Chapter One: What Is Positive Psychology

Topics: Psychology, Positive psychology, Viktor Frankl Pages: 6 (1464 words) Published: March 29, 2013
Chapter 1: What is Positive Psychology
Traditional Psychology:
* The Milgram study, people thinking they were shocking individuals. 66% continued to deliver shocks * Study suggests that ordinary people will go against their own judgment and morals under pressure from authority * Human nature, as it appears cannot be counted upon to insulate society from acts of brutality * Similar with people following orders in war

* Psychology typically focuses more on the negative that it does on the positive * Positive psychology aims to offset this negative image of human nature with a more balanced view  
Negative Aspects Perceived As More Authentic and "Real"
* Freud was influential in promoting the belief that beneath the veneer of everyday politeness there was more self-serving motives * Freud believed that human behavior is motivated by self serving drives that must be controlled in order for society to function * Self serving drives are not necessarily bad

* From a positive psychology perspective, positive qualities and motives are just as authentic as negative ones and affirm the positive side of human nature * Some believe that positive psychology is not rooted in scientific evidence  

Negatives As More Important
* Generally in human nature, bad is stronger than the good * Trait negativity bias: information about negative traits and behaviors contributes more to how we think about others than does positive information * Studies show that one negative can outweigh many positives * We expect our lives to be relatively good, so negative ones violate our expectations. * May also be an evolutionary behavior

* Where negative events represent threats to survival
* Psychologists are simply human and therefore drawn to the negatives and attracted to what has the greatest impact on human behavior  
The Disease Model
* Martin Seligman, psychology has built an extensive understanding of mental illness and a language to describe the various pathologist that affect millions of people * Psychology should be more than a repair shop

* Disease model isn't very valuable when it comes to promoting health and preventing illness * Psychologists know far less about mental health than they do about mental illness * Eliminating illness does not mean you are mentally healthy  

Positive Psychology
* Martin Seligman, in 1998 called for a shift in psychology from trying to undo the worst in human behavior to promoting the best in human behavior * Humanistic psychology criticizes the tendency of traditional psychology to focus on negatives * Humanistic psychologists saw human nature as basically positive, insisting that everyone is born with positive inner potential * Humanistic psychologies believed that the goal of psychology should be to study and promote conditions that help people achieve productive and healthy lives * Received scientific respectability

* Positive psychology is partly a mosaic of research and theory from many different areas of psychology tied together by their focus on positive aspects of human behavior  
Health Psychology
* Health psychologists have long suspected that negative emotions can make us sick and positive emotions can be beneficial. * Only recently has a biological foundation been developed * Health threatening effects of stress, anger, resentment, anxiety and worry * Stress and negative emotions seem to suppress the immune system and reduce the ability to fight disease * Consistent with the goal of restoring balance to the field, positive psychology also emphasizes examination of the value of positive emotions in our lives  

Focus on Research: Living Longer Through Positive Emotions- The Nun Study * Do happy people live longer?
* Nun study took advantage of the unique features of the religious life * Chose nuns because they don’t smoke or drink, live in similar...
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