A Psychology of Human Strengths : Fundamental Questions and
Future Directions for a Positive Psychology
Edited by Lisa G. Aspinwall, Ph.D. and Ursula M. Staudinger, Ph.D.
Published by APA Books
Click here to purchase the book.
You can use the following Table of Contents to navigate quickly through this page by clicking on the section you are interested in.
- Special Emphases
- Potential Questions for Discussion in the Essays
- Table of Contents, Aspinwall & Staudinger Volume
- Contact Information for Series Editors
- Bio Sketches of Series Editors
- Subsequent Volumes in the Series
- How to Submit Suggestions for Volumes and Topics
Other topics may also be appropriate. Please submit suggestions for volumes to either Lisa G. Aspinwall (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Ursula M. Staudinger (email@example.com). See also Lisa Aspinwall's website.
The scientific study of human strengths is thriving, with increased attention from both the scientific community and the public. The proposed volume will feature an innovative format which will draw attention and interest. Instead of asking for typical chapters, which pull together the prior empirical research of the respective authors, we plan to recruit some of the great minds of contemporary psychology to provide conceptual and forward-looking essays on the emerging field of understanding and cultivating human strengths.
In the proposed volume, many of the great minds of present-day psychology representing various psychological constructs and fields of study will be asked to provide their extended commentary on the emerging field of human strengths. They will be asked to do so by pondering a series of questions posed by the editors. These questions, which are listed on page 2, are not meant to be used by authors as a table of contents, but rather are intended to invoke a mindset that may guide their writing.
The goal of the volume is to provide a unique opportunity to discuss important conceptual issues and to stimulate discourse on the state of this emerging field -- in effect, to provide something similar to a public consultation with some of the great minds in psychological scholarship on the purpose, pitfalls, and future of the psychology of human strengths. Such a volume may be used as a source book by researchers in the field of human strengths, and it may ultimately launch further discussion of the topics raised. It seems that psychology has reached a time in terms of its development as a discipline that asks for efforts supporting cumulative rather than disparate research. The proposed volume aims at cumulative building of knowledge and insight into the psychology of human strengths.
Accordingly, many of the potential authors will be scholars who have examined one or more aspects of human strength and positive functioning as a central aspect of their careers. In many cases, their findings concerning human strengths turned established wisdom on its head, leading to new ways to think about such topics as intelligence, social behavior, development, and health. The selection of authors, however, will not be confined to scholars who have a history of investigating human strengths. Other potential contributors will be leading scholars in the different sub-fields of psychology who have not necessarily examined their areas from the perspective of human strengths, but who possess broad knowledge and scientific experience in their respective fields. This expertise puts them in a position to comment on the prospects and problems of a psychology of human strengths.
In sum, we are interested in gathering both supportive and challenging voices in this volume to provide an arena for stimulating discourse. Currently, there is no outlet for conceptually oriented work of this kind; therefore, it is hoped that this volume will contribute to the development of the field and perhaps shape a research agenda for the scientific study of human strengths and positive functioning.
The following questions will guide selected authors in reflecting about the psychology of human strengths:
- How has psychology treated human strengths and other approaches to positive functioning?
- Has psychology been predominantly deficit and repair-oriented, or otherwise limited, in its view of human nature and capabilities? If so, why and with what effect?
- Is a new field of the psychology of human strength or positive psychology necessary? What may be its unique contributions to psychology?
- How do you see the potential of the study of human strengths? Its limitations?
- How do you envision the future directions of this field?
- What mistakes (e.g., scientific, practical, political) should be avoided?
- How does this emerging field relate to your field of study?
- Does (or would) a positive approach illuminate important findings or gaps in your field?
- What recommendations would you make for the scientific study of human strengths?
- What are the theoretical conceptualizations that may be helpful in thinking about human strengths?
- Is there a particular set of strengths that should be examined?
- Which are the paradigms that you would advocate?
- What potential for theoretical advancement and/or practical application might there be?
A Psychology of Human Strengths: Perspectives on an Emerging Field.
Aspinwall, L.G., & Staudinger, U.M. (Eds.)
Washington, DC: APA Books.
