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Positive Psychology –2015 Unit Overview 1
Introduction to the Unit Positive Psychology
This unit introduces students to the principles of positive psychology. Students will learn how positive psychology emerged as a study of what makes people happy and well. It will cover the concept and measurement of signature strengths; and explores determinants of well-being such as optimism, resilience, and self-efficacy. It will assist students to develop an in-depth understanding of the range of positive psychology interventions to strengthen optimism, resilience and self-esteem. Students will gain an understanding of how positive psychology is implicated beyond the individual to communities and institutions.
On completion of this unit, students will be able to:
a) critically evaluate the theories, techniques and evidence-base of positive psychology
b) demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the range of positive psychology interventions to strengthen optimism, resilience and self esteem
c) actively apply positive psychology techniques to enhance the wellbeing of individuals, groups, workplaces, communities and institutions
d) demonstrate an understanding of the application of key theories and techniques in positive psychology in the human services context
The textbook for this unit is:
Peterson, C. (2006). A primer in positive psychology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
The twelve sections of unit curriculum direct students to readings in the online classroom for this unit. These readings are selected from journals and books that provide additional information or a different perspective on topics covered in each section. They are from a range of authorities and expand the content of this unit.
Seligman, M. E. P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 55(1), 5-14. https://dx.doi.org/10.1037//0003-066X.55.1.5
Gable, S. L., & Haidt, J. (2005). What (and why?) is positive psychology? Review of General Psychology, 9(2), 103-110. https://dx.doi.org/10.1037/1089-26188.8.131.52
Nakamura, J., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2005). The concept of flow. In C. R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology (pp. 89-105). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Wallis, C. (2005, January). The new science of happiness. Time Magazine. Retrieved from https://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1015902,00.html
Fredrickson, B. L. (2005). The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. In F. A. Huppert, N. Baylis, & B. Keverne (Eds.), The science of well-being (pp. 217-238). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Mayer, J. D., Roberts, R. D., & Barsade, S. G. (2008). Human abilities: Emotional intelligence. Annual Review of Psychology, 59, 507-536.
Mayer, J. D., Salovey, P., & Caruso, D. R. (2008). Emotional intelligence: New ability or eclectic traits? American Psychologist, 63(6), 503-517. https://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.63.6.503
Carr, A. (2011). Hope and optimism. In Positive psychology: The science of happiness and human strengths. (2nd ed.). (pp. 83-111). East Sussex, England: Routledge.
Fredrickson, B. (2009). Bounce back from life’s challenges. In Positivity. (pp. 97-119). New York, NY: Crown Publishers.
Bonanno, G. A. (2005). Resilience in the face of potential trauma. Current Directions in Psychological Science,14(3), 135-138.
Maddux, J. E. (2005). Self-efficacy: The power of believing you can. In C. R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology (pp. 277-287). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Gable, S. L., Reis, H. T., Impett, E. A., & Asher, E. R. (2004). What do you do when things go right? The intrapersonal and interpersonal benefits of sharing positive events. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,87(2), 228-245. https://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-35184.108.40.206
Simonton, D. K. (2000). Creativity: Cognitive, personal, developmental, and social aspects. American Psychologist,55(1), 151-158. https://dx.doi.org/10.1037//0003-066X.55.1.151
Ben-Shahar, T. (2007). Happiness in the workplace. In Happier: Learn the secrets to daily joy and lasting fulfillment (pp. 97-110). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Diener, E., & Biswas-Diener, R. (2008). Religion, spirituality, and happiness. In Happiness: Unlocking the mysteries of psychological wealth (pp. 112-126). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.
Seligman, M. E. P. (2008). Positive health. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 57, 3-18. https://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1464-0597.2008.00351.x
Linley, P. A., Joseph, S., Harrington, S., & Wood, A. M. (2006). Positive psychology: Past, present, and (possible) future. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 1(1), 3-16. https://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17439760500372796
Studying for this unit
This unit is offered via on-campus or online delivery.
For on-campus delivery, students attend one three-hour class per week for this unit across the 12 weeks of term.
For online delivery, students log on to their online class space (via My Classes) and undertake the weekly readings and participate in online learning activities.
The content of this unit has been designed to maximise the learning and the integration of the subject matter. Much of the unit material is specific to the Australian context. Students are encouraged to access additional information relevant to their local context, which will assist in applying the learning and ensuring its relevance. This may include specific legislation, government and professional association resources, and journals. It is important that students’ reading is broad.
In general students are expected to:
read each section of the unit carefully and make notes new content, and points that •are unclear, or in conflict with previous learning or experience
complete readings of the text and other readings and resources, making notes on •important insights or facts, especially those relevant to your assignments
There may be periodic suggestions or issues on which students are asked to deliberate and reflect. Sometimes these are dilemmas or difficult issues associated with the study topic which have no right or wrong answers, but are used to trigger critical thinking.
Attendance requirements ensure that students in PACFA-accredited courses meet their training requirements, and that learning outcomes are met for all units offered by the School of Counselling.
