I recently stumbled upon this quote by Carl Gustav Jung, the founder of Analytic Psychology. Though I feel that people can change considerably over the course of a lifetime, Jung reminds us that we may possess an unchangeable core, e.g., a set of “drives” or “needs” that stay the same throughout our lives, to be manifested through different activities and vocations (please see the article on self-determination theory on the link to Positive Psychology).
In my LinkedIn Profile, I call myself a Penn MAPPster ever since getting the OK on my final assignment, the so-called Capstone Project in August 2014 – but my official certificate took about a year to cross the Atlantic Ocean. This is what it looks like:
If you are thinking about obtaining a degree in Positive Psychology, here you can find a great list of educational opportunities for different wallets, time frames, and levels of aspiration. I can only tell you about the MAPP program at Penn. I think these 10 articles best sum up my deep dive into Positive Psychology in Philadelphia. Enjoy!
- Pennsylvania, here I come
- Another Day in Positive Psychology Paradise
- Welcome to Hogwarts
- 2051: Positive Psychology, Optimism, and the Florentine Moment in Time
- Positive Psychology and MAPP at Penn: Doing that Namedropping Thing
- My Year in MAPP: A 5-Step Course in the fine Art of Being Un-German
- Godspeed to MAPP 9! I Love Myself so Much More Because of You
- How to rock your Ivy League Master in Positive Psychology: a 10-Point Action Plan
- “All in on Love” and other beautiful Stories
- Positive Psychology has Changed the Way I Live, Lead, and Love
There are tons of books out there explaining how to use Positive Psychology for boosting the performance of organizations. But the truth is: from a scientific point of view, we really do not know very much about this link. There’s abundant research on the connection of positivity and individual performance – but it remains by and large unclear if this influence on the micro-level yields any outcomes on the macro-level. Of course, it seems to make a lot of sense to infer this relationship – but where’s the research?
A very worthwhile attempt is offered via an article named Effects of positive practices on organizational effectiveness by Kim Cameron and his colleagues. Based on prior research, they developed an inventory of what they call “positives practices”. According to the authors, these can be described as
behaviors, techniques, routines […] that represent positively deviant (i.e., unusual) practices, practices with an affirmative bias, and practices that connote virtuousness and eudemonism in organizations.
In order to do so, they administered a large number of questionnaire items to diverse groups of people. Afterwards, they clustered the answers in order to find common themes and pattern in the data. They found that all positives practices could be categorized into six distinct subgroups:
People care for, are interested in, and maintain responsibility for one another as friends.
People provide support for one another including kindness and compassion when others are struggling.
People avoid blame and forgive mistakes.
People inspire one another at work.
The meaningfulness of the work is emphasized, and people are elevated and renewed by the work.
Respect, Integrity, and Gratitude
People treat one another with respect and express appreciation for one another. They trust one another and maintain integrity.
Having found that structure, they gathered data from several divisions of a financial services company and one operating in the healthcare industry. They asked employees to assess their respective business unit (= the organization as a whole, not individuals) with regard to being a place that possesses the aforementioned attributes. Additionally, they obtained data on several objective and subjective key performance indicators of those business units – and finally looked at the connection of the presence of positive practices and organizational effectiveness measures. Here´s what they´ve Cameron and his colleagues found (in their own words):
In Study 1, positive practices in financial service business units were significantly associated with financial performance, work climate, turnover, and senior executive evaluations of effectiveness. In an industry in which positive practices might be assumed to carry little importance, organizational performance was substantially affected by the implementation of positive practices.
In Study 2, improvement in positive practices over a two year period in health care units predicted improvements in turnover, patient satisfaction, organizational climate, employee participation in the organization, quality of care, managerial support, and resource adequacy.
In the course of arguing why positive practices should have a performance-boosting effect, the authors conclude that
cognitively, emotionally, behaviorally, physiologically, and socially, evidence suggests that human systems naturally prefer exposure to the positive, so it is expected that organizational performance would be enhanced by positive practices.
Of course, Cameron et al. urge us to be careful not to make strong inferences from their results:
The results of these two investigations, of course, are suggestive and not conclusive.
Still, their work is one of the first and still very rare pieces of research that links positive organizational behavior to organizational effectiveness. I am very much looking forward to scholars who pick up on these findings and expand our knowledge on the positivity-performance link.
There are literally hundreds of quotes and definitions on “the happy life”. I find that a lot of them point towards the quieter, more modest forms of happiness, such as practicing gratitude – being content with what we have.
But there are others sides to happiness – those can be found in the letter A of Martin Seligman’s PERMA definition of the good life. Therefore, I was thrilled to stumble upon this quote by former POTUS Franklin D. Roosevelt. Enjoy!
Yesterday, I stumbled upon this fascinating info graphic (click to enlarge):
It was created by game experience designer Nicole Lazzaro and shows the different kinds of positive emotions that gamers can experience while playing a well-crafted game. The underlying data was obtained from in-depth interviews and thorough observations of 60 gamers.
I am not a gamer myself (or rather, I stopped being one at age 14…) but I like the chart and the underlying concept for its striking similarity to some frameworks from Positive Psychology. It seems pretty easy to map the four types of fun to Seligman´s PERMA framework:
- “Easy Fun” and Imagination can be found in Positive Emotions.
- “Hard Fun” and Mastery can be found in Engagement and Achievement.
- “People Fun” and Bonding can be found in Relationships.
- “Serious Fun” and Value can be found in Meaning and also Achievement.
I´m always fascinated when different thinkers come to similar conclusions starting at totally different angles of a certain subject. Lazzaro has a presentation on Slideshare where she explores her framework in more depth. Have (maybe four types…) of fun with it!
Sir Richard Branson seems to be an endless source of formidable quotes (I´ve used one in my TEDx Talk). Today I stumbled upon another one that I find particularly striking – as it promotes one of the central tenets in Positive Psychology: Namely, that (financial) success in life may be a consequence of positive emotions, and not so much a prerequisite. This quote s art of a longer “letter to a stranger”, where Branson shares his core ideas on how to live a life that is worthwhile living.
I know I’m fortunate to live an extraordinary life, and that most people would assume my business success, and the wealth that comes with it, have brought me happiness. But they haven’t; in fact it’s the reverse. I am successful, wealthy and connected because I am happy.
This letter, in turn, is part of a new book that consists of more “letters to strangers” on the same subject, among them Lord Richard Layard and Arianna Huffington. I´m pretty sure this will be on my reading list soon.
Dear Mappalicious Visitor!
In the past, I ran a Mappalicious Facebook page where I basically re-posted all the articles that I’ve published on this blog.
Recently, I’ve decided to abandon this site. The reason is that I also publish regularly on other outlets, sometimes on topics that are not directly related to Positive Psychology.
In order to have “everything in one place” in the future, I’ve created a new Facebook page that is directly associated with my name: Therefore, if would like to be notified about new Positive Psychology content via Facebook regularly, I kindly ask you to “like” this new page.
You can find it here.
Dr. Nico Rose