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Unformatted text preview: Positive Psychology Progress Empirical Validation of Interventions Martin E. P. Seligman and Tracy A. Steen University of Pennsylvania Nansook Park University of Rhode Island Christopher Peterson University of Michigan Positive psychology has flourished in the last 5 years. The authors review recent developments in the field, including books, meetings, courses, and conferences. They also dis- cuss the newly created classification of character strengths and virtues, a positive complement to the various editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disor- ders (e. g., American Psychiatric Association, 1994), and present some cross-cultural findings that suggest a surpris- ing ubiquity of strengths and virtues. Finally, the authors focus on psychological interventions that increase individ- ual happiness. In a 6-group, random-assignment, placebo- controlled Internet study, the authors tested 5 purported happiness interventions and 1 plausible control exercise. They found that 3 of the interventions lastingly increased happiness and decreased depressive symptoms. Positive interventions can supplement traditional interventions that relieve suffering and may someday be the practical legacy of positive psychology. Keywords: positive psychology, happiness, character strengths, interventions F ive years have passed since the American Psychol- ogist devoted its millennial issue to the emerging science of positive psychology: the study of positive emotion, positive character, and positive institutions (Se- ligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). Drawing on methods effectively used to advance the science of mental disorders, positive psychologists have been studying mental health and well-being. Building on pioneering work by Rogers (1951), Maslow (1954, 1962), Jahoda (1958), Erikson (1963, 1982), Vaillant (1977), Deci and Ryan (1985), and Ryff and Singer (1996)among many otherspositive psychologists have enhanced our understanding of how, why, and under what conditions positive emotions, positive character, and the institutions that enable them flourish (e.g., Cameron, Dutton, & Quinn, 2003; Easterbrook, 2003; Gardner, Csikszentmihalyi, & Damon, 2001; Kahneman, Diener, & Schwarz, 1999; Murray, 2003; Vaillant, 2000). Positive psychologists do not claim to have invented the good life or to have ushered in its scientific study, but the value of the overarching term positive psychology lies in its uniting of what had been scattered and disparate lines of theory and research about what makes life most worth living (Peterson & Park, 2003). As the basic science con- tinues, other lines of work are moving into the realm of application (Linley & Joseph, 2004). Can psychologists take what they have learned about the science and practice of treating mental illness and use it to create a practice of making people lastingly happier? That is, can they create an evidence-based practice of positive psychology?...
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This note was uploaded on 12/02/2010 for the course PSYCH PSY BEH P2 taught by Professor Susanturkcharles during the Fall '10 term at UC Irvine.
- Fall '10