PSYCH 476 October 26, 2011 Notes

PSYCH 476 October 26, 2011 Notes - 1 PSYCH 476 Positive...

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PSYCH 476 Positive Psychology October 26, 2011 Values and Meaning To know the good is to do the good. —Plato This is the true joy of life … being used up for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. —George Bernard Shaw Outline What is meaning? The consequences of meaning The origins of meaning Psychology and religion What are values? How are values measured? The consequences of values Can we change values? Meaning Why meaning matters o Indispensible for positive psych If positive psychology is the scientific study of what makes life most worth living, it necessarily entails the study of meaning Small talk study: people who do a lot of small talk are unhappy. People who do big talk have higher satisfaction with life. Common sense, theory, and empirical research converge on one good answer to the question “What makes life worth living?” e.g., small talk versus big talk Central figures in the psychological study of meaning—like Viktor Frankl, Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow, and Rollo May—are among the individuals upon whose shoulders contemporary positive psychologists stand All agree that meaning is not derivative—it must be studied in its own right. 1
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Meaning and purpose not derivative Meaning entails feeling connected to something external to and larger than the self Does Your Life Have Meaning? “Meaning” is usually assessed by interviews or self-report surveys, under the assumption that a meaningful life is best understood from the vantage of the individual who is living it – we might quarrel with this though Consequences Greater life satisfaction More positive emotions Greater optimism better self-esteem Fewer psychological problems Longevity (e.g., ikigai roughly equivalent to meaning and passion. Studies in Japan that those with ikigai in their life live longer) Meaning trumps pleasure In general, search further shows that a life framed by meaning is more satisfying than a life centered on pleasure Meaning more important than reward This finding is important because so many of psychology’s dominant perspectives—e.g. behaviorism and psychoanalysis—assume that hedonism is the fundamental principle underlying human conduct No one is born with a sense of meaning Meaning must be learned, discovered, or created, and the process can be difficult An apparent paradox Having meaning is associated with good adjustment Searching for meaning is associated with poor adjustment, perhaps because we only search when troubled and perhaps because the search itself hurts Perhaps people need to find domains in which their lives already have meaning—e.g., work, love, play, or service—and to use lessons from these domains as the basis for seeking meaning elsewhere Psychology and Religion For people so inclined, religion is a robust determinant of a sense of 2
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meaning o Not the only determinant
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This note was uploaded on 12/19/2011 for the course PSYCH 476 taught by Professor Christopherpeterson during the Fall '11 term at University of Michigan.

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PSYCH 476 October 26, 2011 Notes - 1 PSYCH 476 Positive...

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