psychology research proposal example

psychology research proposal example

The Impact of Positive Psychology on Mental Health

1. Introduction

In 2005, the Authentic Happiness report commissioned by then president of the APA Martin Seligman, and authored by a team of prominent health researchers, called for governments and policy makers to allocate more resources to mental health research, with the rationale that fostering mental health was just as important as treating mental illness (3). These reports and the establishment of positive psychology have fueled efforts to prevent mental illness and promote flourishing, redirecting the focus of mental health policy from the traditional elimination of disorder to the enablement of a fulfilling life. Given these efforts, it is timely to evaluate how positive psychology interventions can best improve mental health. This methodology will help readers understand what interventions are most effective for specific problems or populations. It also helps determine if there is an evidence base strong enough to recommend positive interventions as a first line or adjunctive treatment for different disorders.

The American Psychological Association’s recognition of the need to foster human strength and resilience in the 1990s (1) and its subsequent creation of the positive psychology division in 1998 (2) led to an increase in positive psychology research and a changing mental health clinical landscape. Major policy shifted began with the 1999 release of the US Surgeon General’s report on mental health, publicly acknowledging for the first time that mental health was as important as physical health.

Concisely apply positive psychology interventions and how evidence regarding their effectiveness influences mental health treatment and policy. This study goes beyond previous narrative reviews of positive psychology interventions for life satisfaction and depression. These interventions are now being tested on clinical and subclinical populations with a variety of assessments. This methodology has led to a proliferation of RCTs testing positive interventions, many appearing after our search cut-off in November 2015. The recently published study on flourishing (12) highlights this proliferation. Fully 58 of 59 surveyed positive psychology interventions and 88% of total interventions focused on mental health. These RCTs merit a comprehensive review that examines what interventions have been tested and with what populations, and what are their associated outcomes.

2. Literature Review

Perhaps the most frequently cited work in the literature concerning positive psychology is Martin Seligman’s presidential address to the American Psychological Association in 1998. In this address, titled “What’s right with psychology,” Seligman outlines the primary tenets of positive psychology and calls for a science of psychology that is as concerned with building strength and virtue as it is with remedying pathology. This work is frequently cited as the foundational stone for the positive psychology movement and is considered a map to guide research on positive psychology theory. In answer to this call, a paper by Keyes and Annas has outlined what they define as the “positive mental health” construct. This can be thought of as the psychological analogue to physical health. Measures of positive mental health should not be defined simply as the absence of mental illness, and this paper identifies the separate continuum along which individuals experience positive mental health and mental illness. This is integral to the field’s aim to increase the “flourishing” of humanity, since it directs research to how mental illness and health can be separate entities, and sets the stage to find ways in which mental health can be promoted in addition to direct attempts to remedy mental illness. Also heavy in theoretical framework is understanding the emphasis of positive psychology on the study of what makes life worth living. This is referred to as the “good life” and addresses issues of identifying and nurturing talents and using one’s full potential in order to experience satisfaction and fulfillment. One of the most noted works in this area comes from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. This influential book outlines the construct of flow which is an experience of total immersion in an activity that is so engaging that time seems to pass without notice. This experience is said to be a key tool in achieving the good life and the book outlines numerous issues which those studying or practicing positive psychology can use as a guide to promote this state. This book is heavy in metaphor, describing the good life as creating a piece of art, and oneself as the artist whose greatest satisfaction comes from the creative process. While this work is deep and theoretical, it offers an admirable foundation to what positive psychology aims to accomplish in the pursuit of happiness and prevention of mental illness.

The literature concerning positive psychology’s impact on improving mental well-being is rich. We have attempted to critically summarize some of the foundational research in this area. In addition, given that this paper represents a departure from traditional psychotherapy and psychiatric intervention, we also considered evidence for the efficacy of positive psychology interventions which are already being utilized by practitioners. This was done in order to provide clear theoretical background for where positive psychology currently stands as a force for mental health treatment, while also showing how instances of positive psychology are effecting genuine change in individuals with psychopathology.

3. Methodology

Qualitative analysis was conducted in order to assess the development of positive psychological traits in an individual and the subsequent impact on their mental health. This involved the exploration of client experiences when using positive psychology interventions. The primary method of data collection was a semi-structured interview. A semi-structured interview allows the interviewer to utilize a predetermined schedule with specific questions, yet the conversational nature of the interview can allow for exploration of new topics to occur. Given that the research is generally exploratory, the flexible nature of a semi-structured interview was most appropriate. This allowed for clarification or elaboration of certain responses when required. Broadly, the interview schedule revolved around exploring instances when the client had used a positive psychology intervention, and the subsequent impact this had in terms of their mental well-being. In particular, specific events were explored so as to assess change over time. Interviews were conducted with a total of 12 participants. It was suggested that an approximate number of 12 participants would provide sufficient depth and variation of responses, whilst manageable within the scope of this research project. Participants were mostly recruited through contacting individuals who had previously used a positive psychology intervention and agreed to participate in a study at some point in time. Snowball sampling was also used, whereby initial participants were asked to refer their friends or acquaintances to the study. Although this method has limitations in terms of sample representativeness, it was most practical given the context of which participants were being recruited. Participants were not restricted by age, gender, or mental health status, though for the purpose of this research all had used a positive psychology intervention at some stage for issues regarding their mental well-being. All interviews were recorded and then transcribed for the purpose of data analysis. This resulted in a substantial body of text for each participant, ensuring a rich source of data to be analyzed. Transcription of interviews was conducted by the primary researcher to allow for immediate familiarization with the data.

