we define here
as the science and practice of improving wellbeing; we can intervene across all these
dimensions, targeting all of their levels, to actively promote wellbeing. As emphasised
throughout, our LIFE model is but one possible multidimensional model, and one way of
stratifying these dimensions. As such, the model is not intended as a final word on the kind
of multidimensional framework that can drive PP forward. Rather, this paper is just the
beginning of a broader conversation in PP about the value of, and need for, a multidi-
mensional approach to wellbeing.
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... But the framework has not been used by many in positive psychology. Lomas et al (2015), however, used it extensively to further develop understanding of wellbeing by adapting the quadrants with overlying strata to further articulate the dimensions towards a more comprehensive approach to wellbeing for the individual. The domains were specifically linked to wellbeing and divided into levels that could be increased or lessened in number. ...
... Lomas et al's (2014) interpretation of the subjective domain views them as increasing from lower to higher strata, that is from evolutionary progression to conscious awareness. Lomas et al (2015) combined the bottom two quadrants of 'we' (culture) and 'its' (society) and arranged them from a lower level micro-system to a higher level macro-system. Their microsystem strata -so important in positive psychology studies -highlights the importance of close relationships and improved wellbeing, through to their inter-connectedness with community services that encompass lives, such as education, hospitals and social services. ...
... Finally, their macro-system is aligned with the broader institutional structures that fashion society through their educational, legal and political systems. Lomas et al (2015), added another layer to Bronfenbrenner's (1977) research, with the timely biosphere layer that accompanies our existence and our environmental wellbeing. This provides a rich and mutually beneficial area for future positive psychology research as in Mayer's (2020) work, applying it in the workplace with leadership and organisations. ...
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This is the tenth article in a series that explores the meaning of positive psychology and the importance of applying the latest related research findings, for the wellbeing of the mental health workforce. It will focus on the innovative I-Flourishing and Languishing Opportunities Wheel (I-FLOW) model, which can be applied to mental health nursing from a different perspective to many other frameworks. It positions realistic optimism and flow at its epicentre, suggesting that these are in a constant dynamic state of homeostatic balance. It recognises that wellbeing can be a combination of managing positive and negative feelings, thoughts and behaviours and that this is central to successful navigation of our life experiences. This article will frame the historical context of the model's development as a multi-dimensional concept through a range of positive psychology theorists and their respective frameworks. Finally, it encourages the reader to consider how the application of I-FLOW could be of benefit to them, through increased self-awareness and feedback. The practical tasks provided in the boxes throughout the article will help the reader identify what flourishing and wellbeing means to them and understand how to further develop its transferability through evidence-based, user-friendly exercises.
... 3. Limited theory and results. Nowadays, many researchers agree that well-being is a multidimensional construct similar to health that describes physical, emotional, cognitive, and social aspects of personal, professional, and collective functioning [42][43][44][45][46][47]. However, to the best of my knowledge, there are no multidimensional models or theories of well-being that describe and explain what makes software developers flourish in their personal and professional lives. ...
... Based on the above, this study defines wellbeing as a multidimensional construct that describes physical, emotional, cognitive, and social aspects of personal and professional functioning [42][43][44][45][46][47]. ...
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Context: Organizational studies show that well-being contributes to various work outcomes, including creativity, performance, and productivity. However, the multidimensional well-being of software developers is still an underresearched topic due to the limited focus, demography, methodology, theory, and results of software engineering studies. Objective: This paper encourages more advanced quantitative studies on the well-being of professional software developers by reviewing the present literature on the topic and providing a theoretical model based on the systematically reviewed empirical studies. Method: A systematic literature review was adopted to review 31 quantitative survey studies published between 2000 and 2021, while the analytical part of the grounded theory literature review was used to construct the theoretical model. Results: 10,652 professional software developers from at least 830 companies, 588 teams/projects, and 34 countries constitute the total sample. The studies were mostly published in IT-related journals between 2015 and 2019, mainly by American and German authors. Cross-sectional designs, SEM and regression techniques, and original measures were mostly used to study various constructs and indicators of well-being. The quality is good to very good. Conclusion: The well-being of software developers emerged as a meta-construct of hedonic, eudaimonic, and multidimensional well-being predicted by different individual and organizational factors and impacting the health of software developers and their organizations. The review confirmed the need for more advanced quantitative studies of software developers' well-being.
