Some movies are inspiring. Some have the power to change your life. As for positive psychology, there are also some movies that promote positivity and enrich well-being.
Basically, there are four criteria for a movie to be considered as a positive psychology movie. However, it is not expected that the film must meet all four. In addition, some movies can portray more than one character strength.
- “Portrayal of character displaying at least one of the 24 strengths in the VIA Classification.
- Depiction of obstacles, adversity, and/or the struggle or conflict the character faces in expressing the strength.
- A character portrayal that illustrates how to overcome these obstacles and build or maintain the strength.
- A tine or mood (e., ‘light’ or ‘dark’) in the film that is uplifting or that speaks deeply to the human condition. “ (Niemiec & Wedding, 2013)
So, grab your popcorn and start watching away!
Positive Psychology Movies: According to the PERMA Model
Ryan Niemiec, the author of Positive Psychology at the Movies has given the award for positive psychology movies each year. And here are some movies from the list you could check it out (Niemiec, 2015).
Positive Emotion: Hector and the Search for Happiness (2014) / The Great Beauty (2013)
Engagement: Life Itself (2014)/ Carnage (2011)
Relationship: The Fault in Our Stars (2014) / Moonrise Kingdom (2012) / The Intouchables (2011)
Meaning: Life of Pi (2012) / The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013) / Interstellar (2014)
Achievement: The Imitation Game (2014) / Argo (2012) / Rush (2013)
Positive Psychology Movies: According to Character Strengths
The following films meet at least 3 out of the 4 criteria. They are considered as “must see movies”.
Wisdom and Knowledge
Creativity: Aviator (2004) / A Beautiful Mind (2001) / The Terminal (2004)
Curiosity: Rear Window (1954)
Open-mindedness: Fargo (1996) / The Matrix (1999,2003,2003) / Harold and Maude (1971)
Love of learning: Akeelah and the Bee (2006)/ The Chorus (2004)/ Mad Hot Ballroom (2005)
Perspective: The Fountain (2006) / Life as a House (2001)/ On Golden Pond (2001)/ Peaceful Warrior (2006)
Bravery: Braveheart (1995)/ Apollo 13 (1995)/ The Diary of Anne Frank (1959)/ Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Integrity: A Few Good Men (1992)/ Corpse Bride (2005)/ On the Waterfront (1954)
Vitality: Places in the Heart (1984) /Singin’ in the Rain (1952)/ The Sound of Music (1965)
Persistence: Forrest Gump (1994)/ Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)/ The Pursuit of Happiness (2006)
Love: Shakespeare in Love (1998)/ Casablanca (1942)/ City Lights (1931)/ Dr. Zhivago (1965)
Kindness: Waitress (2007)
Social Intelligence: The African Queen (1951)/ Breach (2007)/
Citizenship: The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)/ Hotel Rwanda (2004)/ The Station Agent (2003)
Fairness: Gandhi (1982)/ Norma Ray (1979)/ In the Heat of the Night (1967)
Leadership: Glory (1989)/ Henry V (1989)/ Spartacus (1960)/
Forgiveness and Mercy: Dead Man Walking (1995)/ Levity (2003)/ The Straight Story (1999)
Humility and Modesty: Peaceful Warrior (2006)/ Rain Man (1988)/ The Truman Show (1998)
Prudence: Driving Miss Daisy (1989)/ The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Self-Regulation: Breaking Away (1979)/ The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)/ Maria Full of Grace (2004)
Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence: American Beauty (1999)/ It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Gratitude: The Color Purple (1985)
Hope: Cast Away (1999)/ E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)/ The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000)/ Seabiscuit (2003)
Humor: Murderball (2005)/ Patch Adams (1998)/ Zorba the Greek (1964)
Spirituality: Field of Dreams (1989)/ The Incredibles (2004)/ Wizard of Oz (1939)
What is your favourite positive psychology movie?
We love hearing from you via the comment section below what your favourite positive psychology movie is. Tell us how it makes you feel and how it has impacted your life.
Niemiec, R. M., & Wedding, D. (2013). Positive psychology at the movies: Using films to build virtues and character strengths.
Hogrefe Publishing.Niemiec, R. (2015). Positive Psychology Movie Awards for 2014. Retrieved from http://positivepsychologynews.com/news/ryan-niemiec/2014060628921.