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Psychology Research Paper Topics: 50+ Great Ideas

Positive psychology

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This article is about psychology. For the positive mental attitude, see Optimism .
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Positive psychology is “the scientific study of what makes life most worth living”, [1] or “the scientific study of positive human functioning and flourishing on multiple levels that include the biological, personal, relational, institutional, cultural, and global dimensions of life”. [2] Positive psychology is concerned with eudaimonia , “the good life”, reflection about what holds the greatest value in life – the factors that contribute the most to a well-lived and fulfilling life.

Positive psychology began as a new domain of psychology in 1998 when Martin Seligman chose it as the theme for his term as president of the American Psychological Association . [3] [4] [5] Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi , Christopher Peterson and Barbara Fredrickson are regarded as co-initiators of this development. [6] It is a reaction against psycho-analysis and behaviorism , which have focused on “mental illness”, meanwhile emphasising maladaptive behavior and negative thinking. It builds further on the humanistic movement, which encouraged an emphasis on happiness, well-being , and positivity, thus creating the foundation for what is now known as positive psychology. [5]

Guiding theories are Seligman’s P.E.R.M.A. , and Csikszentmihalyi’s theory of flow , while Seligman and Peterson’s Character Strengths and Virtues was a major contribution to the methodological study of positive psychology.

Positive psychologists have suggested a number of ways in which individual happiness may be fostered. Social ties with a spouse, family, friends and wider networks through work, clubs or social organisations are of particular importance, while physical exercise and the practice of meditation may also contribute to happiness. Happiness may rise with increasing financial income, though it may plateau or even fall when no further gains are made. [7]


  • 1 Definition and basic assumptions
    • 1.1 Definition
    • 1.2 Basic concepts
    • 1.3 Research topics
    • 1.4 Basic assumptions
  • 2 History
    • 2.1 Origin
    • 2.2 Development
    • 2.3 Influences
  • 3 Theory and methods
    • 3.1 PERMA
      • 3.1.1 Initial theory: three paths to happiness
      • 3.1.2 Development into PERMA-theory
      • 3.1.3 Selection-criteria[49]
    • 3.2 Character Strengths and Virtues
    • 3.3 Flow
  • 4 Applications and research findings
  • 5 Criticism
  • 6 See also
  • 7 Notes
  • 8 References
    • 8.1 Footnotes
    • 8.2 Bibliography
  • 9 Further reading
  • 10 External links

Definition and basic assumptions[ edit ]

Definition[ edit ]

Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi define positive psychology as “… the scientific study of positive human functioning and flourishing on multiple levels that include the biological, personal, relational, institutional, cultural, and global dimensions of life.” [2] Christopher Peterson defines positive psychology as “… the scientific study of what makes life most worth living”. [1]

Basic concepts[ edit ]

Positive psychology is concerned with eudaimonia , “the good life” or flourishing , living according to what holds the greatest value in life – the factors that contribute the most to a well-lived and fulfilling life. While not attempting a strict definition of the good life, positive psychologists agree that one must live a happy , engaged, and meaningful life in order to experience “the good life”. Martin Seligman referred to “the good life” as “using your signature strengths every day to produce authentic happiness and abundant gratification”. [8] According to Christopher Peterson, “eudaimonia trumps hedonism “. [1]

Related concepts are happiness , well-being , quality of life , contentment , [9] and meaningful life .

Research topics[ edit ]

According to Seligman and Peterson, positive psychology is concerned with three issues: positive emotions , positive individual traits, and positive institutions. Positive emotions are concerned with being content with one’s past, being happy in the present and having hope for the future. Positive individual traits focus on one’s strengths and virtues. Finally, positive institutions are based on strengths to better a community of people. [10]

According to Peterson, positive psychologists are concerned with four topics: (1) positive experiences, (2) enduring psychological traits, (3) positive relationships, and (4) positive institutions. [11] According to Peterson, topics of interest to researchers in the field are: states of pleasure or flow , values, strengths, virtues , talents, as well as the ways that these can be promoted by social systems and institutions. [12]

Basic assumptions[ edit ]

Positive psychology complements, without intending to replace or ignore, the traditional areas of psychology . By emphasizing the study of positive human development this field helps to balance other approaches that focus on disorder, and which may produce only limited understanding. [11] Positive psychology has also placed a significant emphasis on fostering positive self-esteem and self-image, though positive psychologists with a less humanist bent are less likely to focus as intently on the matter. [13]

The basic premise of positive psychology is that human beings are often drawn by the future more than they are driven by the past. A change in our orientation to time can dramatically affect how we think about the nature of happiness. Seligman identified other possible goals: families and schools that allow children to grow, workplaces that aim for satisfaction and high productivity, and teaching others about positive psychology. [10]

Those who practice positive psychology attempt psychological interventions that foster positive attitudes toward one’s subjective experiences, individual traits, and life events. [14] The goal is to minimize pathological thoughts that may arise in a hopeless mindset, and to, instead, develop a sense of optimism toward life. [14] Positive psychologists seek to encourage acceptance of one’s past, excitement and optimism about one’s future experiences, and a sense of contentment and well-being in the present. [15]

History[ edit ]

To Martin Seligman , psychology (particularly its positive branch) can investigate and promote realistic ways of fostering more well-being in individuals and communities.

Origin[ edit ]

Positive psychology began as a new area of psychology in 1998 when Martin Seligman chose it as the theme for his term as president of the American Psychological Association . [3] [16] In the first sentence of his book Authentic Happiness, Seligman claimed: “for the last half century psychology has been consumed with a single topic only – mental illness”, [17] expanding on Maslow’s comments. [a] He urged psychologists to continue the earlier missions of psychology of nurturing talent and improving normal life. [19]

The term originates with Abraham Maslow in his 1954 book Motivation and Personality [b] and there have been indications that psychologists since the 1950s have been increasingly focused on the promotion of mental health rather than merely treating mental illness. [20] [21]

Development[ edit ]

The first positive psychology summit took place in 1999. The First International Conference on Positive Psychology took place in 2002. [19] More attention was given by the general public in 2006 when, using the same framework, a course at Harvard University became particularly popular. [22] In June 2009, the First World Congress on Positive Psychology took place at the University of Pennsylvania . [23]

The International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA) is a recently established association that has expanded to thousands of members from 80 different countries. The IPPA’s missions include: (1) “further the science of positive psychology across the globe and to ensure that the field continues to rest on this science” (2) “work for the effective and responsible application of positive psychology in diverse areas such as organizational psychology, counselling and clinical psychology, business, health, education, and coaching”, (3) “foster education and training in the field”. [24]

The field of positive psychology today is most advanced in the United States and Western Europe. Even though positive psychology offers a new approach to the study of positive emotions and behavior, the ideas, theories, research, and motivation to study the positive side of human behavior is as old as humanity. [25]

Influences[ edit ]

Several humanistic psychologists , most notably Abraham Maslow , Carl Rogers , and Erich Fromm , developed theories and practices pertaining to human happiness and flourishing. More recently, positive psychologists have found empirical support for the humanistic theories of flourishing. In addition, positive psychology has moved ahead in a variety of new directions.

