Positive psychology is the scientific study of what goes right in life, from birth to death and at all stops in between. It is a newly-christened approach within psychology that takes seriously the examination of that which makes life most worth living. Everyone's life has peaks and valleys, and positive psychology does not deny the valleys. Its signature premise is more nuanced, but nonetheless important: what is good about life is as genuine as what is bad and, therefore, deserves equal attention from psychologists. Positive psychology as an explicit perspective has existed only since 1998, but enough relevant theory and research now exist to fill a textbook suitable for a semester-long college course. A Primer in Positive Psychology is thoroughly grounded in scientific research and covers major topics of concern to the field: positive experiences such as pleasure and flow; positive traits such as character strengths, values, and talents; and the social institutions that enable these subjects as well as what recent research might contribute to this knowledge. Every chapter contains exercises that illustrate positive psychology, a glossary, suggestions of articles and books for further reading, and lists of films, websites, and popular songs that embody chapter themes. A comprehensive overview of positive psychology by one of the acknowledged leaders in the field, this textbook provides students with a thorough introduction to an important area of psychology.
Christopher Peterson has been at the University of Michigan since 1986. He is Professor of Psychology, the former director of clinical training, and an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, awarded in recognition of his accomplishments as an undergraduate instructor. Peterson is a member of the Positive Psychology Steering Committee, a consulting editor of the Journal of Positive Psychology, and a Templeton Senior Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania's Positive Psychology Center. He took the lead in creating the Values in Action (VIA) Classification of Strengths, the most ambitious research project to date explicitly undertaken from a positive psychology perspective. Co-author of Character Strengths and Virtues (OUP 2004), Peterson is among the world's 100 most-frequently cited psychologists during the past 20 years and has long-standing research interests in optimism, health, character, and well-being.
Table of Contents
What Is Positive Psychology?
Learning About Positive Psychology: Not a Spectator Sport