Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 17

Positive Psychology Related Abstracts

17 Mindmax: Building and Testing a Digital Wellbeing Application for Australian Football Players

Authors: Jo Mitchell, Daniel Johnson


MindMax is a digital community and learning platform built to maximise the wellbeing and resilience of AFL Players and Australian men. The MindMax application engages men, via their existing connection with sport and video games, in a range of wellbeing ideas, stories and actions, because we believe fit minds, kick goals. MindMax is an AFL Players Association led project, supported by a Movember Foundation grant, to improve the mental health of Australian males aged between 16-35 years. The key engagement and delivery strategy for the project was digital technology, sport (AFL) and video games, underpinned by evidenced based wellbeing science. The project commenced April 2015, and the expected completion date is March 2017. This paper describes the conceptual model underpinning product development, including progress, key learnings and challenges, as well as the research agenda. Evaluation of the MindMax project is a multi-pronged approach of qualitative and quantitative methods, including participatory design workshops, online reference groups, longitudinal survey methods, a naturalistic efficacy trial and evaluation of the social and economic return on investment. MindMax is focused on the wellness pathway and maximising our mind's capacity for fitness by sharing and promoting evidence-based actions that support this. A range of these ideas (from ACT, mindfulness and positive psychology) are already being implemented in AFL programs and services, mostly in face-to-face formats, with strong engagement by players. Player's experience features strongly as part of the product content. Wellbeing science is a discipline of psychology that explores what helps individuals and communities to flourish in life. Rather than ask questions about illness and poor functioning, wellbeing scientists and practitioners ask questions about wellness and optimal functioning. While illness and wellness are related, they operate as separate constructs and as such can be influenced through different pathways. The essential idea was to take the evidence-based wellbeing science around building psychological fitness to the places and spaces that men already frequent, namely sport and video games. There are 800 current senior AFL players, 5000+ past players, and 11 million boys and men that are interested in the lives of AFL Players; what they think and do to be their best both on and off field. AFL Players are also keen video gamers – using games as one way to de-stress, connect and build wellbeing. There are 9.5 million active gamers in Australia with 93% of households having a device for playing games. Video games in MindMax will be used as an engagement and learning tool. Gamers (including AFL players) can also share their personal experience of how games help build their mental fitness. Currently available games (i.e., we are not in the game creation business) will also be used to motivate and connect MindMax participants. The MindMax model is built with replication by other sport codes (e.g., Cricket) in mind. It is intended to not only support our current crop of athletes but also the community that surrounds them, so they can maximise their capacity for health and wellbeing.

Keywords: Positive Psychology, Wellbeing, Australian football league, digital application

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16 Positive Psychology Intervention for Dyslexia: A Qualitative Study

Authors: Chathurika Sewwandi Kannangara, Jerome Carson


The objective of this research is to identify strengths among the individuals with dyslexia and design a positive psychology intervention to support such individuals. Dyslexia is a combination of abilities and difficulties that affect the learning process in areas as such reading, spelling and writing. It is a persistent condition. The research aims to adapt positive psychology techniques to support individuals with dyslexia. Population of the research will be undergraduate and college level students with dyslexia. First phase of the study will be conducted on a sample of undergraduate and college level students with dyslexia in Bolton, UK. The concept of treatment in positive psychology is not only to fix the component just what is wrong, instead it is also to develop and construct on what is right in the individual. The first phase of the research aims to identify the signature strengths among the individuals with dyslexia using Interviews, Descriptions on personal experiences on ‘My life with Dyslexia’, and Values in Action (VIA) strength survey. In order to conduct the survey for individuals with dyslexia, the VIA survey has been hosted in a website which is solely developed in the form of dyslexia friendly context. Dyslexia friendly website for surveys had designed and developed following the British Dyslexia Association guidelines. The findings of the first phase would be utilized for the second phase of the research to develop the positive psychology intervention.

