Factors Contributing to Positive Career Decisions

[019 Research Review | SCCT Series: 1] Career decisions can be impacted by self-esteem, future time perspective, positive affect and social support. In recent study by Park, Kim, Kwon & Lee (2018) exploring career decision-making of 128 university students revealed the role positive affect (positive emotions & expressions) and self-esteem have on improving an individual’s career decision belief in self (self-efficacy) and reducing career choice anxiety. A lack of self-esteem or heightened career choice anxiety can prevent someone in their pursuit of a desired career. This study sheds light on the value of daily self-reflection on improving one’s sense of self and future aspirations.

Strengths-Based Leadership Development: Insights from Expert Coaches

[018 Research Review | STRENGTH Series: 1] In the late 1990s, psychological research practitioners made a formal rallying cry to the American Psychological Association to push positive psychology research into the frontier of human strengths. Psychological research, as it developed over the 19th and early 20th centuries, focused on psychotic behaviors – their causes and how to fix them. As the authors of this paper point out, a focus on how to repair damaged psyches is critically important to society but it does not help us understand how psychologically healthy people can reach their highest potential.

Learning Style Critiques

[017 Research Review | LEARNING STYLES Series: 1] In recent decades, the idea of learning styles has spread broadly in the educational field. Its supporters make the argument that human beings learn in distinctly different ways from one another and people will therefore learn most effectively via instruction methods tailored to the way they learn best. It’s an incredibly useful idea, but its critics bring up a variety of valid points.

Intrinsic Motivation and Flow

[016 Research Review | FLOW series: 3] In 1989, psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Jeanne Nakamura assessed how intrinsic motivation might be related to flow in three groups of teenagers. After Larson and Csikszentmihalyi pioneered the ESM method in the early 1980s (see Chapters 2 and 3 here), researchers interested in flow could evaluate flow across broader categories of people in society like working professionals, adolescents, and mothers, for example. A lot of ESM flow researchers honed in on school, because school is a structured system for supporting students to develop academic skills in the face of scholarly challenges. 

The Experience-Sampling Method

[015 Research Review | FLOW Series: 2] In the 1980s, the Experience-Sampling Method (ESM) revolutionized the psychological study of human experience during daily life. It was made possible by the pager. Yes, the pager, or beeper, the ancestor of the two-way and cell phone. The thing that businesspeople and doctors wore on their hips during the 80s and 90s.

How to Cultivate Optimism

[014 Research Review | FUTURE SELF series: 2] Cultivating optimism is an essential cornerstone in the coaching profession. A coaching tool called, “Future Self” is often used to create such a perspective. It guides a client to craft a clear picture of who they are going to be at some distant point in the future, anywhere from 9 to 20 years and includes the positive perspectives, knowledge, and experiences played out over the designated time period. It provides an opportunity to learn from the amassed wisdom of those years. 

Hope and Academic Performance

[013 Research Review | HOPE series: 4] In 2002, C.L. Snyder and his colleagues set out to see if hope had anything to do with what Hanson (1994) termed the “lost talent.” These are the students who have high natural talent, academic ability, and innate intelligence who do not achieve the success one might expect based on their potential. They drop out of college early, or don’t go in the first place. They struggle to find jobs that convert to careers. This study marked the first time hope theory was used to sort out why some students succeed and others don’t. 

Hope and Athletic Performance

[012 Research Review | HOPE series: 3] Both flow and hope have been apparent in high performing athletes since the first Olympic games almost 3,000 years ago. However, Curry et al. (1997) point out that psychology researchers had never explored it because there wasn’t a measurable theory to use. Enter hope theory in the early 1990s. C.L. Snyder and his colleagues proposed a mechanistic definition of hope as a person’s perception of their own agency, or motivation, and their ability to map pathways towards achieving goals. This two pronged theory with specific mechanisms made it possible to design and refine measurement tools for detecting levels of agency levels of agency and pathways relative to certain goals.

The PERMA-Profiler

[007 Research Review | PERMA Series: 3] What is well-being, really? Since the 1980s, theoretical and empirical research in positive psychology has flourished. Previously, the field of psychology was closely focused on describing and quantifying mental illness – how to identify, measure, and treat psychological maladies. Not until groundbreaking work such as Csikszentmihalyi (1975) and Ryff (1989) did psychology shift its focus to understanding positive human functioning.

Rainbows in the Mind

[011 Research Review | Hope Series: 2] C.L. Snyder casts human psychology as a spectrum of strength, just like a rainbow is a spectrum of light. It’s a continuum of being, with each possible color connected to all the others. Snyder’s hope theory distinguishes hope as first a cognitive, rather than an emotional, process. Emotional patterns result from hope, but thought patterns cause it.

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