Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) Capstone Projects

Document Type

Working Paper

Date of this Version



Decades of research have demonstrated that beliefs matter, driving people’s emotional responses and, in turn, their behaviors. The recent work of Clifton and colleagues (2019) has significantly advanced the understanding of world beliefs through the development of the primal world belief’s (primals) scale. Primals are highly correlated with personality and well-being variables. Evidence suggests they serve as a schematic lens influencing how people view their experiences of the world. Building on this research, this capstone examines the hidden biases influencing judgment when it comes to the messages parents share with their children about school. Taking a metacognitive approach, the potential for a parent’s beliefs about school to influence their children’s beliefs and, in turn, their children’s mastery are examined, and are considered in the context of mattering. It is possible that parent beliefs could create positive and negative spirals, influencing both student and community outcomes. For this reason, the primals scale was modified to measure (1) student beliefs about school (2) student perceptions of their parent’s beliefs about school and (3) student engagement. Data will be gathered and analyzed over this next year. A positive psychology intervention (PPI) was also created using the modified primals scale to gain a better understanding of the possible underlying mechanisms associated with beliefs and to potentially identify elements of causation. It was also developed to guide parents—alongside their children—to regularly savor the Good in schools. Intended to alter hidden biases and framing beliefs, it is expected to help parents and their children develop a broader base of resources and strategies for support. The intervention is targeted to improve beliefs about school, increase PERMA, and increase mattering, agency, and hope. This analysis suggests there may be opportunities for expanding the role of positive psychology in schools.


primals, beliefs, parent beliefs, student engagement, biases, savoring, positive psychology, well-being, positive intervention, well-being, hope


Well-Being/Flourishing, Education, Beliefs, Primals, Relationships, Family/Parenting/Children, Positive Emotions, Achievement



Date Posted: 17 October 2022