In 1984, Diener published his tripartite model of subjective well-being , positing “three distinct but often related components of wellbeing: frequent positive affect, infrequent negative affect, and cognitive evaluations such as life satisfaction “. [26] In this model, cognitive, affective and contextual factors contribute to subjective well-being. [27] According to Diener and Suh, subjective well-being is “…based on the idea that how each person thinks and feels about his or her life is important”. [28]

Carol Ryff’s Six-factor Model of Psychological Well-being was initially published in 1989, and additional testing of its factors was published in 1995. It postulates six factors which are key for well-being, namely self-acceptance , personal growth , purpose in life , environmental mastery, autonomy , and positive relations with others. [29]

According to Corey Keyes , who collaborated with Carol Ryff and uses the term flourishing as a central concept, mental well-being has three components, namely hedonic (c.q. subjective or emotional [30] ), psychological, and social well-being. [31] Hedonic well-being concerns emotional aspects of well-being, whereas psychological and social well-being, c.q eudaimonic well-being, concerns skills, abilities, and optimal functioning. [32] This tripartite model of mental well-being has received extensive empirical support across cultures. [32] [30] [33] [34]

Theory and methods[ edit ]

Main article: Well-being

There is no accepted “gold standard” theory in positive psychology, however the work of Seligman is regularly quoted. [35] So too the work of Csikszentmihalyi and older models of well-being, such as Carol Ryff’s Six-factor Model of Psychological Well-being and Diener’s tripartite model of subjective well-being .

PERMA[ edit ]

Initial theory: three paths to happiness[ edit ]

In Authentic Happiness (2002) Seligman proposed three kinds of a happy life which can be investigated: [36] [35]

  1. Pleasant life: research into the Pleasant Life, or the “life of enjoyment”, examines how people optimally experience, forecast , and savor the positive feelings and emotions that are part of normal and healthy living (e.g., relationships, hobbies, interests, entertainment, etc.). Despite the attention given, Martin Seligman says this most transient element of happiness may be the least important. [37]
  2. Good Life: investigation of the beneficial effects of immersion, absorption, and flow , felt by individuals when optimally engaged with their primary activities, is the study of the Good Life, or the “life of engagement”. Flow is experienced when there is a positive match between a person’s strength and their current task, i.e., when one feels confident of accomplishing a chosen or assigned task. [c]
  3. Meaningful Life: inquiry into the Meaningful Life , or “life of affiliation”, questions how individuals derive a positive sense of well-being, belonging, meaning, and purpose from being part of and contributing back to something larger and more permanent than themselves (e.g., nature, social groups, organizations, movements, traditions, belief systems).

These categories appear neither widely disputed nor adopted by researchers across the years that this academic area has been in existence.

Development into PERMA-theory[ edit ]

Simple exercise, such as running, is cited as key to feeling happy. [38]

In Flourish (2011) Seligman argued that the last category, ” meaningful life “, can be considered as 3 different categories. The resulting acronym is PERMA : Positive Emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and purpose, and Accomplishments. [39] It is a mnemonic for the five elements of Martin Seligman’s well-being theory: [35] [40]

  • Positive emotions include a wide range of feelings, not just happiness and joy. [41] Included are emotions like excitement, satisfaction, pride and awe, amongst others. These emotions are frequently seen as connected to positive outcomes, such as longer life and healthier social relationships. [42]
  • Engagement refers to involvement in activities that draws and builds upon one’s interests. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi explains true engagement as flow , a state of deep effortless involvement, [39] feeling of intensity that leads to a sense of ecstasy and clarity. [43] The task being done needs to call upon higher skill and be a bit difficult and challenging yet still possible. Engagement involves passion for and concentration on the task at hand and is assessed subjectively as to whether the person engaged was completely absorbed, losing self-consciousness. [41]
  • Relationships are essential in fueling positive emotions [44] , whether they are work-related, familial, romantic, or platonic. As Christopher Peterson puts it simply, “Other people matter.” [45] Humans receive, share, and spread positivity to others through relationships. They are important not only in bad times, but good times as well. In fact, relationships can be strengthened by reacting to one another positively. It is typical that most positive things take place in the presence of other people. [46]
  • Meaning is also known as purpose, and prompts the question of “why”. Discovering and figuring out a clear “why” puts everything into context from work to relationships to other parts of life. [47] Finding meaning is learning that there is something greater than one’s self. Despite potential challenges, working with meaning drives people to continue striving for a desirable goal.
  • Accomplishments are the pursuit of success and mastery. [41] Unlike the other parts of PERMA, they are sometimes pursued even when accomplishments do not result in positive emotions, meaning, or relationships. That being noted, accomplishments can activate the other elements of PERMA, such as pride, under positive emotion. [48] Accomplishments can be individual or community-based, fun- or work-based.

Selection-criteria [49] [ edit ]

Each of the five PERMA elements was selected according to three criteria:

  1. It contributes to well-being.
  2. It is pursued for its own sake.
  3. It is defined and measured independently of the other elements.

Character Strengths and Virtues[ edit ]

The development of the Character Strengths and Virtues (CSV) handbook (2004) represented the first attempt by Seligman and Peterson to identify and classify positive psychological traits of human beings. Much like the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) of general psychology, the CSV provided a theoretical framework to assist in understanding strengths and virtues and for developing practical applications for positive psychology. This manual identified 6 classes of virtues (i.e., “core virtues”), underlying 24 measurable character strengths. [50]

The CSV suggested these 6 virtues have a historical basis in the vast majority of cultures; in addition, these virtues and strengths can lead to increased happiness when built upon. Notwithstanding numerous cautions and caveats, this suggestion of universality hints threefold: 1. The study of positive human qualities broadens the scope of psychological research to include mental wellness, 2. the leaders of the positive psychology movement are challenging moral relativism , suggesting people are “evolutionarily predisposed” toward certain virtues, and 3. virtue has a biological basis. [51]

The organization of the 6 virtues and 24 strengths is as follows:

  1. Wisdom and knowledge: creativity , curiosity , open-mindedness , love of learning , perspective , innovation
  2. Courage: bravery , persistence , integrity , vitality , zest
  3. Humanity: love , kindness , social intelligence
  4. Justice: citizenship , fairness, leadership
  5. Temperance: forgiveness and mercy , humility , prudence , self control
  6. Transcendence: appreciation of beauty and excellence , gratitude , hope , humor , spirituality

Recent research challenged the need for 6 virtues. Instead, researchers suggested the 24 strengths are more accurately grouped into just 3 or 4 categories: Intellectual Strengths, Interpersonal Strengths, and Temperance Strengths [52] or alternatively, Interpersonal Strengths, Fortitude, Vitality, and Cautiousness [53]
These strengths, and their classifications, have emerged independently elsewhere in literature on values. Paul Thagard described examples; these included Jeff Shrager’s workshops to discover the habits of highly creative people. [54] Some research indicates that well-being effects that appear to be due to spirituality are actually better described as due to virtue. [55]

