You can use the following hyperlinks to navigate quickly through this page, by clicking on the section you are interested in. This page is the Appendix of the Positive Psychology Network Concept Paper, but does not include Appendix A: Annotated Bibliography for a Positive Social Science. Appendix A is very long and can take over 7 minutes to load over a 28.8 modem. If you still want to see it, click Appendix A.
Appendix B: Mission Statement and Conclusions of Akumal 1
Appendix C: The Grand Cayman Meeting Minutes
Appendix D: Book Series Prospectus: Advances in Positive Psychology/Human Strengths
Appendix E: Studying Truly Extraordinary People: Minutes of a Meeting
Appendix F: Tentative Table of Contents for The American Psychologist, January 2000
Positive Psychology: Network Concept Paper
Martin E.P. Seligman
Professor of Psychology
University of Pennsylvania
American Psychological Association
January 9, 1999
1. Definition. Positive Psychology is the scientific study of optimal human functioning. It aims to discover and promote the factors that allow individuals and communities to thrive.
2. Goals. To meet these objectives it is necessary to understand optimal functioning at multiple levels, including experiential, personal, relational, institutional, societal, and global. It is necessary to study:
- The dynamic relations between processes at these levels
- The human capacity to create order and meaning in response to inevitable adversity, and
- The means by which "the good life", in all its possible manifestations, may emerge from these processes
3. Applications. Potential applications of positive psychology include:
- Therapeutic approaches that emphasize the positive
- Educational and training curricula that build on intrinsic motivation and creativity
- Enhancement of family life (How can people make their relationships more rewarding?)
- Improving work satisfaction, job design, consulting
- Improving organizations (How can institutions better contribute to individual well-being and growth? e.g. urban planning, social and political policies)
- Promoting these goals throughout the world
4. Implementation of Short-Term Goals. In order to create the optimal conditions for the flourishing of positive psychology, we propose the following: a) The circle of researchers who call themselves positive psychologists should be broadened, funded, nurtured in their career development, and kept in close contact. b) We must produce deliverables, such as articles, books, and effective interventions. Specific strategies for bringing about these ends include:
a) The formation of “Positive Science” research networks. Each network would include members from several social sciences. One possible organization for these would be:
- Positive subjective states
- The good life/good person
- The good family, institution and community
- The good society
- There would be at least one paid staff person to support the activities of the networks, such as planning meetings. New and potentially interested scientists would be invited to join, or participate in specific activities. Networks would each have a concrete job to do, such as designing an intervention to foster moral development in late childhood. It is perhaps here in the networks that any “gee-whiz” demonstration projects could be undertaken.
b) Fostering contact among positive scientists:
- Holding at least one large meeting per year in a location likely to induce broadening and building, with costs subsidized
- Maintaining a current positive-psych listserv (need nominations)
- Supporting special topical meetings (in addition to those of the networks described above). It may be useful to schedule more than one subgroup meeting in the same time and place to facilitate cross-fertilization.
c) Facilitation of funding for positive psychology researchers. Senior members of the Akumal group will take the lead in identifying and contacting interested foundations.
d) Publications and public relations: High profile publications will be produced, including:
- A special section of the American Psychologist on positive psychology, January 2001.
- An edited volume of papers on positive psychology? On the positive emotions?
- A book series on subtopics within positive psychology
e) Fostering the careers of positive psychologists: As practitioners of positive psychology rise in prominence, so does the field. Positive psychologists should:
- Be willing to host graduate students from other universities in post-docs or short-term visits
- Invite positive psychologists to present colloquia at their universities
Participants: Don Clifton, Mike Csikzentmihalyi, Ed Diener, Kathleen Jamieson, Robert Nozick, Dan Robinson, Martin E.P. Seligman, George Vaillant; Derek Isaacowitz, Recording Secretary
The goal of the Cayman meeting was the enumeration of potential components of a good life, which would form the basis of a research agenda on positive psychology and positive social science. After discussing concerns about the culture-specificity of such an endeavor and how this project would relate to classical notions of the good life, the group devised a list of 17 characteristics that may be related to a positive life, such as love/intimacy and satisfying work. The characteristics cluster in three categories: Connections Outward, Individual Qualities, and Life Regulation. Each of the characteristics can be empirically related to outcome measures of a positive life, including subjective fulfillment (such as life satisfaction), objective fulfillment (such as number of children) and civic/societal recognition (such as the evaluations of others). Certain enabling factors, including genetic and cultural capital, were hypothesized to affect many of the characteristics. The lists are considered local to our present time and culture, nonexclusive and non-exhaustive. The group attempted to devise preliminary questions to measure each of the 17 proposed characteristics, and agreed to call the endeavor “The Roots of a Positive Life.” The next step in the development of a positive psychology and a positive social science will be the measurement of the 17 characteristics and 3 categories of outcome measures, and the examination of their relationships to each other.