Keywords: Positive Psychology, Dyslexia, learning difficulties, signature strengths, qualitative study

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15 Happiness and Its Political Consequences: A Proposal for a Socially Constructed Object

Authors: Luciano E. Sewaybricker


Psychology has faced many challenges in order to claim its right to study happiness. Probably the major issue has been to present a clear definition of happiness, which has a long history outside the scientific field and has been used imprecisely in the daily life. Even after years of great improvement, different meanings of happiness still have been seen in academic studies. This scenario allows to question if any definition is consistent enough to sustain the recent findings of the psychological processes behind happiness. Moreover, does it make sense to seek a single definition of happiness? By investigating the history of happiness and the theoretical foundations of Positive Psychology, it can be advocated that it’s proper for happiness to be polysemic. Since Ancient Greece most attempts to outline happiness consists of an appreciation of the "best way to live" and consequently requires a delineation of the most important things in life. Besides this generic definition, it’s hard to find consensus about happiness. In fact, what and how much something will be considered important to happiness depend on social influence. This compels happiness to vary between groups, historical periods, and even for the same person over time. Therefore, the same psychological processes will not necessarily be behind all forms of happiness. Consequently, three assumptions should be considered when studying happiness: it’s intrinsic of happiness to be transitory and socially influenced; happiness refers not only to what is possible in the present, but also to an ideal future; when someone (including a scientist) talks about happiness they describe and prescribe a better way to live. Because any attempt to define happiness will be limited in space and time, it's more suitable to study its variations than its universalities. This may have considerable consequences to political agenda on happiness evaluation and maximization, like Gross National Happiness and utilitarian initiatives. Happiness policies should be understood as an arbitrary choice amongst all kinds of happiness and as prescriptive of what “the best way to live” should be.

Keywords: Politics, Positive Psychology, Well-being, Happiness

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14 Subjective Well-Being through Coaching Process

Authors: Pendar Fazel


Well-being is a good or satisfactory condition of existence; a state characterized by health, happiness, and prosperity. Well-being of people is correlated with, the cognitive, social, emotional, and physical aspect of their personality. Subjective well-being, people’s emotional and cognitive evaluations of their lives, includes what lay people call happiness, peace, fulfillment, and life satisfaction. Unfortunately in this period of time people are under the pressure of financial, social problems, and other stress factors which made them vulnerable, and their well-being is threatened. Personal Coaching as a holistic orientation and novel approach is ideal for the present century which help people, to find balance, enjoyment and meaning in their lives as well as improving performance, skills and effectiveness. The aim of the present article besides introducing the personal coaching is determining how personal coaching can positively effects on subjective well-being, under this aim we tend to describe how coaching impact on the cognitive and emotional reconstruction. Present qualitative research is descriptive analytic study, which data gathered by manual library research and search within authentic article through internet; analyzed personal coaching which integrated different views into an operational one helps people promote self-awareness as well as evaluate, emotional and cognitive aspect of their personality and provide appropriate subjective well-being.

Keywords: Positive Psychology, Coaching, Well-being, subjective well-being, personal growth

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13 Humanistic Psychology Workshop to Increase Psychological Well-Being

Authors: Nidia Thalia Alva Rangel, Ferran Padros Blazquez, Ma. Ines Gomez Del Campo Del Paso