Flow[ edit ]

In the 1970s Csikszentmihalyi’s began studying flow , a state of absorption where one’s abilities are well-matched to the demands at-hand. Flow is characterized by intense concentration, loss of self-awareness, a feeling of being perfectly challenged (neither bored nor overwhelmed), and a sense that “time is flying”. Flow is intrinsically rewarding; it can also assist in the achievement of goals (e.g., winning a game) or improving skills (e.g., becoming a better chess player). [56] Anyone can experience flow, in different domains, such as play, creativity, and work. Flow is achieved when the challenge of the situation meets one’s personal abilities. A mismatch of challenge for someone of low skills results in a state of anxiety; insufficient challenge for someone highly skilled results in boredom. [56]

Applications and research findings[ edit ]

Main article: Well-being contributing factors

Research in positive psychology, well-being, eudaimonia and happiness, and the theories of Diener, Ryff, Keyes and Seligman cover a broad range of topics including “the biological, personal, relational, institutional, cultural, and global dimensions of life”. [2] A meta-analysis on 49 studies in 2009 showed that Positive Psychology Interventions (PPI) produced improvements in well-being and lower depression levels, the PPIs studied included writing gratitude letters, learning optimistic thinking, replaying positive life experiences and socializing with others. [57] In a later meta-analysis of 39 studies with 6,139 participants in 2012, the outcomes were positive. Three to six months after a PPI the effects for subjective well-being and psychological well-being were still significant. However the positive effect was weaker than in the 2009 meta analysis, the authors concluded that this was because they only used higher quality studies. The PPIs they considered included counting blessings, kindness practices, making personal goals, showing gratitude and focusing on personal strengths. [58]

Ilona Boniwell, in her book Positive Psychology in a Nutshell, provided the following summary of the current research. Wellbeing is related to optimism, extraversion, social connections (i.e. close friendships), being married, having engaging work, religion or spirituality, leisure, good sleep and exercise, social class (through lifestyle differences and better coping methods) and subjective health (what you think about your health). Wellbeing is not related to age, physical attractiveness, money (once basic needs are met), gender (women are more often depressed but also more often joyful), educational level, having children (although they add meaning to life), moving to a sunnier climate, crime prevention, housing and objective health (what doctors say). [59]

Sonja Lyubomirsky , in her book The How Of Happiness, says that to improve happiness individuals should create new habits; they can seek out new emotions, use variety and timing to prevent hedonic adaptation and enlist others to motivate and support during the creation of those new habits. [60] Lyubomirsky gives 12 happiness activities such as savouring life, learning to forgive and living in the present, each of which could become the basis for a new habit.

In Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness, the authors Compton and Hoffman give the “Top Down Predictors” of wellbeing as high self esteem , optimism , self efficacy , a sense of meaning in life and positive relationships with others. The personality traits most associated with well being are extraversion , agreeability and low levels of neuroticism . [61]

In the Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, Kreutzer and Mills argue for the principles of positive psychology to be implemented to assist those recovering from traumatic brain injury (TBR). They make the case that TBI rehabilitation practices rely on the betterment of the individual through engaging in everyday practices, a practice significantly related to tenants of positive psychology. [62] Their proposal to connect positive psychology with TBI vocational rehabilitation (VR) also looks at happiness and its correlation with improvements in mental health, including increased confidence and productivity, as well as others. [62] While the authors point out that empirical evidence for positive psychology is limited, they clarify that positive psychology’s focus on small successes, optimism and prosocial behaviour is promising for improvements in the social and emotional well-being of TBI patients. [62]

Criticism[ edit ]

According to Kirk Schneider , positive psychology fails to explain past heinous behaviors such as those perpetrated by the Nazi party, Stalinist marches and Klan gatherings, to identify but a few. Furthermore, Schneider pointed to a body of research showing high positivity correlates with positive illusion, which effectively distorts reality. [63] The extent of the downfall of high positivity (also known as flourishing) is one could become incapable of psychological growth, unable to self-reflect, and tend to hold racial biases. By contrast, negativity, sometimes evidenced in mild to moderate depression, is correlated with less distortion of reality. Therefore, negativity might play an important role within the dynamics of human flourishing. To illustrate, conflict engagement and acknowledgement of appropriate negativity, including certain negative emotions like guilt, might better promote flourishing. [64] Overall, Schneider provided perspective: “perhaps genuine happiness is not something you aim at, but is a by-product of a life well lived – and a life well lived does not settle on the programmed or neatly calibrated.” [65] Seligman has acknowledged in his work the point about positive illusion, [66] and is also a critic of merely feeling good about oneself apart from reality and recognises the importance of negativity / dysphoria. [67]

Ian Sample, writing for The Guardian , noted that, “Positive psychologists also stand accused of burying their heads in the sand and ignoring that depressed, even merely unhappy people, have real problems that need dealing with.” Sample also quoted Steven Wolin, a clinical psychiatrist at George Washington University , as saying that the study of positive psychology is just a reiteration of older ways of thinking, and that there is not much scientific research to support the efficacy of this method. [68]
Gable responds to criticism on their pollyanna view on the world by saying that they are just bringing a balance to a side of psychology that is glaringly understudied. [69] To defend his point, Gable points to the imbalances favouring research into negative psychological wellbeing in cognitive psychology, health psychology, and social psychology. [70]

Barbara S. Held argued that while positive psychology makes contributions to the field of psychology, it has its faults. She offered insight into topics including the negative side effects of positive psychology, negativity within the positive psychology movement, and the current division in the field of psychology caused by differing opinions of psychologists on positive psychology. In addition, she noted the movement’s lack of consistency regarding the role of negativity. She also raised issues with the simplistic approach taken by some psychologists in the application of positive psychology. A “one size fits all” approach is arguably not beneficial to the advancement of the field of positive psychology; she suggested a need for individual differences to be incorporated into its application. [71]

Martin Jack has also maintained that positive psychology is not unique in its optimistic approach to looking at optimal emotional wellbeing, stating that other forms of psychology, such as counselling and educational psychology, are also interested in positive human fulfillment. He goes on to mention that, while positive psychology has pushed for schools to be more student-centred and able to foster positive self-images in children, he worries that a lack of focus on self-control may prevent children from making full contributions to society. [72]

See also[ edit ]

  • New Thought
  • Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
  • Needs and Motives ( Henry Murray )
  • Anatomy of an Epidemic
  • Aversion to happiness
  • Louise Burfitt-Dons
  • Culture and positive psychology
  • Happiness economics
  • Meaning of life
  • Positive education
  • Positive youth development
  • Pragmatism
  • Psychological resilience
  • Rational ignorance
  • Second wave positive psychology
  • Sex-positive movement
  • Theory of humor

Notes[ edit ]

  1. ^ Maslow wrote:

    The science of psychology has been far more successful on the negative than on the positive side. It has revealed to us much about man’s shortcomings, his illness, his sins, but little about his potentialities, his virtues, his achievable aspirations, or his full psychological height. It is as if psychology has voluntarily restricted itself to only half its rightful jurisdiction, the darker, meaner half. [18]

  2. ^ The last chapter of the book is entitled “Toward a Positive Psychology”.
  3. ^ See related concepts: Self-efficacy and play .