On-campus requirements (for students studying this unit on campus)
In this unit provided by the School of Counselling, on-campus students are required to maintain at least 60% attendance. This means that students cannot miss more than five classes in a term.
Online Students (for students studying this unit online)
There are no attendance requirements for this unit. Students are encouraged to participate in the online discussion forum for this unit, and must submit all assessments to meet the requirements of this unit.
Learning activities are set in each section of the unit to give opportunities for further learning. They are designed to help students think through and practice the specific skills and general concepts presented in this unit. They do not need to be sent to the academic teacher for marking. However, valuable learning opportunities will be missed by not completing the activities.
In studying this unit, students will need to maintain a learning journal for completing the activities. To structure the learning journal, set aside space for:
completing a glossary of new terminology and concepts introduced in this unit •
notes on unit content and readings •
answers to learning activities •
draft assessments. •
Students can also keep a record of their activities electronically.
There are self-assessment questions at the end of each section to test students’ understanding of the section’s content. Try to recall the answers to these questions unaided. Write down answers from memory before going back to review the relevant material in the section. Some of the questions require more than simple recall. Some will require synthesising separate issues or different pieces of information. Real learning is not just remembering the reading. It involves owning this knowledge by:
relating theory to personal experiences integrating a number of readings on a •particular topic or concept
re-stating readings in your own words. •
The assignments for this unit are carefully set so they develop from and support the key concepts and skills of the unit.
Section 1: Introduction to Positive Psychology
Section 2: Psychology of Flow
Section 3: Positive Emotions
Section 4: Emotional Intelligence
Section 5: Optimism and Hope
Section 6: Resilience
Section 7: Self-Efficacy and Self-Esteem: The Power of Self-Belief
Section 8: Positive Relationships
Section 9: Creativity
Section 10: Positive Psychology in the Workplace and Beyond
Section 11: Spirituality, Religion and Well-being
Section 12: Future of Positive Psychology
Academic Essay 50% 1500 words Week 11
a) Critically evaluate the theories, techniques and evidence-base of positive psychology
b) Demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the range of positive psychology interventions to strengthen optimism, resilience and self esteem
d) Demonstrate an understanding of the application of key theories and techniques in positive psychology in the human services context
assignment 2 Assignment Type Weighting Word Count Due Date
Academic Essay 50% 1500 words Week 11
The purpose of this essay is for the student to write an academic essay that explores an aspect of positive psychology in more depth.
There are two options for this assignment. Students will choose one option: (You can choose either one of the two option)
Option number 1:
Write an essay discussing the history and philosophy of happiness and the role of positive psychology in promoting happiness through counselling and/or coaching.
The essay will include an overview of the concept of happiness, a discussion of the ways in which happiness can be measured and an analysis of the role of positive psychology in the promotion of happiness through counselling and / or coaching. Your essay needs to discuss the application of positive psychology techniques to the promotion of happiness. Evidence of familiarity with relevant literature and theory is required.
Option number 2:
Evaluate the critique of positive psychology raised by Miller (2008, p. 606): “The model of mental health depicted by positive psychology turns out to be little more than a caricature of an extravert – a bland, shallow, goal-driven careerist whose positive attitudes, certainties and ‘high self-esteem’ mask the fact that he lacks the very qualities that would enable him to attain a degree of true self -knowledge or wisdom, and to really grow as a human being”.
The essay will need to include an analysis of the above critique of positive psychology, a discussion of how positive psychology may perpetuate a stereotypical ‘ideal’ individual and include a discussion of the application of positive psychology techniques. Evidence of familiarity with relevant literature and theory is required.
Miller, A. (2008). A critique of positive Psychology—or ‘The new science of happiness’. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 42(3‐4), 591-608. https://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9752.2008.00646
Using the guidelines given above, your essay will be marked on the following criteria:
An overview of the concepts provided •
BESC1051 Positive Psychology – Term 1 2015 Unit Overview 11
Relevant discussion of the concepts involved •
The role of positive psychology through counselling and/or coaching analysed •
The application of positive psychology techniques discussed •
Evidence of familiarity with relevant literature and theory •
Clear and logical presentation which includes introduction and conclusion •
Academic writing style is used, including correct spelling, grammar and •punctuation
Work count is within + or – 10% of requirement •
In-text referencing and reference list follows APA referencing
Not Satisfactory Satisfactory Good Very good Outstanding
1. An overview of the concepts provided
2. Relevant discussion of the concepts involved
3. The role of positive psychology through counselling and/or coaching analysed
4. The application of positive psychology techniques discussed
5. Evidence of familiarity with relevant literature and theory
Structure, Presentation and Referencing
6. Clear and logical presentation which includes introduction and conclusion
7. Academic writing style is used, including correct spelling, grammar and punctuation
8. Word count is within + or – 10% of requirement
9. In-text referencing and reference list follows APA referencing style (6th ed.) as set out in the Academic Skills Guide
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