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The Journal of Positive Psychology , January 2006; 1(1): 316 Positive psychology: Past, present, and (possible) future P. ALEX LINLEY 1 , STEPHEN JOSEPH 2 , SUSAN HARRINGTON 1 , & ALEX M. WOOD 2 1 University of Leicester, UK and 2 University of Warwick, UK Abstract What is positive psychology? Where has it come from? Where is it going? These are the questions we address in this article. In defining positive psychology, we distinguish between the meta-psychological level, where the aim of positive psychology is to redress the imbalance in psychology research and practice, and the pragmatic level, which is concerned with what positive psychologists do, in terms of their research, practice, and areas of interest. These distinctions in how we understand positive psychology are then used to shape conceptions of possible futures for positive psychology. In conclusion, we identify several pertinent issues for the consideration of positive psychology as it moves forward. These include the need to synthesize the positive and negative, build on its historical antecedents, integrate across levels of analysis, build constituency with powerful stakeholders, and be aware of the implications of description versus prescription. Keywords: Positive psychology definition; research; practice; applications; future Introduction What is positive psychology? Where has it come from? Where is it now? Where is it going? These are fundamental questions for this first issue of The Journal of Positive Psychology . It is no small task to try and answer them, but equally no small opportunity. In this article, we are aiming to achieve several objectives. First, we will give a brief history of the positive psychology movement. Second, we will provide a definition of positive psychology. Various definitions have been put forward to date, and we review them here, developing from them an integrative position that defines the movement on several levels, thereby, we hope, providing a more detailed understanding as we move forward. Third, we will assess where positive psychology now stands. In some respects, as we go on to show, it might be argued that positive psychology stands at a cross- roads in its development. As such, we consider some of the issues and decisions that will likely influence its future. Fourth, we go on to offer possible scenarios for the future of positive psychology, at least as we surmise them. While speculative, we hope that these scenarios will allow those who identify themselves with the positive psychology movement to give a careful consideration to how they want the movement to develop, and why . To this end, we conclude with several pertinent points for consideration for positive psychology, and provide what we see as some of the key guiding principles for the further growth and development of the movement.... View Full Document

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