References[ edit ]

Footnotes[ edit ]

  1. ^ a b c Peterson, Christopher (16 May 2008). “What Is Positive Psychology, and What Is It Not?” . Psychology Today. Retrieved 11 July 2018. 
  2. ^ a b c Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi 2000 .
  3. ^ a b “Time Magazine’s cover story in the special issue on “The Science of Happiness”, 2005″ (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-07-11. Retrieved 2011-02-07. 
  4. ^ Tal., Ben-Shahar, (2007). Happier : learn the secrets to daily joy and lasting fulfillment . New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN   0071510966 . OCLC   176182574 . 
  5. ^ a b Srinivasan, T. S. (2015, February 12). The 5 Founding Fathers and A History of Positive Psychology. Retrieved February 4, 2017, from
  6. ^ The 5 Founding Fathers and A History of Positive Psychology
  7. ^ Positive Psychology Progress: Empirical Validation of Interventions. Seligman, Martin E. P.; Steen, Tracy A.; Park, Nansook; Peterson, Christopher American Psychologist, Vol 60(5), Jul-Aug 2005, 410-421.
  8. ^ Seligman 2002 , p. 13.
  9. ^ Graham, Michael C. (2014). Facts of Life: ten issues of contentment. Outskirts Press. pp. 6–10. ISBN   978-1-4787-2259-5 . 
  10. ^ a b Seligman, Martin E.P. “Positive Psychology Center.” Positive Psychology Center. University of Pennsylvania, 2007. Web. 12 Mar. 2013.
  11. ^ a b Peterson 2009 .
  12. ^ Peterson 2006 .
  13. ^ Mruk, Christopher (April 2008). “The Psychology of Self-Esteem: A Potential Common Ground for Humanistic Positive Psychology and Positivistic Positive Psychology” . The Humanistic Psychologist. 36 (2): 143. Retrieved March 16, 2018. 
  14. ^ a b Seligman, M. E., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2014). Positive psychology: An introduction (pp. 279-298). Springer Netherlands.
  15. ^ Shesthra, Arjun (December 2016). “Positive psychology: Evolution, philosophical foundations, and present growth” . Indian Journal of Positive Psychology. 7 (4): 460–465. 
  16. ^ “Positive Psychology: The Benefits of Living Positively” . World of Psychology. 2013-03-11. Retrieved 2018-02-19. 
  17. ^ Seligman 2002 , p. xi.
  18. ^ Maslow, Motivation and Psychology, p. 354
  19. ^ a b Compton 2005 , pp. 1–22.
  20. ^ Secker J (1998). “Current conceptualizations of mental health and mental health promotion” (PDF). 13 (1). Health Education Research. p. 58. Retrieved 2010-05-18. … Amongst psychologists … the importance of promoting health rather than simply preventing ill-health date back to the 1950s (Jahoda, 1958) 
  21. ^ Dianne Hales (2010). “An Invitation to Health, Brief: Psychological Well-Being” (2010–2011 ed.). Wadsworth Cengage Learning. p. 26. Retrieved 2010-05-18. 
  22. ^ Ben-Shahar, Ben (2007) “Happier -Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment”, First Edition, McGraw-Hill Co.
  23. ^ Reuters, Jun 18, 2009: First World Congress on Positive Psychology Kicks Off Today With Talks by Two of the World’s Most Renowned Psychologists [ permanent dead link ]
  24. ^ International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA) (2011). international positive psychology association. Retrieved from “Archived copy” . Archived from the original on 2013-03-24. Retrieved 2013-03-23. 
  25. ^ Compton, William C., and Edward Hoffman. Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness and Flourishing. 2nd ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2013. Print.
  26. ^ Tov & Diener (2013), Subjective Well-Being. Research Collection School of Social Sciences. Paper 1395.
  27. ^ Costa Galinha, Iolanda; Pais-Ribeiro, José Luís (2011). “Cognitive, affective and contextual predictors of subjective wellbeing”. International Journal of Wellbeing. 2 (1): 34–53. doi : 10.5502/ijw.v2i1.3 . 
  28. ^ Diener, Suh, Ed, Eunkook (2000). Culture and Subjective Well-being. A Bradford Book. p. 4. 
  29. ^ Carol Ryff’s Model of Psychological Well-being. The Six Criteria of Well-Being
  30. ^ a b Robitschek, Christine; Keyes, Corey L. M. “Keyes’s model of mental health with personal growth initiative as a parsimonious predictor” . Journal of Counseling Psychology. 56 (2): 321–329. doi : 10.1037/a0013954 . 
  31. ^ Keyes 2002 .
  32. ^ a b Joshanloo, Mohsen (2015-10-23). “Revisiting the Empirical Distinction Between Hedonic and Eudaimonic Aspects of Well-Being Using Exploratory Structural Equation Modeling” . Journal of Happiness Studies: 1–14. doi : 10.1007/s10902-015-9683-z . ISSN   1389-4978 . 
  33. ^ Joshanloo, Mohsen; Lamers, Sanne M. A. (2016-07-01). “Reinvestigation of the factor structure of the MHC-SF in the Netherlands: Contributions of exploratory structural equation modeling” . Personality and Individual Differences. 97: 8–12. doi : 10.1016/j.paid.2016.02.089 . 
  34. ^ Gallagher, Matthew W.; Lopez, Shane J.; Preacher, Kristopher J. (2009-08-01). “The Hierarchical Structure of Well-Being” . Journal of Personality. 77 (4): 1025–1050. doi : 10.1111/j.1467-6494.2009.00573.x . ISSN   1467-6494 . PMC   3865980  Freely accessible. PMID   19558444 . 
  35. ^ a b c David Sze (2015), The Father of Positive Psychology and His Two Theories of Happiness
  36. ^ Seligman 2002 , p. 275.
  37. ^ Wallis, Claudia (2005-01-09). “Science of Happiness: New Research on Mood, Satisfaction” . TIME. Archived from the original on 2010-11-15. Retrieved 2011-02-07. 
  38. ^ Best Benefit of Exercise? Happiness , Robin Loyd, Fox News , May 30, 2006.
  39. ^ a b Sze, David (2015-06-17). “The Father of Positive Psychology and His Two Theories of Happiness” . Huffington Post. Retrieved 2018-02-19. 
  40. ^ “The World Question Center 2011— Page 2” . Retrieved 2011-02-07. 
  41. ^ a b c Seligman 2011 , ch. 1.
  42. ^ “The Pursuit of Happiness” . 
  43. ^ “Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi TED talk” . 
  44. ^ “Healthy Lifestyle Tips” . 
  45. ^ “Other People Matter” . 
  46. ^ “Using Positive Psychology in Your Relationships” . 
  47. ^ “Why do You do What You Do?” . 
  48. ^ “The Science of a Happy Startup” . 
  49. ^ Seligman 2011 .
  50. ^ Peterson & Seligman 2004 .
  51. ^ Peterson & Seligman 2004 , p. 51.
  52. ^ Shryack, J.; Steger, M. F.; Krueger, R. F.; Kallie, C. S. (2010). “The structure of virtue: An empirical investigation of the dimensionality of the virtues in action inventory of strengths”. Personality and Individual Differences. 48 (6): 714–719. doi : 10.1016/j.paid.2010.01.007 . 
  53. ^ Brdr, I.; Kashdan, T.B. (2010). “Character strengths and well-being in Croatia: An empirical investigation of structure and correlates”. Journal of Research in Personality. 44: 151–154. doi : 10.1016/j.jrp.2009.12.001 . 
  54. ^ Thagard, P. (2005). How to be a successful scientist. In M. E. Gorman, R. D. Tweney, D. C. Gooding & A. P.
    Kincannon (Eds.), Scientific and technological thinking (pp. 159- 171). Mawah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum
  55. ^ Schuurmans-Stekhoven, James (2011). “Is it God or just the data that moves in mysterious ways? How wellbeing researchers may be mistaking faith for virtue”. Social Indicators Research. 100 (2): 313–330. doi : 10.1007/s11205-010-9630-7 . 
  56. ^ a b Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1990). Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. New York: Harper & Row. ISBN   0-06-016253-8 . 
  57. ^ Nancy L. Sin; Sonja Lyubomirsky (May 2009). “Enhancing Well-Being and Alleviating Depressive Symptoms With Positive Psychology Interventions:A Practice-Friendly Meta-Analysis” . Journal of Clinical Psychology. 65 (5): 467–487, particularly 468, 471, 474, 483. doi : 10.1002/jclp . 
  58. ^ Linda Bolier; et al. (2013). “Positive psychology interventions: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled studies” . BMC Public Health. 13 (119). doi : 10.1186/1471-2458-13-119 . CS1 maint: Explicit use of et al. ( link )
  59. ^ Positive Psychology in a Nutshell, Ilona Boniwell, Open University Press, 2012, p.44
  60. ^ The How of Happiness, Sonja Lyubomirsky, 2007, Piatkus, p.270-p.294
  61. ^ Positive Psychology The Science of Happiness, William C. Compton and Edward Hoffman, Wadsworth, 2005, p.55-p.62
  62. ^ a b c Mills & Kreutzer 2016 .
  63. ^ Schneider, K. (2011). “Toward a Humanistic Positive Psychology”. Existential Analysis: Journal of the Society for Existential Analysis. 22 (1): 32–38. 
  64. ^ Fredrickson, B. L.; Losada, M. F. (2005). “Positive Affect and the Complex Dynamics of Human Flourishing” . American Psychologist. 60 (7): 678–686. doi : 10.1037/0003-066X.60.7.678 . PMC   3126111  Freely accessible. PMID   16221001 . 
  65. ^ Schneider, Kirk J. (29 November 2010). “Toward a Humanistic Positive Psychology: Why Can’t We Just Get Along?” . Psychology Today. Retrieved 11 July 2018. 
  66. ^ Seligman 1995 , pp. 295–299.
  67. ^ Seligman 1995 , pp. 41–42.
  68. ^ Sample, I. (19 November 2003). “How to be happy” . The Guardian. 
  69. ^ Gable, S. L., & Haidt, J. (2005). What (and why) is positive psychology?. Review of general psychology, 9(2), 103.
  70. ^ Shesthra, Arjun (December 2016). “Positive psychology: Evolution, Philosophical Foundations, and Present Growth”. Indian Journal of Positive Psychology. 7 (4): 460-465. 
  71. ^ Held 2004 .
  72. ^ Martin, Jack (2006). “Self Research in Educational Psychology: A Cautionary Tale of Positive Psychology in Action” . The Journal of Psychology. 140 (4): 307-316. Retrieved 13 March 2018. 

