Home All MAPP Summit Poster Presentations Part III: Stories of Strength

MAPP Summit Poster Presentations Part III: Stories of Strength

written by Denise Clegg 9 November 2008

Denise Clegg, MAPP 08, is Program Officer for the Positive Neuroscience project at the University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Center. She also serves as a facilitator for the Penn Resilience Program and is a daily editor for Positive Psychology News Daily.

Denise writes on the 20th of each month, and her articles are here.

MAPP Penn LogoThe MAPP Summit Conference featured alumni presentations sharing some of the latest innovations in positive psychology research and application.

This is Part III of a series that started on November 6.



Virginia MillerVirginia Millar presented Exploring the Character Strengths of an Oral Tradition: Vanuatu through analysis of its archived oral legends, a content and narrative analysis of VIA Strengths in the transcribed legends from the South Pacific country of Vanuatu. Notably, all 24 VIA strengths were found and seven additional non-VIA strengths were identified as potential culturally-specific strengths.

Click here to view Virginia Millar’s poster.

What kindled your early curiosity and most inspired you to pursue your research/project?

First, as a teacher in a setting of great diversity, I know that different cultures favor different written narrative styles, and value perspectives outside the majority. The extensive VIA is based on literate traditions. I kept wondering what a completely different narrative style, an oral tradition, might reveal about how strengths are valued. Secondly, my daughter Liz is in the Peace Corps in Vanuatu, a very isolated country of 83 islands, which has maintained its oral tradition in most places until recently. I was planning to visit, so I thought it would be the ideal culture to focus on.

Character Strengths Chart for Vanuatu

What is the most important take-away you want to share about your research?

Awareness about culturally-bound character strengths is increasingly important as globalization broadens western influence on developing nations. And we may be able to learn something about creating happiness in western cultures. Vanuatu was #1 on the Happy Planet Index, 2006. I am particularly intrigued that satisfaction and contentment are portrayed as chosen character strengths in the legends (rather than resulting conditions) and I saw this contentment & happiness in the people, despite extremely sparse material wealth. I’m worried about what impact continued exposure to western media & development may have on these wonderful cultural strengths and attributes.

Awareness of and respect for culturally-bound character strengths becomes increasingly important as globalization broadens the impact of western, literate cultures on developing nations



Nadya PeevaNadya Peeva presented StorySpiral, a website, blog and community building tool. Integrating positive psychology theories including Appreciative Inquiry and flow, the StorySpiral platform will be built to harness the power of shared and collective stories and strengths for positive social transformation.

What kindled your early curiosity and most inspired you to pursue your research project?

From an early age I felt drawn to stories and storytelling. Later in life I discovered that our actions reflect the stories we tell about who we are and how the world operates. In recent years, we’ve all found ourselves writing a new collective story. It tells of community, connectedness, courage and compassion. It transcends division, recovers wholeness and embraces all of life. The StorySpiral community contributes to making the emerging new story visible by creating awareness of the ways in which a new worldview is taking root in every domain of human activity.

What is the most important take-away you want to share about your research?

By understanding that the future is a product of our collective beliefs and aspirations, we become empowered to choose a more inclusive story by living our individual lives in ways that are aligned with a bigger vision. Every moment offers us a choice. It asks us to decide if we’ll insists on division or rise above our differences, if we’ll swallow or speak our truth, if we’ll settle for convenience or resolve to live our highest possibility. I hope that StorySpiral will help remember that our collective future is a product of our choices and will support the capacity to choose consciously.

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Jeff 9 November 2008 - 4:00 pm

These poster presentations are fun.

Cathy Parsons 15 November 2008 - 5:39 pm

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading all of the postings that related to the MAPP Summit this past fall. What wonderful ideas and initiatives! I was especially thrilled to read about the postings from my classmates of MAPP.3 as I recall conversations about the focus of the various topics and wondered about the outcomes. Congratulations to you all! I am missing you this year and hope that I will see some of you at the upcoming World Congress in Positive Psychology in June, and perhaps the MAPP Summit next fall. Fondest regards, Cathy


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