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Am Psychol. 2000 Jan;55(1):5-14.

Positive psychology. An introduction.

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1
Department of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania, 3813 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-3604, USA. seligman@cattell.psych.upenn.edu

Abstract

A science of positive subjective experience, positive individual traits, and positive institutions promises to improve quality of life and prevent the pathologies that arise when life is barren and meaningless. The exclusive focus on pathology that has dominated so much of our discipline results in a model of the human being lacking the positive features that make life worth living. Hope, wisdom, creativity, future mindedness, courage, spirituality, responsibility, and perseverance are ignored or explained as transformations of more authentic negative impulses. The 15 articles in this millennial issue of the American Psychologist discuss such issues as what enables happiness, the effects of autonomy and self-regulation, how optimism and hope affect health, what constitutes wisdom, and how talent and creativity come to fruition. The authors outline a framework for a science of positive psychology, point to gaps in our knowledge, and predict that the next century will see a science and profession that will come to understand and build the factors that allow individuals, communities, and societies to flourish.

PMID:
11392865
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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