Bibliography[ edit ]

Compton, William C. (2005). An Introduction to Positive Psychology. Belmont, California: Wadsworth Publishing. ISBN   978-0-534-64453-6 . 
Held, Barbara S. (2004). “The Negative Side of Positive Psychology”. Journal of Humanistic Psychology. 44 (1): 9–41. doi : 10.1177/0022167803259645 . 
Keyes, Corey L. M. (2002). “The Mental Health Continuum: From Languishing to Flourishing in Life”. Journal of Health and Social Behavior. 43 (2): 207–222. doi : 10.2307/3090197 . ISSN   0022-1465 . 
Mills, Ana; Kreutzer, Jeffrey (2016). “Theoretical Applications of Positive Psychology to Vocational Rehabilitation after Traumatic Brain Injury”. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation. 26 (1): 20–31. doi : 10.1007/s10926-015-9608-z . ISSN   1573-3688 . 
Peterson, Christopher (2006). A Primer in Positive Psychology. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN   978-0-19-518833-2 . 
 ———  (2009). “Positive Psychology”. Reclaiming Children and Youth. 18 (2): 3–7. ISSN   1089-5701 . 
Peterson, Christopher ; Seligman, Martin E. P. (2004). Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN   978-0-19-516701-6 . 
Seligman, Martin E. P. (1995). The Optimistic Child. Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Company. 
 ———  (2002). Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment. New York: Free Press. ISBN   978-0-7432-2297-6 . 
 ———  (2004). “Can Happiness Be Taught?”. Daedalus. 133 (2): 80–87. doi : 10.1162/001152604323049424 . ISSN   1548-6192 . 
 ———  (2011). Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being. New York: Free Press. ISBN   978-1-4391-9076-0 . 
Seligman, Martin E. P. ; Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (2000). “Positive Psychology: An Introduction”. American Psychologist. 55 (1): 5–14. doi : 10.1037/0003-066x.55.1.5 . PMID   11392865 . 