History, Goals, and Concerns
The meeting started with Dr. Seligman providing a brief history of the endeavor to create a positive psychology and a positive social science. Last June, Dr. Clifton called Dr. Seligman and expressed both a personal and professional interest in the project. Together, they decided to assemble a group of distinguished people to ask, "what is the good life?" and how taxonomy of the good life might be created. This would be a precursor to attempts at measurement. Dr. Seligman then emphasized that this was a project that would be of personal interest to the members of the group, and that could provide a context for continued intellectual growth. Dr. Clifton added that he believes that there is a more productive and harmonious life that has not been found yet, and that it is time for the professions to start investigating strengths. Evidence from business suggests that focusing on the best member of a team helps the team more than focusing on the weakest member; this may be a useful model for the endeavor of positive psychology. Similar ambitions were expressed in introductions by other members of the group.
Dr. Diener then discussed several concerns he had about the attempt to create a taxonomy of positive psychology. His first point was that human strengths are context and culture specific. Second, human strengths may have different optimal and maximal levels. Finally, he argued that subjective measures of well-being should be included in the taxonomy. He also explained how complicated it would be to study great lives as models of the good life given these concerns, as they often were successful in only some aspects of their lives and had problematic experiences in other domains.
The group then discussed Dr. Robinson's concern that classical Hellenic perspectives on the good life, especially those of Aristotle, be included in the discussion. Specifically, the idea that there are specific virtues that must be present for a person to be considered to be a good person having a good life, and that there must be moderation, were suggested. The group then discussed its preference for a descriptive approach to the good life rather than a prescriptive one. Dr. Nozick suggested that the group develop a list of qualities thought to relate to a good life, in which none were thought to be necessary, but that it would be good to have some qualities on the list, and disadvantageous to have none. Dr. Robinson questioned whether the qualities on the list would be inclusive, with more qualities being better, or dominant, where certain qualities could trump others in leading to a good life. The group then discussed whether quality of internal experience or external judgments of the quality of life would be important in the taxonomy. Dr. Jamieson suggested the importance of agency and justice, and Dr. Seligman reminded the group that the task at hand was the enumeration of what makes life worth living. With such an enumeration, these qualities could be measured and potentially built in people.
Enumeration of the Structure and Contents of the Taxonomy
After deciding that this attempt at specifying qualities that may be related to the good life would be local to the present culture and context, the group started to specify a structure for a potential research agenda on the good life. This research approach was emphasized, such that the group was constructing hypotheses that would be evaluated through empirical study. Thus, the group avoided "legislating morality" in favor of suggesting avenues for research.
First, potential dependent variables were discussed, which would serve as outcome measures which the hypothesized qualities could be related to empirically once they were enumerated. Three classes of dependent variables were suggested: subjective measures, such as affect and life satisfaction; objective measures, including income and number of children; and the evaluation of other people. The importance of looking at the relationship between the independent variables (characteristics) and dependent variables with specific life tasks and roles was then discussed. For example, for the role of scientist, certain characteristics and outcomes could be related on a two-dimensional plane, and people could decide what combination of characteristics and outcomes they preferred for that role. Later, the group decided that it would be better to focus on general characteristics that were thought to be useful across roles, and to add roles and tasks to the matrix later if needed.
