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Psychological Selection and Optimal Experience Across Cultures

Social Empowerment through Personal Growth

  • Book
  • © 2011


  • Emphasizes the role of individuals as active agents in shaping their cultural environment.
  • Promotes both individuals own development and culture complexity.
  • Contextualizes the study of individual well-being within the broader perspective of social empowerment and cultures' cooperation.
  • Includes supplementary material:

Part of the book series: Cross-Cultural Advancements in Positive Psychology (CAPP, volume 2)

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About this book

What does Western science know about the relationship between individual well-being and cultural trends? What can learn from other cultural traditions? What do the recent advancements in positive psychology teach us on this issue, particularly the eudaimonic framework, which emphasizes the connections between personal well-being and social welfare?

People grow and live in cultures that deeply influence their values, aspirations and behaviors. However, individuals in their turn play an active role in building their own goals, growth trajectories and social roles, at the same time influencing culture trends. This process, defined psychological selection, is related to the individual pursuit of well-being People preferentially select and cultivate in their lives activities, interests, and relationships associated with optimal experience, a state of deep engagement, concentration, and enjoyment. Several cross-cultural studies confirmed the positive and rewarding features of optimal experience. Based on these evidences, this book offers a new perspective in the study of human behavior. Highlighting the interplay between individual and cultural growth trajectories, it conveys a core message: educating people to enjoy engagement and involvement in activities that can be relevant and meaningful for social welfare is a premise to foster the harmonious development of human communities, and the peaceful cohabitation of cultures.  

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Table of contents (15 chapters)

  1. Theory and methods

  2. Applications


From the reviews:

“This book will have much interest for the general reader. It contains extensive detail about a wide range of cultural experiences. Moreover, the research results and data analyses are easily understood through tables and clear explanations. The volume will be of particular interest to those researchers and theorists working in the emerging field of positive psychology. Those working in the specific areas covered in the final eight chapters will also find much material to stimulate ideas for further research.” (John M. Davis, PsycCRITIQUES, Vol. 57 (20), May, 2012)

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dipartimento di Scienze Cliniche Luigi S, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milano, Italy

    Antonella Delle Fave, Fausto Massimini, Marta Bassi

About the authors

Antonella Delle Fave, MD specialized in Clinical Psychology, is professor of Psychology at the University of Milano, Italy. Her studies concern optimal experience and individual psychological selection, that is the lifelong process of differential replication and cultivation of activities and competencies. Her cross-cultural studies have produced the largest international data bank on these topics. On the basis of research findings, she has developed and supervised intervention projects in the domains of health and education, disability and social maladjustment. She is author of 120 articles and chapters in peer-reviewed books, author/editor of 10 books and 2 special journal issues, member of several Editorial Boards and Boards of Reviewers. She is presently President of the European Network of Positive Psychology (ENPP) and member of the Board of Directors of the International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA).

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