Positive Psychology

There are many sciences dealing with the topic of happiness: Philosophy, Sociology, Economy, History, Medicine, etc… Strangely enough, psychology research had been largely ignoring this topic until the end of the last century (apart from humanistic psychology, which was more focused on practice instead of research). A Google Scholar search on “depression” still yields more than 5 times more hits than a similar search on “happiness”.

That is why in 1998, then American Psychological Association president Martin Seligman started promoting the term “Positive Psychology”. This “new” branch of psychology should tip the balance and give more room for research on positive emotions, strengths and thriving, both in individuals and communities/organizations.

Meanwhile, research has been growing rapidly. The International Positive Psychology Association is one of the fastest growing research networks worldwide. Publications and journals are booming, and an encyclopaedia of positive psychology is in the making. Universities all over the world have been appointing positive psychology research & teaching positions. In 2006, “Positive Psychology” became the most popular course at Harvard university.

The site www.evidencebasedhappiness.org lists some major positive psychology research outcomes. The focus is on experimental research on happiness-increasing interventions, since this seems to be what most people are interested in. This type of research gives answers to the question “What should I do to become happier?”