Positive Psychology: A Brief History, Critics, Methodology, and Application

Topics: Psychology, Positive psychology, Cognitive psychology Pages: 5 (1434 words) Published: October 11, 2013
Running Head: APPLICATIONS OF POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY 3 Positive Psychology: A Brief History, Methodology, and Application 1. Introduction
1.1. A Brief History
The genealogy of positive psychology established its roots in the development of humanistic psychology in the mid-20th century. The more traditional approaches of modern psychology as developed by Freud and B. F. Skinner, respectively, are psychoanalysis, and behaviorism. One theory may suggest that the shift of the American labor movement from an industrial-based to a cognitive-cultural economy created the need for a more capable worker. As manufacturing and factory-style work diminished, sectors such as business, financial and personal services, media arts and high-technology industries thrived and grew. As companies have shifted their investment emphasis to human capital, a natural consequence has resulted in substantially more complex social paradigms. Simply, as our large labor market has required an individual with expanded capabilities to feel, perceive, quantify, and qualify in the workplace (critical thinking), the result can be demonstrated as an increase in mental disorders associated with those same expanded capabilities. A few examples are disorders related to stress, anxiety, phobias, and mood disorders. The discipline of psychology, naturally, has expanded to meet these needs. Humanistic Psychology lies in sharp contrast to psychoanalysis and behaviorism. As related in the textbook (Huffman, 2012), “According to Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, …all individuals naturally strive to grow, develop, and move toward self-actualization (a state of self-fulfillment in which we realize our highest potential).”

APPLICATIONS OF POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY 4 As related to my previous theory, it is our human nature to attempt at being the best- the best hunter, survivor, gatherer; and today- the best at sales, banking, business, sports, engineering, or academics, just to name a few. Simultaneously, if we are the best, we worry about the competition; conversely, if we are not the best, we also worry about the competition. In 1967, American psychologist Ulric Neisser published his book, Cognitive Psychology, which began the study of cognition. According to Neisser (1967), cognition includes “all processes by which the sensory input is transformed, reduced, elaborated, stored, recovered, and used… Given such a sweeping definition, it is apparent that cognition is involved in everything a human being might possibly do.” As such, according to the textbook, (Huffman, 2012), “the cognitive perspective emphasizes thinking, perceiving, and information processing. 1.2. Positive Psychology

As the field of psychology has expanded its knowledge and scope, one major criticism has been the tendency to focus primarily on abnormal behaviors, mental disorders, and dysfunction. The field of positive psychology was initially credited to research performed by Martin E. P. Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Independently, they, and others working in the field came to a similar conclusion: “…our message is to remind our field that psychology is not just the study of pathology, weakness, and damage; it is also the study of strength and virtue. Treatment is not just fixing what is broken; it is nurturing what is best” (Seligman, 2000). A driving force of positive psychology, particularly in the last decade, has been prevention, and prevention research. Through his interest in depression, Seligman conducted research which led him and others to the theory of learned helplessness, “the view that clinical depression and

APPLICATIONS OF POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY 5 related mental illnesses may result from a perceived absence of control over the outcome of a situation” (Seligman, 1975). “Mr. Csikszentmihalyi, is chiefly renowned as the architect of the notion...

References: Thinker of the Year Award. http://www.brainchannels.com/thinker/mihaly.html. 2000
Huffman, Karen (2012). Psychology in Action 10th Edition. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley and Sons
Neisser, U. (1967). Cognitive Psychology. Meredith Publishing Company.
Seligman, M.E.P. (1975). Helplessness: On Depression, Development, and Death. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman. ISBN 0-7167-2328-X.
Seligman, Martin E.P., & Csikszenimihalyi, M. (2000). Positive Psychology : An Introduction. American Psychologist Association
Jayawickreme, E., Forgeard, M., Seligman, M. (2012). The Engine of Well-Being. American Psychological Association. Vol. 16. No. 4. 327 – 342
http://positivepsychology.org.uk/home.html. March 9, 2013
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