Positive Psychology

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  • Created on: 01-05-19 17:53

Focus on 'the Good Life'

Seligman- different aspects of life that can make us happy. Should strive to achieve happiness in each aspect. Response to disease model, which is deterministic, which victimses individuals with MH issues. Didn't improve normal lives, no positive interventions. Social people are happier. Pleasant life- pursuing positive emotions in relation to past, present and future (habituates, need more as you get older). Good life- engagement in life, being fully immersed, fixated and absorbed in that activity. Positive connections with others, positive emotions. 'Flow'. Meaningful life- knowing your strengths and applying them to something bigger than yourself. Community. Example- Diener, highly happy people had strong friendships, positive activities with friends, more likely to experience flow, more opportunities to help others.

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Authenticity of goodness and excellence

Focuses on the good parts of an individual, positive qualities should be just as authentic. To achieve 'authentic happiness', you need to have a clear idea of your own strengths as an individual. These strengths should be utilised and use them as an important focus in our lives as well as our weaknesses. Developed understanding of ourselves, and ability to succeed. Strengths can become a meaningful life. VIA survey, show best qualities about a character. Example- education system, focusing on what is wrong, no problem then everything is right, can mean they're neglected (WINNER, 2000). Gifted children should be pushed further to reach their full potential, such as more sets.

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Acknowledgment of free will

Seligman believed that a major issue of the disease model is that it removed responsibility from the individual, which was essentially victimising them. Can contribute to mental health problems like depression due to removal of control. Taking charge of their emotions and have the free will to change them. Self-directing and adaptive, and the good life can be achieved if we take th initiative to use our strengths and values. Not a result of luck or good genes. Example- mindfullness- belief that they can change their emotions, they will feel empowered to do so (essentially reducing disease model belief). Reducing negative thought patterns and react in a positive way. 

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Formation of relationships- friendships

Freindships make the good life more likely by increasing flow and enjoyment of life. Friendshipspromote the good life and flow by buffering from the stresses of life. Make us more confident to be more independent (dependency paradox, Feeney). Langston- helps us get the most out of happy experience e.g. baby showers. Guidance, support and motivation. Flow more likely when doing activities with friends. Also links to romantic relationships. Example- Myers and Diener, those who could name more friendships were happier, healthier and more likely to life longer. 

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Link to mindfulness

Psychology should aim to promote human flourishing and develop strengths. Therefore, mindfullness is a therapy designed to promote character strengths and virtues along with psychological wellbeing. 

Positive human strengths are as authentic as negative ones, and that people should aim to achieve grater life satisfaction through facilitation of these traits. Mindfullness works by encouraging people to accept their virtues and be more optimistic. 

Acknowledgement of free will in people's behaviour. Encourage people to be more aware of their own thoughts and feelingsand be able to regulate them. Take control and increase level of life.

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Main components of mindfulness

Awareness and acknowledgement of feelings in the present moment. Creating space to respond in new ways. More apprectation and less anxirty. Training and practice required. Buddhist origins. MBCT (mindfulness based stress reduction) and MBSR (mindfulness based cognitive therapy) therapies, no need to be religious. Reduce anxiety, stress and depression. Anyone can practice it, anywhere.Cousrs, one-to-one or groups. Can be self-directed. Gain control of thoughts. Focus on present, recognising negative automatic thoughts and altering their reaction. Meditation and mindful breathing- Formal guided training is the most effective, removes daily interactions. Instruction and guided meditation. Direct their attention to their breathing. Pay attention to their body sensations. Prevents intrusions of thoughts. Reprocess their experiences. Not automatically react negatively.Other examples include basic mindulness training, notice sensations and senses, allow emotions to be present (steady mantra of that emotion). Urge surfing- useful for addicts. Informal- doing amongst our daily activities, focus on single activity. Pay attention to surroundings. Break from normal thought process. 

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Evaluation of therapy- effectiveness

  • Highly adaptable to all aspects of life. 
  • NICE recommended MBCT for individuals who have had 3 or more depressive episodes. Teasdale- 145 recurrently depressed people took 8 classes of MBCT as well as TAU, MBCT proved to be greatest help to those who had experienced most episodes of depression. Not much impact on those who had 2 episodes or less, but impact on 3 or more significantly higher.
  • Many of the studies are small pilot studies and are not very ill. UCD. 
  • Napoli, Krech and Holley- 225 children with high anxiety- Attention Academy Programme- significant reduction in anxiety and ADHD behaviours. 
  • If mental illness is caused by faulty thinking or life stressors etc, it is of limited use in addressing these issues. They would continue if left untreated. May not be appropriate for conditions such as PTSD, anxiety and schizophrenia, which are characterised by intrusive thoughts.
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Midfulness- ethical issues

  • Few side effects. Highly positive attitude towards individual wellbeing. Free will, encourages people to make changes in their lives. 
  • Large issues of untrained practitioners. Many will only have had a week of training. Can have side effects as it is being delivered to potentially vulnerable people. Needs to be delivered by individuals who know about the conditions and will refer them to specialist help. 
  • Reasonably accessible to all. 
  • Courses online for people who are afraid to visit a traditional psychologist, or would not like to share their problems with a stranger. Helping people who otehrwise would not have support.
  • Challenging, need to be reasonably stable and well. Can cause lots of reaction, and can be too much to deal with. Self-criticism. 
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Evaluation of the positive approach

