Motivation and emotion/Tutorials/Positive psychology

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Tutorial 11: Positive psychology

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This is the eleventh tutorial for the motivation and emotion unit of study.

Overview[edit | edit source]

This tutorial is about positive psychology, self-actualisation, and happiness.

Assumptions[edit | edit source]

To what extent do you agree with the underlying assumptions of positive psychology? Not sure? Consider these questions :

  1. Do you think that "evil" (or anti-social) behaviour is:
    • inherent in human nature?
    • a product of a sick culture?
  2. How does learning best occur? Does it follow from:
    • well-developed curricula and expert teaching?
    • having one’s interests identified, facilitated, and supported?
  3. Does psychological therapy work best by:
    • fixing what is broken?
    • nurturing what is best?
  4. Which answers correspond to positive psychology paradigms? (the 2nd answer in each case)

Self-actualisation[edit | edit source]

  1. Self-actualising is the process of fulfilling your potential.
  2. Complete this Self-evaluation of self-actualisation (Google Form).
  3. After submitting, click "See previous responses" to see graphs of class responses.
  4. Review your answers and highlight:
    1. What are you doing that is particularly well that is helping you towards self-actualisation?
    2. What could you improve to better promote growth towards self-actualisation?

Happiness[edit | edit source]

Since the development of positive psychology in 1990s, there has been a significant focus on psychological research and understanding of happiness.

  1. Martin Seligman suggests three components of happiness which he calls the:
    1. Pleasant life: Dealing with the past, optimism about the future, happiness in the present (hedonic pleasure and the skills to amplify pleasure). However, this form of happiness is limited by being short-lived, subject to the hedonic treadmill, and heritable.
    2. Good life: or Eudaimonia; Engagement (flow, absorption)
    3. Meaningful life: Connection to a higher purpose)
  2. Dan Gilbert suggests two components of happiness: (The surprising science of happiness (Dan Gilbert, 2004, 21:20, TED talk) - see also: Ten years later: Dan Gilbert):
    1. Natural happiness: What we feel when we get what we want
    2. Synthetic happiness: What we feel when we learn to like what we get

Take-away message: The science of happiness is counter-intuitive - people are subject to many biases, including the impact bias which means that we overestimate the hedonic impact of good and bad events, and which thereby undermines our decision-making about how to be happy.

Recording[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

Additional tutorial material
Book chapters
Lectures and tutorials

References[edit | edit source]

Brickman, P., Coates, D., & Janoff-Bulman, R. (1978). Lottery winners and accident victims: Is happiness relative?. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 36(8), 917-927.

Gilbert, D. (2009). Stumbling on happiness. Vintage.

External links[edit | edit source]