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Positive Psychology Interventions

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Deirdre Walsh

on 1 October 2014

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Transcript of Positive Psychology Interventions

REFLECTIVE EXERCISE
Postive Psychology Interventions
Who am i?
University of East London
MSc in Applied Positive Psychology
NUI Galway
PhD in Psychology and Health
personal development portfolio
Thank you

Random Acts of Kindness
Enhancing connectedness?
Make it bold, exciting...but well researched!!
So what are you going to do?
Random Acts of Kindness Festival Clonakilty
Three Good Things
Personal reflection
Critical reflection
Measures
Empirical studies-did what you find match the literature?
A bit about my project…
“ Treatment methods or intentional activities that aim to cultivate positive feelings, behaviours or cognitions…Programs, interventions, or treatments aimed at fixing, remedying, or healing something that is pathological or deficient-as opposed to building strengths-do not fit the definition of PPI”
(Sin & Lyubormirsky, 2009, p.468)

PPIs may be defined not so much by the practices themselves as by the population they are applied to; we could thus broadly define PPIs as empirically validated interventions designed to promote well-being in a non-clinical population (Lomas, Hefferon & Ivtzan, 2014)
Definition…Do you agree?
So…are we in charge of our own happiness?!

Mindset:
-“The view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life”
(Dweck, 2006, p.6)

-Fixed mindset vs. growth mindset

-Prochaska and the Stages of Change Model
Pre contemplation
Contemplation
Preparation
Action
maintenance

-Self Regulation
Lyubomirsky
Fostering positive emotion

Bolster self regard, positive social interactions and charitable feelings towards others

Can pro-social behaviour lose its impact???

These interventions suggest that happiness can be boosted by
-Timing
-Variety

Scientific studies show that helping others may boost happiness
-provides a sense of meaning
-feelings of competence
- improving our mood and reduced stress
Michael Landy’s project 'Acts of Kindness' is a celebration of compassion and generosity, inviting us to notice acts of kindness however simple and small.

The artist explains:
"Sometimes we tend to assume that you have to be superhuman to be kind, rather than just an ordinary person."
What the project aimed for:
I was on the Jubilee Line from Waterloo. I was trying not to cry. As the train pulled into the next station the man sitting opposite me stood to leave then he passed me a scrap of folded paper. It read: "I hope everything gets better for you". And I thanked him silently the whole way home.




My brother and I were only little when our dad took us on holiday. He was carrying the cases on the Tube. We ran ahead to catch the train and he shouted for us to stop as the doors closed. The train left with us on it but him not. A lady saw us crying and waited with us at the next stop until our dad came to get us. We never knew her name.
References:
Post, S. G. (2005). Altruism, Happiness, and Health: It's Good to Be Good. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 12(2), 66-77.
Midlarsky, E. (1991). Helping as coping. Prosocial Behavior: Review of Personality and Social Psychology, 12, 238-264
Algoe, S. B., & Haidt, J. (2009). Witnessing excellence in action: the 'other-praising' emotions of elevation, gratitude, and admiration. Journal of Positive Psychology, 4(2), 105-127.
Shwartz, B. & Sharpe, K.E. (2006). Practical Wisdom: Aristotle meets Positive Psychology. Journal of Happiness Studies, 3, 377-395.

Practical Wisdom = Master virtue

Solving problems of specificity, relevance and conflict when strengths and virtues must be translated into action in concrete situations

Treated as logically independent of each other?

The more developed a strength is the better they are??

Without practical wisdom can strengths ever be effectively deployed?

Practical Wisdom requires other strengths that are not on the list e.g.
Discernment
Perceptiveness
imagination
Similar to ‘counting blessings’

Gratitude is underlying concept for many positive psych interventions
Promotes savouring of positive events-might counteract hedonic adaptation

People who are grateful tend to be happier, healthier and more fulfilled. Being grateful can help people cope with stress and can even have a beneficial effect on heart rate. This action is easy to do yet its benefits have been scientifically proven.

