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Surfing the second wave: What are waves anyway?



What does it mean to speak of a ‘second wave’ within positive psychology? Essentially, the notion of a wave implies a new phase of development in a given field. But the metaphor itself is revealing. It implies dynamic fluidity rather than stepwise, punctuated change. Moreover, rather than phases having clearly delineated boundaries, they are blurry and overlapping – just as one ocean wave cannot be cleanly separated from the next. Indeed, new pulses of academic energy are continually being initiated, generating new ripples of ideas; it is a matter of opinion whether these ripples then cumulatively add up to a distinct wave. Pushing the metaphor further, waves do not represent the horizontal movement of water per se, but energy pulses passing through it (moving it vertically). In that respect, scholars are more like surfers or swimmers in the sea, who may find themselves being ‘moved’ by the charge of the passing wave … and potentially embracing its dynamics, perhaps choosing to ride that particular crest. And surely the ripples and waves will keep coming. A field as energised as positive psychology will continue developing and evolving, generating new currents of ideas and practice. All we need to do is keep mounting our surfboards and enjoy the ride.
Making waves
PP inaugurated = ‘1st wave’
Great success … and some critics
Barbara Held (2004)
“Second wave positive psychology
“Negative about negativity”
Paul Wong (2011)
“Positive psychology 2.0”
Ivtzan et al. (2016)
Embraced the metaphor
Mixed reaction
Some enthusiastic
Positive reaction from many students
Others less so
Naming no names!
Fairly conventional discourse
Discussing ‘progress’ within fields
E.g., CBT
1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th waves (Hoffman et al., 2010)
A rich metaphor
Fluid, not stepwise
Blurry, rather than clean, boundaries
Build on energy of earlier waves
Implicit becomes explicit
Energy pulses move, molecules don’t
Scholars as energised molecules, or surfers riding a crest
New ripples constantly
A certain (subjective) accumulation constitutes a wave
The second wave
Hegelian dialectics
Thesis, antithesis, synthesis thesis …
‘Psychology as usual’ = thesis
Focus on ‘the negative’
Positive psychology = antithesis
Focus on ‘the positive’
Second wave positive psychology = synthesis
Foundational critique of positive and negative
Principles of critique
Principle of appraisal
Cannot categorically assign as positive or negative
Differentiate between valence and utility
Principle of co-valence
Many valued emotions/experiences are complex/mixed
Principle of complementarity
“Opposites are reciprocally co-dependent
Principle of evolution
Hegelian dialectics
Third wave ripples? (already in motion)
Inclusion of more voices
Cross-cultural positive psychology
Critical positive psychology (e.g., marginalized communities)
Moving beyond the individual
Positive social psychology, sociology
Systems/network approaches
Epistemological expansion
Qualitative methodologies
Big data
Intersection with other fields/paradigms
Thank you for listening
Any questions?
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