Positive Psychology: A Synthesis

Positive psychology is part of the biopsychosocial approach to human health that is gradually replacing the traditional medical model centered on disease identification and treatment (Clifton, 2004; Larson, 1996). It addresses the question of how we can reach and maintain the positive mental state associated with well-being and individual happiness. It seeks to emphasize positive emotion, motivation, optimism, hope and “flow” (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990) in our ways of being and relating, and to reduce the negative emotions and behaviors which are the characteristics of pessimism, depression, and despair (Haslam, Bain, & Neal, 2004). Positive psychology, as a field of study and application, includes research on the genesis and effects of positive emotions, the strengths and virtues that form a positive character, and positive institutions that best support its development (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). It integrates an understanding of human emotions with the cognitive and social aspects of behavior (Simonton & Baumeister, 2005).