The final issue discussed before conversation moved to enumerating the actual characteristics was whether certain qualities like intelligence, wealth, and qualities of the culture should be independent variables or in another category. It was suggested that these qualities, including social, cultural, genetic and personal capital, be put in the category of "enabling factors," as they would seem to affect several of the characteristics simultaneously.
Characteristics Hypothesized to Relate to a Positive Life
Despite some initial hesitation regarding the ability of the group to enumerate a list of independent variable characteristics, the group ultimately did develop such a list. Two factors contributed to this: first, Dr. Vaillant argued that the group should use the decathalon metaphor in this endeavor; namely, that just a few variables can capture most of the variance even in complex situations. Then, Dr. Nozick put a potential list of 13 characteristics on the flip-board for discussion. This first list was discussed and revised over the next two days. The final list follows. It is considered a list of hypotheses, to be subjected to empirical research to be connected to the final list of dependent variables, which will be described more fully later. These characteristics are also assumed to be non-exclusive and non-exhaustive, and to be local for our present time and place.
I. Connections Outward
1. Love and Intimacy: meaningful relationships, including friendships; loving and being beloved.
2. Satisfying work/ Occupation: finding a vocation; being committed and valued.
3. Helping Others/Altruism: helping, and being helped/supported.
4. Being a good citizen: doing things which will have public benefit; participating and being respected.
5. Spirituality: connection to a deeper meaning or reality.
7. *Aesthetic appreciation/ Pleasures of the mind: sense of the beautiful; enjoyment; appreciation of virtuosity.
8. *Knowledge and understanding of areas of life larger than one's self/ Depth and Breadth: having hobbies; being a Renaissance person; knowledge of social world, physical world, human history, etc;
*Items 7 and 8 are part of both categories I and II.
II. Individual Qualities
9. Being a person with principles and integrity/ Ethics
11. Play: Sense of fun and humor; playfulness.
12. Feeling of subjective well-being
13. Courage: being unafraid of death and able to overcome obstacles.
III. Life Regulation
14. Purposive Future-mindedness: pursuing personal ideals and goals of something valuable.
15. Individuality: expressiveness of integration of personality.
16. Self-regulation: guiding one's life by one's reasoned intelligence.
17. Wisdom: navigating life pragmatics.
Enumerating Outcome Measures/Dependent Variables
Following a presentation by Dr. Diener on the measurement of subjective well-being, the group decided on the following spectrum of dependent variables. Dr. Csikzentmihalyi suggested that they be called "fulfillments":
I. Subjective Fulfillment: Subjective well-being; life satisfaction; affective measures; global evaluation of whether own life is a good life.
II. Objective Fulfillment: Measures such as income, number of children.
III. Societal/Civic Fulfillment/Recognition:
1. Appraisal/evaluation by others (friends and relatives; public in general)
2. Assessment of whether it is a good life according to some theory (e.g.,
The group decided that the first task for a research agenda would be to form a correlation matrix of all the characteristics and outcome measures to see how they relate to each other simultaneously. Then, mechanisms and etiology could be evaluated more specifically.
Potential Questions to Evaluate Characteristics
While the major task of measuring the characteristics is intended for participants in the Lincoln meeting in September, the group attempted to develop possible Gallup-type questions for several of the characteristics. A sample of the questions generated follows:
Characteristic 1 (Intimacy/Love): Is there someone with whom you can share secrets? Is there someone who will do what is best for you even though its not good for them?
Characteristic 2 (Work): Is your life work something you would choose again?
Do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day? If you won the lottery, would you still keep your job? Is your work appreciated by others?
Characteristic 3 (Altruism): Do you go out of your way to directly help other people? Do you find yourself helping other people at a cost to yourself often/sometimes/never? Have you turned to others for help?
Characteristic 4 (Civic): Look at Pew Battery on Civic Participation
Characteristic 5 (Spirituality): Do you believe in a higher/deeper reality? To what extent do you live your life according to belief in a higher/deeper reality?
Characteristic 7 (Aesthetics): How often are you struck by the beauty of the way things look? Has anything happened that caused you to stop and reflect?
Characteristic 8 (Depth and Breadth): Are you excited by learning new things? Have you recently gone out of your way to learn something? Is there a domain that you want to learn everything about?