Happiness has been since antiquity a concept of interest around the world. Positive psychology is the science that begins to study happiness in a more precise and controlled way, obtaining wide amount of research which can be applied. One of the central constructs of Positive Psychology is Carol Ryff’s psychological well-being model as eudaimonic happiness, which comprehends six dimensions: autonomy, environmental mastery, personal growth, positive relations with others, purpose in life, and self-acceptance. Humanistic psychology is a clear precedent of Positive Psychology, which has studied human development topics and it features a great variety of intervention techniques nevertheless has little evidence with controlled research. Therefore, the present research had the aim to evaluate the efficacy of a humanistic intervention program to increase psychological well-being in healthy adults through a mixed methods study. Before and after the intervention, it was applied Carol Ryff’s psychological well-being scale (PWBS) and the Symptom Check List 90 as pretest and posttest. In addition, a questionnaire of five open questions was applied after each session. The intervention program was designed in experiential workshop format, based on the foundational attitudes defined by Carl Rogers: congruence, unconditional positive regard and empathy, integrating humanistic intervention strategies from gestalt, psychodrama, logotherapy and psychological body therapy, with the aim to strengthen skills in the six dimensions of psychological well-being model. The workshop was applied to six volunteer adults in 12 sessions of 2 hours each. Finally, quantitative data were analyzed with Wilcoxon statistic test through the SPSS program, obtaining as results differences statistically significant in pathology symptoms between prettest and postest, also levels of dimensions of psychological well-being were increased, on the other hand for qualitative strand, by open questionnaires it showed how the participants were experiencing the techniques and changing through the sessions. Thus, the humanistic psychology program was effective to increase psychological well-being. Working to promote well-being prompts to be an effective way to reduce pathological symptoms as a secondary gain. Experiential workshops are a useful tool for small groups. There exists the need for research to count with more evidence of humanistic psychology interventions in different contexts and impulse the application of Positive Psychology knowledge.

Keywords: Positive Psychology, Humanistic psychology, Happiness, psychological well-being, workshop

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12 'Sit Down, Breathe, and Feel What?' Bringing a Contemplative Intervention into a Public Urban Middle School

Authors: Lunthita M. Duthely, John T. Avella, John Ganapati Coleman


For as many as one in three adolescents living in the United States, the adolescent years is a period of low well-being and mental health challenges—from depressive symptoms to mild to moderate psychological diagnoses. Longitudinal population health studies demonstrated that these challenges persist in young adulthood, and beyond. The positive psychology (PS) approach is a more preventative approach to well-being, which contrasts the traditional, deficits approach to curing mental illness. The research among adult populations formed the basis for PS studies among adolescents. The empirical evidence for the effectiveness of PS interventions exists for both adult and youth populations. Positive Psychology interventions target individuals’ strengths, such as hope and optimism, and positive emotions, such as gratitude. Positive psychology interventions such as increasing gratitude, proved effective in many outcomes among youth, including psychological, social, and academically-related outcomes. Although gratitude-inducing studies have been conducted for the past decade in the United States, few studies have been conducted among samples of urban youth, particularly youth of diverse cultural backgrounds. For nearly two decades, the secular practice of meditation has been tested among adults and more recently among youth, focused mostly among clinical samples. The field of Contemplative Sciences explores practices such as Hatha Yoga, Tai Chi, and Meditation, as preventative practices among children and adolescents. A more recent initiative is to explore Contemplative Practices in the school environment. Contemplative Practices yield a variety of positive outcomes, including academic, social, psychological, physiological, and neurological changes among children and adolescents. Again, few studies were conducted among adolescents of diverse cultural backgrounds. The purpose of this doctoral dissertation research study was to test a gratitude-meditation intervention among middle school students attending a public charter school, located in an urban region of Metropolitan Miami. The objective of this presentation is to summarize the challenges and success of bringing a positive psychology and meditation intervention into an urban middle school. Also, the most recent findings on positive psychology and meditation interventions conducted in school environments will be presented as well.

Keywords: Positive Psychology, Adolescents, school engagement, gratitude, contemplative intervention, secular meditation, Sri Chinmoy

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11 Self-Efficacy as a Predictor of Well-Being in University Students

Authors: Enes Ergün, Sedat Geli̇bolu


The purpose of this study is to determine the relationship between self-efficacy and subjective well-being among university students. We are aiming to determine whether self efficacy of university students predicts their subjective well-being and if there is a statistically significant difference among boys and girls in this context. Sample of this study consists of 245 university students from Çanakkale, ages ranging between 17 and 24. 72% (n=171) of the participants were girls and 28% (n=69) boys. Three different scales were utilized as data collection tools that Life Satisfaction Scale, General Self-Efficacy Scale, and Positive Negative Experiences Scale. Pearson correlation coefficient, independent sample t test and simple linear regression were used for data analyses. Results showed that well-being is significantly correlated with self-efficacy and self-efficacy is a statistically significant predictor of well-being too. In terms of gender differences, there is no significant difference between self-efficacy scores of boys and girls which shows the same case with well being scores, as well. Fostering university students' academic, social and emotional self-efficacy will increase their well-being which is very important for young adults especially their freshman years.

