Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness and Flourishing 3rd Edition
Around the world today, the field of positive psychology is booming. Since being launched nearly 20 years ago, it has gained thousands of professional adherents in diverse countries, inspired countless college students, and achieved widespread media attention. Initially dubbed rather simplistically as the science of happiness, positive psychology is increasingly recognized as both more encompassing—and more important—than merely helping people put a daily grin on their faces. For example, topics such as empathy, flow, gratitude, humor, resilience, positive families, zestful work, and wellness have all gained increased interest. Even newer topics such as the role of social contagion in the spread of happiness, moral elation (the uplift we feel in witnessing an act of goodness), and the importance of mindfulness to well-being are creating fresh concepts and possible interventions.
When the first edition of this book, written solely by Dr. William Compton, was released by Cengage in 2004, positive psychology had been rapidly gaining momentum since its initial launch in 1998. Due to the tremendous growth of the field over the next few years, a second edition was clearly necessary, and our collaborative work was published by Cengage in 2013. Reflecting the continuing international surge of positive psychology, we were recently invited by editorial staff at SAGE Publications to create a third edition; the task has been most enjoyable. We have not only expanded many sections of the second edition to encompass the newest research but added many new sections representing the rapid progress of positive psychology.
We both have been active in our field for more than 30 years, as both educators and researchers. Our interest in optimal well-being goes back even further than our professional careers. We are convinced that positive psychology is among the most exciting scientific developments of today, for science is about understanding not only the mechanistic aspects of the universe but human emotions, hopes, aspirations, skills, talents, and creative impulses as well. The more precise and articulate psychologists can be in delineating these aspects of personal and social life, the greater the likelihood of creating a more harmonious and peaceful world.
For the third edition, it will be quite obvious that all chapters of the book have been rewritten to reflect the newest research. Therefore, the following list of changes for each chapter reflects the addition of new material and changes to the organization of material found in the second edition that go beyond the mere updating of studies.
Chapter 1: New material was added on the continuing popularity of positive psychology and the spread of positive psychology around the world.
Chapter 2: We expanded material on (a) the biology of positive emotions,(b) character strengths, (c) Zimbardo’s time perspective, (d) emotional intelligence, and (e) updates on Fredrickson’s positivity ratio. The
“Multidimensional Models of Well-Being” section has been simplified to reflect the core theoretical perspectives found in positive psychology research.
Chapter 3: The “Cautionary Tales” section was expanded to reflect the growing recognition that negative emotions are a necessary part of a full and rich life. Much of this material was transferred from the section on negative emotions in Chapter 12. Most of the section on age and well-being was moved to Chapter 8, so that all research on this topic could be in the same chapter. An expanded section on SWB (subjective well-being) and all types of discrimination was added. A separate section on SWB and LGBT
(lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) issues was added.
Chapter 4: We expanded material on flow that includes the “dark side” of flow and a more nuanced view of the original formulation. The section on mindfulness was expanded. Some of the material on mindfulness was transferred from Chapter 6 on positive health.
Chapter 5: We expanded the section on romantic love, what induces it, and what sustains it. A new section has been added on Barbara Fredrickson’s theory of love 2.0.
Chapter 6: We expanded the section on nature and SWB (i.e., “Restorative Nature Experiences”). The discussion of mindfulness was condensed so that it now examines only research on mindfulness-based stress reduction
(MBSR) and health (see the note for Chapter 4).
Chapter 7: We expanded coverage of the following: passion, grit, and how music is related to SWB.
Chapter 8: We added new material on Erikson’s psychosocial theory of ego development and the Harvard Study of Adult Development, as well as expanded sections of flourishing in adolescence, midlife, and old age.
Chapter 9: We added new sections on both Paul Wong’s existential positive psychology theory and purpose in life (both sections were transferred and revised from Chapter 12), as well as a new section on Jack Bauer’s theory of the “quiet ego.” The section on Maslow’s model of self-actualization was expanded.
Chapter 10: We expanded sections on gratitude and meaning in life (some of this material was transferred from Chapter 12). We made changes to the section on “Mindfulness Meditation” in order to reflect a more general discussion of meditation in contemplative traditions, although the section still discusses mindfulness.
Chapter 11: We expanded material in the section on “Careers that Use Positive Psychology.” We also added new sections titled “Social Entrepreneurs” and “Academic Programs in Positive Psychology.” We expanded coverage of the following sections: “Flourishing Communities” and “Cross-Cultural Subjective Well-Being.”
Chapter 12: We added a new “Qualitative Research” section. New material was added to the “Systems Theory” section (e.g., biopsychosocial model, family systems). This material includes the section on Jules Seeman’s theory that was transferred from Chapter 9, so that all the material on systems theory could be in the same chapter. We also expanded material on how findings from cross-cultural psychology may impact the positive psychology of the future.
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