Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) Capstone Abstracts
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PublicationActing Strengths: The Development of Resilience and Character Strengths in Actors(2014-01-01) Taylor, LauraAn actor’s work environment poses unique challenges that can drain personal resilience. Positive psychology research supports the development of resilience and the use of character strengths to bolster psychological resources that increase well-being in the face of adversity. This paper explores the history, mechanisms, and development of research on resilience and character strengths and their relationship to research on the lives of professional actors. I propose that developing character strengths and resilience creates potential pathways to cultivate well-being in actors and enables perseverance on the path to long-term career success. PublicationOptimistic Managers and Their Influence on Productivity and Employee Engagement in a Technology Organization(2006-01-01) Greenberg, MargaretThe objective of this study is to investigate whether teams are more engaged and productive when led by an optimistic manager. Furthermore, we hypothesize that optimistic managers embody positive leadership—employing a strengths-based approach, maintaining a positive perspective, and frequently providing recognition and encouragement—which increases the engagement and productivity of their employees. In a cross-sectional study of 86 employees and 17 managers in an Information Technology (IT) organization, positive leadership correlated with employee optimism, engagement, and project performance. When we looked at a subset of this data prospectively, with 39 employees and 14 managers, manager optimism predicted project performance. Our data support the claim that positive leadership is correlated with employee engagement and performance, and further extends the importance of optimism in the workplace. The practical application of this research is now published in Greenberg and Maymin's book, Profit from the Profit: Proven Leadership Strategies to Boost Productivity & Transform Your Business (McGraw-Hill, 2013). The International Coaching Psychology Review published a peer-review edition of this study in their March 2007 issue (Vol. 2, No. 1). In addition, the Gallup Management Journal (http://gmj.gallup.com) published two articles using the results of this study: "The Business Benefits of Positive Leadership: Finding the Connection Between Productivity & Positive Management Behavior" (May 10, 2007) and "It Pays to Be Optimistic: Exploring the Connections Between Optimism & Business Success" (August 9, 2007). PublicationCourse Development of Positive Psychology & Personal Leadership(2008-01-01) Upadhyay, MadhurThis capstone project involves the development of a course on Positive Psychology and Personal Leadership with the aim of inspiring young adults to be the greatest they can be. The course incorporates research and teaching from Positive Psychology, Experiential Education, Leadership, Organization Behavior and Management Education. This course is built around two key frameworks – that of Appreciative Inquiry and the Four Needs of Meaning. It is designed in such a way that, as students go through this course, they work on each stage of the Appreciative Inquiry methodology and discover / reinforce / modify powerful potentials and dreams within themselves. The four segments of this course also intend to engage students with the four needs of meaning, indirectly seeking to facilitate an awareness of the meaning in their life. Course units are developed to engage students with different learning styles and interest levels and with the opportunity of high customizability of individual experience by each student. Batteries of researched and established inventories will be utilized with the aim of assessing changes in students’ awareness, clarity and the key dimensions targeted by the frameworks used in this course. PublicationCultivated Positive Emotions Inspire Environmentally Responsible Behaviors(2009-01-01) Carter, David MExisting environmental problems, such as climate change and species extinction, are partially the result of human behavior. Attempts to motivate people to reduce and alter consumption behaviors have primarily relied on the summoning of negative emotions. The author elaborates a comprehensive theory, supported by empirical evidence, showing how positive emotions can be more effective at inspiring environmentally responsible behaviors. B. L. Fredrickson’s (1998, 2001) broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions is used to demonstrate how cultivated positive emotions can, expand people’s awareness that they are a connected part of the Earth’s living system, increase their capacity to creatively and effectively address environmental problems, and help them recognize that well-being and environmental health go hand in hand. PublicationEnhancing the Well-Being of Incarcerated Females: A Pilot Study(2007-01-01) Lewis, SandyPiloting the Group Positive Psychotherapy program (Seligman, Rashid & Parks, 2006) with dually diagnosed mothers, age 13 to 22, who are under penal supervision; this project will attempt to counter traditional interventions by increasing positive emotion, meaning and engagement. Phase 1: The program will be administered over 7 a week period to 20 professional staff members. Measures on approaches to happiness and quality of life will be taken pre and post intervention. Phase 2: The program will be administered over a 6 week period to a group of 24 residential clients. Measures on depression and quality of life will be taken pre and post intervention. Once data is analyzed, this pilot will be taken to the female prison population at large. PublicationBuilding Wellbeing Through Corporations, One Executive at a Time: Positive Psychology Executive Education(2013-01-01) Hancock, RosiePositive psychology, the science of how people thrive, is identifying a growing number