Positive psychology is understood as an approach to human functioning that addresses human flourishing and well-being and the factors that contribute to them. At Claremont Graduate University, Positive Development is understood as individual growth through the lifespan. It includes positive developmental trajectories; contexts that contribute to positive outcomes both at the individual and sociocultural levels, and processes leading to these outcomes. Faculty members are interested in studying the opportunities for optimal performance and growth in various periods of life. Some of the issues considered are: What constitutes the most effective use of human energy in adolescence? In adulthood, and in later life? What personal characteristics and resources are most conducive to flourishing? How do institutions such as families, schools, and workplaces help or hinder the unfolding of human potentialities?
Our program in Positive Developmental Psychology is built upon the following core principles:
The importance of understanding positive developmental processes and primary prevention, promotion, and optimization rather than remediation
The need to take into account interindividual differences and intraindividual changes across the lifespan
The centrality of context, especially institutions, settings, and programs that promote positive experiences and characteristics
An appreciation of the bidirectional relationship between knowledge generation and knowledge application
Promotion of applied research and evaluation so that our work has direct implications for the decisions of individuals, families, schools, practitioners, and policymakers.
In short, our program is grounded in three key terms:
Positive – aimed at understanding those aspects of human experience that make life worth living; enhancing human strengths such as creativity, joy, flow, responsibility, optimal performance, and achievement
Developmental – systematic and successive changes that occur across the lifespan
Applied Psychological Science – application of social science knowledge, concepts, and methods to important social issues through research and practice