Apeiron Society for the
Practice of Philosophy
Tuesday January 27th, 2015 at
Valhalla Room of the Scandinavian Centre,
739 – 20th Ave N.W.
||“Happiness and the Positive Psychology Movement”
||Hank Stam - (Department of Psychology, University of Calgary)
the claim that psychology has focused for too long on the pathological,
unsavory or darker features of human life, Martin Seligman and Mihaly
Csikszentmihalyi announced in the year 2000 the creation of a “positive
psychology” to focus on people’s strengths, virtues and “positive
subjective experiences”. This movement has grown to include a
wide range of phenomena and studies, although it is often unclear where
the dividing line between positive psychology and plain old psychology
exists. I will focus on two characteristics of this
movement. First, I would like to locate it historically as the
recent manifestation of a current that has long been present in
American culture. It has expressed itself in the New Thought
movement of the 19th century through such mid-20th century authors as
Dale Carnegie and Norman Vincent Peale all the way to Humanistic
Psychology, the popularity of which peaked in the 1960s and 70s.
Second, I note that various critics have argued that positive
psychology suffers from an inherent individualism and cultural myopia
as well as a naïve view of “virtue”. Positive psychologists have
astutely ignored their critics.
Hank Stam is a Professor of
Psychology at the University of Calgary and teaches in the Theory
Program as well as the Clinical Psychology Program. He has published
widely in numerous areas of psychology but his most recent work has
focused on contemporary theoretical problems in psychology and the
historical foundations of 20th century psychology. He is founder and
current Editor of Theory & Psychology, published by Sage, and the
current President of the Society for the History of Psychology..