of empirically tested ways to increase well-being. Corporations influence the well-being of many people, however few corporations are implementing positive psychology findings. Not only are they missing the opportunity to improve the well-being of their employees, customers, suppliers and their families (which is worthwhile in its own right), but they are also missing out on the improved performance and other benefits research has shown to be associated with that improved well-being. Corporate executives need to be educated about positive psychology and how its findings can help them and their organizations. This paper aims to address this issue by (a) providing an overview of the currently published research in positive psychology and associated fields that is most relevant for corporate executives; (b) outlining recent research on executive education, in particular how learning can be transferred effectively back to the workplace; (c) suggesting principles and considerations for building a curriculum for positive psychology executive education based on this research; and (d) outlining a sample curriculum for an open-enrollment positive psychology executive education program based on these principles. PublicationInner Compass — Book Proposal(2012-01-01) Lynn, YosefInner Compass is an educational book directed primarily towards high-school and college students, written in a “self-help” style. It guides the reader how to give his life direction by identifying his strengths and what is meaningful to him. It presents compelling evidence from research done in the field of Positive Psychology for why living one’s life in accordance with his strengths and with a sense of meaning is crucial to success and happiness, and how strengths and meaning are vital informants for all major decisions in life. By applying tested exercises and positive interventions, it guides the reader in discovering his strengths and clarifying what brings meaning to his life, and, most importantly, how to find where the two overlap—a formula that provides the reader with a true sense of direction. This is particularly important for the target audience, young people in transition from childhood and teenage-hood into adulthood and independence. The book will be of great assistance both to the student who lacks direction and to the one who merely needs to refine his current direction by helping each one make personal discoveries in the two areas most vital to a life of tremendous well-being. PublicationGreatness: The Aspiration and Goal of Psychology(2008-01-01) Asalone, ScottHistorically, clinical psychology focused on understanding and alleviating mental and emotional dysfunction through drugs or therapy. Positive psychology focuses instead on positive outcomes and healthy behavior. Germaine to both these foci is a comprehensive goal of psychology. What does psychology hope to accomplish? Recently positive psychology has offered multiple foci as the goals of a psychologically healthy person, including happiness, optimal functioning, flourishing, and subjective well-being. Yet these goals are incomplete in some aspect. This paper explores the stated and assumed goals of both mainstream and positive psychology and exposes some of their challenges. The concept of greatness as a unifying framework is explored. PublicationPositive Design: A Positive Psychology Workout for Design Thinkers(2018-01-01) Wessling, Kathryn SDesign Thinking is a creative process of innovation which is motivated by the empathic understanding of the person for whom the innovation is it intended to serve (i.e., the user). While the intention is to enhance the wellbeing of the user, it is likely that the process improves the wellbeing of those doing the innovating (i.e., the designer). While empirical research has yet to statistically test this hypothesis, evidence from positive psychology, the science of human thriving, provides insights into how this is possible. With the primary emphasis on the designer’s wellbeing, greater flourishing occurs within the design thinking process through the experience of positive emotions, deep engagement and opportunities for flow, rich relationships through radical collaboration, meaningful work by focusing on those whom are served (the user), and unique creative outcomes throughout the innovation process. By understanding these connections between wellbeing and design thinking, this paper also includes a Positive Psychology Workout Guide (https://tinyurl.com/PosPsychWG) which outlines research-informed methods for achieving even greater human flourishing for those engaged in the design thinking process. PublicationPutting the Ha! In Aha!: Humor as a Tool for Effective Communication(2014-01-01) Reece, BrandySpeakers, trainers, and leaders are challenged with delivering important messages aimed at informing, persuading, and influencing audiences; audiences that are already overwhelmed with information, daunted by problems, or stuck in old patterns of attitudes and behaviors. Until recently, humor has been viewed as something that merely makes us feel good and distracts us from our daily drudgeries. Positive psychology offers empirical data that show that humor is a serious tool that creates connection between people, enhances charisma of communicators, engages attention, enhances memory, leverages people’s willingness to shift attitudes and behaviors, and increases the resilience of communicators and their audiences. Humor does all of this, not despite the fact that it is enjoyable, but in large part, because it is enjoyable. Most research has used pre-produced humor (cartoons, stories, and videos), showing that communicators need not be producers of humor themselves, but can leverage the power of pre-produced humor to engage and delight audiences. This capstone includes a business plan for the creation of humorous video vignettes that can be utilized by the author, as well as other communicators, to bring speeches and trainings to life and make a message shtick.