1. Lisa G. Aspinwall & Ursula M. Staudinger
A Psychology of Human Strengths: Some Central Issues of an Emerging Field
2. Paul B. Baltes & Alexandra M. Freund
Human Strength as the Orchestration of Wisdom and Selective Optimization with Compensation (SOC)
3. Ellen Berscheid
The Human's Greatest Strength: Other Humans
4. Nancy Cantor
Constructive Cognition, Personal Goals, and the Social Embedding of Personality
5. Gian Vittorio Caprara & Daniel Cervone
A Conception of Personality for a Psychology of Human Strengths: Personality as an Agentic, Self-Regulating System
6. Laura L. Carstensen & Susan T. Charles
Human Aging: Why Is Even Good News Taken as Bad?
7. Charles S. Carver & Michael F. Scheier
Three Human Strengths
8. Alice H. Eagly & Amanda B. Diekman
The Malleability of Sex Differences in Response to Changing Social Roles
9. Nancy Eisenberg &Vivian Ota Wang
Toward a Positive Psychology: Social Developmental and Cultural Contributions
10. Rocío Fernández-Ballesteros
Light and Dark in the Psychology of Human Strengths: The Example of Psychogerontology
11. Dieter Frey, Eva Jonas, & Tobias Greitemeyer
Intervention as a Major Tool of a Psychology of Human Strength: Examples from Organizational Change and Innovation
12. Dale Griffin & Daniel Kahneman
Judgmental Heuristics: Human Strengths or Human Weaknesses?
13. Alice Isen
Positive Affect as a Source of Human Strength
14. Arie W. Kruglanski, Hans-Peter Erb, Scott Spiegel, & Antonio Pierro
The Parametric Unimodel of Human Judgment: A Fanfare to the Common Thinker
15. Jeff T. Larsen, Scott H. Hemenover, Catherine J. Norris, & John T. Cacioppo
Turning Adversity to Advantage: On the Virtues of the Coactivation of Positive and Negative Emotions
16. David Magnusson & Joseph L. Mahoney
A Holistic Person Approach for Research on Positive Development
17. Walter Mischel & Rodolpho Mendoza-Denton
Harnessing Willpower and Socio-emotional Intelligence to Enhance Human Agency and Potential
18. Jeanne Nakamura & Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
The Motivational Sources of Creativity as Viewed from the Paradigm of Positive Psychology
19. Carol D. Ryff & Burton Singer
Ironies of the Human Condition: Well-being and Health on the Way to Mortality
20. David O. Sears
Political Symbols and Collective Moral Action
21. Martin E. P. Seligman & Christopher Peterson
Positive Clinical Psychology
22. Robert J. Sternberg,
Driven to Despair: Why We Need to Redefine the Concept and Measurement of Intelligence
23. Daniel Stokols
The Ecology of Human Strengths
Because of the wide-ranging and notable collection of authors, our expectation is that the volume will be of interest to a diverse audience, without losing its critical mass and psychological focus. Our expectation is that the market will include within psychology the fields of developmental, social, personality, cognitive, educational, and organizational psychology, as well as gerontology and health. Outside psychology, other life and social sciences would be most relevant. In contrast, the other volumes seem to be focused more toward readers with clinical and/or experiential/humanistic interests. While these approaches will be represented in the volume, the focus of the present volume is to capture advances in research on human strengths across all areas of psychology, not just those with which terms such as positive psychology are already associated.
Lisa G. Aspinwall, Ph.D.
University of Utah
380 South 1530 East, Room 502
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0251
Phone: (801) 587-9021
Fax: (801) 581-5841
Dr. Ursula M. Staudinger
Institute of Psychology IV
Dresden University of Technology
(Technische Universit Dresden)
Weberplatz 5, D-01062 Dresden, Germany
Phone: +49 351 463 4162/3738
Fax: +49 351 463 7294
Lisa G. Aspinwall is Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Utah. She received her Ph.D. from UCLA in 1991. She is Associate Editor of Motivation and Emotion and serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Applied Social Psychology and Psychological Science. She has served on the editorial boards of Health Psychology and Women’s Health: Research on Gender, Behavior, and Policy. She is a member of the Society of Experimental Social Psychology, APA (Div. 38), the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, and the American Psychological Society. Her research interests include the study of self-regulation (how people control and direct their own actions in pursuit of their goals) and the role that personal and social resources play in this process as people encounter negative events and information. Specific areas of current interest include 1) the influence of positive affect and positive beliefs (such as optimism) on the processing of negative information, and 2) the social-cognitive underpinnings of forward-looking behaviors, such as proactive coping and preventive health behavior. She has also published several articles on coping with chronic illness.
