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Positive Psychology

Positive Psychology
The Scientific and Practical Explorations of Human Strengths

Fourth Edition
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August 2018 | 672 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Positive Psychology: The Scientific and Practical Explorations of Human Strengths comprehensively covers the science and application of positive psychology. The book brings positive psychology to life by illustrating issues such as how psychological strength can help increase positive outcomes in school and the workplace and promote cooperative relationships among people. Furthermore, the book encourages readers to engage with concepts in order to understand positive emotions and strengths, such as empathy, altruism, gratitude, attachment, and love. Over 50 case studies grounded in practice, research, and the authors’ teaching experience reveal how positive psychological phenomena operate in the lives of real people. The Fourth Edition continues to integrate cultural context in every chapter to reflect the diversity in today’s world.

Remembering Shane J. Lopez
About the Authors
Part I. Looking at Psychology From a Positive Perspective
1. Welcome to Positive Psychology
Building Human Strength: Psychology’s Forgotten Mission  
Going From the Negative to the Positive  
Positive Psychology Seeks a Balanced, More Complete View of Human Functioning  
Where We Are Now and What We Will Ask  
Personal Mini-Experiments: What You Want to Experience  
A Guide to This Book  
The Big Picture  
Appendix: Movies for Review  
2. Eastern and Western Perspectives on Positive Psychology: How “ME + WE = US” Might Bridge the Gap
A Matter of Perspective  
Historical and Philosophical Traditions  
Western Influences: Athenian, Judeo-Christian, Islamic, and Anishinaabe Traditions  
Eastern Influences: Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, and Hinduism  
East Meets West  
Individualism: The Psychology of ME  
Collectivism: The Psychology of WE  
Personal Mini-Experiments: Getting and Giving Help  
Different Ways to Positive Outcomes  
Where We Are Going: From ME to WE to US  
ME/WE Balance: The Positive Psychology of US  
Final Thoughts  
Appendix: The Need for Uniqueness Scale  
3. Classifications and Measures of Strengths and Positive Outcomes
Classifications and Measures of Strengths  
Personal Mini-Experiments: Discovering and Capitalizing on Your Strengths  
Positive Outcomes for All  
Identifying Strengths and Moving Toward a Vital Balance  
Part II. Positive Psychology in Context
4. The Role of Culture in Developing Strengths and Living Well
Culture and Psychology  
Main Message: Culture Counts  
Understanding Culture: A Matter of Perspective  
Positive Psychology: Culture Is Everywhere  
Personal Mini-Experiments: Culturally Embedded Daily Practice  
Situating Positive Psychology  
Putting Positive Psychology in a Cultural Context  
The Wise Man of the Gulf  
Final Thoughts on the Complexity of Cultural Influences  
5. Living Well at Every Stage of Life
Resilience in Childhood  
An Excerpt From Finding Strength: How to Overcome Anything  
Positive Youth Development  
The Life Tasks of Adulthood  
Successful Aging  
One Man’s View of Aging  
Personal Mini-Experiments: Finding Amazing People of All Ages  
A More Developmental Focus in Positive Psychology  
Part III. Positive Emotional States and Processes
6. The Principles of Pleasure: Understanding Positive Affect, Positive Emotions, Happiness, and Well-Being
Defining Emotional Terms  
Distinguishing the Positive and the Negative  
The Positive and Negative Affect Schedule  
Positive Emotions: Expanding the Repertoire of Pleasure  
Personal Mini-Experiments: In Search of Joy and Lasting Happiness  
Positive Emotion Styles Linked to the Common Cold  
Happiness and Subjective Well-Being: Living a Pleasurable Life  
The Satisfaction With Life Scale  
Excerpts From Authentic Happiness  
Happiest American is Still Hawaiian, Jewish and Chill  
Moving Toward the Positive  
Life Enhancement Strategies  
7. Making the Most of Emotional Experiences: Emotion-Focused Coping, Emotional Intelligence, Socioemotional Selectivity, and Emotional Storytelling
Emotion-Focused Coping: Discovering the Adaptive Potential of Emotional Approach  
Emotional Intelligence: Learning the Skills That Make a Difference  
Who Is Emotionally Intelligent—And Does It Matter?  
Socioemotional Selectivity: Focusing in Later Life on Positive Emotions and Emotion-Related Goals  
Emotional Storytelling: The Pennebaker Paradigm as a Means of Processing Intense Negative Emotions  
Emotional Storytelling After a Traumatic Event  
Emotions and Context  
Working With Emotions to Bring About Positive Change  
Personal Mini-Experiments: Making the Most of Emotions in Everyday Life  
An Emotional Balancing Act  
Life Enhancement Strategies  
Part IV. Positive Cognitive States and Processes
8. Seeing Our Futures Through Self-Efficacy, Optimism, and Hope