Characteristic 9 (Integrity): How important are principles of right and wrong to you? Would you violate your principles to help a friend? To save a life?
Can you associate with someone who has been dishonest to you?
Looking Towards the Future
The next step in the development of a research agenda on the roots of a positive life is the development of measurement tools. The group generated a list of potential names of invitees for the Lincoln meeting on measurement. The group also discussed what this project should be called, settling on "The Roots of a Positive Life." The meeting ended with participants expressing their optimism that this empirical endeavor appears exciting and doable.
THE ROOTS OF A POSITIVE LIFE
I. Enabling Factors
*Love and Intimacy
*Satisfying work/ Occupation
*Being a good citizen
*Aesthetic appreciation/ Pleasures of the mind
*Knowledge and understanding of areas of life larger than one's self/ Depth and Breadth
*Being a person with principles and integrity/ Ethics
*Feeling of subjective well-being
III. Outcome Measures - Fulfillment
*Societal/Civic fulfillment and recognition
Appendix D: Book Series Prospectus
Advances in Positive Psychology/Human Strengths (Working Title)
(Appendix D is on a separate page. Click above to access.)
March 27-28, 1999
Participants: Karen Anderson, Camilla Benbow, Mike Csikszentmihalyi, David Feldman, Ray Fowler, Sandra Fowler, Howard Gardner, Jim Hovey, DonnaMayerson, Neal Mayerson, Charlan Nemeth, Nancy Robinson, Martin Seligman, Rena Subotnik.
Edward Royzman, Recording Secretary.
- The goal of the Truly Extraordinary People meeting was to lay the foundation for a better way of studying human excellence. After expressing their concerns about the limitations of the zero-sum model of artistic and scientific genius, the participants embraced a framework that departs radically from the achievement-oriented approach to giftedness. The framework outlines five kinds of excellence, only one of which maps directly onto the well-developed achievement domain. The four new elements include the domains of:
- Life as a Work of Art
The participants commended this broadening of the concept of giftedness as more inclusive and inspiring than solely achievement giftedness. They agreed that the next step should be a conceptual analysis of the four new domains, starting with relationship genius. Next the nomination and study of exemplars should be done, followed by the development of prospective measurement techniques.
Three Phases of the Discussion
The Philadelphia meeting came out of the conference that took place nine months ago among Dr. Benbow, Dr. Robinson, and Dr. Seligman, at which they envisioned a meeting that would assemble leading researchers on genius in children and researchers on Extraordinary Accomplishment. In his opening comments to the group, Dr. Seligman expressed the view that both the Prodigy and the Extraordinary Lives traditions have been quite fruitful, but not entirely satisfying. The Prodigy tradition, with its longitudinal studies of prodigious children, has produced methodologically sophisticated prospective science, but by beginning the study in early childhood, has failed to identify much in the way of truly extraordinary accomplishments. The more idiographic Extraordinary Lives research, on the other hand, hits the mark by definition, but is anecdotal and retrospective.
Over the two days of the meeting, the thinking of the participants progressed through three distinct stages. During the first "Achievement" phase the participants suggested a number of new ways to improve studies of great accomplishment. This phase was followed by the "Transition from Achievement" phase, during which the participants began to express limitations of traditional achievement giftedness with its emphasis on competitive attainment. During this phase, there was a subtle shift to a broader, multiple intelligence conception of extraordinariness. This dissatisfaction ushered in the "New Domains of Excellence" phase, during which participants articulated a conceptual framework that marked a radical departure from the study of only achievement-oriented excellence and urged inquiry into such previously less tapped domains such as relationship genius, moral genius, spiritual genius, and "life-as-a-work-of-art" genius.
During each of these phases, all of the participants produced a wealth of new insights. Due to space limitations, only the most critical of these ideas is covered in the present version of the report.
The Achievement Phase
During the first hours, participants voiced their opinions on how the prospective and retrospective approaches could be profitably married to generate a more predictive research enterprise. Dr. Subotnik ventured the idea of "proximal distance" longitudinal studies which would optimize the researchers' hit rate by beginning at a later stage of the developmental process. Dr. Seligman proposed an even more proximal "creativity on-line" project which would identify and study eight or so creative individuals on the verge of a creative breakthrough, under conditions of optimal physical, financial, and psychological support.