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Miers and Diener- methodology and procedures

  • Didn't carry out their own experiment or investiation. They collected the findings of many studies into happinessand used this to make overall conclusions. Literature Review.
  • A literature review includes current knowledge on a topic, including previous studies and findings. Secondary sources. No new or original experimental work. 
  • Subjective Well Being Scale (SWB)- Simple closed questions. Multi-item scale, includes a number of questions related to happiness. Quantitative measure produced to represent happiness. 
  • Happiness can be assessed in a number of ways- interviews, questionnaires, observations, correlations and meta-analyses (taking other studies' findings and combining them to see if they're significant.
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Findings of Miers and Diener

  • Age- interviews with representative samples of people of all ages said no time of their life is notably happier than others. Survey of 164,776 in 16 countries found this. Predictors of happiness change with age. Inglehart.
  • Gender- women are twice as likely to develop disabling depression and anxiety. Men are 5x more liekly to develop alcoholism and anti-social personality disorder (Robins and Reiger). Women have greater capacity for happiness and sadness (Diener, Sandvik and Larsen).
  • Race- gives little clue to a person's psychological wellbeing. African Americans report nearly as much happiness as European Americans, and are actually slightly less vulnerable to depression. Black and white people report similar levels of self-esteem (Crocker and Major). People in disadvantaged areas maintain self-esteem by caluing the areas they excel in and comparing to people in their group.
  • Culture- Collectivists report lower SWB than individualist cultures. Happiness differs a little, Portugal 10% very happy, Netherlands 40% very happy (Inglehart).
  • Money- Basic necessities is basic to wellbeing- poor countries had a moderate effect on SWB. Diener noted a +.12 correlation between money and happiness (Diener). Campbell- slight tendency for a people with a lot of money to be happier.
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Happy people...

  • Traits of happy people include self esteem, control, optimism and extraversion. Campbell- happy people have self-serving bias- more ethical, less prejudice. Control- more empowered, do better at school, cope better with stress.
  • Relationships- Campbell- happy people like themselves. Get on better with others. Close relationships have strain but good relationships outweigh strain. Seligman- depression comes from impovershed social connections. 3/4 spouses say their spouse is their best friend.
  • Flow- when work is pleasure, life is a joy- Gorkey. Work satisfaction affects life satisfaction. Csikzentmihayli- happiness caused by mental challenge, not passivity. Major source of wellbeing.
  • Faith- Religious people much less likely to become delinquent and abuse drugs and alcohol (Batson). Religios people tend to be healthier and live longer- Koening. Higher levels of happiness and life satisfaction (Paloma).
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Conclusions from Miers and Diener

Apaptation- the idea that we adapt to something that is continuous, and normal levels of happiness return after life events. This could be a car accident or winningthe lottery. Events withing 3 months affect SWB. 

Cultural world view- the culture impacts the way you percieve the world and emotions. Templates for perception affect SWB, some interpret positively and some interpret negatively. For example, Scandanavians promote happiness, making them happier countries, they place value on it.

Values and goals- only happy if it relates directly to your goals. Major predictor of SWB e.g. if having a lot of money is your goal, then this is likely to make you happy.

Knowing your positive traits makes you happier, as well as close relationships, flow in work and recreation and faith. 

Will be useful in investigating depression and anxiety. Helping people rethink their priorities and build an environment that promotes wellbeing. 

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Evaluation of Miers and Diener

Population validity- used a range of cultures- cross-cultural research. Inglehart looked at 24 countries around the world. Large sample size, 120,000, likely to be varied. However, a lot of the studies were from Europe and USA, which could cause a culture bias. Could be assessing countries with an ethnocentric approach. 

Internal validity- self-report is the best way to find out the thoughts and feelings of an individual. SWB, same question for all. However, researcher bias. Choosing which studies to include in the LR. Social desirability- they could have lied, wording of the questions could have been percieved differently.Subjective. Only did it one time- happiness can vary greatly at different times.

Use of correlations- Insight into variables that can't be controlled, more ethical, more practical and cost-effective. However, cause and effect. Can't say what definitely causes happiness. Intervening variables- otehr factors they didn't investigate could have been the cause of their happiness. 

Temporal validity- influence of faith and gender is changing, so the studies may not apply.

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EI and SI of Miers and Diener

Risk of harm- discussion of sensitive issues. Painful thoughts. They may feel judges. Reflection on personal issues. However, had to ask to get the result for the study. They had the right to lie or withdraw from the study, not likely to cause distress. 

Privacy- making them record details of a personal nature, could be personal to them and may cause them upset of they're being asked about it. They could have also been embarrassed. However, it was to give a better idea of their happiness levels, gives context. They could record what they wanted, and it was confidential and anonymous.

Socially sensitive research- could fuel discrimination as cultures are being compared, causing friction within society. However, this could lead to a better understanding of these issues, which is useful. It was other people's research, it wasn't them who made the claims. Trying to help.

Usefulness in society- Some factors can't be improved through positivity, can't control the factors that make you happy. However, better understanding of what makes you happy, leading to a happier society, including school and workplace. Can give people the control teh change.

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