March 8, 2017

Donaldson Article Cited by International Positive Psychology Association

Photo of School of Social Science, Policy & Evaluation Dean Stewart Donaldson
School of Social Science, Policy & Evaluation Dean Stewart Donaldson

As the International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA) prepared to celebrate its 10-year anniversary, its leadership surveyed the literature, looking for something that best captured the milestone: a 2015 article co-authored by School of Social Science, Policy & Evaluation (SSSPE) Dean Stewart Donaldson.

Reviewing 14 years of peer-reviewed articles, Donaldson and his co-authors concluded the field had steadily expanded with more research based on evidence-based practice rather than theory.

IPPA President Barbara Fredrickson cited the Journal of Positive Psychology article in a recent email to association members.

“Positive psychology has burgeoned, especially in the last decade,” she wrote. “As Stewart Donaldson and co-authors have detailed, publications have steadily increased year over year since 2000, with clear evidence, from 2006 onward, that empirical contributions increasingly outnumber non-empirical ones.”

“[O]ur field’s increased publication rate and international renown is certainly something to crow about,” Fredrickson added.

CGU is a recognized leader in the field of positive psychology. Students in CGU’s renowned programs are trained to use experience sampling methods—as well as more traditional experimental and quasi-experimental designs, surveys, and interviews—to better understand and gain knowledge about positive emotions, strengths, and virtues that make individuals and institutions thrive. CGU’s Division of Behavioral & Organizational Sciences offered the first PhD and MA concentrations in the western United States focused on positive psychology. CGU Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Management Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is regarded as the co-founder of positive psychology, along with Martin Seligman.

“The field of positive psychology and CGU’s graduate programs in this area have grown by leaps and bounds during the past decade,” Donaldson said. “It is so important that the peer-reviewed empirical literature has followed suit and there is now an emerging evidence base for designing and evaluating positive psychology interventions, programs, and policies.”

In January, SSSPE organized the second annual Western Positive Psychology Association (WPPA) conference, drawing more than 300 researchers to campus. WPPA was co-founded by Donaldson, CGU psychology doctoral student and former IPPA division president Meg Warren, and former Chapman University professor Shari Y. Kuchenbecker.

For the 2015 article, Donaldson, Warren, and CGU alumna and adjunct professor Maren Dollwet (PhD, Psychology, 2013) reviewed 1,336 articles published between 1999 and 2013. More than 750 articles—about 56 percent—included empirical support for positive psychology theories and principles.

“The findings demonstrate that positive psychology is a growing and vibrant sub-area within the broader discipline of psychology, committed to using the same rigorous scientific methods as other sub-areas, in pursuit of understanding well-being, excellence, and optimal human functioning,” the study’s authors concluded.