Dr. Subotnick, Dr. Benbow, Dr. Gardner, and Dr. Csikszentmihalyi stressed the importance of studies of the role of mentors and anti-mentors (dubbed "tor-mentors") in the formation and blocking of creative individuals. More specifically, they discussed a retrospective study which would compare protégés of Nobel Prize laureates who went on to win the Nobel Prize themselves with those who didn't. Resonating to this suggestion, Dr. Benbow pointed out that creative individuals could commonly think of contemporaries who were equally or more gifted at every "step of the way" or had the same opportunity, but never made it into the ranks of truly extraordinary achievers. Dr. Benbow wondered what the seminal quality or qualities were that distinguished the former group from the latter.
Dr. Gardner, Dr. Hovey and Dr. Nemeth emphasized the importance of TASTE in problem selection and analysis. They pointed out that creative geniuses need not only be exceptional at generating ideas but also at seizing opportunities for the advancement of these ideas (OPPORTUNISM). They must also possess adequate self-censorship to allow them weed out problems that are not worth pursuing, and CUT THEIR LOSSES early.
Dr. Fowler, Dr. Donna Mayerson and Dr. Robinson opined that creative genius may be too complex a phenomenon to be predicted on an individual basis. A more viable strategy, they suggested, would be to study crucial qualities of truly creative people and use these findings to build a more achievement-friendly ecology. This would raise the probability that creative individuals will emerge within any given generation.
The “Transition from Achievement” Phase
Marking the onset of the transition phase of the meeting, Dr. Csikszentmihalyi pointed out that genius may be defined differently in different societies and historical periods, depending or which subset of domains and endeavors a given society chooses to reward, and which it chooses to downplay and ignore. Dr. Csikszentmihalyi went on to say that women and minorities have often been excluded from the ranks of extraordinary achievers both because a) they were denied opportunities for competing in sanctioned achievement domains, and because b) domains in which they were excellent were not socially recognized as legitimate.
Dr. Donna Mayerson and Dr. Neal Mayerson then raised the question of whether it was appropriate to think of talent in value-free terms, independent of its role in the development of a better human future. Dr. Nemeth observed that the folk concept of "genius" had a distinct spiritual dimension, implying both self-transcendence and connectedness with something greater than the self. This idea is absent in most modern paradigms of giftedness. One of the participants cited Jacques Barzun's comments on the historical evolution of the meaning of "genius:" from a genius as a person's appointed demon or a guardian spirit (in ancient times), to an uncanny power (during the Renaissance), to the modern use of genius as a conscious, secular person.
Dr. Neal Mayerson re-stated his earlier question by asking what was the point, if any, for studying creative genius in the first place. Following up Dr. Robinson suggested that society may, in fact, have a vested interest in regulating the trail-blazing variety of creative accomplishments lest it leads to oversupply and social disarray. Dr. Csikszentmihaly agreed that certain fields (e.g. mathematics) can handle only limited amounts of paradigm-breaking. He also stressed the inevitably competitive, zero-sum quality of achievement-oriented domains. It was in the wake of these concerns that the participants gradually relinquished the zero-sum view of human excellence in favor of what promised to be a more inclusive framework.
The “New Domains” Phase
By the end of the first day's discussion, there was a consensus among the participants that extraordinariness need not be identified only with accomplishment. Consequently, the participants proposed a broader framework within which other kinds of extraordinariness would be legitimate. This pivotal shift set the tone for the rest of the meeting, which was devoted to the enumeration, exemplification, and analysis of less well-studied domains of human genius.
The five domains of extraordinariness identified by the participants (including the traditional achievement domain) were:
1. Achievement ego--ego
2. Relationships ego--other egos
3. Responsibility ego--society
4. Spirituality ego--cosmos
5. Life-as-a-work-of-art ego--ego-ideal
The fifth element acknowledges that the value of a life may be determined by the aesthetic contours of its narrative structure. This idea is similar to Nietzsche's notion of "life as literature" (Alexander Nehamas, Nietzsche: Life as Literature). Dr. Seligman and other participants stressed the importance of life-trajectories and life-endings as key determinants of a life's aesthetic worth.