In tests, people who tried it each night for just one week were happier and less depressed one month, three months and six months later.
Two of the exercises—using signature strengths in a new way and three good things—increased happiness and decreased depressive symptoms for six months
 In a 6-group, random-assignment, placebo-controlled Internet study, the authors tested 5 purported happiness interventions and 1 plausible control exercise.
lastingly increased happiness and decreased depressive symptoms. Positive interventions can supplement traditional interventions that relieve suffering and may someday be the practical legacy of positive psychology.
 

Positive Psychology Progress: Empirical Validation of interventions.

Seligman, M. E. P., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60, 410-421
This study measured Happiness with the Steen Happiness Index:
- upward changes, in happiness levels.
-contains 20 items and requires participants to read a series of statements and pick the one from each group that describes them at the present time. The items on the

Example:
A. Most of the time I am bored. (1)
B. Most of the time I am neither bored nor interested in what I am
doing. (2)
C. Most of the time I am interested in what I am doing. (3)
D. Most of the time I am quite interested in what I am doing. (4)
E. Most of the time I am fascinated by what I am doing. (5)
the degree to which participants actively continued their assigned exercise on their own and beyond the prescribed one-week period mediated the long-term benefits.
Positive Psychology has incorporated many other types of interventions and traditions to try and facilitate:
Engagement
Happiness
Meaning
Positive emotion
Of course there are others…
“physical inactivity is a waste of human potential for health and well-being” (Hardman, 2001)

Positive psychology talks about building strength as a key concept.
Through the incorporation of physical strength, a fuller picture of higher functioning can emerge.

Body/Mind Interventions
Currently no validated positive psychology physical activity interventions
Babyak et al., 1998
Exercise
Kabat-Zinn
In the last 20 years, mindfulness has become the focus of considerable attention for a large community of clinicians and psychology.

Mindfulness has been described as a process of bringing a certain ‘quality of attention to moment-by-moment experience’ (Kabat-Zinn, 1990).

Mindfulness can be seen as an approach for increasing awareness and responding skilfully to mental processes that contribute to emotional distress and maladaptive behaviour.
Mindfulness
Please choose one of the following positive psychology exercises and write 700 words in total


(a) 200 words explaining your choice


(b) your experience in response to the exercise
(500-800 words).
Assignment
For this exercise, you will engage in random acts of kindness. You will increase the number of nice or helpful things you do for other people.
It usually helps if many of the people who benefit from your kindness are strangers.

You don’t have to do big “important” acts for people (I’m not asking you to donate a kidney to anyone), but it is important that you do something that allows you to think about other people’s daily struggles and allows you to express compassion, caring, or understanding for the difficulties we all face every day.
For the next 5 days, please try to complete at least 3 random acts of kindness every day.
Option 1:
Random Acts of Kindness Exercise
Identify your strengths by completing the “VIA Survey” online.

For this exercise, you will first make a plan to apply your strengths to areas of life you care about. That is, plan how you will use your top 5 strengths in a practical way everyday for 5 days.

Try to use at least 3 strengths everyday for five days.

Plan out your strategy as best you can, as you’ll need to think carefully about how best to maximize the power and potential of three activities that exercise 3 strengths everyday for five days -- and it often helps to record how well this is working during the 5 days.
Option 2:
Strengths & Virtues Exercise
For this exercise I would like you to create a daily diary for 5 days.

The idea is to take about 5 minutes each day and write down at least 3 positive, good things that happened that day.

They might include events that made you feel thankful or grateful; activities that deepened your curiosity, love or learning, or sense of flow etc.
Option 3:
Three good things
What intervention did you pick?
What did you expect and why?
Personal reflection can contain ‘I’
Did your knowledge of your disposition influence your intervention choice?
Be subjective: articulate your personal response, emotional and otherwise to the intervention
Be objective: contextualise with a more critical reflection, think broadly here, would you recommend this? Should we be more or less prescriptive?
Future intentions and aspirations as to the PPI
•What is your definition of a positive psychology intervention?

