Select Page

Scheduled for Saturday, July 30, 4:15 PM – 6:15 PM

Click the title of the presentation to see details.

Invited Talks

  1. Dmitry LeontievPP2 and “Height Psychology”
  2. Piers WorthNew Perspectives on Positive Psychology Theory

Paper Presentations

  1. Sherry Beaumont: Identity Flexibility and Wisdom in Adulthood
  2. Jennifer BrownsteinA Positive Psychology Approach to Increasing Self-Compassion in Adolescents
  3. Nikki GlanzInvestigating the Impact of Happy Childhood Memories with a Globally Diverse Sample Reveals PP2.0 Merits
  4. Hanna KampmanA Meta-Synthesis of the Qualitative Findings on Post-Traumatic Growth and Severe Physical Injury
  5. Cynthia PuryProcess Courage, Accolade Courage, and Meaning
  6. Melissa WeinbergSubjective Well-Being, Resilience, and Positive Psychology 2.0
  7. Julia YangThe Psychology of Courage

Invited Talks

Dmitry LeontievDmitry Leontiev, Ph.D., Dr. Sc., is Head of the International laboratory of positive psychology of motivation and personality at Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia, Professor of psychology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, the founder and the head of Institute of Existential Psychology and Life Enhancement (EXPLIEN) in Moscow. He strives to integrate the existentialist approach to human personality with cultural-historical activity theory approach and synergetic views on human self-regulation and self-organization. Author of numerous publications in psychology of personality and motivation, theory and history of psychology, psychology of art and empirical aesthetics. Both his Ph.D. and habilitation works were focused on the problem of personal meaning. Dmitry is a recipient of the Promotional Award of Viktor Frankl Foundation of the city of Vienna (2004), honorary member of Society for Logotherapy and Existential Analysis by Viktor Frankl Institute (Vienna).

Interested in more from Dr. Leontiev? Find out more here.

PP2 and “Height Psychology”: Toward a Vertical (Developmental) View

The idea of PP2 as an integrative framework (Wong, 2009; 2010) signifies the striving to bring together the highlights of humanistic, existential, and positive psychology, namely the inherently creative and developing human nature (HP), the role of human freedom, agency, and effort (EP), and the conditions of well-being and the life worth living (PP). However, as everyone engaged in the empirical studies in the field knows, all good things covariate, and the key problem of our conclusions is the one of discriminant validity. A developmental view (Leontiev, 2006) suggests that the key moderator of the processes of positive development toward psychological maturity is the investment of goal-directed efforts to one’s own development (“the labour of personality” (P. Janet) or “cultivation” (M. Csikszentmihalyi)).

The relevant domain can be called “height psychology.” This term has been coined independently by two great thinkers: Viktor Frankl in his papers of the late 1930s and Lev Vygotsky in his manuscripts of early 1930 published only in 1980s. Both wrote that what was badly needed is height psychology opposed to both surface (i.e. behavioristic – D.L.) psychology and depth psychology. Frankl identified height psychology with his existential analysis, and Vygotsky with his cultural-historical psychology of higher mental functions and deliberate actions. Both viewed human person in terms of multi-level organization, where lower levels are fully causally determined by uncontrollable physiological and psychological mechanisms, while by virtue of higher levels human person may master one’s own behavior.

The ideas of multilevel psychological structure of human self-regulation has recently found reincarnation in dual-system psychological models (“hot” and “cool” systems – Metcalfe, Mischel, 1999; “reflexive” and “reflective” systems – Carver a.o., 2008; “fast” and “slow” systems – Kahneman, 2011). It follows that the person’s developing capacity to take control over one’s own development and well-being and to invest oneself to these processes should be treated as the central issue of the emerging PP2.

Learning Objectives

  1. Learning the concept of “height psychology” (Frankl, Vygotsky)
  2. Distinguishing involuntary and voluntary (self-controlled) processes and systems in human self-regulation.
  3. Making sense of the role of self-investment in positive psychological development

Dr. Piers WorthDr. Piers Worth, Ph.D. is a ‘Reader’ (Associate Professor) at Bucks New University. He is a Charted Psychologist and accredited psychotherapist. Piers’ PhD research focused on how creativity changes as we age, and how it may support positive ageing. Piers wrote and launched the University’s MSc Applied Positive Psychology programme which is now in its fourth year. He co-authored the ‘Second Wave Positive Psychology: Embracing the Dark Side of Life’ book that was published in November 2015. Piers is of the view that positive psychology and ‘second wave positive psychology’ perspectives combined with it represent hugely exciting opportunities for teaching and researching psychology.

