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Positive Psychology Theory

While positive psychology has seen tremendous growth over the past decade, the central theories in the field are continuing to evolve. Articles in this section introduce important theoretical concepts and refer to new research in the field.

What is well-being? And why is authentic happiness theory wrong? In his book Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being, Dr. Seligman shares his updated theory of well-being. Read an excerpt from the book and learn about the new goal of positive psychology: to increase not just human happiness, but human flourishing.

Positive Psychology Initiatives

Positive psychology theory and research has been applied across many domains, from education to health to neuroscience. In this section, you will find information about some of the larger positive psychology initiatives from the University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Center. These articles are not meant to be comprehensive reviews of the work in these domains – instead, they offer an introductory overview for those who may not be familiar with these projects. For those curious to learn more about these initiatives, we have provided suggestions for learning more where possible.

Positive Education: Resilience Training for Educators

Can schools teach both the skills of well-being and the skills of achievement, without compromising either?

Positive Health

Is health more than just the absence of illness? Read about recent efforts in "positive health" to identify the subjective, biological, and functional assets that actually increase health.

Positive Neuroscience

What are the neural mechanisms of human flourishing? A network of researchers are studying neuroscience topics ranging from the biological bases of altruism to the effects of positive interventions on the brain.

Resilience Training for the US Army

Can the army become as psychologically fit as it is physically fit? Learn about the Comprehensive Soldier & Family Fitness program that is teaching resilience skills to the U.S. Army community.

Prospective Psychology

How does thinking about the future shape present and future behavior? The new field of Prospective Psychology investigates.

Grit and Self-Control

How do we build grit and self-control?

Creativity and Well-Being

How does creativity work, how is it linked to imagination, and how does it contribute to our well-being?

Growth through Adversity

Does experiencing hardship and troubles leave us in a better place than we were before? Learn how researchers are exploring the conditions under which people can experience positive behavioral changes after going through highly stressful adverse events.

The World Well-Being Project

What can we learn about psychological and medical well-being based on language used in social media like Facebook or Twitter?