Our Mission: The mission of the Positive Psychology Center is to promote research, training, education, and the dissemination of Positive Psychology. Positive Psychology is the scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive. Dr. Martin E.P. Seligman is the Director of the Center and Zellerbach Family Professor of Psychology.
The Rationale: During its first century, psychology justifiably focused most of its attention on human suffering. Marked progress as been made in understanding and treating numerous psychological disorders - depression, anxiety, and phobias, to name a few. While alleviating suffering, however, psychology has not paid much attention to what makes life most worth living. Positive Psychology is founded on the belief that people want more than an end to suffering. People want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play. We have the opportunity to create a science and a profession that not only heals psychological damage but also builds strengths to enable people to achieve the best things in life.
The Three Pillars: Positive Psychology has three central concerns: positive experiences, positive individual traits, and positive institutions. Understanding positive emotions entails the study of contentment with the past, happiness in the present, and hope for the future. Understanding positive individual traits involves the study of strengths, such as the capacity for love and work, courage, compassion, resilience, creativity, curiosity, integrity, self-knowledge, moderation, self-control, and wisdom. Understanding positive institutions entails the study of the strengths that foster better communities, such as justice, responsibility, civility, parenting, nurturance, work ethic, leadership, teamwork, purpose, and tolerance.
Our Goals: Some of the goals of Positive Psychology are to build a science that supports:
- Families and schools that allow children to flourish
- Workplaces that foster satisfaction and high productivity
- Communities that encourage civic engagement
- Therapists who nurture their patients' strengths
- The teaching of Positive Psychology
- Dissemination of Positive Psychology interventions in schools, organizations, and communities.
Current Activities: Activities at the Center include:
- Empirical research in Positive Psychology, resilience, grit, Positive Neuroscience, Positive Health, Prospective Psychology, and science of imagination.
- Master of Applied Positive Psychology program (MAPP), in which students learn to apply the principles of Positive Psychology to professional domains, or prepare for further study in a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D. program.
- Develop and empirically validate curricula and train-the-trainer programs designed to enhance resilience, well-being and performance.
- Deliver resilience programs and Positive Psychology programs using the train-the-trainer model. These programs have shown efficacy in the prevention of depression and anxiety, and to increase well-being and resilience. We currently conduct large-scale resilience programs for educational institutions around the world and for the U.S. Army’s Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness program.
- Disseminate research findings through academic publications in peer-reviewed journals, which are listed throughout this website.
- Host conferences and meetings where scholars share and discuss the latest empirical findings in Positive Psychology.
- Collaborate with numerous scholars around the world on research studies, teaching, and conferences.
Management and Support: Martin E.P. Seligman, Ph.D., is director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania.He is currently Zellerbach Family Professor of Psychology and former president of the American Psychological Association. He has written more than 275 articles and 20 books. Peter Schulman is the Executive Director of the Center. Since the 1970s, research at the Center has been funded by the generous support of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the U.S. Department of Education, the John Templeton Foundation, the Templeton Religion Trust, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies, the Gates Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Annenberg Foundation, the Mayerson Foundation, the Hovey Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, among others.
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