His research and writing focus at the present time is on subjects and applications that may broaden the base of positive psychology, such as restorative justice, and the training of medical staff specialists in different disciplines. Piers’ teaching is exploring how theories of Carl Rogers support and even amplify some of the affects found in learning positive psychology; and how appreciative inquiry may be taught and used with positive psychology. Prior to this part of his career, Piers worked for over 35 years in industry and blue chip companies, and for 20 years as an organisation development consultant. He was work and project experience in 17 countries.

Interested in more from Dr. Worth? Find out more here.

New Perspectives on Positive Psychology Theory: MAPP Student Contributions to ‘Second Wave’ and Meaning

The Bucks New University MSc Applied Positive Psychology programme works on the basis that our students are on a personal and professional journey which influences their study goals. We support them in choosing assignment subjects related to their goals. They explore existing theory and research, often questioning, challenging and extending current ideas in the discipline.

This presentation will summarise contributions from students over a two year period that relate to the thinking and development of ‘second wave’ positive psychology, and implicitly the psychology of meaning. The students offer us insightful and often moving experiences for our discipline that have the potential to add to existing thinking and practice. They add nuance in such areas as culture and gender to what we may anticipate from descriptions of research-based ‘positive psychology interventions’.

Learning Objectives

Conference participants will consider and understand potential

  1. New perspectives on Happiness, well-being and flourishing gained from MAPP student work.
  2. New perspectives on Strengths based theory and development gained from MAPP student work.
  3. New perspectives on the psychology of hope and resilience gained from MAPP student work.
  4. Implications or contributions to ‘positive psychology in practice’.

Paper Presentations

Sherry Beaumont, Ph.D., Professor & Acting Co-Chair, Department of Psychology, University of Northern British Columbia

Identity Flexibility and Wisdom in Adulthood: The Roles of a Growth-Oriented Identity Style and Contemplative Processes

Considerable research has investigated how individuals develop and maintain an ego-identity that fosters positive character development. Many researchers assume that having a stable commitment to one’s identity is crucial for maturity and integrity. Less credence is paid to the idea that having a flexible and evolving identity is necessary for healthy adaptation to life’s challenges. Yet, individuals with flexible identities must possess particular ways of processing new information about themselves and the world that ultimately leads to greater self-knowledge and wisdom. In this presentation, I will argue that identity flexibility is possible with the use of a growth-oriented identity style, one that is oriented toward the growth of integrated/wise self-knowledge. In addition, I will present a working theory and supporting evidence that the growth-oriented style predicts wisdom byway of identity processes that are contemplative in nature.

Jennifer Brownstein, M.A., Clinical Psy.D Candidate

A Positive Psychology Approach to Increasing Self-Compassion in Adolescents

This project describes the development of a 12-session manual for middle school students, aged 12-15 who attend McLean Hospital’s Program in Education, Afterschool & Resiliency (PEAR). The program is based on the Clover model, which focuses on four elements necessary for youth to thrive: Active Engagement, Assertiveness, Belonging and Reflections. This project details the creation of the new Reflection “leaf” of the Clover model.

The approach that this manual highlights will be especially useful for adolescents with well-developed skills in analysis, insight, observation and understanding, but who are at risk for rumination and over-analysis.  The goal of this group curriculum is to amplify the participant’s well-honed ability for self-reflection and wed it with self-compassion.  Positive psychology research indicates that this is likely to increase resiliency by strengthening protective factors such as optimism and social connection. Increasing one’s self-compassion will not only be used to cultivate self-reflection, but it is also expected to increase optimism and connectedness. This poster presentation outlines the overall context and specific steps of the manual, and includes useful exercises that are practical and applicable to clinical practice.

Niki Glanz, Ph.D.

Finding PP2.0: Investigating the Impact of Happy Childhood Memories with a Globally Diverse Sample Reveals 2.0 Merits

This presentation demonstrates that inclusion of negative emotions and dire circumstances in qualitative PP studies illumines practical paths to the “good life.” Perceiving the impact of happy childhood memories as a search for meaning, three exemplars portray positive-negative interactions that are paradoxical, symbiotic, and convoluted. Virtue-oriented activities finally culminate in self-transcendent happiness with collective benefits, appropriate for each person’s context, culture, and age. Abstract “lessons” also embellish exemplars’ meanings.

