Three major articles this week about positive psychology: The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and New Scientist. If you want to stay in-the-know about the latest findings, here are three intriguing and well-written articles.
- What Makes Us Happy? by Joshua Wolf Shenk
The Atlantic, June, 2009
George Vaillant’s decades of research on healthy lifetimes, including details on healthy adult defense mechanisms. This article really comes to life in three ways:
- Video interview with George Vaillant
- Glimpses into peoples’ lives that author Shenk pulls from Vaillant’s books and actual cases studies
- Intersection of the researcher and the research: how does one study a group of people for 72 years? George Vaillant and the study
- Don’t! The Science of Self-Control by Jonah Lehrer
The New Yorker, May 18, 2009
This article features positive psychologist Angela Duckworth and well-cited researcher Walter Mischel (remember the marshmallow study?).
- “Instead of getting obsessed with the marshmallow—the “hot stimulus”—the patient children distracted themselves by covering their eyes, pretending to play hide-and-seek underneath the desk, or singing songs from “Sesame Street.”… In adults, this skill is often referred to as metacognition, or thinking about thinking, and it’s what allows people to outsmart their shortcomings.”
- The Science of Voodoo: When Mind Attacks Body by Helen Pilcher
New Scientist, May 13, 2009
Everyone knows about the placebo effect. What about the “nocebo” effect? When people get hexed, cursed, or tainted with voodoo, sometimes they program their bodies to change for the worse. Author Pilcher writes, “Many patients who suffer harmful side effects, for instance, may do so only because they have been told to expect them. What’s more, people who believe they have a high risk of certain diseases are more likely to get them than people with the same risk factors who believe they have a low risk.”