The mission of the MAPP Magazine is first to keep University of Pennsylvania Master of Applied Positive Psychology Program (MAPP) alumni connected, and second to share the wide range of our applications of positive psychology with a broader audience to inspire collaboration and growth in the field.
This issue of MAPP Magazine deals with the theme of Civic Engagement. Please read on to find links to articles about how volunteering to help run elections can increase well-being, and the positive psychology skills useful in a climate where poll workers are threatened; how positive psychology can be applied to approach discussions with adherents of extremist groups so that interventions are not perceived as personal attacks; and how members of a community can use strengths to make connections and facilitate curious conversations among those with opposing political views.
What’s it like to serve as an elections volunteer in these volatile times? Read what Karen Deppa, C’15 has to say about her role as a chief election judge and the positive psychology tenets that fortify her through long days of patient work.
Karen also shares strengths needed to deal with the dark side of our participatory form of government amidst harassment and threats directed at the people like her who give their time to sustain our democracy. Despite these circumstances, Karen feels more committed to this work than ever before, and says of her role: “It’s not necessarily fun, and at times can be downright frustrating, but overall, I find it immensely fulfilling.”
Arthur Fullerton, C’08 examines the rise of white Christian nationalism in the U.S. and the increase in extremism around the globe. He explores the role of scarcity and fixed mindsets that give rise to radical behavior.
Then Arthur slips on his positive psychology hat to reveal how the science we love offers useful ways of connecting with extremists. He explains, “. . .positive psychology can be so helpful in reframing the terms of discussion so interventions aren’t perceived as personal attacks.”
Read Arthur’s strategies for building bridges using the virtues of positive psychology.
Kathy Snyder, C’10 is the Midland Area Wellbeing Coalition Coordinator and in 2020 she worked directly with MAPP students whose service learning project aimed to foster civil dialog and improved connections in her community. Their project provided training programs to help community leaders promote civility and remain curious when discussing opposing viewpoints.
In this article, Kathy candidly shares how her own political attitudes undermined an important relationship in her life—and what happened when she let her character strengths of curiosity, kindness, love, and humor break through.
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