4. Findings and Analysis

There are 21 studies in this review; 15 target adults and six target young people. The examination of the proof is sorted by the six cardinal values suggested by Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi (2000) for the creation of positive psychology, and covers a wide range of measures, both subjective and objective, for valuing prosperity. The contrasting subjects within well-being with misery are addressed in seventeen papers. Most frequently, the dependent variable is ‘depression’, however, there is large variation in the measures utilized in terms of ND and Negative affect. The most unique study was that of Peterson et al (1988) which, among a sample of 97 Harvard undergraduates, utilizes elective correlational methods to predict those of the students who would or would not experience a depressed mood following a negative life event. In this longitudinal study, it would be of outstanding interest to know the findings 20 years on, considering Seligman’s remarks on the paucity of research exploring abnormal psychology and the multivariate aetiological comprehension of mental disorder between negative and positive functioning. The new field of subjective well-being is researched in ten studies, comparing their results to those of countless findings suggesting data that an absence of misery isn’t an automatic consequence with the disappearance of increased levels of negative emotion. All taking Seligman’s proposal of augmenting the study and build up of high prosperity as a challenge. This can also be seen as an endeavor to increase prevention of disorders, where a modest amount of results do suggest that many aspects of positive functioning are related to lower levels of misery, and high prosperity seems to go hand in hand with an increased immunity to the hardships of life.

5. Conclusion and Implications

In summary, this paper has provided a framework for understanding the impact of positive psychology upon mental well-being. By using Keyes’ (2005) model of mental health, comparison between hedonic and eudaimonic well-being and different psychological interventions, an in-depth analysis was conducted. It has been found that positive psychology is not only an approach to improve mental health, but it also provides an effective guide to understanding all aspects of human experience. This is due to its consideration of both positive and negative functioning, meaning it is in a better position to comprehensively understand and treat mental illness. In addition, its consideration of human strengths and virtues can potentially provide a buffer against mental illness (Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). Eudaimonic approaches in particular have been shown to be effective in enhancing long-term well-being and preventing mental illness due to their promotion of self-development and self-realisation, as well as the fact that individuals are able to experience the effects of living a good life. This suggests that perhaps the route to understanding mental illness can be best understood by understanding what causes humans to flourish. The implications of understanding the value of positive psychological approaches are vast. It has been suggested that current psychology is in fact ‘negative psychology’ due to its focus on repairing the worst things in life as opposed to building the best qualities in life, mending ‘what has gone wrong’ as opposed to ‘making the lives of normal people fulfilling’ (Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). If positive psychological approaches have been shown to improve mental well-being in the short and long term, then an increased awareness and implementation of these approaches into everyday life has the potential to prevent mental illness and promote mental health. This can be seen as a cost-effective way to make a large impact on the flourishing of individuals, whilst also improving current mental health services by guiding them to a better understanding of how to promote well-being and prevent mental illness as opposed to simply treating illness.

Place Your Order
(275 Words)

Approximate Price: $15

Calculate the price of your order

275 Words
We'll send you the first draft for approval by September 11, 2018 at 10:52 AM
Total Price:
The price is based on these factors:
Academic Level
Number of Pages
Principle features
  • Free cover page and Reference List
  • Plagiarism-free Work
  • 24/7 support
  • Affordable Prices
  • Unlimited Editing
Upon-Request options
  • List of used sources
  • Anytime delivery
  • Part-by-part delivery
  • Writer’s sample papers
  • Professional guidance
Paper formatting
  • Double spaced paging
  • Any citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago/Turabian, Harvard)
  • 275 words/page
  • Font 12 Arial/Times New Roman

•Unique Samples

We offer essay help by crafting highly customized papers for our customers. Our expert essay writers do not take content from their previous work and always strive to guarantee 100% original texts. Furthermore, they carry out extensive investigations and research on the topic. We never craft two identical papers as all our work is unique.

•All Types of Paper

Our capable essay writers can help you rewrite, update, proofread, and write any academic paper. Whether you need help writing a speech, research paper, thesis paper, personal statement, case study, or term paper, essay writing service is ready to help you.

•Strict Deadlines

You can order custom essay writing with the confidence that we will work round the clock to deliver your paper as soon as possible. If you have an urgent order, our custom essay writing company finishes them within a few hours (1 page) to ease your anxiety. Do not be anxious about short deadlines; remember to indicate your deadline when placing your order for a custom essay.

•Free Revisions and Preview

To establish that your online custom essay writer possesses the skill and style you require, ask them to give you a short preview of their work. When the writing expert begins writing your essay, you can use our chat feature to ask for an update or give an opinion on specific text sections.

A Remarkable Student Essay Writing Service

Our essay writing service is designed for students at all academic levels. Whether high school, undergraduate or graduate, or studying for your doctoral qualification or master’s degree, we make it a reality.