Academic Research

The study of positive psychology has boomed over the past 20 years.

In the 1970s, psychology researchers came to the surprising realization that while they had decades worth of studies on what made people depressed or unhappy, they knew very little about what drove human happiness. Today, several universities throughout the world have staff or, in some cases, entire centers devoted to the study of positive psychology. Following are some of the top research centers in the field, including links to talks, studies, and websites related to their work.

  • University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Center – Dr. Martin Seligman is credited with bringing credibility to the field of positive psychology. For years, psychology researchers focused only on what causes depression, anxiety, and various other social disorders. Seligman pioneered the study of what makes humans happy.
    • TED talk – Seligman’s 2004 talk on positive psychology
    • Questionnaires – More than a dozen questionnaires aimed at gauging personal wellbeing
    • PERMA scale – a self-scoring scale that measures flourishing. The PERMA scale is the backbone of several workplace-happiness programs.
    • Authentic Happiness – UPenn’s digital hub for all things positive psychology.
  • San Francisco State University Personality and Well-being Lab
    • Beyond the Purchase – SF State is best known for the research Dr. Ryan Howell conducts on how the various ways we spend our money affects personal happiness. That research and more is collected here.
    • Quizzes – Assorted self-administered happiness tests
  • Presencing Institute – The Presencing Institute is a research and activist organization that grew out of a 10-year MIT study, started in 1996, conducted by Dr. C. Otto Scharmer and his colleagues, including Joseph Jaworski and Peter Senge, that resulted in a consciousness-based framework of leadership and change. That framework, referred to as Presencing or Theory U, says that the quality of the results that a system creates is a function of the awareness from which the people in that system operate. The findings have been published in the books Theory U (by Otto Scharmer) and Presence (co-authored by Peter Senge, Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski, and Betty Sue Flowers). Today, the Institute creates social technologies, builds capacities, and generates holding spaces for profound societal renewal. This community tries to contribute to shifting the economy from ego to eco, and toward serving the well-being of all.

Academic Articles

Saw something we missed? Let us know!

Contact Us