Keywords: Positive Psychology, Self-efficacy, university students, subjective well being

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10 Effects of the Gratitude Program on the Gratitude, Well-Being, Perceived Stress, and Stress Coping of Nurses

Authors: Yu H. Chen, Li C. Chen, Hsiang Y. Wu, Wan Y. Chen, Yin S. Lai, Sarah S. Chen


Little has been done to customize an appropriate program on gratitude for nurses, who work in high-stress environments. The purpose of this study is to design an appropriate program on gratitude for nurses and to investigate the effects of the program. Based on research done by Kaohsiung Medical University’s Positive Psychology Center, the only one of its kind in Taiwan, one of the top five strengths of nurses is gratitude. Instead of adapting from an older model created from past research, the Gratitude Workshop is developed from a quasi-experimental approach and designed with five additional dimensions that emphasize gratitude: thanking others, thanking one's surroundings, cherishing what one has, appreciating hardships, and appreciating the present. A sample of 84 nurses was randomly selected from the Kaohsiung Municipal Ta-Tung Hospital; 43 of who participated in the nine-hour Gratitude Workshop that spanned over three weeks, while the other 41 were part of the waitlist control group. The pretest and posttest included five questionnaires: Inventory of Undergraduates' Gratitude, The Gratitude Questionnaire-6, Mental Health Continuum‐Short Form, Perceived Stress Scale, and the Stress Coping Strategies Questionnaire. Results of the research showed that the Gratitude Workshop elevates gratitude, well-being, and perceived stress on the nurses; however, it was also found in the Stress Coping Strategies Questionnaire that the Gratitude Workshop only heightened the regulation of emotions.

Keywords: Positive Psychology, Well-being, Nurses, gratitude

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9 Intervening into the World of a Cyber-Bully

Authors: Aanshika Puri, Sakshi Mehrotra


Technology has always been a double edged sword. The constant rut of updating oneself to a better and newer version is the new norm. ‘Being Online’ is the latest addition to one’s everyday routine. Availability of various social online platforms being served on a platter topped with easy and cheap access to the internet makes it simple and doable for people of all social backgrounds. Interestingly, in India, a recent development is the line of demarcation between people from varied backgrounds, doing the vanishing act. One finds everybody on at least one, if not more, social platforms in a desire to stay connected. For instance, this ranges from sending a ‘WhatsApp’ message to a vegetable vendor for ordering your daily needs to vendors and small entrepreneurs. Even a rickshaw puller now has access to a mobile phone, an internet connection and apps/ platforms to stay connected. Recent observations show the extent to which everyone is hooked on to their mobile phones/ tabs/ laptops/ etc. Young mothers use them to distract their children and keep them busy while they finish the task at hand. Exposure to this part of the technology at such a tender age requires responsible and careful handling. Talking of adolescents, their self- image depends on their online social image to a large extent. There is a desire to be liked and accepted by the peer group at all times. Cyber-bullying is a by-product of the 24/7 availability of these resources. There is enough research-based evidence to prove the psychosocial and emotional impact on the development and well-being of the victim. The present paper attempts to understand the dynamics of cyber bullying vis-à-vis the developmental and mental health issues faced by the bully.

