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A Primer in Positive Psychology (Oxford Positive Psychology Series) [Paperback]

Christopher Peterson
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

17 Aug 2006 0195188330 978-0195188332 1
Positive psychology is the scientific study of what goes right in life, from birth to death and at all stops in between. It is a newly-christened approach within psychology that takes seriously the examination of that which makes life most worth living. Everyone's life has peaks and valleys, and positive psychology does not deny the valleys. Its signature premise is more nuanced, but nonetheless important: what is good about life is as genuine as what is bad and, therefore, deserves equal attention from psychologists. Positive psychology as an explicit perspective has existed only since 1998, but enough relevant theory and research now exist to fill a textbook suitable for a semester-long college course.

A Primer in Positive Psychology is thoroughly grounded in scientific research and covers major topics of concern to the field: positive experiences such as pleasure and flow; positive traits such as character strengths, values, and talents; and the social institutions that enable these subjects as well as what recent research might contribute to this knowledge. Every chapter contains exercises that illustrate positive psychology, a glossary, suggestions of articles and books for further reading, and lists of films, websites, and popular songs that embody chapter themes.

A comprehensive overview of positive psychology by one of the acknowledged leaders in the field, this textbook provides students with a thorough introduction to an important area of psychology.

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A Primer in Positive Psychology (Oxford Positive Psychology Series) + The How Of Happiness: A Practical Guide to Getting The Life You Want + Flourish: A New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being - and How To Achieve Them
Price For All Three: 50.07

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: OUP USA; 1 edition (17 Aug 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195188330
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195188332
  • Product Dimensions: 25.2 x 17.9 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 272,981 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


"Chris Peterson, one of the founding fathers of Positive Psychology, has written a wonderfully engaging and deeply stimulating introduction to this swiftly growing field. Intellectual history is interwoven with data, research findings with backstage gossip, to produce a delightful classic." — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Director, Quality of Life Research Center and C.S. and D.J. Davidson Professor, Peter F. Drucker School of Management, Claremont Graduate University

"This excellent text gives readers a clear and interesting introduction to the field of positive psychology. Students will find the book easy to read, yet informative, and others can read the book because it covers fascinating material that is relevant to living a successful life." —Ed Diener, Alumni Distinguished Professor of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Editor, Perspectives on Psychological Science, and Journal of Happiness Studies

"This is the definitive textbook in Positive Psychology. But more than that, it may be the single best textbook on any subject that I have ever read. It's fun to read and it's authoritative-written as it is by one of the main investigators in the field. I can't remember reading a textbook before that both made me laugh out loud and brought tears to my eyes." —Martin E.P. Seligman, Fox Leadership Professor of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania, and Director, Positive Psychology Center

"Peterson offers his readers a marvelous blend of lucidity, originality, humor, kindness and scholarship. This is a book that should entice many thousands of readers into a lifetime of interest in psychology." —George Vaillant, Senior Physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

The book is entertaining and accessible. It constitutes a valuable resource for introducing positive psychology to advanced undergraduate and postgraduate students as well as anyone interested in the subject. (Toni Brennan, Psychology Learning and Teaching, August 2007)

About the Author

Christopher Peterson has been at the University of Michigan since 1986. He is Professor of Psychology, the former director of clinical training, and an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, awarded in recognition of his accomplishments as an undergraduate instructor. Peterson is a member of the Positive Psychology Steering Committee, a consulting editor of the Journal of Positive Psychology, and a Templeton Senior Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania's Positive Psychology Center. He took the lead in creating the Values in Action (VIA) Classification of Strengths, the most ambitious research project to date explicitly undertaken from a positive psychology perspective. Co-author of Character Strengths and Virtues (OUP 2004), Peterson is among the world's 100 most-frequently cited psychologists during the past 20 years and has long-standing research interests in optimism, health, character, and well-being.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
If it is possible, talk to your parents about the day your were born. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Positive Psychology 27 Nov 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is a great reference for learning and researching Positive Psychology. Some chapters are easier to digest than others if you can get past the references to foreign researchers throughout the text.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars excellent text-book 5 Jan 2009
Apart from the boring cover which makes it look like a school text-book for inner city primary school teachers, this text-book is highly informative on the exciting new field of positive psychology. It covers a vast range of ideas in a short space, and is thick with information, but mostly pleasantly readable.
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  29 reviews
124 of 137 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Top Ten Reasons to Love Chris Peterson's "Primer in Positive Psychology" 20 Nov 2006
By Ben Dean PhD - Published on Amazon.com
At Coaching Toward Happiness and at MentorCoach, we

write about the leading figures in positive psychology

and in coaching and talk to them in live

teleconference interviews. We interviewed

Chris three times. His new book is exceptional.

Here's why:


1. It's The Best.


Okay. This is arguably the best introduction to positive

psychology ever written. It ties all the key issues

together in a compelling way. It provides understanding,

depth, rich resources, and it's fun to read.


2. It's Reader-Friendly.


It's a large trade paperback, 314 pages. Rich with fascinating

detail, web sites, movies, overarching explanations of research.

Bad writing makes the reader feel dumb. Good writing makes the

reader feel smart. Chris makes you feel smart.


3. If You Teach.


If you teach positive psychology, you have to use this book. Listen

to the founder of the field: "This is the definitive textbook in

positive psychology. But more than that, it may be the single best

textbook on any subject that I have ever read... (It) both made me

laugh out loud and brought tears to my eyes." -- Martin E. P. Seligman


4. For the Bright Professional


It's perfect for the curious, bright professional who's new to

positive psychology and wants to quickly get up to speed. If

you understand The Primer, you'll be ahead of 99% of the people

in your field.