•What makes them different from mainstream psychology interventions?

•Who should they be used with?

•When should we employ them?
Action For Happiness

References:
Algoe, S. B., & Haidt, J. (2009). Witnessing excellence in action: the 'other-praising' emotions of elevation, gratitude, and admiration. Journal of Positive Psychology, 4(2), 105-127.

Harbough, C.N. & Vasey, N.W. (2014). When do people benefit from gratitude practice? Journal of Positive Psychology, 9 (6), 535-546.

Lomas, T., Hefferon, K., & Ivtzan, I. (2014). The LIFE Model: A meta-theoretical Conceptual Map for Applied Positive Psychology. Journal of Happiness Studies

Midlarsky, E. (1991). Helping as coping. Prosocial Behavior: Review of Personality and Social Psychology, 12, 238-264

Post, S. G. (2005). Altruism, Happiness, and Health: It's Good to Be Good. International Journal of Behavioral
Medicine, 12(2), 66-77.

Check out the Journal of Positive Psychology this month and you will see alot of papers linked to PP interventions delivered online.
Using your strengths every day
Creation of flow and engagement?
Using your strengths in a new way?
Seligman, 2005
Strengths and Virtues Exercise




Growth Mindset? (Dweck, 2006)

Just good for the individual or for society?

“The big challenge facing positive psychology is…the synthesis of positive and negative aspects of human experience, such that we really might enjoy a unified integrated psychology”.

No data or scale is provided to elaborate on the gap between the highest and lowest strengths

How the strengths are portrayed lead you to believe these are of low ability rather than relative ability

No questions are context specific
Food for thought on Strengths
Would I recommend this?
Are there disadvantages?
Cross cultural
Does this intervention facilitate well being for all…or just me?
How would I measure the outcomes?
Would this be a sustainable intervention?
Balance and context
•The ‘branding’ of positive psychology

•cross cultural differences?

•Face validity?

•The ‘tyranny’ of positive psychology?

•Only some empirically tested

•Lack of controlled lab settings

•Lack of longitudinal studies
Criticisms of interventions
The concept of gratitude is complex.

It may be used to describe an emotion, an attitude, a moral virtue, a habit, personal trait, or a coping response (Emmons & McCullough, 2003). Simply, however, gratitude refers to connecting individuals with good things for which they are thankful (Carr, 2011).

Bryant & Veroff (2007) suggest that recording gratitude in a causal way adds a savouring dimension to the experience as it engages the senses that then helps to archive it more deeply

Expressing gratitude by recording 3 good things daily has been shown to increase physical and mental health (Emmons & McCullough,2003; Lyubomirsky, 2007), increase life satisfaction and optimism scores (Fro & Bono, 2008; Seligman, Steen, Park and Peterson, 2005) and promote well-being generally.

Due date:
Friday, 14th of November

Suggested week for starting the intervention:
28th October

One week to complete the intervention

One week for the reflective write up
Intervention Options:
Random Acts of Kindness
Three Good Things
Strengths and Virtues Exercise

Important information!
In-class MCQ (20%) Chapters 1-6 on
TUESDAY 21ST OF OCTOBER

Reflective portfolio (20%) due in on
FRIDAY 14TH OF NOVEMBER

1500word essay due on (50%)
FRIDAY 28TH OF NOVEMBER

Cooperative learning (5%) and Research exercise participation (5%) (TOTAL=10%)
-EVERY WEEK!
(positive psychology research exercises are unique to the module and distinct from second year research participation)

Recent research
Positive Psychology interventions: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled studies.
Bolier et al., (2013) BMC Public Health.

Results show pos. psych interventions to be effective in enhancement of SWB and PWB and reducing depressive symptoms.

Use this paper as a springboard to other current research on pos.psych interventions.
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