Why do we need Positive Psychology, Why now?

Positive Psychology is the study of the processes and conditions which contribute to the optimal functioning of individuals, the study of positive aspects of human experiences, positive traits and optimistic institutions in our world today (Gross, 2009). Positive psychological has been influenced by the efforts of Allport’s (1958) work in positive individualistic characteristics. Additionally Maslow’s (1968) interests in exploring positive human experiences, as well as many others who have looked to an understanding of why people require positivity and associations around it. Today this influence of experts in the past has led to the phenomenon of positive psychology which aims at understanding the ways people experience contentment, altruism as well as the existence of satisfied families and organisations. In this comprehension i will outline the future possible positive impacts of a positive psychology, what needs to be done and the outcomes of a positive psychology in out societies today.

In the past psychology has focused on negative aspects associated with disabilities, illnesses, and how to fix them. For instance Social Psychologists have carried out research on the subsistence of negative outcomes related to poor self-esteem and implicit chauvinism (Josephs, Bosson, & Jacobs, 2003). Furthermore, Health Psychologists have highlighted the negative impacts of smoking, alcohol, and other aspects of our surrounding environments which relate to stress and other health issues associated with the world we live in (Dickerson & Kemeny, 2004). The future of positive psychology needs to readdress the problems faced in the past and outline benefits which may increase and promote the stability and quality of living for various groups and individuals themselves.

In addition the reason a positive psychology has not arisen until now is that the world has gone through wars, violence and suffering in the past decades there was no window of positivity. In the past funding was allocated to research on mental illnesses, traumas and associated illnesses with the era (Seligman, 2002). It may have been worthwhile to have focused on keeping people optimistic and positively counselling people who had been affected in this era or due to other individual circumstances at the time. Espirit de Corps or otherwise known as positive affect tone suggests and predicts that a number of positive actions and behaviours in a group including helping others, improving performance, making suggestions speeding good will and influencing others can portray a positive effect in individuals lives (Zhou & George, 2001).

The issue also being they did not zone in on the positives, what makes people happy, succeed, enjoy life and achieve goals. There is a lack of studies related to human strengths, qualities virtues and positive aspects of people’s lives. Positive psychology in today’s world will help people with disabilities, illnesses, people suffering from stress or other deficits life more content and fulfilled lives. Psychologists have seen and viewed negative acts as more diagnostic about individual’s implicit and internal qualities than positive acts (Vonk, 1994). This issue will open doors for psychology and lead to a new way of thinking.

In the future of positive psychology in the subject area as highlighted by Ryff (2003) there is a need to map “the domain of human optimal functioning”. This will in turn help people to become more content in their lives. Psychologists need to understand why people are not happy and positive and come up with clear solutions to the issues which have arisen before and draw from influential studies which have been carried out previously. There is a need for positive thinking in most people’s lives and some individuals need help in reaching such levels of thought. The future task is to clearly understand the aspects which build strength in families, individuals and institutions in today’s contemporary world.

In addition psychologists and practitioners need to outline the context of reliance, figure out the role of positive experiences as well as the outcomes and the functions and effects of positive relations among people. There is a need to understand how these factors will contribute to physical health of people and groups, well being, and promising institutions. Primarily positive psychology needs to incorporate and develop effective and reliable interventions to increase and rely on their processes. There need to be a turning point in which negatives are turned into positives. People today tend to live in an ongoing world in which they are faced with dilemmas, difficult decisions and negative rushes in their lives. People need to learn to slow down and enjoy the small things in life as well as attending to their positive attributes, positive occurrences in their lives, step back and take a look at the bigger picture, the positives.

Allport, G. W. (1958). Becoming: Basic considerations for a psychology of personality. Oxford, England: Verlag.

Dickerson, S. S., & Kemeny, M. E. (2004). Acute stressors and cortisol responses: A theoretical integration and synthesis of laboratory research. Psychological Bulletin, 130, 1–38.

Gross, R. (2009). Themes, Issues and Debates in Psychology. Third Edition.

Josephs, R. A., Bosson, J. K., & Jacobs, C. G. (2003). Self-esteem maintenance processes: Why low self esteem may be resistant to change. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 29, 920–933.

Maslow, A. H. (1968). Toward a psychology of being. New York: Van Nostrand.

Ryff, C. D. (2003). Corners of myopia in the positive psychology parade. Psychological Inquiry, 14, 153–159.

Seligman, M. E. P. (2002). Positive psychology, positive prevention, and positive therapy. In C. R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology (pp. 3–9). New York: Oxford University Press.

Vonk, R. (1994). Trait inferences, impression formation, and person memory: Strategies in processing inconsistent information about people. European Review of Social Psychology, 5, 111–149.

Zhou,J., & George, J. M., (2001). When job dissatisfaction leads to creativity: Encouraging the expression of voice. Academy of Management Journal, 44, 682-696.


~ by kathymellett8 on April 23, 2010.

One Response to “Why do we need Positive Psychology, Why now?”

  1. I agree with your statement that there is a need for positive thinking in most people’s lives and some individuals need help in reaching such levels of thought. Although I do not think that psychology should become more ‘positive’ overall, but in order for the discipline to cover many aspects of life it should be incorporated somehow. In reference to ‘the domain of human optimal functioning’ I feel that the positive psychology perspective may aid us in the trying task of discovering the aspects of human nature that have so far been undetected by social scientists.

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