What if friends, somewhat new to positive psychology, asked you what’s going on in the field? Perhaps the question might be, “What’s the difference between positive psychology and traditional psychology?” Or perhaps your friends want to know of an efficient way to find out about the most seminal research. Or perhaps they want to include topics from positive psychology in classes (college, high school, Sunday school, business) and need to feel confidently grounded in the relevant research. Where would you send them?
After reading Jenny Anderson’s Positive Psychology; An Anthology, I have a great answer. Jenny has collected articles that not only survey the history and foundations of positive psychology, but also capture its unique perspective. This anthology is a valuable resource for instructors, students, and practitioners in the field who want to read articles that will spark discussion and lead to a greater understanding of the field. It’s also a great resource for people who are just plain curious.
Anderson begins her anthology with a brief history of the positive psychology movement and its unique perspective that “treatment is not just fixing what is wrong; it also is building what is right.” The book is organized around Seligman’s PERMA model of well-being: positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, and achievement.Anderson demonstrates the importance of incorporating the research findings into daily life. Using the anthology, students can gain a deep understanding of the scientific research supporting weekly or bi-weekly interventions that they can apply in their own lives over the course of the semester.
Anderson has examined several undergraduate positive psychology courses around the country to land on a effective mix of 14 articles that both spark discussion and offer a well-rounded perspective on the tenets of positive psychology and its impact on many other fields that contribute to well-being and fulfillment. Topics include foundational research on
- positive emotions
- exploration of money and well-being
- application of strengths
- group well-being
Her impressive collection of 25 authors includes Martin Seligman, Chris Peterson, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Barbara Fredrickson, Ed Diener, Michael McCullough, and Charles Snyder.
Anderson is a graduate of the Master of Applied Positive Psychology program at UPENN and a faculty member at the University of Delaware where she teaches survey courses and seminars in positive psychology. She has seen firsthand what works in the classroom and the topics that have the greatest effects on student well-being.
A true demonstration that Anderson walks her own talk is the picture on the front cover of Anderson engaging joyfully with her baby. She not only teaches the subject; she also lives it.
Anderson, J. (2011). Positive Psychology: An Anthology. Cognella Academic Publishing.
Picture of the articles and books read and written during the first semester of MAPP courtesy of Marge Dukes