Further reading[ edit ]

Argyle, Michael (2001). The Psychology of Happiness. London: Routledge. 
Benard, Bonnie (2004). Resiliency: What We Have Learned. San Francisco: WestEd. 
Biswas-Diener, Robert ; Diener, Ed ; Tamir, Maya (2004). “The Psychology of Subjective Well-Being”. Daedalus. 133 (2): 18–25. doi : 10.1162/001152604323049352 . ISSN   1548-6192 . 
Dalai Lama ; Cutler, Howard C. (1998). The Art of Happiness. New York: Riverhead Books. ISBN   978-1-57322-111-5 . 
Fromm, Eric (1973). The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness. New York: New York, Holt, Rinehart and Winston. ISBN   0-03-007596-3 . 
Kahneman, Daniel ; Diener, Ed ; Schwarz, Norbert , eds. (2003). Well-Being: The Foundations of Hedonic Psychology. New York: Russell Sage Foundation Publications. ISBN   978-0-87154-424-7 . 
Keyes, Corey L. M. ; Haidt, Jonathan , eds. (2003). Flourishing: Positive Psychology and the Life Well-lived. Washington: American Psychological Association. pp. 275–289. ISBN   978-1-55798-930-7 . 
Kashdan, Todd (2009). Curious? Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN   978-0-06-166118-1 . 
McMahon, Darrin M. (2006). Happiness: A History. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press. ISBN   978-0-87113-886-6 . 
Robbins, Brent Dean (2008). “What Is the Good life? Positive Psychology and the Renaissance of Humanistic Psychology” (PDF). The Humanistic Psychologist. 36 (2): 96–112. doi : 10.1080/08873260802110988 . ISSN   1547-3333 . 
Seligman, Martin (1990). Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life. Free Press. 
Snyder, C. R.; Lopez, Shane J. (2001). Handbook of Positive Psychology. Oxford University Press. 
Stebbins, R. A. (2015). Leisure and Positive Psychology: Linking Activities with Positiveness. Houndmills, England: Palgrave Macmillan. 
Zagano, Phyllis ; Gillespie, C. Kevin (2006). “Ignatian Spirituality and Positive Psychology” (PDF). The Way. 45 (4): 41–58. Retrieved 11 July 2018. 

External links[ edit ]

Wikiversity has learning resources about Positive psychology
  • Christopher Peterson, What Is Positive Psychology, and What Is It Not?
  • The 5 Founding Fathers and A History of Positive Psychology
  • The Father of Positive Psychology and His Two Theories of Happiness
  • University of Pennsylvania, Authentic Happiness , website of Martin Seligman
  • Martin Seligman presentation on positive psychology (Video) at TED conference
  • The Karma of Happiness: A Buddhist Monk Looks at Positive Psychology by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
  • The positive words dictionary: An online resource of positive words for use in Positive Psychology
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      Psychology Research Paper Topics: 50+ Great Ideas

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      Psychology Research Paper Topics: 50+ Great Ideas

      By Kendra Cherry
      Updated May 24, 2018

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        Are you searching for a great topic for your psychology paper? Sometimes it seems like coming up with a good idea for a paper is more challenging than the actual research and writing. Fortunately, there are plenty of great places to find inspiration and the following list contains just a few ideas to help get you started.

        Finding a solid topic is one of the most important steps when writing any type of paper. It can be particularly important when you are writing a psychology research paper or essay. Psychology is such a broad topic, so you want to find a topic that allows you to adequately cover the subject without becoming overwhelmed with information.

        As you begin your search for a topic for your psychology paper, it is first important to consider the guidelines established by your instructor. In some cases, such as in a general psychology class, you might have had the option to select any topic from within psychology’s broad reaches. Other instances, such as in an  abnormal psychology  course, might require you to write your paper on a specific subject such as a  psychological disorder .

        Focus on a Topic Within a Particular Branch of Psychology

        psychology paper research topics

        Illustration by Joshua Seong. © Verywell, 2018.

        The key to selecting a good topic for your psychology paper is to select something that is narrow enough to allow you to really focus on the subject, but not so narrow that it is difficult to find sources or information to write about.

        One approach is to narrow your focus down to a subject within a specific branch of psychology. For example, you might start by deciding that you want to write a paper on some sort of social psychology topic. Next, you might narrow your focus down to how persuasion can be used to influence behavior.

        Other social psychology topics you might consider include:

        • Prejudice and discrimination (i.e., homophobia, sexism, racism)
        • Social cognition
        • Person perception
        • Attitudes
        • Social control and cults
        • Persuasion , propaganda, and marketing
        • Attraction, romance, and  love
        • Nonverbal communication
        • Prosocial behavior
        • Leadership

        Write About a Disorder or Type of Therapy

        Exploring a psychological disorder or a specific treatment modality can also be a good topic for a psychology paper. Some potential abnormal psychology topics include specific psychological disorders or particular treatment modalities, including:

        • Eating disorders
        • Depression
        • Phobias
        • Borderline personality disorder
        • Seasonal affective disorder
        • Schizophrenia
        • Antisocial personality disorder
        • Profile a  type of therapy  (i.e.,  cognitive behavioral therapy ,  group therapy  ,  psychoanalytic therapy )

        Choose a Topic Related to Human Cognition

        Some of the possible topics you might explore in this area include thinking, language, intelligence, and decision-making. Other ideas might include:

        • Dreams
        • False memories
        • Attention
        • Perception
        • Language
        • Speech disorders
        • Problem-solving
        • Judgment

        Consider a Topic Related to Human Development

        In this area, you might opt to focus on issues pertinent to  early childhood  such as language development, social learning, or  childhood attachment  or you might instead opt to concentrate on issues that affect older adults such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

        Some other topics you might consider include:

        • Bullying
        • Language acquisition
        • Media violence and children
        • Learning disabilities
        • Gender roles
        • Child abuse
        • Prenatal development
        • Parenting styles
        • Aspects of the aging process

        Critique a Book or Academic Journal Article

        One option is to consider writing a  psychology critique paper of a published psychology book or academic journal article. For example, you might write a critical analysis of Sigmund Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams or you might evaluate a more recent book such as Philip Zimbardo’s The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil.

        Professional and academic journals are also a great place to find materials for a critique paper. Browse through the collection at your university library to find titles devoted to the subject that you are most interested in, then look through recent articles until you find what that grabs your attention.

        Analyze a Famous Experiment

        There have been many fascinating and groundbreaking experiments throughout the history of psychology, providing ample material for students looking for an interesting term paper topic. In your paper, you might choose to summarize the experiment, analyze the ethics of the research, or evaluate the implications of the study. Possible experiments that you might consider include:

        • The Milgram Obedience Experiment
        • The Stanford Prison Experiment
        • The Little Albert Experiment
        • Pavlov’s Conditioning Experiments
        • The Asch Conformity Experiment
        • Harlow’s Rhesus Monkey Experiments

        Write a Paper About a Historical Figure

        One of the simplest ways to find a great topic is to choose an interesting person in the  history of psychology  and write a paper about them. Your paper might focus on many different elements of the individual’s life, such as their biography, professional history, theories, or influence on psychology.

        While this type of paper may be historical in nature, there is no need for this assignment to be dry or boring. Psychology is full of fascinating figures rife with intriguing stories and anecdotes. Consider such famous individuals as  Sigmund Freud ,  B.F. Skinner ,  Harry Harlow , or one of the many other  eminent psychologists .

