History and Systems of Psychology PSY502
PSYCHOLOGY IN THE 21ST CENTURY
Let us now have a glance at two other recently developed areas of psychology:
Sports psychology is the application of psychological principles to sports and exercises. It emerged as a
separate applied science in third and fourth decade of the 20th century. It looks at such factors as:
Motivation in sports
It refers to the motivation level of the player. In other words, how much motivated the player is about
the task he is performing.
Personality factors are the factors which are a part of the personality of an individual and have an
impact on the performance of the sportsman.
Attention and arousal factors
These are factors referring to how much attention does the player needs or what makes him motivated
towards certain achievements.
Anxiety and mood factors
Anxiety and mood factors also influence performance in sports and are studied under sports
Since sports has become a billion dollar business world wide and a lot of interest of psychologists has been
aroused in sports psychology.
Another area that has been developed recently is the area of positive psychology. The aim of positive
psychology is to use psychological methodology to discover and use factors that individuals, groups and
organizations use to thrive. Positive psychology looks at such variables as:
Happiness or Subjective well being
In other words, positive psychology is the scientific study of human happiness. The history of psychology as
a science shows that the field has been primarily dedicated to addressing mental illness rather than mental
wellness. Its research programs and application models have dealt mainly with how people are wrong rather
than how they are right. The need to correct this bias was anticipated in psychological writings as early as
those of the American psychologist and philosopher William James. Several humanistic psychologists--
such as Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, and Erich Fromm--developed successful theories and practices
History and Systems of Psychology PSY502
that involved human happiness despite there being a lack of solid empirical evidence behind their work.
However, it is the pioneering research of Martin Seligman, Ed Diener, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Christopher
Peterson, Don Clifton, and many others that promise to put the study of human happiness onto a firm
scientific foundation and add some positivity to the predominantly negative discipline of psychology.
Positive psychology can be delineating into three overlapping areas of research:
i. Research into the Pleasant Life or the "life of enjoyment" examines how people optimally experience,
forecast, and saver the positive feelings and emotions that are part of normal and healthy living (e.g.
relationships, hobbies, interests, entertainment, etc.).
ii. The study of the Good Life or the "life of engagement" investigates the beneficial affects of immersion,
absorption, and flow that individuals feel when optimally engaged with their primary activities. These states
are experienced when there is a positive match between a person's strength and the task they are doing, i.e.
when they feel confident that they can accomplish the tasks they are facing.
iii. Inquiry into the Meaningful Life or "life of affiliation" questions how individuals derive a positive sense
of well-being, belonging, meaning, and purpose from being part of and contributing back to something
larger and more permanent than themselves (e.g. nature, social groups, organizations, movements,
traditions, belief systems).
The development of the Character Strengths and Virtues (CSV) handbook represents the first attempt on
the part of the research community to identify and classify the positive psychological traits of human beings.
Much like the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) of general psychology, the CSV
provides a theoretical framework to assist in developing practical applications for positive psychology.
Practical applications of positive psychology include helping individuals and organizations in correctly
identifying their strengths and use them to increase and sustain their respective levels of happiness.
Therapists, counselors, coaches, and various other psychological professional can use the new methods and
techniques to build and broaden the lives of individuals who are not necessarily suffering from mental
illness or disorder.
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