Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Positive Psychology and Politics

A great article from The Guardian yesterday about the plans of Lord Layard, the so-called 'Happiness Tsar', to bring happiness to the UK masses. As an economist, his epiphany was the realisation that above a certain point, money and happiness aren't correlated.

Putting aside the argument about Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and depression (which is one definitely worth having), I'm not yet convinced that government intervention to make us all happier is either necessary or effective. I'm all for educating people to make their own decisions but perhaps the government should concentrate its efforts on creating better schools and hospitals first...

But no doubt it would become bogged down in happiness measurements, targets and standards anyway before any real difference was made!

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Positive Psychology, Money and Friendship

My June article on Positive Psychology News Daily reviews the recent research into money, happiness and friendship.

In short, North et al's (2008) research (274 married adults across a ten-year period) shows that family social support (as measured by cohesion, expressiveness and absence of conflict) is substantially associated with happiness even after controlling for income, and that change in family social support is positively related to change in happiness, whereas change in family income is not.

For the full article,including references, click here

Image: Shelly S

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Positive Psychology - Strengths

At college today our MAPP class completed a SWOT Analysis for Positive Psychology. Here's a summary of what we thought are its greatest Strengths (not necessarily in priority order) :

  • Evidence-based
  • Universal - applies to all cultures and all life-stages
  • Captures the public imagination
  • Provides a common language
  • Deals with real-life issues
  • Brings together diverse fields, such as economics, politics, design and philosophy
  • Goes beyond the "medical model" of traditional psychology
  • Underpins sustainable development
  • Bridges academia and real world
  • Acknowledges the negative in human experience
  • Gives us resources
I'll post some further info on the SWOT over the next few days.

Thanks to:

Lucy, Francesca, Claire, Paul, Emily, Charlotte, Elena, Melody, Sam, Valerie, Eleni, Cassie & Ilona for their input, and to Dr Carol Craig & Nic Marks for suggesting the exercise.

Image: Editor B

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Unhappy workers take more sick leave

Gallup-Healthways has recently issued details of their Well-being Index - a survey of over 100,000 Americans which shows that employees who are unhappy at work take, on average, an extra 15 days sick leave a year. Yes, that's right, an extra 15 days a year.

The survey assesses well-being at work by asking employees about

i) job satisfaction,
ii) whether their boss is authoritative or collaborative,
iii) whether there is openness and trust in the workplace and
iv) whether their individual strengths are recognised.

Just over a fifth of full-time employees apparently reported working in a negative environment. Even if only a half of those surveyed are full-time, this still equates to an enormous amount of lost productivity.

Clearly this has significant cost implications for business and for the economy in general; so any organisation, profit-making or otherwise, which doesn't take employee well-being seriously should probably think again.