Psychology is still ruled by the Disease Model. But Positivity and Strength-Orientation are gaining Ground

When I talk about Positive Psychology in Germany, I also talk about the necessity for this rather recent branch of research and practice (see the slides below), referring to the fact that most psychological research is centered around a disease model, thereby concentrating on mental illness, its antecedents, and cures – just as Martin Seligman and Mihály Csíkszentmihályi propose in their seminal article Positive Psychology: an Introduction.

Today, I wanted to check if this is really true – and if the onset of Positive Psychology at this millennium has does anything to change that conjectured imbalance. Therefore, I went to Google Scholar and searched for articles which titles` contain either the words depression, anxiety, happiness, or life satisfaction. For a first round, I limited the search to articles that were published between 1900 and 1999. For a second round, I counted all the articles that have been published afterwards. Here´s what I´ve found:

Depression Happiness Graph

A first stunning finding* is the fact that, in the last 15 years, more papers were published than in the previous 100, no matter on what subject. Whether that is a desirable development with regard to quality and impact remains to be seen.

But more importantly, the imbalance between research focusing on desirable vs. undesirable states is clearly visible in the chart. In the 20th century, papers focusing on depression outnumber those focusing on happiness by a factor of 13. For anxiety and life satisfaction, it´s factor 10.9.

Now what has changed over the last 15 years? The answer is: Positive Psychology has made quite an impact: an increasing publication rate in this branch of psychology results in a (at least slightly) more balanced ratio. Depression outnumbers happiness by “only” 5.7, anxiety outnumbers life satisfaction by “only” 5.8.

I´ve put the world “only” in parentheses since that still is very far away from a sort of equilibrium. But progress has been achieved. And there will be more…

Traditional Psychology  Positive Psychology - Dr. Nico Rose

 

 

 

 

 

* Of course, the overall number of publications is much higher. But I suppose that counting papers containing a specific word in the title is a pretty decent proxy for the general writing activity in a sub-branch of research.

7 Methods to find almost any (Positive Psychology) Research Paper on the Internet…

Positive Psychology Articles…even if you don´t have one of those horribly expensive subscriptions to scientific data bases such as ScienceDirect or PsychINFO.

If you want to stay up to date on Positive Psychology, there´s lots of stuff for you out there. You can:

But if you are a little bit like me, you like to read an original research paper once in a while (here´s a collection of essential Positive Psychology papers), e.g., to do a fact-check, find additional articles, or just to get an in-depth perspective on a certain topic. Now, it can be a bit tough to get a hold of those papers since typically, they are hidden behind a database´s paywall. But then, the original publisher´s database is not the only way to obtain a certain paper. Here are seven alternative ways that don´t cost a cent.

Google Scholar

Nowadays, your first visit should always be Google Scholar. It indexes the sites of academic institutions but will also find a lot of research papers that are hosted somewhere else on the net. If you already know the paper´s name that you are looking for, just type that into the search field. But of course, you can also search for keywords, researchers, set a certain time frame, or limit your results to a certain branch of research etc. pp.

If a free PDF is available, it´ll typically open up directly when clicking on the article in the search results. But oftentimes, there are different references for the same articles. It´s always helpful to click on the “versions” button below the search result –  sometimes, the link to a PDF does not work, but then you can find another link that actually does work via that button.

Another great feature is the button that letS you find “similar results”. If you have found an interesting article, clicking on that button will display papers that are very close to the one that you´ve found, e.g., because it´s from the same researchers, covers a similar topic, or cites a lot of the same references. Using this button cleverly will quickly deliver a decent overview of the really relevant papers for a certain research topic.

Google Scholar also shows you how often a paper is cited by other articles. Without changing the settings, articles are typically (sort of) ranked in that order. Once again, this helps a lot to understand what are the really relevant papers and/or researchers in a specific field.

Use Google´s “Filetype Search”

Even though Google Scholar is pretty good at finding research PDFs on the net, it will not find all of them. I´ve obtained a lot of papers by using a valuable tool from the regular Google search. You can limit your search results to PDFs by typing “filetype:PDF” before your search terms (of course, this also works with .doc; .ppt etc.). This way works most effectively when you already know the full title of the paper that your are looking for. In that case, limit your search to PDFs and then copy/paste the title into the search bar in parentheses. If the article´s PDF is to be found somewhere on the internet, you´ll get it that way.

