Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 635–654

What Is the Optimal Way to Deliver a Positive Activity Intervention? The Case of Writing About One’s Best Possible Selves


    • Department of PsychologyUniversity of California
  • S. Katherine Nelson
    • Department of PsychologyUniversity of California
  • Sonja Lyubomirsky
    • Department of PsychologyUniversity of California
Research Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10902-012-9346-2

Cite this article as:
Layous, K., Katherine Nelson, S. & Lyubomirsky, S. J Happiness Stud (2013) 14: 635. doi:10.1007/s10902-012-9346-2


A 4-week-long experiment examined the effects of a positive activity intervention in which students wrote about their “best possible selves” (BPS) once a week. We manipulated two factors that might affect the success of the happiness-increasing activity—whether the positive activity was administered online versus in-person and whether the participant read a persuasive peer testimonial before completing the activity. Our results indicated that the BPS activity significantly boosted positive affect and flow and marginally increased feelings of relatedness. No differences were found between participants who completed the positive activity online versus in-person. However, students who read a testimonial extolling the virtues of the BPS activity showed larger gains in well-being than those who read neutral information or completed a control task. The results lend legitimacy to online self-administered happiness-increasing activities and highlight the importance of participants’ beliefs in the efficacy of such activities for optimum results.


Positive activity interventionHappinessSubjective well-beingNeed satisfactionFlowBest possible selvesTestimonialOnline intervention

Supplementary material

10902_2012_9346_MOESM1_ESM.doc (32 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 33 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012