119th American Psychology Convention Highlight


I didn’t make it to the Second World Congress on Positive Psychology this summer, but I decided to attend the 119th American Psychology Convention in Washington, DC on Aug 4-7, 2011. It was overwhelming to say the least to choose right workshops and talks among hundreds of them every day.

One of the highlights of the Convention to me was the talk by the founder of Positive Psychology Martin Seligman. Here are some of my notes from his talk:

Human goal is not to be miserable and national goal is wellbeing of all citizens. Seligman’s new book Flourish presents up-to-date view of positive psychology which is different from the original called Authentic Happiness. Instead of three, there are five components – positive emotions, engagement, relationship, meaning and accomplishment (PERMA).

Accomplishment (progress, competency and responsibility) and positive relationships are new to this view of positive psychology which is focused on well-being rather than happiness. Each of the components is measurable, teachable, gameable and buildable, either online or via mobile. All should be built into therapy and educational curriculum at schools.

GDP is inversely related to happiness (that was new to me). Positive emotions include optimism and positive health, including mental health and physical health (lack of disease).

The US Army asked him to help develop training on building resilience, positive attitude, and create ways to identify the strongest candidates to invest more time in their training and promotion!

So Penn Resilience Training (PRP) was created. It was decided to change negative literature to positive literature. Interesting finding based on the results of the test is people who were in the bottom 1% of life meaning satisfaction were the ones who would commit suicide in the next year or two.

Another research finding – self-discipline/resilience is higher on strength list than intelligence. The army management wants to know who has grit and who never gives up. Consequently, those will have the most accomplishments and will most likely be promoted to generals. There is correlation between resilience and meaning.

Gallop wants to have PERMA dashboard vs. single measure. Seligman also works with Google to see if there are changes in search words for PERMA (media and data mining). There are also ways to have subjective vs. objective measures of your wellbeing (others evaluate it for you). There will be development of the right lexicon for Perma games.

Seligman launched Flourish 51 program, but unfortunately he will not be around to see the results of it in 51 years, but he hopes that others will carry the torch of positive psychology after him.

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