Positive Psychology has been in the news recently (full summary here at Positive Psychology News Daily).
- EU citizens report themselves as 87% happy! From this Reuters news, the Eurobarometer survey asked social questions to nearly 27,000 people in the EU during Nov and Dec 06. While 87% of people on average considered themselves happy, Denmark led with 97% and Bulgaria (which joined the EU in January) was the lowest with 45%.
FYI, Map of the EU here. FULL RESULTS of the Eurobarometer survey here.
Conclusion? What’s the point then of happiness research – if it turns out people are pretty happy already? Depends – if you’re happy, do you still want to know how to get happier, more successful, and more productive? Or is generally happy the goal, and no higher? Maslow says self-actualization is one of the main needs of people – always becoming better at who we are. Is he right? I think so.
- Scientific American writer calls for more historical-based research of happiness. I disagree. I don’t like historical research when your goal is to find out how a person feels or thinks. FYI, historical research consists of looking at old documents, diaries, newspaper clippings to try to evaluate the person’s mindset. A person could be very crotchety on the outside – sayings to friends, even diary – but could be wonderfully content and happy on the inside.
I believe one of the VERY BEST THINGS ABOUT POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY is that it BELIEVES IN THE PERSON. Positive Psychology believes that a person knows best about himself or herself. There is no “objective measure” of happiness. In fact, the Ed Diener-created SWB (subjective well-being measure) is explicitly a measure of how the person believes he is.
I do agree with the author that happiness can be time- and context-dependant. But I think the way to make positive psychology and happiness research more universal is not by going backwards, but by going forwards. George Vaillant has made a research life of studying the longitudinal Adult Grant Study. This is a study of people that were generally healthy people at ages 20, and what happens to them over their lives. He studies alcoholism, mature emotional defenses, happiness, success, and all because he had regular interviews and interesting follow-ups with the same people. (For more information, I recommend the immensely interesting read Aging Well.)
Conclusion? We will get stronger and more interesting conclusions from positive psychology when we study it both in short-term studies and in logitudinal studies.
- Dissertation of the Year is on Positive Psychology. Very interesting dissertation of the year. Kudos to Virigina Ambler! FULL TEXT of dissertation here, and summary here.
Conclusions? 1) It’s a very interesting dissertation, and 2) while there so far only one Ph.D. program in Positive Psychology and only one Master’s program, there will likely be more universities offering both Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in the near future since there is an interest in further research in these fields.