Positive Psychology Interventions: Research Evidence, Practical Utility, and Future Steps

Chapter

Abstract

In this chapter, it is argued that there is scope for enhancing well-being through intentional activities. The efficacy and practical utility of some of the most commonly used positive interventions to enhance well-being are reviewed. A number of individual and contextual factors and how these “fit” with well-being activities are also identified based on empirical findings. These insights into the optimal conditions for maximizing the effects of well-being interventions are discussed in light of future research considerations and practical strategies for real world implementation. It is concluded that work to date has generally supported the benefits of positive interventions in enhancing well-being and decreasing depression; however, further understanding of the underlying mechanisms is needed so that interventions can be developed and selected to suit individual differences, contextual factors, and targeted outcomes.

Keywords

Positive Affect Positive Emotion Positive Psychology Mental Imagery Placebo Control Group 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

  1. Aspinwall, L. G. (1998). Rethinking the role of positive affect in self-regulation. Motivation and Emotion, 22, 1–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Brickman, P., & Campbell, D. T. (1971). Hedonic relativism and planning the good society. InM. H. Appley (Ed.), Adaptation-level theory: A symposium (pp. 287–302). New York: Academic.Google Scholar
  3. Brickman, P., Coates, D., & Janoff-Bulman, R. (1978). Lottery winners and accident victims: Is happiness relative? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 36, 917–927.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brown, K. W., & Ryan, M. (2003). The benefits of being present: Mindfulness and its role in ­psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 822–848.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Burton, C. M., & King, L. A. (2004). The health benefits of writing about intensely positive experiences. Journal of Research in Personality, 38, 150–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cheavens, J. S., Feldman, D. B., Gum, A., Scott, T. M., & Snyder, C. R. (2006). Hope therapy in a community sample: A pilot investigation. Social Indicators Research, 77, 61–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cummins, R. A. (2003). Normative life satisfaction: Measurement issues and a homeostatic model. Social Indicators Research, 64, 225–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Danner, D. D., Snowdon, D. A., & Friesen, W. V. (2001). Positive emotions in early life and ­longevity: Findings from the nun study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80, 804–813.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Davidson, R. J., Kabat-Zinn, J., Schumacker, J., Rosenkranz, M., Muller, D., Sontorelli, S. F., et al. (2003). Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation. Psychosomatic Medicine, 65, 564–570.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Della, L. J., DeJoy, D. M., Goetzel, R. Z., Ozminkowski, R. J., & Wilson, M. G. (2008). Assessing management support for worksite health promotion: Psychometric analysis of the leading by example (LBE) instrument. American Journal of Health Promotion, 22, 359–367.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Delle Fave, A., Brdar, I., Freire, T., Vella-Brodrick, D. A., & Wissing, M. P. (2011). The eudaimonic and hedonic components of happiness: Qualitative and quantitative findings. Social Indicators Research, 100, 185–207. Accessible online at: http://www.deepdyve.com/lp/springer-journals/the-eudaimonic-and-hedonic-components-of-happiness-qualitative-and-Dx1x5gb4Gx CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Diener, E. (1994). Assessing SWB: Progress and opportunities. Social Indicators Research, 31, 103–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Diener, E., Suh, E. M., Lucas, R. E., & Smith, H. L. (1999). SWB: Three decades of progress. Psychological Bulletin, 125, 276–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Diener, E., Lucas, R. E., & Scollon, C. N. (2006). Beyond the hedonic treadmill: Revising the adaptation theory of well-being. American Psychologist, 61, 305–314.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and SWB in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 377–389.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Estrada, C., Isen, A. M., & Young, M. J. (1994). Positive affect influences creative problem solving and reported source of practice satisfaction in physicians. Motivation and Emotion, 18, 285–299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fava, G. A., Rafanelli, C., Cazzaro, M., Conti, S., & Grandi, S. (1998). Well-being therapy: A novel psychotherapeutic model for residual symptoms of affective disorders. Psychological Medicine, 28, 475–480.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fordyce, M. W. (1977). Development of a program to increase happiness. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 24, 511–521.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Fordyce, M. W. (1983). A program to increase happiness: Further studies. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 4, 483–498.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fredrickson, B. L. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. American Psychologist, 56, 218–226.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fredrickson, B. L., & Levenson, R. W. (1998). Positive emotions speed recovery from the cardiovascular sequelae of negative emotions. Cognition and Emotion, 12, 191–220.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Freedman, S. R., & Enright, R. D. (1986). Forgiveness as an intervention goal with incest survivors. