Handbook of Positive Psychology

By C. R. Snyder; Shane J. Lopez | Go to book overview

1
Positive Psychology, Positive Prevention,
and Positive Therapy
Martin E. P. Seligman

Positive Psychology

Psychology after World War II became a science largely devoted to healing. It concentrated on repairing damage using a disease model of human functioning. This almost exclusive attention to pathology neglected the idea of a fulfilled individual and a thriving community, and it neglected the possibility that building strength is the most potent weapon in the arsenal of therapy. The aim of positive psychology is to catalyze a change in psychology from a preoccupation only with repairing the worst things in life to also building the best qualities in life. To redress the previous imbalance, we must bring the building of strength to the forefront in the treatment and prevention of mental illness.

The field of positive psychology at the subjective level is about positive subjective experience: well-being and satisfaction (past); flow, joy, the sensual pleasures, and happiness (present); and constructive cognitions about the future—optimism, hope, and faith. At the individual level it is about positive personal traits—the capacity for love and vocation, courage, interpersonal skill, aesthetic sensibility, perseverance, forgiveness, originality, futuremindedness, high talent, and wisdom. At the group level it is about the civic virtues and the institutions that move individuals toward better citizenship: responsibility, nurturance, altruism, civility, moderation, tolerance, and work ethic (Gillham & Seligman, 1999; Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000).

The notion of a positive psychology movement began at a moment in time a few months after I had been elected president of the American Psychological Association. It took place in my garden while I was weeding with my 5year-old daughter, Nikki. I have to confess that even though I write books about children, I'm really not all that good with them. I am goaloriented and time-urgent, and when I am weeding in the garden, I am actually trying to get the weeding done. Nikki, however, was throwing weeds into the air and dancing around. I yelled at her. She walked away, came back, and said, “Daddy, I want to talk to you.”

“Yes, Nikki?”

“Daddy, do you remember before my fifth birthday? From the time I was three to the time I was five, I was a whiner. I whined every day. When I turned five, I decided not to whine anymore. That was the hardest thing I've ever

-3-

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Handbook of Positive Psychology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Foreword *
  • Preface ix
  • Contents xi
  • Contributors xv
  • I - Introductory and Historical Overview 1
  • 1 - Positive Psychology, Positive Prevention, and Positive Therapy 3
  • References *
  • II - Identifying Strengths 11
  • 2 - Positive Psychology and the Deconstruction of the Illness Ideology and the Dsm 13
  • References *
  • 3 - A Case for Including Human Strengths and Environmental Resources 26
  • Note *
  • References *
  • 4 - Positive Directions in Diagnosis and Interventions 45
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • III - Emotion-Focused Approaches 61
  • 5 - The Science of Happiness and Life Satisfaction 63
  • Appendix *
  • References *
  • 6 - Resilience in Development 74
  • References *
  • 7 - The Concept of Flow 89
  • References *
  • 8 - The Disposition to Experience Pleasurable Emotional States 106
  • References *
  • 9 - Positive Emotions 120
  • References *
  • 10 - The Social Construction of Self-Esteem 135
  • References *
  • 11 - The Adaptive Potential of Coping Through Emotional Approach 148
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • 12 - The Positive Psychology of Emotional Intelligence 159
  • References *
  • 13 - Toward “spiritualizing the Passions” 172
  • Notes 183
  • References *
  • IV - Cognitive-Focused Approaches 187
  • 14 - Creativity 189
  • References *
  • 15 - The Role of Personal Control in Adaptive Functioning 202
  • References *
  • 16 - Mindfulness Versus Positive Evaluation 214
  • References *
  • 17 - Optimism 231
  • Appendix *
  • References *
  • 18 - Optimistic Explanatory Style 244
  • References *
  • 19 - A Member of the Positive Psychology Family 257
  • Appendix a the Trait Hope Scale *
  • Appendix B the State Hope Scale *
  • Appendix C the Children's Hope Scale *
  • Notes *
  • References 271
  • 20 - The Power of Believing You Can 277
  • References *
  • 21 - Problem-Solving Appraisal and Psychological Adjustment 288
  • References *
  • 22 - Setting Goals for Life and Happiness 299
  • Note *
  • References *
  • 23 - A Developmental Perspective 313
  • References *
  • 24 - Its Structure and Function in Regulating Successful Life Span Development 327
  • References *
  • V - Self-Based Approaches 349
  • 25 - Reality Negotiation 351
  • References *
  • 26 - Authenticity and Positivity in Social Relationships 366
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • 27 - Authenticity 382
  • References *
  • 28 - Uniqueness Seeking 395
  • Appendix a the Need for Uniqueness (nu) Scale *
  • Appendix B the Self Attributed Need for Uniqueness (sanu) Scale *
  • Appendix C the Desire for Unique Consumer Products (ducp) Scale *
  • References *
  • 29 - Humility 411
  • References *
  • VI - Interpersonal Approaches 421
  • 30 - The Role of Minding in the Enhancement of Closeness 423
  • References *
  • 31 - Compassion 434
  • References *
  • 32 - The Psychology of Forgiveness 446
  • Appendix Transgression-Related Interpersonal Motivations Scale— 12-Itemform (trim-12) *
  • References *
  • 33 - Gratitude and the Science of Positive Psychology 459
  • References *
  • 34 - Love 472
  • Appendix Love Attitudes Scale— Short Form *
  • References *
  • 35 - Empathy and Altruism 485
  • References *
  • 36 - The Sources of Moral Motivation 499
  • References *
  • VII - Biological Approaches 513
  • 37 - Toughness 515
  • References *
  • 38 - A Role for Neuropsychology in Understanding the Facilitating Influence of Positive Affect on Social Behavior and Cognitive Processes 528
  • References *
  • 39 - Integrative Science in Pursuit of Human Health and Well-Being 541
  • References *
  • 40 - Toward a Biology of Social Support 556
  • References *
  • VIII - Specific Coping Approaches 571
  • 41 - On the Benefits of Writing or Talking About Emotional Experience 573
  • References *
  • 42 - Benefit-Finding and Benefit-Reminding 584
  • Note *
  • References *
  • 43 - Perceiving Benefits and Growth 598
  • References *
  • 44 - The Pursuit of Meaningfulness in Life 608
  • References *
  • 45 - Humor 619
  • References *
  • 46 - Meditation and Positive Psychology 632
  • References *
  • 47 - Discovering and Conserving the Sacred 646
  • References *
  • IX - Special Populations and Settings 661
  • 48 - Development, Prevention, and Promotion 663
  • References *
  • 49 - Outlook for the 21st Century 676
  • Note *
  • References *
  • 50 - Positive Growth Following Acquired Physical Disability 687
  • References *
  • 51 - Putting Positive Psychology in a Multicultural Context 700
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • 52 - Positive Psychology at Work 715
  • References *
  • X - The Future of the Field 729
  • 53 - Positive Ethics 731
  • References *
  • 54 - Constructivism and Positive Psychology 745
  • References *
  • 55 - A Declaration of Independence 751
  • References *
  • Author Index 769
  • Subject Index 793
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