What is positive psychology? As you will see below, the definitions of positive psychology differ slightly. The following elements appear most often throughout the definitions:
- optimal functioning
- other people (or relationships)
Watch this video to find out what Positive Psychology means to The Positive Psychology People and some of the most influential researchers in the field:
“Positive psychology is the study of the conditions and processes that contribute to the flourishing or optimal functioning of people, groups, and institutions.”
Source: Gable, Shelly L., Haidt, Jonathan, What (and Why) Is Positive Psychology? (PDF) , MichaelGeorge.com
“Positive psychology is the branch of psychology that uses scientific understanding and effective intervention to aid in the achievement of a satisfactory life, rather than merely treating mental illness.”
“Positive psychology studies what makes life most worth living.”
“Positive Psychology is the scientific study of human flourishing, and an applied approach to optimal functioning. It has also been defined as the study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals, communities and organisations to thrive.”
Source: Positive Psychology Institute
“Positive psychology cannot be confined to any dogmas carved in stone, because it is always subject to influences by new creative ideas, pressing human needs, and changing circumstances.”
According to Paul Wong, the underlying theme of positive psychology is that life can be made better for all people, if certain conditions are met. Source: Wong, Paul T. P., Wong, Lilian C. J., McDonald, Marvin J., Klaassen, Derrick W., 2012, The Positive Psychology of Meaning and Spirituality
Definition 6: The positive psychology movement
“Positive psychology is the scientific study of human strengths and virtues.”
“The study of what constitutes the pleasant life, the engaged life, and the meaningful life.”
Source: Batthyany, Alexander, Russo-Netzer, Pninit, Meaning in Positive and Existential Psychology
“Positive psychology is the scientific and applied approach to uncovering people’s strengths and promoting their positive functioning.” (Hugo Alberts)
“Positive psychology studies what is going right with the human mind and behaviour and how to foster these types of well-being on both the macro-, group- and individual-level.” (Seph Fontane Pennock)
Source: Positive Psychology Program
What is positive psychology and how did it come into being?
The question “what is wrong with people” has guided the thinking of many researchers and dominated countless scientific studies during the 20th century. It is hard to deny that this entails an important question.
In our attempts to answer the question, we have gained more understanding of many illnesses and have developed effective treatments for a wide range of problems.
However, as an inevitable consequence of our focus on the negative aspects of well-being and health, such as distress and disease, we developed an almost exclusive attention to pathology.
We believe that science has focused disproportionately on pathology and repair, and devoted relatively little attention to factors that “make life worth living.” The focus is making a shift…
As the 21st century unfolds, however, we are beginning to ask a different question: “What is right about people?”
This question is at the heart of positive psychology, which is the scientific and applied approach to uncovering people’s strengths and promoting their positive functioning. During the past 14 years, the number of scientific studies on positive psychology have increased tremendously. In addition, countless interventions have been developed to increase people’s wellbeing.
During the past 14 years, the number of scientific studies on positive psychology have increased tremendously. In addition, countless interventions have been developed to increase people’s wellbeing.
What is your favourite definition of positive psychology?
I’d love to continue the conversation via the comments.