5. It Sounds Like Chris.


Conversational and accessible. It reads like he talks. And it

reads like a conversation with someone who's twice won the

honor of best teacher at the University of Michigan.


6. It Has Tiny Throw-Away Nuggets.


The words "positive psychology" were first used, not by Seligman

in 1998, but Maslow in 1954. "...The smiley-face icon was created

for a life insurance company in 1964 by a Massachusetts graphic

artist, who was paid $45 for his creation. Neither the insurance

company nor artist Harvey Bell copyrighted the symbol which

has--perhaps as a result--become extremely popular."


7. The Songs.


Each chapter ends with films and dozens of Chris' favorite, relevant

songs: "Be True to Your School" (Beach Boys); "Get Up, Stand Up"

(Bob Marley & the Wailers), "To Sir, With Love" (LuLu); "I Feel

Good" (James Brown); "My Sweet Lord" (George Harrison). Walking

on Sunshine" (Katrina & the Waves). He admits to being a baby

boomer and knows it shows in his song choice. He also believes

a relevant song is a great way to signal the beginning of a class.


8. Personal Usefulness.


You might even find it personally useful. Of the thousands of

suggestions for increasing happiness that have been proffered

in the last fifty years, indeed over the centuries, which have

so far been empirically examined? It goes beyond the headlines

and looks in detail at what the research might really mean for what

you do.


9. It's Unpretentious.


In 2003, I sometimes taught a teleclass from Chris' office at Penn.

His entire office consisted of a computer, a bare floor, one table

and chair, and a bookshelf with 15 scattered books. Nothing to

indicate, for example, that he was among the world's 100 most

frequently cited psychologists during the past 20 years.

The Primer is similarly down to earth. Name one other famous academic

who would write this paragraph:

"...some skeptics still believe that positive psychologists miss

the "obvious" point that life is tragic... I disagree but will

not belabor the point except to note that tragedy admits to

gradations. Even if everything sucks, some things suck more

than others, an irrefutable fact given how people actually behave

if not what they say....Whether we label ...preferred circumstances

"positive" or "less sucky" then becomes a matter of semantics (P. 13)."


10. Find the Tenth Reason Yourself.


Chris was the lead creator of the VIA Survey of Signature Strengths,

a central positive psychology assessment. More than 300,000 people

from throughout the world have taken it. Who better to write about the

importance of individual strengths and values than the world's leading

expert? This is just one part of this book. You'll be able to find

many more than the "tenth" reason when you read him.

And, even better, if you'd also like to *listen* to him talk about

his work, you can. There are three free online interviews--two also

available by telephone--in the archive of the Coaching Toward

Happiness eNewsletter. Amazon's ground rules preclude my telling

you the url but if you google ["Coaching Toward Happiness" + Chris Peterson], you'll find them.
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dr. Peterson's Delivery of Positive Psychology to the Masses 10 Jan 2007
By Alvin Sewell - Published on Amazon.com
A Primer in Positive Psychology delivers a text full of the details from what has been concept for a decade. With the field of Positive Psychology coming to the point of being a deliverable product to the public, Dr. Peterson frames up a concise text of understandable background on what we are and how positive strategies of behavior throughout the lifetime can benefit all people. This establishes the goal of making Positive Psychology a core life training for students at all levels of education, beginning with primary stages. This textbook format gives parents the tools for themselves and their young adult children to teach themselves the principles of excelling at life, not just surviving it.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cogent review of Positive Psychology 27 Jun 2008
By Linda Day - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I confess that I gave up reading "Authentic Happiness" half-way through, so I was not biased toward positive psychology. However, this was a text for a PP coaching class I took, and I liked it a lot -- very clear, straight-forward, easy to understand, full of substantive and interesting research, and even a bit of humor. I found myself looking forward to reading the assignments. My only fuss (which the author says he'll rectify in the next edition) is an inherent testosterone bias, (e.g., a key element of happiness is "winning," expressed in masculine terms rather than the kind of fulfillment that a soccer mom might get from raising great kids). Altogether a good explication of the rationale and value of positive psychology.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Guide to a Different Perspective 30 Dec 2007
By J. Barr - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
When I first heard of "positive psychology" I thought..."so what is negative psychology supposed to be?" The terminology shouldn't hang you up. Positive psychology is a look a what psychology can be sans the illness orientation. What this means is that you are really studying how people can use their minds without concentrating on how that thing they do with their hair is an obvious sign of their insecurity, their masturbatory tendencies, or their love affair with their anal stage of development. The book has great information but is not written in a stuffy or pretentious way. Without a doubt it is one of the most readable psychology books I've ever had the pleasure of recommending. Even though the author supplies the reader with tons of references to help him in his continued study, for the casual reader this book can easily stand by itself. If you are lucky enough to get this as a text book in college enjoy the course and the professor wise enough to chose this book.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Accessible Read on Positive Psychology 18 April 2009
By L. M. Keefer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you're looking for an accessible foundation in positive psychology that is content rich, research-based and practical, then this book is for you.

It's used as a college textbook by the author/professor at U of Michigan who is a pioneer in the field, but it's much more interesting and humorous than the textbooks I've read for my college classes. It doesn't have that typical textbook feeling, but it's richer in ideas than what is on the mass market on happiness.

And there are exercises to try out in your life to improve your happiness at the end of each chapter. The author is brilliant and articulate. He's won teaching awards at U of M:you feel like you're in his classroom being taught by him without having to pay tuition--and that's positive! I learned about this book on a list of top 10 books on Happiness & Positive Psychology. It's a great book for psychology students, coaches, practicing psychologists and regular folk interested in the evolving and transforming field of positive psychology.
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