        Write About a Specific Psychology Career

        ​Another possible topic, depending on the course in which you are enrolled, is to write about specific  career paths  within the  field of psychology . This type of paper is especially appropriate if you are exploring different subtopics or considering which area interests you the most. In your paper, you might opt to explore the typical duties of a psychologist, how much people working in these fields typically earn, and different employment options that are available.

        Create a Case Study of an Individual or Group of People

        One potentially interesting idea is to write a  psychology case study  of a particular individual or group of people. In this type of paper, you will provide an in depth analysis of your subject, including a thorough biography. Generally, you will also assess the person, often using a major  psychological theory  such as  Piaget’s stages of cognitive development  or  Erikson’s eight-stage theory of human development . It is also important to note that your paper doesn’t necessarily have to be about someone you know personally. In fact, many professors encourage students to write case studies on historical figures or fictional characters from books, television programs, or films.

        Conduct a Literature Review

        Another possibility that would work well for a number of psychology courses is to do a literature review of a specific topic within psychology. A literature review involves finding a variety of sources on a particular subject, then summarizing and reporting on what these sources have to say about the topic. Literature reviews are generally found in the  introduction  of  journal articles  and other  psychology papers , but this type of analysis also works well for a full-scale psychology term paper.

          Design a Study or Perform an Experiment

          Many psychology courses require students to design an actual psychological study or perform some type of  experiment . In some cases, students simply devise the study and then imagine the possible results that might occur. In other situations, you may actually have the opportunity to collect data, analyze your findings, and write up your results.

          Finding a topic for your study can be difficult, but there are plenty of great ways to come up with intriguing ideas. Start by considering your own interests as well subjects you have studied in the past. Online sources, newspaper articles, books, journal articles, and even your own class textbook are all great places to start searching for topics for your experiments and psychology term papers. Before you begin, learn more about  how to conduct a psychology experiment .

          A Word From Verywell

          After looking at this brief list of possible topics for psychology papers, it is easy to see that psychology is a very broad and diverse subject. While this variety makes it possible to find a topic that really catches your interest, it can sometimes make it very difficult for some students to select a good topic.

          If you are still stumped by your assignment, ask your instructor for suggestions and consider a few from this list for inspiration.

          View Article Sources

          • Hockenbury, SE & Nolan, SA. Psychology. New York: Worth Publishers; 2014.
          • Santrock, JW. A Topical Approach to Lifespan Development. New York: McGraw-Hill Education; 2016.

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          13 of Psychology’s Newest and Coolest Ideas

          From psychology’s vast array of cool ideas here are 13 of the newest and coolest

          Posted Apr 06, 2013

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          I have never regretted choosing to spend my career as a psychologist. There’s the very obvious fact that psychology underlies all of behavior and thus, in my opinion, is the most important scientific discipline of all. However, there’s more to it than the love of science. When you come right down to it, psychology is just very cool.

          Psychologists, like many other scientists, enjoy inventing new terms to describe what they study. Sure, we get accused now and then of being too “jargon-y” (itself a jargon-y term). Once you understand what the  jargon means , though, most of it not only makes sense, but expands your understanding of behavior.  Narrowing down the thousands of great ideas in psychology to a mere 13 is a bit of a challenge. Therefore, I’ve decided to limit myself to those that are coolest according to these criteria: (a) relatively new (which technically makes them “hot”); (b) not overly commonsensical; (c) based on research; and (d) having applicability to everyday life. See if you agree with this top 13 list (the references for each are listed by number, below).

          1.  Mood freezing

          We’ve come to believe that by expressing our emotions we’ll feel better. The idea of “catharsis” also implies that by releasing our anger , we’ll rid ourselves of all hostile feelings. In research on “mood freezing,” participants are made to believe that a pill can alter their moods when, in fact, the pill is a placebo . When these participants are artificially riled up in an experimental situation, and then given the fake pill, they both reduce their angry outbursts and – importantly- say that the feel better. You don’t have to give yourself an actual, fake, mood freezing pill to reduce your own angry outbursts the next time you get mad. If you tell yourself you don’t need to express that anger, though, you can derive the same positive benefit.

          2.  Facial feedback

          According to one theory of emotions, known as the facial feedback model, the expression on your face helps to control the way you feel inside. This theory was put to the test in a study of people who had received Botox treatments, a cosmetic injection that numbs the muscles of the face. The Botoxed participants were less able to empathize with the emotions of others because, presumably, they were unable to flex their facial muscles. The results weren’t accounted for, either, by a selection bias because people getting Botox don’t show unusual patterns of emotion detection prior to their injections.

          3.  Self-affirmations

          The value of self-affirmations was made famous by SNL character Stuart Smalley (now Senator Al Franken): “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and gosh-darn it, people like me.” Often, a self-affirmation can boost your inner strength and make you more likely to succeed. However, this strategy may come with a risk. A recent study showed that people who utter self-affirmations may be less inclined to pursue a goal after they experience failure. To the extent that you internalize your failure, you may then feel that you actually have less, rather than more of a chance at succeeding in your future efforts.

          4.   Hindsight bias

          One of our most common human tendencies is to think that we were right about predicting an event’s outcome even in actuality we were wrong.  Hindsight bias takes the common form of “I knew it all along.” Psychologists have long known about hindsight bias, but a recent study shows that you can be prevented from the lure of hindsight (and the possible negative consequences it can create) by relatively simple reality-testing interventions before you commit this cognitive faux pas.

          5.  Mind-wandering

          The term mind-wandering isn’t particularly knew to 2013, but recent studies show that it can actually benefit your thinking. We tend to believe that it’s bad for our daily performance, but these studies are showing that you can make better plans for yourself and solve problems more creatively by occasionally letting your mind drift far and wide.

          6.  Double foot-in-the-door

          The  foot-in-the-door  is a well-known strategy to manipulate people into fulfilling a large request by first presenting them with a small one. However, we hear less about the double-foot-in-the-door.  In a recent study, researchers found that they could convince participants to engage in energy-saving activities more effectively using the double-foot-the-door. In this process, you make your request in three phases- small, medium, and large- rather than just going from small to large. That staging of your request makes it seem less intimidating, and even if you have to stretch it out over a week or two, in the long run, it will pay off more for you.

          7.  Affect heuristic

          A heuristic is a “rule of thumb” that allows people to make judgments and solve problems. The affect heuristic refers to our very illogical tendency to predict risk on the basis of how frightening something seems to be rather than on its probability.  For example, people will be more likely to take steps to avoid a rare, very frightening disease, than to avoid a more probable one that carries with it less obvious pain and suffering.

          8.  Target template

          When we’re searching through a complex set of stimuli, such as a busy street that we’re trying to cross, we need to pick out the sources of danger. The “target template” is a guide to searching these types of complex stimulus arrays. Despite what you hear about videogames being bad for your attention, researchers are finding that action games can actually improve your scanning abilities of these complex scenes. In fact, the more action-oriented the game, the bigger the attentional boost.