Dr. Csikszentmihalyi then expressed a concern about the fakeability of talents associated with the four non-achievement domains. He suggested that people could fake caring or spirituality in a way that they could not fake athletic or artistic skill. Dr. Gardner and others, however, pointed out that the fakeability issue, though a legitimate concern, may not arise if we think of objective outcomes rather than underlying motivations and mental states. Dr. Mayerson pointed out that fakeability would be detected if one used informed community opinion about an individual as a measure of his or her excellence in human affairs.
Dr. Gardner then proposed five questions about the new five-fold scheme:
1. Can the domains be thought of in value-free terms?
2. Are the new domains truly zero-sum? (Is a moral genius competing against other moral persons or only against herself?)
3. Do the domains apply cross-culturally?
4. Can the domains be thought of in purely secular terms?
5. Do the domains concern only individual happiness or well-being of the world?
The participants discussed some of the ways in which these questions point to differences among the five domains, with a particular emphasis on the zero-sum question. They also noted that while moral genius and spiritual genius could hardly be defined in value-free terms, this was not true, particularly of the domain of relationships. Psychopathic manipulators and con-artists were cited as two negative varieties of the relationship genius, and it was emphasized that any study of positives might also include negative extremes.
The group then went on to breaking out components of relationship genius:
1. Know and relate to MANY people.
2. Form strong, ENDURING relationships with a few people.
3. ORCHESTRATE relationships to yield highly successful organizations.
4. Empathy and CARING.
5. CATALYST’s knack for "making things happen"
6. Behind-the-scenes SUPPORTING CAST to others' creative endeavors (geniuses' mothers and presidents' wives were mentioned as exemplars).
8. Making others feel SPECIAL by one's mere presence.
The participants reviewed a variety of researchable contexts within which the relationship genius matters crucially, including team sports, the military, marriages, religious cults, business, and collaborative research.
Dr. Gardner called the group's attention to vast unanalyzed and potentially fertile idiographic materials "buried" in various data-banks around the country. He pointed out that conducting new research did not necessarily mean generating new data, and he suggested that the proper organization and analysis of the already existing archival materials could partly meet the group's goals for abstracting the key characteristics of extraordinary individuals. It was deemed useful to recruit retired psychologists to read through these archives looking for exemplars of the kinds of genius that the meeting finally emphasized. There will be an attempt to organize such a talented legion of readers.
It was then suggested that the first concrete project (led by Dr. Robinson and
Dr.Subotnik) could be the further classification of relationship genius. This would be followed by the nomination and interviewing of exemplars of relationship genius. Financial support would be sought to underwrite this, and the rest of the participants agreed to act as a Board of Advisors.
At the close of the meeting, the participants commended the five-fold scheme as a more inclusive, egalitarian and inspiring conception of human giftedness than achievement alone. Much of great achievement is likely genetic, but greatness in the other domains may be acquired. So the knowledge of how it is acquired may have lessons for all people. This framework is more in the tradition of “giving psychology away” than is the study of prodigious achievement.
Martin Seligman and Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi
Positive Psychology at the Millennium
Subjective Well-being: The Science of Happiness, and Some Policy Implications
The Origins and Ends of Giftedness
The Future of Optimism
Massimini & Fave
Individual Development in a Bio-Cultural Perspective
Richard Ryan & Edward Deci
Self-Determination Theory and the Facilitation of Intrinsic Motivation, Social Development, and Well-Being
Toward a Psychology of Positive Youth Development
Self-Determination: The Tyranny of Freedom
Psychological Resources, Positive Illusions, and Health
Creativity: Status and Prospects
The Origins of Good Work
David G. Myers
The Funds, Friends, and Faith of Happy People
Quality of Life: An Evolutionary Psychological Perspective
The Mature Defenses: Antecedents of Joy
Emotional States and Physical Health
Paul Baltes & Ursala Staudinger
Wisdom: A Meta-Heuristic (Pragmatic) to Orchestrate Mind and Virtue Towards Excellence