Hanna Kampman, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Psychology, University of East London

 ‘I Can Do Things Now that People Thought Were Impossible, Actually, Things that I Thought Were Impossible’: A Meta-Synthesis of the Qualitative Findings on Post-Traumatic Growth and Severe Physical Injury

Post-traumatic growth (PTG) refers to the transformative process that can lead to positive changes after dealing with a traumatic event. Furthermore, different traumas have been found to lead to differing processes and outcomes from each other. This study is expanding on the Hefferon, Grealy and Mutrie (2009) study in which they discovered that the PTG experience among people with life threatening illnesses has unique, corporeal features. The experience of being severely injured has elements unique from other traumas due to its direct and substantial impact to the body. This investigation aims to advance the knowledge of the corporeal elements of PTG and PTG in general. This study reviewed and synthesised the qualitative data on the experience of post-traumatic growth in people with severe physical injury. Thirteen journal articles – published before 1st of September 2014 in PsychINFO, SPORTDiscus, CINAHLPlus and Academic Search Complete- were reviewed. Key themes included: Existential reflection; Humanity; Meaningful leisure engagement; and New abilities: awareness of physiological and psychological potential. Findings support that there are unique elements to the PTG experience in people with severe injuries. Additional research is needed to understand the trauma experiences among different injuries and the overall processes and outcomes of severe injury related trauma.

Cynthia L. S. Pury ,is a Professor of Psychology at Clemson University. She is the author of numerous papers on courage as well as the editor (with Shane Lopez) of the book The Psychology of Courage: Modern Research on an Ancient Virtue, published in 2010 by the American Psychological Association. She is also an Associate Editor for the Journal of Positive Psychology.

Process Courage, Accolade Courage, and Meaning

Although psychologists have frequently defined courage as “acting despite fear”, research into both the process of taking a courageous action and the labeling of an action taken by others as courageous argues otherwise. In this session, I will review the past decade of research into courage and argue that courage depends as much or more on the meaning of the goal being pursued as it does on the risk posed to the actor (and, parenthetically, that the subjective sense of risk to the actor matters more than the fear that they feel).

Session attendees should be able to identify the three main components of courage (intentional action, causing personal risk to the actor, in pursuit of a noble and worthwhile goal) as well as describe the ways that both the goals and risks of a courageous action relate to meaning.

Melissa Weinberg is Senior Research Fellow at the Young and Well CRC and an Honorary Fellow of the Australian Centre of Quality of Life at Deakin University. She completed her Ph.D., entitled “Subjective Wellbeing in Australian Families of Holocaust Survivors” in 2001 and became the Principal Research Fellow of the Australian Unity Wellbeing Index, a project that has monitored the wellbeing of Australians for over 15 years. She is a TEDx speaker and has appeared on various TV and radio programs where she discusses the science of happiness and what makes Australians happy.

Subjective Wellbeing, Resilience, and Positive Psychology 2.0: Implications for Theory and Measurement

The theory of subjective wellbeing (SWB) homeostasis proposes that life satisfaction is maintained within a healthy normal range by an inbuilt psychological control system. When adversity is encountered, the system is engaged to respond, and the availability of internal and external resources to defend against threat is critical to recovery. However, in the face of chronic and persistent exposure to challenge, the operation of this system, and regular maintenance of wellbeing is compromised (Cummins, 2010). This framework is grounded in rigorous empirical evidence, including 15 years of research in Australia, and estimation of individual set-points for wellbeing based on longitudinal monitoring (Cummins, Li, Wooden, & Stokes, 2014).

The growing focus on wellbeing research may be partially attributed to the field of positive psychology, but the history and science of SWB precedes this attention. Further, SWB homeostasis theory has implications for the measurement of resilience, which requires exposure to adversity and subsequent demonstration of effective coping. With reference to a series of recent empirical studies (e.g., Weinberg, Heath, & Tomyn, 2015; Tomyn, Weinberg, & Cummins, 2015; Weinberg & Tomyn, 2015), this presentation reveals why many positive psychology interventions that aim to improve resilience and wellbeing are inherently designed to fail. Considerations and implications are presented in the context of Positive Psychology 2.0, and will advocate for a dialectical approach to the theory and measurement of wellbeing.

Julia Yang, Ph.D., National Kaohsiung Normal University

The Psychology of Courage: Suffering, Will to Power, and Healing

Suffering is a universal and inevitable aspect of our human existence. We live in a problematic world where death, tragic events, and losses are sources of our inferior feelings and may threaten our wholeness, alienating us from the society and ourselves. Inherent in our suffering is a deep feeling of isolation and a crisis of meaning. Understanding about and relief from our pain and suffering call for the spiritual values that are traditionally not addressed in psychology. In psychology, we must ask such questions as: What are the causes of suffering? How could these conditions be eliminated? How do we differ in our responses to suffering? What are the therapeutic values of suffering? What could deliver us from vulnerability? What is the meaning of suffering and under what conditions can it make us more human?

Click here to return to conference presentations page.