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From The CriticsReviewer: Howard A Fox, MA (Fielding Graduate University)
Description: This instructional book on positive psychology delivers the concepts, research, and practices through the lens of a movie camera as a means of fostering an understanding of the practice. The previous edition was published in 2008.
Purpose: The authors provide an introduction to the concepts that comprise the positive psychology field, then discuss the ways in which the specific character strengths of positive psychology have been portrayed in the highlighted movies. The authors base their work on the six virtues and 24 character strengths introduced by Peterson and Seligman in their book, Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification (American Psychological Association, 2004). The objective is to help readers recognize the character strengths that they are interested in and be inspired toward self-improvement; to provide practitioners examples as a learning tool; to aid researchers in their continuing study of positive psychology; and to help all readers to view movies in a more refreshing way.
Audience: The audience includes practitioners in positive psychology, researchers, students, and other practitioners such as coaches and leadership development professionals. Both authors are established scholars and educators in the field of positive psychology.
Features: In the first section, the authors provide an overview of positive psychology, a discussion of character strength, and a short synopsis of current signature strength research and practice. They conclude this section with a description of the criteria used to include the films in the book. Section II, which comprises the bulk of the text, represent a virtue and character strength combination. Each chapter includes the key concepts and new relevant research about the virtue and character strength, as well as an introduction and explanation of how the film (including specific scenes) is representative of the virtue and character strength. Section III, new to this edition, introduces readers to areas that extend beyond the character, but are recognized by positive psychology as being necessary for overall well-being. The criteria for inclusion in this section are that the topic contributes to well-being, is pursued for its own sake, and can be measured independently. This section also contains suggestions for future research. The book also includes 10 appendixes that serve to establish a more thorough grounding between positive psychology and films.
Assessment: I found this to be a valuable book. As a business consultant and leadership coach, I continually look for ways to help my clients increase their awareness of their leadership style, and how their personality and sense of self informs this awareness. The use of films and clips (including examples from television) are a valuable tool. I have already shared this book with my peers, and look forward to so seeing how it evolves. This edition adds new films, chapters, and appendixes, as well as additional research to support the ideas presented and a more thorough description of how the character strength relates to the character(s) in the film.