Visit the Researcher´s academic Website

For good reasons, most of the researchers will have a publication list on their websites. If there´s a free PDF on the internet, most of those researchers (those that have an interest in being read and cited) will set a link to the respective PDFs or host them on their own website. While it is typically not allowed to host a research paper that resides behind a database pay wall, there are often exceptions for the authors of those papers (at least, after a certain amount of time has passed after publication). Even if you do not find the exact same paper that you´re looking for, you may find earlier working papers or conference papers that are very similar to the article that you are actually looking for.

Research Gate

There´s a (rather) new and very cool site by the name of ResearchGate. It´s something like a LinkedIn/Facebook for researchers – and a lot of articles are available via the participants´ profiles. So it´s a good idea to sign up. But typically, if a PDF is to be found there, Google Scholar will also reference it.

Send an E-Mail to the Researcher

Nowadays, you´ll find the e-mail address of the so-called “corresponding author” on the title page of every research paper (and in most cases, it´s also mentioned below the article’s abstract on the net). If there´s no way to get a free PDF via the WWW, you can just send an e-mail and politely ask for a copy of the paper. If the researcher in question is still active and has an interest in being read and published, there´s a good chance you´ll get a nice reply containing the PDF in no time.

Ask a Buddy

It´s always handy to know at least one professor, post-doc, or Ph.D. student. Even if they do not work in the specific field that you are interested in, there´s a good chance they can obtain a paper via their university´s database subscription – and e-mail it to you. Use this method sparingly as this group of people tends to work about 150 hours per week.

Pray

Just kidding. If the aforementioned six way don´t work, you’re probably screwed.*

 

*If you know additional ways of obtaining free research PDFs, please leave a comment below this article.

Help them to make their Dream come true: Finding the Happiest Lifestyle – Happiness 101

Find the Happiest LifestyleThey are two ordinary but quite special young guys from Germany. Right now, they´ve entered the USA – and will soon stop by a place near you. Their plan: completing a road trip from “sea to shining sea” (and back). And while on their way, the need YOU!

Chris and Michael plan to do a lot of crazy sh.t on their trip – and they would like to interview 1,000 people while on the road to find out what “the happiest lifestyle” is. Personally, I suspect they are going to find more than one – but let´s leave that up to them.

Via this link, you can find all the relevant info on their project: Why they do it, where they will be travelling, and how you can help them on their way (Do you want to be interviewed? Do have 10 bucks to spare? Maybe invite them to Chipotle?)

While on their way, they are going to shoot lots of videos to share their experience. But let the kids speak for themselves – and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Positive Psychology Researcher Todd Kashdan´s 5 Tips to becoming a “killer” Scientist

Todd Kashdan is Associate Professor of Psychology at George Mason University. He conducts research on anxiety, positive emotions, purpose in life, mindfulness, gratitude, how personal strengths operate in everyday life, social relationships, self-regulation, and how to foster and sustain happiness and meaning in life.

Via Psychology Today, he published his recipe for becoming a “killer scientist”. It´s a great piece to read. Here, you´ll find the short version:

Let passions and curiosity be your compass

Don’t look at public opinion polls about what people are studying. Focus on activities that ignite your passion. Don’t study areas because they are hot and sexy. Ask questions that ignite your passion.

Impact is Everything

It is more impactful to get your work featured in an article in Parade magazine than the top journal in your field. Hang around scientists who understand this principle.

Be James Bond (impact part II)

Show your stuff in a way that can be understood by teenagers. Think like a human. Be an exceptional presenter. How? Concrete. Sticky. Stories.

Create Strong Partnerships

Retain people that ensure you stay humble. Be generous by always giving more than you take. Complementarity is righteous.

Create Meaningful Time

Think of work in 15-minute intervals. It´s not complicated. Discipline slowly accumulates into major accomplishments.

Also, you might want to watch his TEDx talk on “Becoming a mad scientist with your life”:

Getting older? Do not fear! For Age brings you Happiness…

A lot of people out there are afraid of getting old. But probably they shouldn´t be. Time and time again, research shows that getting older means getting happier for most people. A couple of days ago, I posted a link to a survey that is meant to replicate an already existing study on meaning and satisfaction with life across different age groups. 100 people participated in less than three days. Thank you very much for help your help!
Now here are some of the results:

The table shows the means for different measures of our study. As you can see, the oldest group shows higher values in practically all of the positive measures (such as ‘General Happiness’ or the presence of ‘Positive Emotions’ – and lower values for negative measures (such as the presence of ‘Negative Emotions’ or ‘Depressive Symptoms’).

Meaning and Life Satisfaction

Wrinkles should merely indicate where the smiles have been.

(Mark Twain)