Are you ready for the 2. Wave of Positive Psychology?

I guess there ´s a heck of a lot of people out there who haven’t even heard about the first wave of Positive Psychology – and now, there´s supposed to be a second one? Yes, sir!

For quite some time now, Positive Psychology has been criticized for focusing way too much on the positive side(s) of life, while (by and large) ignoring negative phenomena – which, after all, is why Positive Psychology was founded in the first place. I feel this criticism is unwarranted pertaining to the academic/research side of things. E.g., research on Post-Traumatic Growth has always been readily embraced. But I guess in terms of marketing PP to the public, there´s more than a bit truth to this allegation.

Last year, Todd Kashdan and Robert Biswas-Diener published their book The Upside of Your Dark Side, others are following suit now. There´s a very recent article on Psychology Today by Tim Lomas: Second Wave Positive Psychology: An Introduction. Here´s the central part:

Second Wave Positive Psychology is underpinned by four dialectical principles: appraisal; co-valence; complementarity; and evolution.

Appraisal means that we cannot appraise something as either positive or negative without taking context into account.

Co-valence reflects the idea that many situations and experiences comprise positive and negative elements.

Complementarity is about the idea of Ying and Yang, that positive and negative are co-creating sides of the same coin.

Evolution draws on Hegel’s notion of thesis-antithesis-synthesis.

In this case, traditional psychology can be seen as the thesis, Positive Psychology is the anti-thesis, and SWPP could evolve into a synthesis, where the truths of both thesis and antithesis are preserved, while their flaws are overcome.

Just in case you´ll find that article stimulating: it is based on an academic paper which can be found on Research Gate: Second Wave Positive Psychology: Exploring the Positive–Negative Dialectics of Wellbeing.

Another synopsis of SWPP is proposed by Paul T. P. Wong in this article: What Is Second Wave Positive Psychology and Why is it necessary?


3 thoughts on “Are you ready for the 2. Wave of Positive Psychology?

  1. I don’t understand the criticism that positive psychology is “too” focused on the positive. This is like saying that developmental psychology is “too” focused on development, or I/O psychology is “too” focused on what goes on in organizations, or clinical psychology is “too” focused on clinical populations. That’s sort of the definition, no? Positive Psychology was intended, as I understand it, as a balance to the other areas of psychology. It is not taking over psychology nor is it saying that all psychology should focus on the “positive”. It’s just another lens through which we research and study humans. Is this now a bad thing? Negative bias seems to run rampant…


    • You’re right. But I can also understand some of the criticism – especially pertaining to the way PP is often “sold” to the public.


      • I think this last comment sums up the issue. It is the way we have marketed Pos Psych (or at least it has been perceived) that is the issue. PP 2.0 simply recognizes the balance and allows PP to continue to exist in its umbrella-like manner, not only drawing on concepts, practices and theory that are opposite to deficit based psychology, but also ensuring that the flaws in life are not ignored. I’m not sure this is a whole new version of PP though, rather a clearer and more inclusive articulation


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