Positive Psychology and Tourism

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Abstract

Positive psychology is a growing, global research field of psychology that has flourished in the last decade, but its tourism applications are underexplored. Researchers in positive psychology investigate topics such as well-being, happiness, optimism, humour, positive emotions, character strengths and similar topics that broadly relate to quality-of-life research. The purpose of this chapter is to provide a detailed introduction of positive psychology to the tourism reader, to identify and analyse specific research linkages and present key challenges for the future development of positive psychology and tourism research. Three linkages are highlighted: (1) positive psychology research on happiness and its use in conceptualising and measuring fulfilling, happy tourist experiences; (2) positive psychology character strengths and their potential to embellish global tourism education values and (3) positive psychology research on humour and its value in promoting a productive tourism workplace. The incipient linkages therefore relate to a variety of tourism contexts – tourists and their experiences, tourism workers and managers and tourism students and educators. Two key challenges for future development of tourism and positive psychology research are presented: (1) challenges of overcoming insularity (the need to reach out and learn from other fields and disciplines, to further embrace non-Western perspectives and adopt a greater array of research methods) and (2) challenges of connecting with health (the need to integrate subjective benefits of tourism and positive psychology with physical health indicators to better explain optimal human functioning). The chapter ends with a brief synthesis and a call for future research.