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 64, 983–992.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Froh, J. J., Kashdan, T. B., Ozimkowsk, K. M., & Miller, N. (2009). Who benefits the most from a gratitude intervention in children and adolescents? Examining positive affect as a moderator. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 4, 408–422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Giannopoulos, V. L., & Vella-Brodrick, D. A. (2011). Effects of positive interventions and orientations to happiness on subjective well-being. Journal of Positive Psychology, 6, 95–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Harker, L., & Keltner, D. (2001). Expressions of positive emotions in women’s college yearbook pictures and their relationship to personality and life outcomes across adulthood. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80, 112–124.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Headey, B. (2006). Life goals matter to happiness: A revision of set-point theory. Social Indicators Research, 86, 213–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Holmes, E. A., & Mathews, A. (2010). Mental imagery in emotion and emotional disorders. Clinical Psychology Review, 30, 349–362.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Holmes, E. A., Mathews, A., Mackintosh, B., & Dalgleish, T. (2008). The causal effect of mental imagery on emotion assessed using picture-word cues. Emotion, 8, 395–409.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Huppert, F. A., & Johnson, D. M. (2010). A controlled trial of mindfulness training in schools: The importance of practice for an impact on well-being. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 5, 264–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Jha, A. P., Stanley, E. A., Kiyonaga, A., Wong, L., & Gelfand, L. (2010). Examining the protective effects of mindfulness training on working capacity and affective experience. Emotion, 10, 54–64.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kabat-Zinn, J. (2003). Mindfulness-based interventions in context: Past, present, and future. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 10, 144–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kashdan, T. B., Biswas-Diener, R., & King, L. A. (2008). Reconsidering happiness: The cost of distinguishing between hedonics and eudaimonia. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 3, 219–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Keyes, C. L. M. (2002). The mental health continuum: From languishing to flourishing in life. Journal of Health and Social Research, 43, 207–222.Google Scholar
  34. Keyes, C. L. M. (2005). Mental illness and/or mental health? Investigating axioms of the complete state model of health. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 73(3), 539–548.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Keyes, C. L. M. (2007). Promoting and protecting mental health as flourishing: A complementary strategy for improving national mental health. American Psychologist, 62(2), 95–108.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Keyes, C. L. M., Shmotkin, D., & Ryff, C. D. (2002). Optimizing well-being: The empirical encounter of two traditions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 1007–1022.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. King, L. A. (2001). The health benefits of writing about life goals. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27, 798–807.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lewandowski, G. (2009). Promoting positive emotions following relationship dissolution through writing. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 4, 21–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lykken, D., & Tellegen, A. (1996). Happiness is a stochastic phenomenon. Psychological Science, 7, 186–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lyubomirsky, S. (2008). The how of happiness: A scientific approach to getting the life you want. New York: Penguin Press.Google Scholar
  41. Lyubomirsky, S., King, L., & Diener, E. (2005a). The benefits of frequent positive affect: Does happiness lead to success? Psychological Bulletin, 131, 803–855.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K. M., & Schkade, D. (2005b). Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change. Review of General Psychology, 9, 111–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Martin, K. A., Moritz, S. E., & Hall, C. R. (1999). Imagery use in sport: A literature review and applied mode. The Sport Psychologist, 13, 245–268.Google Scholar
  44. Mitchell, J., Stanimirovic, R., Klein, B., & Vella-Brodrick, D. (2009). A randomised controlled trial of a self-guided internet intervention promoting well-being. Computers in Human Behavior, 25, 749–760.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Nazarian, D., & Smyth, J. (2008). Expressive writing. In W. O’Donohue & N. Cummings (Eds.), Evidence-based adjunctive treatments (pp. 221–241). New York: Elsevier Inc.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Odou, N., & Vella-Brodrick, D. A. (2011). The efficacy of positive psychology interventions to increase well-being and the role of mental imagery ability. Social Indicators Research (published on-line 20 August, 2011).Google Scholar
