Positive Psychology and Gaming: Strength and Resilience +1

  • Ryan KellyEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Cyberpsychology book series (PASCY)


Over the last 20 years, positive psychology has had a remarkable rise within research and clinical practice. More and more, psychologists are shifting from a deficit-focused view of mental health to a strength-based one, proactively focusing on factors like positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaningfulness, purposefulness, and achievement (i.e., PERMA) instead of just psychopathology. Respectively, this chapter introduces an evolved “dual-factor” model of mental health that includes a positive dimension (i.e., “subjective well-being”), proposes a gaming-based conceptualization of strengths and weakness, and discusses the evidence-based uses of video games within the PERMA model as a way to foster resilience and well-being. Case and practical examples are included.


PERMA Dual-factor model of mental health Positive psychology Role-playing games MMORPG 


  1. Ackerman, C. (2019, July 10). What is positive psychology & why is it important? Retrieved from
  2. Allahverdipour, H., Bazargan, M., Farhadinasab, A., & Moeini, B. (2010). Correlates of videogames playing among adolescents in an Islamic country. BMC Public Health, 10, 286. Retrieved from
  3. Anderson, C. A., & Dill, K. E. (2000). Video games and aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behavior in the laboratory and in life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78(4), 772–790.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bardzell, S., Bardzell, J., Pace, T., & Reed, K. (2008). Blissfully productive: Grouping and cooperation in world of warcraft instance runs. In Proceedings of the 2008 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW ’08) (pp. 357–360). New York, NY: ACM.Google Scholar
  5. Cole, H., & Griffiths, M. (2007). Social interactions in massively multiplayer online role-playing gamers. Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, 10, 575–583.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Diener, E. (1984). Subjective well-being. Psychological Bulletin, 95, 42–575.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Diener, E., Napa Scollon, C., & Lucas, R. E. (2009). The evolving concept of subjective well-being: The multifaceted nature of happiness. In E. Diener (Ed.), Social Indicators Research Series: Vol. 39. Assessing well-being (pp. 67–100). Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  8. Flade, P., Asplund, J., & Elliot, G. (2015). Employees who use their strengths outperform those who don’t. Retrieved from
  9. Gurin, G., Veroff, J., & Feld, S. (1960). Americans view their mental health. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  10. Haranin, E., Huebner, E. S., & Suldo, S. M. (2007). Predictive and incremental validity of global and domain-based adolescent life satisfaction reports. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 25, 127–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Huebner, E. S. (2004). Research on assessment of life satisfaction of children and adolescents. Social Indicators Research, 66, 3–33.Google Scholar
  12. Kelly, R. M. (2015). Group social skills interventions for children with Aspergers: The effects of parent-guided social skills software (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from
  13. Kelly, R., Hills, K., Huebner, E. S., & McQuillin, S. (2012). The longitudinal stability and dynamics of group membership in the dual-factor model of mental health: Psychosocial predictors of mental health. Canadian Journal of School Psychology, 27, 337–355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 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, 539–548.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kutner, L., & Olson, C. K. (2008). Grand theft childhood: The surprising truth about violent video games and what parents can do. New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  16. Lewinsohn, P. M., Redner, J. E., & Seeley, J. R. (1991). The relationship between life satisfaction and psychosocial variables: New perspectives. In F. Strack, M. Argyle, & N. Schwarz (Eds.), International series in experimental social psychology, Vol. 21. Subjective well-being: An interdisciplinary perspective (pp. 141–169). Elmsford, NY: Pergamon Press.Google Scholar
  17. Martin, K. M., & Huebner, E. S. (2007). Peer victimization and prosocial experiences and emotional well-being of middle school students. Psychology in the Schools, 44, 199–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. McGonigal, J. (2011). Reality is broken: Why games make us better and how they can change the world. Sydney: Random House.Google Scholar
  19. Park, N. (2004). The role of subjective well-being in positive youth development. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 591(1), 25–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Przybylski, A. K., Weinstein, N., Murrayama, K., Lynch, M. F., & Ryan, R. M. (2011). The ideal self at play: The appeal of video games that let you be all you can be. Psychological Science, 23, 69–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Pwn or Die Blog. (2009). 12 ways video games actually benefit real life [Web log post]. Available at http://www./ Accessed July 21, 2019 [Google Scholar].
  22. Seligman, M. (2004). Authentic happiness. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  23. Seligman, M. E. P., Berkowitz, M. W., Catalano, R. F., Damon, W., Eccles, J. S., Gillham, J. E., … Peterson, C. (2005). The positive perspective on youth development. In D. L. Evans, E. Foa, R. Gur, H. Hendrin, C. O’Brien, M. E. P. Seligman, & B. T. Walsh (Eds.), Treating and preventing adolescent mental health disorders: What we know and what we don’t know: A research agenda for improving the mental health of our youth (pp. 497–527). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Seligman, M. E. P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 55, 5–14.Google Scholar
  25. Shernoff, D. (2012). Engagement and positive youth development: Creating optimal learning environments. In K. R. Harris (Ed.), APA educational psychology handbook, Vol. 2: Individual differences and cultural and contextual factors. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Snodgrass, J., Lacy, M., Dengah, F., Fagan, J., & Most, D. (2011). Magical flight and monstrous stress: Technologies of absorption and mental wellness in Azeroth. Cultural Medicine and Psychiatry, 35, 26–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Suldo, S. M., & Huebner, E. S. (2004). Does life satisfaction moderate the effects of stressful life events on psychopathological behavior during adolescence? School Psychology Quarterly, 19, 93–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Tian, W. (2009). The educational potential of online games from a psychological perspective. Journey of Chongqing University Science and Technology, 2, 214–215.Google Scholar
  29. Trepte, S., Reinecke, L., & Juechens, K. (2012). The social side of gaming: How playing online computer games creates online and offline social support. Computers in Human Behavior, 28, 832–839.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Valkenburg, P. M., & Peter, J. (2011). Online communication among adolescents: An integrated model of its attraction, opportunities, and risks. Journal of Adolescent Health, 48, 121–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Veroff, J., Feld, S., & Gurin, G. (1962). Dimensions of subjective adjustment. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 64, 192–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Wang, D., & Liu, D. H. (2012). Review of correlative research of young people’s network game. Advertising Panorama, 12, 53–61.Google Scholar
  33. White, H. A., & Shah, P. (2011). Creative style and achievement in adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Personality and Individual Differences, 5(50), 673–677.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Williams, D., Ducheneaut, N., Xiong, L., Zhang, Y., Yee, N., & Nickell, E. (2006). From tree house to barracks: The social life of guilds in World of Warcraft. Games and Culture, 1, 338–361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Williamson, B., & Facer, K. (2003). More than just a game: The implications for schools of children’s computer games communities. Education, Communication and Information, 4(2/3), 253–268.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Southeast PsychCharlotteUSA

Personalised recommendations