Ursula M. Staudinger is full professor of psychology at the Dresden University of Technology. She received her Ph.D. in 1988 from the Free University of Berlin. Until recently she was senior researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development. She has edited several books, such as an interdisciplinary reader on gerontology with De Gruyter (co-editors Paul B. Baltes and Juergen Mittelstrass) and a volume on Interactive Minds with Cambridge University Press (co-editor Paul B. Baltes). She is an APA Fellow (Div. 20) and a member of the committee of Aging and Societal Development of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences, the MacArthur Network on Successful Midlife Development, the Gerontological Society of America, and the American Psychological Society. She serves on the editorial boards of Psychology and Aging and the International Journal of Behavioral Development. Among her research interests are the study of plasticity and reserves in lifespan development, the social-interactive nature of human functioning, and the accumulation of life experience, life insight, and wisdom across the life span.
The series may take different directions, depending on advances in the field. In one possible direction, the next four volumes will integrate research in the following areas:
VOL 2: Cognitive Strengths: From Neuroscience to Wisdom
In contrast to a large literature focusing on humans as having limited capacities and taking dangerous shortcuts in decision-making, this volume would emphasize research on positive aspects of cognition, starting with the neuroscience of positive functioning in such areas as flexibility and executive attention, and continuing through pragmatic heuristics and more complex tasks, such as life decision making, the use of proverbs and, ideally, the striving for and attainment of wisdom.
VOL 3: Social Strengths: From Close Relationships to Communities
It has long been known that positive social relations are a keystone of human well-being and health, yet the systematic investigation of positive social relations has always been overshadowed by research on competition, hostility, and intolerance. This volume will examine the development and maintenance of positive social relations, considering such topics as trust, intimacy, empathy, and cooperation as they relate to close personal relationships, inter-group processes, and community-level social interaction and functioning.
VOL 4: Strengths in Self and Personality: From Emotions to the Meaning of Life
Self and personality have a particular orchestrating function in regulating and composing our lives. The proposed volume aims at highlighting this central role of self and personality in human growth by examining basic elements, such as our emotional budget and balance, basic motivational tendencies which can be oriented towards and away from the world, and the relation of these processes to higher-order constructs such as self-worth, meaning of life, and spirituality.
VOL 5: Strength through Experience: Environment, Development, Adaptation, and Growth
Human strengths develop in transaction with the environment. The proposed volume explores this understudied interactive nature of human strength by illustrating phenomena such as the steeling effect, the dialectic between over- and underprotection in development, and the identification, creation, and maintenance of good environments. The reciprocal relation between human strengths and supportive environments will also be examined, as individuals who exemplify human strengths may create and sustain supportive environments for others.
VOLUMES BY TOPIC
Another approach is to feature specific topics in positive psychology. We are currently in the process of winnowing ideas for subsequent volumes from an initial list of 40 topics. Among those very likely to appear in a "short-list" of 10 or so are the following topics (not in any particular order):
1. Cross-cultural approaches of well-being
2. Relationship Health: Cultivating Positive Close Relationships
3. Learning from Adversity: Trauma, Change, and Growth
4. Psychological Adaptation and Health
5. Positive Aging (including plasticity in adult development, lifelong learning)
7. Effects of Positive States on Immune Function (hope, humor, positive mood)
8. Social Sources of Well-Being
9. Interest, Mobilization, and Challenge: The Psychology of Positive Task Engagement (passion, engagement, interest, play)
10. The Neuroscience of Positive Functioning
11. The Positive Emotions
12. Future-Oriented Behavior (time perspective, proactivity, planning, optimism, goal-setting, self-improvement, delay of gratification)
13. Psychological Resources
Other topics may also be appropriate. Please submit suggestions for volumes to either Lisa Aspinwall (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Ursula Staudinger (email@example.com). See also Lisa Aspinwall's Website.