Keywords: Positive Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Empathy & Resilience Based Interventions, Mental Well-Being of Cyber Bully

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8 The Beacon of Collective Hope: Mixed Method Study on the Participation of Indian Youth with Regard to Mass Demonstrations Fueled by Social Activism Media

Authors: Akanksha Lohmore, Devanshu Arya, Preeti Kapur


Rarely does the human mind look at the positive fallout of highly negative events. Positive psychology attempts to emphasize on the strengths and positives for human well-being. The present study examines the underpinning socio-cognitive factors of the protest movements regarding the gang rape case of December 16th, 2012 through the lens of positive psychology. A gamut of negative emotions came to the forum globally: of anger, shame, hatred, violence, death penalty for the perpetrators, amongst other equally strong. In relation to this incident, a number of questions can be raised. Can such a heinous crime have some positive inputs for contemporary society? What is it that has held people to protests for long even when they see faded lines of success in view? This paper explains the constant feeding of protests and continuation of movements by the robust model of Collective Hope by Snyder, a phenomenon unexplored by social psychologists. In this paper, mixed method approach was undertaken. Results confirmed the interaction of various socio-psychological factors that imitated the Snyders model of collective hope. Emergence of major themes was: Sense of Agency, Sense of Worthiness, Social Sharing and Common Grievances and Hope of Collective Efficacy. Statistical analysis (correlation and regression) showed significant relationship between media usage and occurrence of these themes among participants. Media-communication processes and educational theories for development of citizenship behavior can find implications from these results. Theory development as indicated by theorists working in the area of Social Psychology of Protests can be furthered by the direction of research.

Keywords: Social Media, Positive Psychology, Agency, Protest, hope, collective

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7 Computational Analysis and Daily Application of the Key Neurotransmitters Involved in Happiness: Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphins

Authors: Hee Soo Kim, Ha Young Kyung


Happiness and pleasure are a result of dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphin levels in the body. In order to increase the four neurochemical levels, it is important to associate daily activities with its corresponding neurochemical releases. This includes setting goals, maintaining social relationships, laughing frequently, and exercising regularly. The likelihood of experiencing happiness increases when all four neurochemicals are released at the optimal level. The achievement of happiness is important because it increases healthiness, productivity, and the ability to overcome adversity. To process emotions, electrical brain waves, brain structure, and neurochemicals must be analyzed. This research uses Chemcraft and Avogadro to determine the theoretical and chemical properties of the four neurochemical molecules. Each neurochemical molecule’s thermodynamic stability is calculated to observe the efficiency of the molecules. The study found that among dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, alpha-, beta-, and gamma-endorphin, beta-endorphin has the lowest optimized energy of 388.510 kJ/mol. Beta-endorphin, a neurotransmitter involved in mitigating pain and stress, is the most thermodynamically stable and efficient molecule that is involved in the process of happiness. Through examining such properties of happiness neurotransmitters, the science of happiness is better understood.

Keywords: Positive Psychology, Neurotransmitters, Serotonin, Dopamine, Happiness, oxytocin, endorphins

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6 Importance of Positive Education: A Focus on the Importance of Character Strength Building

Authors: Hajra Hussain


Positive education, the inclusion of social, emotional and intellectual skills across a curriculum, is fundamental to the optimal functioning of young people in any society because it combines the best teaching practices with the principles of positive psychology. While learning institutions foster academic skills, little attention is being paid to the identification and development of character strengths and their integration into teaching. There is an increasing recognition of the important role education plays in equipping today’s youth with 21st century social skills. For youth to succeed in this highly competitive environment, there is a need for positive education that is focused on character strengths such as the growth of social, emotional and intellectual skills that promote the flourishing of well-rounded individuals. Character strength programs and awareness are a necessity if the human capital within a region is to be competitive, productive and happy. The Counselling & Wellbeing Centre at Amity University Dubai has consistently implemented Character Strength awareness workshops and has found that such workshops have increased student life satisfaction due to individual awareness of signature strengths. A positive education/positive psychology framework with its key focus on the development of character strengths can be fundamental to individual's confidence and self-awareness; thus allowing both optimum flourishing and functioning.