... The relevance of situatedness was strongly illustrated by McNulty and Fincham (2012) amongst others, and the importance of cultural context for understanding the nature of well-being became increasingly recognized by many (e.g., Uchida and Ogihara, 2012). In this phase, more holistic well-being theories were proposed (e.g., Lomas et al., 2015). Other disciplines, apart from PP/psychology, started to explore facets of positive functioning and wellness. ...
... Di Martino et al., 2017), as well as the context of spiritual beliefs (e.g., Villani et al., 2019). Although many authors suggested that individual, social, eco-system, and spiritual levels of wellbeing, as well as the connections among levels, need to be taken into account (e.g., Lomas et al., 2015;Galderisi et al., 2017;Harrell, 2018;Warren and Donaldson, 2018;Mead et al., 2021b), few empirical studies had been conducted in this regard. Multimodal conceptualizations of well-being and complex contextual situatedness will need multi-, inter and transdisciplinary approaches converging in joint fieldwork for data collection in times of major challenges. ...
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The positive psychology (PP) landscape is changing, and its initial identity is being challenged. Moving beyond the “third wave of PP,” two roads for future research and practice in well-being studies are discerned: The first is the state of the art PP trajectory that will (for the near future) continue as a scientific (sub)discipline in/next to psychology (because of its popular brand name). The second trajectory (main focus of this manuscript) links to pointers described as part of the so-called third wave of PP, which will be argued as actually being the beginning of a new domain of inter- or transdisciplinary well-being studies in its own right. It has a broader scope than the state of the art in PP, but is more delineated than in planetary well-being studies. It is in particular suitable to understand the complex nature of bio-psycho-social-ecological well-being, and to promote health and wellness in times of enormous challenges and changes. A unique cohering focus for this post-disciplinary well-being research domain is proposed. In both trajectories, future research will have to increase cognizance of metatheoretical assumptions, develop more encompassing theories to bridge the conceptual fragmentation in the field, and implement methodological reforms, while keeping context and the interwovenness of the various levels of the scientific text in mind. Opportunities are indicated to contribute to the discourse on the identity and development of scientific knowledge in mainstream positive psychology and the evolving post-disciplinary domain of well-being studies.
... Por un lado, la intervención sobre las dimensiones con puntuación más baja implementando intervenciones de aporte científico de la psicología positiva (Seligman et al., 2005). De hecho, recientemente, se ha promovido un creciente desarrollo en la generación de intervenciones que facilitan el bienestar emocional, denominadas intervenciones positivas (Lomas et al., 2015). Estas intervenciones están dirigidas a cultivar la presencia de sentimientos positivos, cogniciones y comportamientos que promueven el bienestar humano (Sin & Lyubomirsky, 2009). ...
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... Moreover, when thinking about such dimensions, each are complex in themselves. In that respect, Lomas et al. (2015) created a conceptual map, known as the LIFE (Layered Integrated Framework Example) model, which can help us appreciate this multidimensional complexity. ...
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Happiness is an increasingly prominent topic across academia, with a burgeoning array of research into its different aspects. Among the most dynamic and interdisciplinary work in this arena are studies exploring the myriad factors that influence it. These span multiple topics and fields of enquiry, from physiology and identity to politics and economics, covering analyses at both individual and national levels. This paper offers a comprehensive overview of such work, identifying seven overarching ‘conditions’ (in themselves multifaceted) that contribute towards the complex creation of happiness: temperament; health; demographics; relationships and communities; culture; economics and equality; and governance. Theoretically, these are conceived as constituting the ‘multidimensional conditionality’ of happiness (i.e. conditions that contribute to its arising, which interact in complex ways). The paper also highlights issues with current scholarship, providing a stimulus for further work on this important topic.