          9. The  dark triad

          The combination of narcissism , psychopathy , and Machiavellianism, or the “dark triad,” sounds bad, and in many cases, it is bad. People high on dark triad traits tend to be unpleasant to be with and can cause you much heartache should you have the bad fortune of falling in love with them.  However, in a longitudinal study of personality traits and career success, it was those high in the dark triad traits who tended to succeed in moving up the career and income ladders. They even out-performed their more conscientious , somewhat obsessive-compulsive , counterparts.

          10.  Relationship churning

          We can’t completely give psychology credit for this term, as the study in which I found it was conducted by sociologists.  However, it clearly applies to the psychology of relationships. Relationship churning occurs when you are in a series of on/off relationships.  Unfortunately, young adults most likely to experience relationship churning may also be the ones most likely to suffer relationship abuse , both physical and verbal. 

          11.    Fear of happiness

          Although we seem to idolize happiness as the be-all and end-all of life’s desired outcomes, some people, particularly from certain cultures, actually fear the state of happiness. In cultures that believe worldly happiness to be associated with sin, shallowness, and moral decline will actually feel less satisfied when their lives are (by other standards) going well. 

          12.   Self-monitoring

          In self-monitoring, as the term implies, you pay careful attention to your steps toward progress in achieving improvement or a desired goal. This term may seem to violate my commonsense principle, above. However, I nevertheless found it interesting that in a study using a behavioral approach to online weight control for people objectively considered obese, it was the participants who stuck to the program by taking advantage both of chatting and online logging-in who achieved the greatest weight gain. The biggest losers, in this study were the ones who got started early on the self-monitoring aspect of the program, which seemed to give them that all-important initial boost.

          13.   Vocational callings

          I’ll leave you today on this inspirational note that when you think of your job as a “calling,” you’ll be more satisfied with it. People who feel they have a calling believe that their work (be it as a homemaker or in employment outside the home), are more likely to feel the most satisfied and the most motivated. The key to this particular kind of job satisfaction is not only that you feel you have a calling, but that you are able to live out that calling.  Once you have that congruence of your desire and your experiences, you’ll feel more in control of your career’s direction which, in turn, can further help you feel connected to a larger purpose in life.

          With this sampling of a mere 13 cool psychology ideas, you can see why psychology has so much to offer and how it can help all of us lead more fulfilling lives.

          Follow me on Twitter  @swhitbo  for daily updates on psychology, health , and  aging . Feel free to join my  Facebook  group, “ Fulfillment at Any Age ,” to discuss today’s blog, or to ask further questions about this posting.

          Copyright Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D. 2013


          1. Bushman, B. J., Baumeister, R. F., & Phillips, C. M. (2001). Do people aggress to improve their mood? Catharsis beliefs, affect regulation opportunity, and aggressive responding. Journal of Personality And Social Psychology, 81(1), 17-32. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.81.1.17
          2. Neal, D. T., & Chartrand, T. L. (2011). Embodied emotion perception: Amplifying and dampening facial feedback modulates emotion perception accuracy. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2(6), 673-678. doi:10.1177/1948550611406138
          3. Vohs, K. D., Park, J., & Schmeichel, B. J. (2013). Self-affirmation can enable goal disengagement. Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology, 104(1), 14-27. doi:10.1037/a0030478
          4. Roese, N. J., & Vohs, K. D. (2012). Hindsight bias. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 7(5), 411-426. doi:10.1177/1745691612454303
          5. Mooneyham, B. W., & Schooler, J. W. (2013). The costs and benefits of mind-wandering: A review. Canadian Journal Of Experimental Psychology/Revue Canadienne De Psychologie Expérimentale, 67(1), 11-18. doi:10.1037/a0031569
          6. Souchet, L., & Girandola, F. (2013). Double foot‐in‐the‐door, social representations, and environment: Application for energy savings. Journal Of Applied Social Psychology, 43(2), 306-315. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.2012.01000.x
          7. Pachur, T., Hertwig, R., & Steinmann, F. (2012). How Do People Judge Risks: Availability Heuristic, Affect Heuristic, or Both?. Journal Of Experimental Psychology: Applied, doi:10.1037/a0028279
          8. Wu, S., & Spence, I. (2013). Playing shooter and driving videogames improves top-down guidance in visual search. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, doi:10.3758/s13414-013-0440-2
          9. Wille, B., De Fruyt, F., & De Clercq, B. (2013). Expanding and reconceptualizing aberrant personality at work: Validity of five‐factor model aberrant personality tendencies to predict career outcomes. Personnel Psychology, 66(1), 173-223. doi:10.1111/peps.12016
          10. Halpern‐Meekin, S., Manning, W. D., Giordano, P. C., & Longmore, M. A. (2013). Relationship churning, physical violence, and verbal abuse in young adult relationships. Journal Of Marriage And Family , 75(1), 2-12.
          11. Joshanloo, M. (2013). The influence of fear of happiness beliefs on responses to the satisfaction with life scale. Personality And Individual Differences, 54(5), 647-651. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2012.11.011
          12. Krukowski, R. A., Harvey-Berino, J., Bursac, Z., Ashikaga, T., & West, D. (2013). Patterns of success: Online self-monitoring in a web-based behavioral weight control program. Health Psychology, 32(2), 164-170. doi:10.1037/a0028135
          13. Duffy, R. D., & Autin, K. L. (2013). Disentangling the Link Between Perceiving a Calling and Living a Calling. Journal Of Counseling Psychology, doi:10.1037/a0031934
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          Submitted by Alice on April 7, 2013 – 8:18am

          I defintely dislike making up new words for words we already have…….transference/countertransference……feelings…….I am an undergraduate in psychology.

          • Reply to Alice
          • Quote Alice


          Submitted by Anonymous on April 8, 2013 – 5:29am

          Now I can toss these terms around, no one will understand me, and people will think I’m smarter than I really am!

          I agree with the commenter above that sometimes academics confuse the issue by giving a new name to old wine.

          But sometimes, naming concepts or techniques makes them easier to remember and use. Thanks!

          • Reply to Anonymous
          • Quote Anonymous

          Keeping up to date

          Submitted by Terry on April 13, 2013 – 3:55pm

          Thanks for this summary of the latest ideas in psychology. It’s such a fast moving field with lots of studies published each day it’s good to get this type of overview.

          • Reply to Terry
          • Quote Terry


          Submitted by Anonymous on July 24, 2013 – 11:40am

          You provided some interesting ideas, (some counterintuitive), as well as references.

          But I was confused by the expressions “biggest losers” and “achieved the greatest weight gain”, which sounds like a negative achievement. I’ll have to read the article about self-monitoriing.

          • Reply to Anonymous
          • Quote Anonymous

          Post Comment


          About the Author

          Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D., is a Professor Emerita of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her latest book is The Search for Fulfillment.

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          Abnormal Psychology: Clinical Perspectives on Psychological Disorders

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