Identify the sorts of interventions or activities which you feel would make the greatest positive impact on this person’s life, and justify how these arise from the information you are provided with and your further reading.
Psychology of Well-being & Happiness
Designing Positive Interventions
Below is a guide to items which are to be included in your portfolio case study. You need to refer to the measures below, and you may also include any additional tools or interventions you may have encountered if you wish. Rather than being a template of how to structure your work, think of this as guidance on what to cover. As long as you include the required content and draw on relevant examples, you are free to present this information in whatever way you please .
You should include the following details:
Area of residence
Number of children
The following are presented as an example of how one may present the results:
In order to identify areas where happiness interventions might be useful, (Name) completed a number of psychometric instruments, the results of which are summarised below.
Scores on the Optimism questionnaire were converted into ‘qualitative’ values – optimistic, neutral, or pessimistic. A hopeful person would be “optimistic” on all four.
Permanent good events:
Pervasive good events:
Permanent bad events:
Pervasive bad events:
Simple qualitative indicators are provided for each of (name)’s five personality dimensions.
Approach to Happiness
Finally, (name)’s approaches to happiness within the three realms of happiness were assessed. The results for each realm are provided below, in terms of whether his/her desire for happiness within each of the three realms is low, medium or high relative to appropriate reference groups.
The pleasurable life:
The engaged life:
The meaningful life:
Designing positive interventions
Your task is to identify the sorts of interventions or activities which you feel would make the greatest positive impact on this person’s life, and justify how these arise from the information you are provided with and your further reading. Draw on examples from literature and personal experience. In particular, you might like to focus on the following questions:
What additional information might you want to elicit from this person before coming to your conclusions?
What would be the most important intervention for this person?
What other interventions might you consider, and can you rank their importance for this person in terms of the amount of benefit they might gain from them?
If you were to advise them on a new hobby or interest, what might it be?
If there were considering changing their job, or taking on employment, what sort of occupation do you think would be best for them from the point of view of their happiness?
Section 2: Learning Outcomes
character strengths in four areas of your life: your work-life, your relationships,
your community activities, and your friendships.The portfolio is a
personal piece of work and should be written in a personal, informal style (although this does not
mean you should ignore the rules of grammar). The main aim is for you to reflect on your
experiences of the module, the techniques it has introduced you to and the personal knowledge (in
the form of the results of the psychometric instruments we have used) you have gained. We would
also expect to see coverage of all the following:
Personality and the Set Point
Strengths – what yours are, how they are applied, how you might apply them, what limiting factors
Approaches to happiness – PERMA/ABCDE
General level of happiness
Gratitude exercise (reflections on the exercise, not the text itself)
Random Acts of Kindness
You are expected to show how these factors interact with one another in determining or affecting
happiness levels. I do NOT expect just a series of descriptive paragraphs on each of the above,
although clearly there will need to be an element of description in your case study.
A good case study would weave all these aspects together showing, for instance, how optimism
relates to the application of ABCDE + or – techniques, how personality interacts with general
happiness and how it might modify approaches to happiness or the exercise of signature strengths.
The idea is for you to present a ‘whole person’ account of positive psychology interventions.
Although the case study is a very personal piece of work in that it is entirely about you, you should
also try to see yourself objectively – as a person with a particular set of strengths, personality etc.,
and attempt to show which techniques might be used to engineer a lasting improvement in that
person’s happiness. Do not ’ramble on’ about yourself, this is still an academic piece of work and
should be written as such.
Key Primary Texts:
These are the texts we will actually be looking at during the module. You will be expected to read
more widely than just the textbook and direct yourself to texts and articles relevant to your study.
The module will be based around:
Hefferon, K and Boniwell, I (2011) Positive Psychology: Theory, Research and Application. Open
University Press: Maidenhead.
Peterson, C. (2006) A Primer in Positive Psychology. Oxford University Press: Oxford
A terrific introduction to the subject – probably the best book on positive psychology which has
been written to date
Many of the leading psychologists in positive psychology have written texts explaining their theories
and the research behind them. Selections from some of these texts will be made available. Here is
a list of many of them:
Ben-Shahar, T. (2008) Happier: Can you learn to be Happy? McGraw-Hill Professional: Ohio.
Boniwell, I. (2008) Positive Psychology in a Nutshell: A Balanced Introduction to the Science of
Optimal Functioning. Personal Well-Being Centre (PWBC – open library).
Carr, A. (2004) Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness and Human Strengths.
Deiner and Biswas-Deiner (2008) Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth.
Wiley-Blackwell: New Jersey.
Gilbert, D. (2007) Stumbling on Happiness. Harper Collins: London. (in Flex)
Lyubomirsky, S. (2010) The How of Happiness: A Practical Guide to Getting The Life You Want.
Seligman, M (2003) Authentic Happiness. Nicholas Brealey
Seligman, M. (2011) Flourish: A New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being – and How To
Achieve Them. Nicholas Brealey: London.
One more although not written by a research psychologist but rather an economist drawing upon
the research is:
Section 4: Learning Resources and Reading Lists
Author: Lucy Irving 12
Layard, R. (2007) Happiness: Lessons from a New Science. Penguin: London.
I list this one not just because it covers the research but also because the government is
developing measures of national happiness on the basis that the focus should not be on GNP
(gross national product) but also on increasing well-being. Layard has been a key influence (and
has helped secure funding for CBT on the NHS). Go to BIS’s website and put ‘happiness’ into the
search. One thing you will find is this:
There are more theoretical texts written primarily for an academic audience:
Lopez, S. and Snyder, C. (2011) The Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology (OUP USA)
Books for counsellors and coaches who want to use ideas from positive psychology with
their clients such as:
Biswas-Deiner, R. (2010) Practicing Positive Psychology Coaching: Assessment, Activities and
Strategies for Success (John Wiley & Sons)
O’Hanlon, B. and Bertolino, B. (2011) The Therapist’s Notebook on Positive Psychology: Activities,
Exercises, and Handouts. Routledge: London.
The key text lists many websites. To get you started here are a few:
The most important site, and one which you will need to register on (registration is free) and use on
several occasions is Martin Seligman’s Authentic Happiness page
This site contains the majority of the questionnaires and surveys which we will use, and also
contains links to all the other reputable sites which deal with positive psychology. A guide to
registering is printed at the end of this handbook
This is a useful site to help you search for resources to use in your assignments and in general.
You’ll find positive psychology news pages, links to email groups and more. I recommend it.
The Well-being Institute at Cambridge University is where much of the work on PP in the UK is
carried out. This is a good place to look for current research in the area of Positive Psychology.
‘Action for Happiness is a movement for positive social change’. The site aims to bring together
people from all walks of life who want to play a part in creating a happier society for everyone, get
Two journals are devoted to our topic:
Happiness Studies (the library subscribes to this)
Journal of Positive Psychology
A new open access journal has recently started:
‘Friends of Positive Psychology’ list
You can also join the ‘friends of positive psychology’ list to join in and listen to the very lively
conversations between those involved in the positive psychology movement.
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