Chapter
For a long time, well-being research had been driven from a Western perspective with a neglect of cultural and contextual variables. In this chapter we argue with reference to well-being research as manifested in positive psychology (PP) as a discipline, that contextual, metatheoretical and metadisciplinary perspectives need to be taken into account. Developments in PP over time are described, illustrating the importance of contexts and assumptions in understanding well-being, and how new assumptions in the third wave of PP resonate with old African wisdoms about interconnectedness as a core value in human lives. The first wave of PP focused on advocating for the positive in human functioning, many facets of well-being were differentiated in theory and empirical studies, while assuming a naturalist worldview and that findings from the West are globally applicable. The second wave showed that PP needs to take context, culture and negative facets of human life into account for understanding the nature and dynamics of well-being. The emerging third wave of PP is characterized by the acceptance of a strong relational ontology and trends towards contextualization, interconnectedness and post-disciplinarity. Harmonizing Western and African perspectives are indicated, and specifically also the understanding of well-being as harmony and harmonization. The third wave suggests a move to “well-being studies”, instead of the disciplinary bound “positive psychology studies”—a butterfly leaving its cocoon.
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In this review of the central tenets of hope theory, we examine the meta-theoretical, theoretical, and methodological foundations of the literature base. Our analysis moves from a broad examination of the research landscape in hope theory across disciplines, to a deeper investigation of the empirical literature in university students. This review highlights the significant impact of this body of research in advancing our understanding of aspects of thriving characterized by hope. However, we also evidence several limitations that may impede the advancement of the next wave of growth in this field. To address these limitations, we argue for an interdisciplinary approach to expanding the meta-theoretical, theoretical, and methodological horizons, enabling a more dynamic systems approach to the study of hope. Drawing on the intersection of positive psychology with systems thinking, we describe a methodological approach that enables a deeper examination of the processes and interactions through which hope emerges, using an analysis of the lived experience of young people. It is proposed that this research agenda will bring to life an alternate story about the resourcefulness of our youth through their own voice, enabling us to leverage this in the design of more effective strategies to facilitate hope in the future. This research agenda provides a roadmap that will provide alternative methodologies that address the current limitations in the field of hope research and, importantly, can provide fuel to spur on the acceleration of the next wave of research and practice in the field of positive psychology more broadly.
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Background: Over 50% of the world uses social media. There has been significant academic and public discourse around its negative mental health impacts. There has not, however, been a broad systematic review in the field of Positive Psychology exploring the relationship between social media and wellbeing, to inform healthy social media use, and to identify if, and how, social media can support human flourishing.Objectives: To investigate the conditions and activities associated with flourishing through social media use, which might be described as ‘Flourishing through Social Media’.Method and Results: A systematic search of peer reviewed studies, identifying flourishing outcomes from usage, was conducted, resulting in 118 final studies across 7 social media platforms, 50,000+ participants, and 26 countries.Conclusions: The interaction between social media usage and flourishing is bi-directional and nuanced. Analysis through our proposed conceptual framework suggests potential for a virtuous spiral between self-determination, identity, social media usage, and flourishing.
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The effect of a grateful outlook on psychological and physical well-being was examined. In Studies 1 and 2, participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 experimental conditions (hassles, gratitude listing, and either neutral life events or social comparison); they then kept weekly (Study 1) or daily (Study 2) records of their moods, coping behaviors, health behaviors, physical symptoms, and overall life appraisals. In a 3rd study, persons with neuromuscular disease were randomly assigned to either the gratitude condition or to a control condition. The gratitude-outlook groups exhibited heightened well-being across several, though not all, of the outcome measures across the 3 studies, relative to the comparison groups. The effect on positive affect appeared to be the most robust finding. Results suggest that a conscious focus on blessings may have emotional and interpersonal benefits.