Fascination With the Future  
Being Busy Not an End in Itself  
Changing Behavior Through TV Heroes  
The CAVE and Predicting Baseball Outcomes  
Life Enhancement Strategies  
Putting Temporal Futures in Perspective  
Personal Mini-Experiments: Balancing Your Perspective on Time  
Cultural Caveats About Temporal Perspective  
Appendix A: A Summary of Hope Theories  
Appendix B: Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory Items  
9. Wisdom and Courage: Characteristics of the Wise and the Brave
Wisdom and Courage: Two of a Kind  
Wisdom Difficult to Define, Attain  
Theories of Wisdom  
Becoming and Being Wise  
Theories of Courage  
Malala Yousafzai’s Courage  
Amputee a Driving Force in Getting People With Disabilities Moving  
Becoming and Being Courageous  
U.S. Senator John McCain’s View on Strengthening Courage—April 2004  
Courage Research  
Finding Wisdom and Courage in Daily Life  
Can Courage Be Learned?  
Personal Mini-Experiments: In Search of the Wisdom and Courage of Everyday People . . . Including Yourself  
Life Enhancement Strategies  
The Value of Wisdom and Courage  
10. Mindfulness, Flow, and Spirituality: In Search of Optimal Experiences
Moment-to-Moment Searches  
Mindfulness: In Search of Novelty  
Living With Mindfulness: The Women’s Heart Foundation  
Flow: In Search of Absorption  
Personal Mini-Experiments: In Search of Optimal Experiences  
Life Enhancement Strategies  
Spirituality: In Search of the Sacred  
The True Benefits of Spirituality?  
The Search Continues  
Part V. Prosocial Behavior
11. Empathy and Egotism: Portals to Altruism and Gratitude
Personal Mini-Experiments: Exercises in Altruism and Gratitude  
Thanking Your Heroes  
The Societal Implications of Altruism and Gratitude  
Life Enhancement Strategies  
“I Have a Dream”: Toward a Kinder, Gentler Humankind  
Appendix A: The Helping Attitude Scale  
Appendix B: The Gratitude Questionnaire—Six Items From GQ-6  
12. Attachment, Love, Flourishing Relationships, and Forgiveness
Infant Attachment  
Personal Mini-Experiments: In Search of Love and Flourishing Relationships  
Adult Attachment Security  
Flourishing Relationships: A Series of Purposeful Positive Relationship Behaviors  
Life Enhancement Strategies  
A Lot of Love in the Lovemaking: Avoiding Chaos, Relationshipwise  
Praise: Encouraging Signs  
The Neurobiology of Interpersonal Connection  
More on Flourishing Relationships  
Future of Love  
When Loves Ends  
Attachment, Love, and Forgiveness: Building a Positive Psychology of Close Relationships  
Appendix A: The Heartland Forgiveness Scale (HFS)  
Appendix B: The Transgression-Related Interpersonal Motivations Scale (TRIM)  
Part VI. Understanding and Changing Human Behavior
13. Balanced Conceptualizations of Mental Health and Behavior
Moving Toward Balanced Conceptualizations  
Our Fascination With Abnormal Behavior  
Neglect of the Environment and of the Positive  
The Lack of a Developmental Emphasis  
Difficulties Understanding Behavior in a Cultural Context  
The Limits of the Categorical Diagnostic System  
Going Beyond the DSM-5 Framework  
14. Preventing the Bad and Promoting the Good
In the Words of a Psychotherapy Client . . .  
Primary Prevention: “Stop the Bad Before It Happens”  
Secondary Prevention (Psychotherapy): “Fix the Problem”  
Primary Enhancement: “Make Life Good”  
Secondary Enhancement: “Make Life the Best Possible”  
Personal Mini-Experiments: Enhancing Your Daily Life  
The Balance of Prevention and Enhancement Systems  
Appendix A: Effective Secondary Preventions (Psychotherapies) for Adult Problems  
Appendix B: Hope Therapy Worksheet  
Part VII. Positive Environments
15. Positive Schooling and Good Work: The Psychology of Gainful Employment and the Education That Gets Us There
Positive Schooling  
“Teachers Can’t Get Jobs in the Real World!”  
Negative Psychology: “Those Who Can’t, Shouldn’t Be Teaching”  
“No Child Left Behind” and Beyond  
Personal Mini-Experiments: The Power of Positive (and Negative) Teachers  
The Components of Positive Schooling  
Teaching as a Calling  
2016 National Teacher of the Year: “I Was a Teenage Mom, and Teachers Changed My Life”  
Giving Back to Teachers  
Gainful Employment  
Gainful Employment: Happiness, Satisfaction, and Beyond  
Having or Being a Good Boss  
The Strengths-Based Approach to Work  
Capital at Work  
The Dark Side: Workaholics, Burnouts, and Jobs Lost  
What Can Be Done to Improve Your Work?  
Personal Mini-Experiments: Becoming Gainfully Employed  
When Work Becomes a Calling: The Tale of a Hospital Orderly  
The Psychology of Gainful Employment and the Education That Gets Us There  
Appendix A: Example of Positive Schooling: The StrengthsQuest Program  
Appendix B: Positive Workplaces in Hong Kong: Building Positive Organizations, Engaging the Heart of Employees  
Part VIII. Finding Strengths in Others: Embodying Strengths in Everyday Life
16. Remembering Shane: Real Strengths in a Real Person
Remembering Shane J. Lopez  
Glossary of Key Terms
Author Index
Subject Index