  47. Otake, K., Shimai, S., Tanaka-Matsumi, J., Otsui, K., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2006). Happy people become happier through kindness: A counting kindness intervention. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7, 361–375.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Peters, M. L., Flink, I. K., Boersma, K., & Linton, S. J. (2010). Manipulating optimism: Can imagining a best possible self be used to increase positive future expectancies? The Journal of Positive Psychology, 5, 204–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Peterson, C., Park, N., & Seligman, M. E. (2005). Orientations to happiness and life satisfaction: The full life versus the empty life. Journal of Happiness Studies, 6, 25–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Pressman, S. D., & Cohen, S. (2005). Does positive affect influence health? Psychological Bulletin, 131, 925–971.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Reed, G. L., & Enright, R. D. (2006). The effects of forgiveness therapy on depression, anxiety and, post-traumatic stress for women after spousal emotional abuse. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 74, 920–929.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Richardson, A. (1969). Mental imagery. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  53. Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2001). On happiness and human potentials: A review of the research on hedonic and eudaimonic well-being. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 141–166.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Ryff, C. D. (1989). Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations on the meaning of psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 1069–1081.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Schueller, S. M. (2010). Preferences for positive psychology exercises. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 5, 192–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Schueller, S. M. (2011). To each his own well-being boosting intervention: Using preference to guide selection. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 6, 300–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Seligman, M. E. P. (2011). Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  58. Seligman, M. E. P. (2002). Authentic happiness. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  59. Seligman, M. E. P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology. An introduction. American Psychologist, 55, 5.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Seligman, M. E. P., Steen, T. A., Park, N. P., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60, 410–421.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Seligman, M. E. P., Rashid, T., & Parks, A. C. (2006). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60, 410–421.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Sergeant, S., & Mongrain, M. (2011). Are positive psychology exercises helpful for people with depressive personality styles? The Journal of Positive Psychology, 6, 260–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Sheldon, K. M., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2004). Achieving sustainable new happiness: Prospects, practices, and prescriptions. In A. Linley & S. Joseph (Eds.), Positive psychology in practice (pp. 127–145). Hoboken: Wiley.Google Scholar
  64. Sheldon, K. M., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2006). How to increase and sustain positive emotion: The effect of expressing gratitude and visualizing best possible selves. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 1, 73–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Silberman, J. (2007). Positive intervention self-selection: Developing models of what works for whom. International Coaching Psychology Review, 2, 70–77.Google Scholar
  66. Sin, N. L., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2009). Enhancing well-being and alleviating depressive symptoms with positive psychology interventions: A practice-friendly meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 65, 467–487.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Tennant, R., Hiller, L., Fishwick, R., Platt, S., Joseph, S., Weich, S., et al. (2007). The Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale (WEMWBS): Development and UK validation. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 5(63).Google Scholar
  68. Thomas, D. C. (2006). Domain and development of cultural intelligence: The importance of mindfulness. Group and Organization Management, 31, 78–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Vella-Brodrick, D. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2009). Three ways to be happy: Pleasure, engagement, and meaning—findings from Australian and US samples. Social Indicators Research, 90, 165–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Waterman, A. S. (2008). Reconsidering happiness: A eudaimonist’s perspective. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 3, 234–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Waterman, A. S., Schwartz, S. J., Zamboanga, B. L., Ravert, R. D., Williams, M. K., Bede Agocha, V., et al. (2010). The questionnaire for eudaimonic well-being: Psychometric properties, demographic comparisons, and evidence of validity. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 5, 41–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Waugh, C. E., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2006). Nice to know you: Positive emotions, self-other ­overlap, and complex understanding in the formation of a new relationship. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 1, 93–106.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Williams, S., & Shiaw, W. T. (1999). Mood and organizational citizenship behavior: The effects of positive affect on employee organizational citizenship behavior intentions. Journal of Psychology, 133, 656–668.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Williams, G. C., Lynch, M. F., McGregor, H. A., Ryan, R. M., Sharp, D., & Deci, E. (2006). Validation of the “important other” climate questionnaire: Assessing autonomy support for health-related change. Families, Systems and Health, 24, 179–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, School of Psychology and PsychiatryMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia

Personalised recommendations