Keywords: Positive Psychology, strengths, Youth, Happiness, positive education

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5 The Role of Leader, Member Exchange on Psychological Capital, Mediated by Person-Organisational Fit

Authors: Sonja Grobler


Background: Leadership and specifically Leader, member exchange has a definite impact on employee behaviour and attitudes, and specifically their state of psychological capital. The interactionist construct of person-organisational fit (P-O fit), consisting of a combination of supplementary fit (indirect fit or value congruence) and complementary fit (direct or person-job fit, as well as needs-supply fit) may, however, impact on the relationship between LMX and psychological capital. The unique permutations of these relationships are important not only for conceptualisation purposes but also for intervention design to enhance the employees’ psychological capital; this would contribute to positive employee behaviour and attitudes. Aim: The purpose of this study was to determine whether a relationship exists between Leader, Member Exchange (LMX) and psychological capital, with possible mediation by P-O fit. Setting: The research was conducted with ± 60 employees from each of 43 private sectors and four public sector organisations in South Africa. Method: This study utilised a positivist methodology based on an empirical approach while using a cross-sectional design and quantitative analysis. The sample is relatively representative (in terms of race, gender, and the South African work force), as it consisted of 60 employees from each of the 43 South African organisations that participated in the study, with 2 486 respondents in total. Results: Significant, positive relationships were found between LMX, P-O fit, and psychological capital. Additionally, it was found that P-O fit partially mediates the relationship between ethical leadership and supervisory trust, confirming the proposed model. Conclusion: A strong, positive relationship exists between LMX (consisting of Affect, Loyalty, Contribution, and Professional Respect) and psychological capital (consisting of Self-efficacy, Hope, Resilience and Optimism) which is partially mediated by P-O fit (consisting of supplementary fit and complementary fit).

Keywords: Positive Psychology, psychological capital, leader and member exchange, person-organisational fit, interactionist approach

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4 A Comparative Analysis of the Psychological Well-Being of Teenage Fathers and Teenage Mothers

Authors: Maria Francesca Maunes


Life is never the same when an adolescent becomes a teenage parent. Living in a developing country with the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the Asia-Pacific region, it is necessary to address the psychological well-being of Filipino teenage parents and be put into consideration. Thus, this quantitative study used both descriptive statistics and quantitative techniques on a total of 70 participants, consisting of 32 teenage fathers and 38 teenage mothers to describe the level of psychological well-being among teenage parents according to the six domains of Ryff’s eudaimonic well-being—autonomy, environmental mastery, personal growth, positive relations with others, purpose in life, and self-acceptance, and to determine the difference between the psychological well-being of teenage fathers and teenage mothers. Results show that there is no significant difference in the overall psychological well-being between the two groups of participants, yet, when compared by each domain, it is found that there is a significant difference between their purpose in life. While both teenage fathers and teenage mothers are high scorers across all the domains, this does not serve as an assurance that the sustained increase in the number of teenage pregnancies in the Philippines does not anymore pose as a national issue. This could only signify that despite dire circumstances, Filipino teenage parents are able to continue make meaning in their lives and strive to keep living in comfort and contentment, not only for themselves but for their children as well. Additional findings as well as its implications are further discussed. Recommendations and suggestions for further study are presented.

Keywords: Positive Psychology, adolescence, Adolescent Psychology, teenage mothers, eudaimonic psychological well-being, teenage fathers, teenage parents, teenage pregnancy in the Philippines

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3 The Impact of Personal Identity on Self-Esteem among Muslim Adolescents

Authors: Nadia Ayub


The purpose of the study was to explore the impact of personal identity on self-esteem among adolescents. Two hypotheses were tested in the study, i.e., personal identity effects on self-esteem; and gender difference in the variables of personal identity and self-esteem. The total of 300 (150 female; 150 male) adolescents participated in the study. Personal identity scale (Ayub, N., In Press), and self-esteem scale (Rosenberg, 1985) were administered. The findings of the study suggest that positive personal identity impact on self-esteem and gender difference was found on the variables of personal identity and self-esteem. In conclusion, the results of the study are beneficial for researchers, policymakers, psychologists. The strong positive personal identity and self-esteem help in healthy mental development not only in adolescence but throughout the life of individuals.

