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Positive Psychology

Positive Psychology
The Scientific and Practical Explorations of Human Strengths

Fourth Edition

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.

I would consider using this textbook again.

Dr Sarah Haag
Psychology Dept, Southern Oregon University
August 26, 2020
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.

For instructors

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