Martin Seligman

Dr. Martin Seligman

Founder of Positive Psychology
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Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being
What is well-being? And why is authentic happiness theory wrong? Based on his new book Flourish, Dr. Seligman shares a new theory of well-being and the new goal of positive psychology: to increase not just human happiness, but human flourishing.

The theory in Authentic Happiness is that happiness could be analyzed into three different elements that we choose for their own sakes: positive emotion, engagement, and meaning. And each of these elements is better defined and more measurable than happiness. The first is positive emotion; what we feel: pleasure, rapture, ecstasy, warmth, comfort, and the like. The goal of positive psychology in authentic happiness theory is, like Richard Layard's goal, to increase the amount of happiness in your own life and on the planet. The goal of positive psychology in well-being theory, in contrast, is plural and importantly different: it is to increase the amount of flourishing in your own life and on the planet.


Biography Read more

Dr. Martin E.P. Seligman is the Director of the Penn Positive Psychology Center and Zellerbach Family Professor of Psychology in the Penn Department of Psychology. He is also Director of the Penn Master of Applied Positive Psychology program (MAPP). He was President of the American Psychological Association in 1998, during which one of his presidential initiatives was the promotion of Positive Psychology as a field of scientific study. He is a leading authority in the fields of Positive Psychology, resilience, learned helplessness, depression, optimism and pessimism. He is also a recognized authority on interventions that prevent depression, and build strengths and well-being. He has written more than 250 scholarly publications and 20 books.

Dr. Seligman's books have been translated into more than twenty languages and have been best sellers both in America and abroad. His bibliography includes more than 20 books and over 250 articles. Among his better-known works are Flourish (Free Press, 2011), Authentic Happiness (Free Press, 2002), Learned Optimism (Knopf, 1991), What You Can Change & What You Can't (Knopf, 1993), The Optimistic Child (Houghton Mifflin, 1995), Helplessness (Freeman, 1975, 1993) and Abnormal Psychology (Norton, 1982, 1988, 1995, with David Rosenhan). His book Character Strengths and Virtues: A handbook and classification, was co-authored with Christopher Peterson (Oxford, 2004). His work has been featured on the front page of the New York Times, Time, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, the Reader's Digest, Redbook, Parents, Fortune, Family Circle, USA Today and many other popular magazines. He has been a spokesman for the science and practice of psychology on numerous television and radio shows. He has written columns on such far-flung topics as education, violence, happiness, and therapy. He has lectured around the world to educators, industry, parents, and mental health professionals.

Dr. Seligman is the recipient of two Distinguished Scientific Contribution awards from the American Psychological Association - the Laurel Award of the American Association for Applied Psychology and Prevention and the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Society for Research in Psychopathology. He received both the American Psychological Society's William James Fellow Award (for contribution to basic science) and the James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award (for the application of psychological knowledge).

Dr. Seligman's research and writing has been broadly supported by a number of institutions including the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Aging, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation. His research on preventing depression received the MERIT Award of the National Institute of Mental Health in 1991.

For 14 years, Dr. Seligman was the Director of the Clinical Training Program of the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Psychology. He was named a "Distinguished Practitioner" by the National Academies of Practice, and in 1995 received the Pennsylvania Psychological Association's award for “Distinguished Contributions to Science and Practice." He is a past-president of the Division of Clinical Psychology of the American Psychological Association.

In 1996, Dr. Seligman was elected President of the American Psychological Association, by the largest vote in modern history. His primary aim as APA President was to join practice and science together so both might flourish - a goal that has dominated his own life as a psychologist. His major initiatives concerned the prevention of ethnopolitical warfare and the study of Positive Psychology. Since 2000 his main mission has been the promotion of the field of Positive Psychology.

He received his A.B. from Princeton University, Summa Cum Laude (Philosophy), 1964; Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania (Psychology), 1967; Ph.D., Honoris causa, Uppsala University, Sweden, 1989; Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris causa, Massachusetts College of Professional Psychology, 1997; Ph.D., Honoris causa, Complutense University, Spain, 2003; and Ph.D., Honoris causa, University of East London, 2006.

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