Instructor Resource Site

Free online resources for instructors are available on the password-protected Instructor Resource Site.

  • A test bank in Microsoft® Word and ExamView contains multiple choice, true/false, and essay questions for each chapter. The test bank offers a diverse range of pre-written options as well as the opportunity to edit any question and/or insert personalized questions to assess students’ progress and understanding.
  • Editable, chapter-specific Microsoft® PowerPoint® slides highlight essential content and features that offer complete flexibility in creating a multimedia presentation.
Student Study Site

Free online resources for students are available on the open access Student Study Site.

  • Mobile-friendly flashcards reinforce understanding of key terms and concepts that have been outlined in chapters.
  • Mobile-friendly web quizzes allow for independent assessment of progress made in learning course material.
Key features


  • A broader definition of culture as a contextualizing factor in the discussion of strengths is developed throughout the text with special consideration of facets such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, generation, nation of origin, socioeconomic status, and gender, among others.
  • New and updated content covers current events and brand new scholarship, particularly in the areas of neuroscience and cultural content.
  • Streamlined organization allows for better connections between topics to enhance readability.
  • Updated Personal Mini-Experiments and Life Enhancement Strategies help students from diverse backgrounds broaden and enhance their inherent and learned strengths.
  • A final chapter devoted to the memory of the late co-author Shane J. Lopez, a major figure in the field, inspires readers with stories from teachers and researchers.


  • Coverage of Western and Eastern approaches to understanding human strengths explores cultural and developmental influences on positive functioning.
  • Personal Mini-Experiments help readers apply the practice of positive psychology to their daily lives.
  • Life Enhancement Strategies suggest changes that can be implemented quickly and easily to help readers attain greater connections with others, pursue meaning in their lives, and experience increased life satisfaction.
  • Case histories and comments from leaders in the field illustrate key concepts as they apply to real life.
  • In-depth discussions of science and applications of positive psychology explore various positive conditions, such as empathy, altruism, gratitude, attachment, and love.

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