A Primer in Positive Psychology

A Primer in Positive Psychology

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by Christopher Peterson
     
 

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Positive psychology is the scientific study of what goes right in life, from birth to death and at all stops in between. It is a newly-christened approach within psychology that takes seriously the examination of that which makes life most worth living. Everyone's life has peaks and valleys, and positive psychology does not deny the valleys. Its signature premise… See more details below

Overview

Positive psychology is the scientific study of what goes right in life, from birth to death and at all stops in between. It is a newly-christened approach within psychology that takes seriously the examination of that which makes life most worth living. Everyone's life has peaks and valleys, and positive psychology does not deny the valleys. Its signature premise is more nuanced, but nonetheless important: what is good about life is as genuine as what is bad and, therefore, deserves equal attention from psychologists. Positive psychology as an explicit perspective has existed only since 1998, but enough relevant theory and research now exist to fill a textbook suitable for a semester-long college course. A Primer in Positive Psychology is thoroughly grounded in scientific research and covers major topics of concern to the field: positive experiences such as pleasure and flow; positive traits such as character strengths, values, and talents; and the social institutions that enable these subjects as well as what recent research might contribute to this knowledge. Every chapter contains exercises that illustrate positive psychology, a glossary, suggestions of articles and books for further reading, and lists of films, websites, and popular songs that embody chapter themes. A comprehensive overview of positive psychology by one of the acknowledged leaders in the field, this textbook provides students with a thorough introduction to an important area of psychology.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Chris Peterson, one of the founding fathers of Positive Psychology, has written a wonderfully engaging and deeply stimulating introduction to this swiftly growing field. Intellectual history is interwoven with data, research findings with backstage gossip, to produce a delightful classic." -- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Director, Quality of Life Research Center and C.S. and D.J. Davidson Professor, Peter F. Drucker School of Management, Claremont Graduate University

"This excellent text gives readers a clear and interesting introduction to the field of positive psychology. Students will find the book easy to read, yet informative, and others can read the book because it covers fascinating material that is relevant to living a successful life." --Ed Diener, Alumni Distinguished Professor of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Editor, Perspectives on Psychological Science, and Journal of Happiness Studies

"This is the definitive textbook in Positive Psychology. But more than that, it may be the single best textbook on any subject that I have ever read. It's fun to read and it's authoritative-written as it is by one of the main investigators in the field. I can't remember reading a textbook before that both made me laugh out loud and brought tears to my eyes." --Martin E.P. Seligman, Fox Leadership Professor of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania, and Director, Positive Psychology Center

"Peterson offers his readers a marvelous blend of lucidity, originality, humor, kindness and scholarship. This is a book that should entice many thousands of readers into a lifetime of interest in psychology." --George Vaillant, Senior hysician at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

"This is a splendid book that presents the principles of positive psychology in a very understandable way. The exercises are well done and bring the material to life. This is a wonderful volume in the Oxford publishing tradition. It challenges the reader to see clients in a new way which will enhance psychological growth. As clinicians, we tend to focus on pathology, but positive psychology helps us to look beyond the obvious difficulties and see potential. Psychologists and psychology students need to be inspired; this book will do that and more."--Doody's

"Peterson moves gracefully, with gravitas and humor, and provides an honest account on positive psychology. Peterson provides a good overview of research findings on important themes...he also does a fine job of critical evaluation in many subdomains of psychological science...an excellent introduction to the area of positive psychology."--PsycCRITIQUES

"No one teaching, studying or intending to teach or study positive psychology should walk past this book...A masterful storyteller, [Peterson] leads the reader through the history, discoveries, victories, pitfalls and unresolved issues in positive psychology. One of the greatest virtues of the book is that it is full of personal examples and sometimes even a bit of professional gossip, giving it almost a novelistic read. Yet, a serious scholarly rigor is fully preserved - hundreds of research findings are presented in a clear, logical and engaging fashion."--Psychology Teaching Review

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Gary B Kaniuk, Psy.D.(Cermak Health Services)
Description: This book explains positive psychology, a new field of interest since the late 1990s. Since the focus of psychology has been on pathology for many years, Dr. Peterson attempts to balance the scales by introducing three main factors that characterize this movement: positive subjective experiences; positive individual traits; positive institutions. This comprehensive book gives clear direction to what positive psychology is and what it is not.
Purpose: In the preface, the author writes: "Positive psychology as an explicit perspective has existed only since 1998, but enough relevant theory and research now exist concerning what makes life most worth living to fill a book suitable for a semester-long college course. This is that book." Later, in chapter 1, he continues: "In this book, I describe positive psychology and what positive psychologists have learned about the good life and how it can be encouraged. Some of you are reading this book because it has been assigned for a college course. Others of you are reading it simply because you are curious and want to learn more. In either case, I will voice one more suspicion: You will find some food for thought here and an action plan that might make your own life a better one." The author meets his objectives.
Audience: According to the author, "I wrote with an audience of college students in mind. Perhaps they had previously studied psychology, perhaps not. Regardless, all the material here is accessible and — I hope — interesting and informative." He adds, "I also wrote with a more general audience in mind, given growing popular interest in positive psychology. Perhaps even more so than psychology students, for whom critical thinking is explicitly urged by their instructors. The general public needs a fair and balanced presentation of what psychologists know and what they do not. Positive psychology is plenty exciting without the need to run far ahead of what has already been established." The author has been at the University of Michigan since 1986 and is a consulting editor of the Journal of Positive Psychology and a Templeton Senior Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania's Positive Psychology.
Features: The book covers positive psychology, which is defined by the author as "the scientific study of what goes right in life, from birth to death and at all stops in between. It is s newly christened approach within psychology that takes seriously as a subject matter those things that make life most worth living." The chapters describe the pillars of positive psychology, which are: positive subjective experiences (chapters 3-4); positive individual traits (chapters 5-9); positive institutions (chapters 10-11). Most of the chapters have an exercise, glossary, and resources at the end. The author has done a marvelous job of articulating the elementary principles of positive psychology. This approach is so refreshing because it compels the reader to look for strengths, not just weaknesses. Positive psychologists do not ignore the impact of traumatic events, but seek to help the client incorporate them into a coherent self who finds meaning and fulfillment despite the suffering. The final chapter on the future of positive psychology (chapter 12), gives the reader a lot to think about. It ends with a quote from Lincoln's second inaugural address in 1865 about how the country needed to "bind up the nation's wounds and to care for him who shall have borne the battle." This is something we should take seriously today as well.
Assessment: This is a splendid book that presents the principles of positive psychology in a very understandable way. The exercises are well done and bring the material to life. This is a wonderful volume in the Oxford publishing tradition. It challenges the reader to see clients in a new way which will enhance psychological growth. As clinicians, we tend to focus on pathology, but positive psychology helps us to look beyond the obvious difficulties and see potential. Psychologists and psychology students need to be inspired; this book will do that and more.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199884940
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
06/28/2006
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
371,838
File size:
3 MB

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