Keywords: Positive Psychology, Adolescents, self-esteem, personal identity

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2 Thriving Organisations: Recommendations to Create a Workplace Culture That Prioritises Both Well-being and Performance Equally

Authors: Clare Victoria Martin


With reports of increased mental health problems and a lack of proactive, consistent well-being initiatives, well-being is a topical issue in the workplace, as well as a wider public health concern. Additionally, workplace well-being is closely linked to performance, both from a business perspective and in psychological research. Businesses are therefore becoming increasingly motivated to promote well-being, yet there are still barriers, including a lack of evidence-based workplace interventions, issues with measuring effectiveness and problems creating lasting cultural change. This review aimed to collate workplace well-being research to propose a comprehensive new model for delivering evidence-based workplace well-being training with a real potential for lasting impact. Method: A narrative review was conducted to meta-synthesise relevant research. Thematic analysis was then adopted as a systematic method of identifying key themes from the review to lead to practical recommendations. Interventions focusing on strengths, psychological capital, mindfulness and positivity (SPMP) dominated the research in this area, suggesting benefits of incorporating all four into training. However, to avoid a ‘quick fix’ mentality, the concept of training ‘well-being ambassadors’ as a preventative counterpart to mental health ‘first aiders’ was proposed alongside a new ‘REST and RISE’ model: well-being interventions should be ‘relatable’, ‘enjoyable’, ‘sociable’ and ‘trackable’ (REST) in order to increase ‘resilience’, ‘innovation’, ‘strengths’ and ‘engagement’ (RISE). If the REST principles are applied to interventions focusing on SPMP, research suggests individuals will RISE. Future research should empirically test this new well-being ambassador programme and REST/RISE model in an applied setting.

Keywords: Positive Psychology, Performance, thriving, workplace well-being

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1 A Qualitative Study of Experienced Early Childhood Teachers Resolving Workplace Challenges with Character Strengths

Authors: Michael J. Haslip


Character strength application improves performance and well-being in adults across industries, but the potential impact of character strength training among early childhood educators is mostly unknown. To explore how character strengths are applied by early childhood educators at work, a qualitative study was completed alongside professional development provided to a group of in-service teachers of children ages 0-5 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Study participants (n=17) were all female. The majority of participants were non-white, in full-time lead or assistant teacher roles, had at least ten years of experience and a bachelor’s degree. Teachers were attending professional development weekly for 2 hours over a 10-week period on the topic of social and emotional learning and child guidance. Related to this training were modules and sessions on identifying a teacher’s character strength profile using the Values in Action classification of 24 strengths (e.g., humility, perseverance) that have a scientific basis. Teachers were then asked to apply their character strengths to help resolve current workplace challenges. This study identifies which character strengths the teachers reported using most frequently and the nature of the workplace challenges being resolved in this context. The study also reports how difficult these challenges were to the teachers and their success rate at resolving workplace challenges using a character strength application plan. The study also documents how teachers’ own use of character strengths relates to their modeling of these same traits (e.g., kindness, teamwork) for children, especially when the nature of the workplace challenge directly involves the children, such as when addressing issues of classroom management and behavior. Data were collected on action plans (reflective templates) which teachers wrote to explain the work challenge they were facing, the character strengths they used to address the challenge, their plan for applying strengths to the challenge, and subsequent results. Content analysis and thematic analysis were used to investigate the research questions using approaches that included classifying, connecting, describing, and interpreting data reported by educators. Findings reveal that teachers most frequently use kindness, leadership, fairness, hope, and love to address a range of workplace challenges, ranging from low to high difficulty, involving children, coworkers, parents, and for self-management. Teachers reported a 71% success rate at fully or mostly resolving workplace challenges using the action plan method introduced during professional development. Teachers matched character strengths to challenges in different ways, with certain strengths being used mostly when the challenge involved children (love, forgiveness), others mostly with adults (bravery, teamwork), and others universally (leadership, kindness). Furthermore, teacher’s application of character strengths at work involved directly modeling character for children in 31% of reported cases. The application of character strengths among early childhood educators may play a significant role in improving teacher well-being, reducing job stress, and improving efforts to model character for young children.

Keywords: Professional Development, Positive Psychology, character strengths, social-emotional learning

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