Course Syllabus

Positive Psychology

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Semester & Location:

Spring 2019 - DIS Stockholm

Type & Credits:

Core Course - 3 credits

Core Course Study Tours:

Athens, Greece

Major Disciplines:

Psychology, Human Development, Education/Educational Studies

Faculty Members:

Susanna Z. Papp

Program Director:

Carla Caetano, cca@dis.dk 

Time & Place:

Monday’s and Thursday’s 14.50-16.10, 1E-509

Description of Course

This course in positive psychology aims to provide students with an introduction to the core ideas of theories on happiness, well-being and human flourishing as well as acquainting them with the growing body of research evidence on creating, maintaining and developing positive individuals, relationships, organizations and communities. The focus of the course will be on applied positive psychology.

The structure of the course is as follows:

  • Introduction to positive psychology: history, key concepts, measurements and well-being in a Swedish context
  • Cognitive and emotional processes in positive psychology: positive illusions, explanatory style, positive emotions and compassion.
  • Attentional processes in positive psychology: flow and mindfulness and their applications
  • Interpersonal aspects of positive psychology includes themes on positive relations, forgiveness, transforming conflicts and positive communication. During the Core Course Week our main focus is on altruism and pro-social behavior and their relation to well-being.
  • Applying positive psychology: Students will have a group project on designing a positive psychology intervention.
  • Coping in positive psychology focuses on resilience, post-traumatic growth, meaning and gratitude
  • Achievements and accomplishments: self-concordance and goal-setting, grit, self-regulation
  • Synthesis: the role of flexibility and complexity in intra- and interpersonal well-being
  • Closing: the future of positive psychology

 

Learning Objectives

  • To understand the basic assumptions, principles and concepts of positive psychology
  • To investigate positive psychology phenomena in real life
  • To critically evaluate positive psychology theory and research
  • To apply positive psychology approaches in daily living

 

Faculty

Susanna Z. Papp - BA and MA in Psychology (Eötvös Lóránd University, Budapest, 2008), BA in Economics and Business Communication (Budapest Business School, 2003), currently working on her Phd in Psychology. Research interests include restorative justice and victims, and cross-cultural communication. Worked as a psychologist with children and adolescents. Susanna is a communication and conflict management trainer and a lecturer at Budapest Business School. With DIS since 2017.

Readings

Textbooks (provided by DIS library)

  • Hefferon K., Boniwell, I., (2011). Positive Psychology. Theory, Research, and Applications. UK: McGraw Hill. 
  • Snyder, C. R., Lopez, S. J. (Eds.) (2009). Handbook of Positive Psychology. New York: Oxford University Press

 

Books on reserve in library

Students can also find the following books in the DIS library. Required readings from these books will be available on Canvas.

  • Frankl, Victor E. (2006). Man’s Search for Meaning. Boston: Beacon Press
  • Lyubomirsky, S (2011). The How of Happiness. A Practical Guide to Getting the Life You Want. New York: The Penguin Press
  • Sheldon, M.K. Et al. (Eds.) (2011). Designing Positive Psychology. Taking Stock and Moving Forward. New York: Oxford University Press
  • Snyder, C. R., Lopez, S. J., Pedrotti, J.T. (2011) Positive Psychology: The Scientific and Practical Explorations of Human Strengths. CA: Sage Publications

 

Required Articles on Canvas:

  • Aknin, L. B., Dunn, E. W., Norton, M. I. (2012) Happiness runs in a circular motion: Evidence for a positive feedback loop between prosocial spending and happiness. Journal of Happiness Studies 13, 347–355.
  • Anshel, M. H., Minsoo, K., Brinthaupt, T. M. (2010). A Values-Based Approach for Changing Exercise and Dietary Habits: An Action Study. International Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 8(4), 413-432
  • Bergström, M., Modin, B. Fransson, E. Rajmil, L., Berlin, M., Gustafsson, P. A., Hjern, A. (2013) Living in two homes-a Swedish national survey of wellbeing in 12 and 15 year olds with joint physical custody. BMC Public Health 13(868), 1-8 https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2458-13-868
  • Bonanno, G.A. (2004). Loss, trauma, and human resilience: Have we underestimated the human capacity to thrive after extremely aversive events? American Psychologist, 59, 20-28. https://www.tc.columbia.edu/faculty/gab38/faculty-profile/files/americanPsychologist.pdf
  • Brown, K.W., Ryan, R.M. & Creswell, J.D. (2007). Mindfulness: Theoretical foundations and evidence for its salutary effects. Psychological Inquiry, 18, 211-237. http://www.gruberpeplab.com/teaching/psych231_fall2013/documents/231_Brown2007.pdf
  • Clarke, J. (2015) Solidarity and survival: A multidisciplinary exploration of volunteering during the Greek crisis. In: Clarke, J., Huliaras, A., Sotiropoulos, D. (2015) Austerity and the third sector in Greece. England: Ashgate (pp. 67-79)
  • Crocker, J., Park, L. E. (2004). The Costly Pursuit of Self-Esteem. Psychological Bulletin, 130(3), 392-414. https://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/106180/2005-Crocker-Lee-Park-SelfEsteem-CHAP.pdf?sequence=1
  • Duckworth, A.L. & Seligman, M.E.P. (2005). Self-discipline outdoes IQ in predicting academic performance in adolescents. Psychological Science, 16, 939-944.
  • Emmons, R. A., Mishra, A. (2011) Why gratitude enhances well-being: what we know, what we need to know. In: Sheldon, M.K. Et al. (Eds.) (2011). Designing Positive Psychology. Taking Stock and Moving Forward. New York: Oxford University Press (pp. 228-258)
  • Fredrickson, B.L. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The broaden and build theory of positive emotions. American Psychologist, 56, 218-226.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3122271/
  • Frisén, A., Holmqvist, K. (2010) What characterizes early adolescents with a positive body image? A qualitative investigation of Swedish girls and boys. Body Image, 7, 205-212.
  • Holt-Lunstad, J., Smith, T. B., Layton, B. (2010). Social relationships and mortality risk: A meta-analytic review. PLOS Medicine, 7(7), 2-19 http://psych415.class.uic.edu/Readings/Holt-Lunstad,%20Social%20relationships%20-%20health,%20PlosMed,%202010.pdf
  • Howard, J., McInnes, K. (2013) The impact of children's perception of an activity as play rather than not play on emotional well‐ Child: Care, Health and Development, 39(5), 737-742
  • Kashdan, T., B. (2010). Psychological flexibility as a fundamental aspect of health. Clinical Psychology Review, 30(7), 865-878. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2998793/
  • Koskoff, S., Landau, M.J., Burke, B. (2016) Terror management and politics: Comparing and integrating the “Conservative Shift” and “Political Worldview Defense” Hypotheses In: Harvell, L., Nisbett, G. S. (Eds.) (2016) Denying Death. An interdisciplinary approach to Terror Management Theory. New York: Routlegde (pp. 28-41)
  • Kruglanski, A. W., Gelfand, M. J., Bélanger, J. J., Sheveland, A., Gunaratna, R. (2014) The Psychology of Radicalization and Deradicalization: How Significance Quest Impacts Violent Extremism. Advances in Political Psychology, 35 (1) 69-93.
  • Lewis, R. D. (2006) When cultures collide: Leading across cultures. Boston: Nicholas Brealy International. Chapter: Sweden (pp. 337-344.)
  • MacKenzie, M. J., Baumeister, R. F. (2014) Meaning in life: Nature, needs, and myths. In: Batthyany, A., Russo-Netzer, P. (Eds.) (2014) Meaning in Positive and Existential Psychology. New York: Springer. (pp. 25-35)
  • Mavrikos-Adamou, T. (2015) Informal relationships and stuctures in Greece and their effects on civil society formation. In: Clarke, J., Huliaras, A., Sotiropoulos, D. (2015) Austerity and the third sector in Greece. England: Ashgate (pp. 45-62)
  • OECD Better Life Index –Sweden: http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/countries/sweden/
  • Seligman, M.E.P. (2011). A new understanding of happiness and well-being – and how to achieve them. London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing. Chapter 1. (pp. 9-29)
  • Shnabel, N., Nadler, A. (2015) The role of agency and morality in reconciliation processes: The perspective of a Needs-Based Model. Current Directions in Psychological Science. 24(6) 1-7.
  • Uchida, Y., & Ogihara, Y. (2012). Personal or interpersonal construal of happiness: A cultural psychological perspective. International Journal of Wellbeing, 2(4), 354-369
  • Wachtel, T. (2012) Defining restorative. International Institute for Restorative Practices. (pp 1-9) http://thaichristianfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Defining-Restorative.pdf
  • Yazdani, M., Esmaeilzadeh, M., Saeid P., Khaledi, F. (2014) The effects of laughter yoga on general health among nursing students. Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research. 19(1): 36–40.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3917183/

Optional readings: 

Besides required readings students are provided a collection of optional readings for each class. The purpose of optional readings is multiple:

  1. When the instructor presents research or theories in class that are not included in the required readings students can find the original sources in the optional readings section,
  2. When a topic is multifaceted and has more interesting aspects or applications there is not always time to cover all of them in class. Students who are interested in other areas can read further.
  3. Optional readings help students to find more sources for their group project presentation and final paper. 

 

Field Studies

1. Changing habits workshop 

February 4th, Monday morning, Location: DIS Stockholm Room 1E-509 

Theme: Making positive changes in one’s life

Purpose: In this interactive lecture and workshop we will explore the process of changing habits through connecting the change process to deeper values. The session is led by Gustav Nilsson, a  licensed psychologist with a background in clinical psychology. The last few years he has been working at Psykologifabriken implementing health promoting psychological interventions at workplaces and in schools. 

2. Exit Sweden NGO field study visit

exit_bootflower.jpg

February 5, Tuesday morning, Location: Fryshuset NGO, Stockholm

Theme: Making positive changes in one’s life

Purpose: In this field study visit students will learn about the work of Exit Sweden, an ngo that engages in helping people leave violent extremist (eg. neo-nazi) movements. We will meet Robert Örell, director of Exit Sweden and co-chair of the EU established Deradicalization Working Group of Radicalisation Awareness Network to explore the application of positive psychology principles in the process of deradicalization of violent extremists and inquire about motivations to make positive life changes.

Study Tours

Center of Gothenburg panorama

Core Course week/Short Tour in Gothenburg: Making positive changes

Purpose: The purpose of the core course week is to explore various aspects of making positive changes. During our two days in Stockholm we will be focusing on making positive changes in one's own life including topics of changing habits and positive life-changing decisions. On our 3-day study tour in Gothenburg we will be focusing on making positive changes for others by exploring motivations of altruistic and prosocial behavior in different contexts and their relation to wellbeing. We will also investigate the physical body's role in positive psychology with a special emphasis on positive body image.  The core course week provides students with possibilities of different ways of learning including workshops, exercises, lectures and field study visits that will be integrated with positive psychology research and theories.  

Timing: Core Course Week: February 4-5 (Mon-Tue) in Stockholm, February 7-9 (Thu-Sat) in Gothenburg.

Orientation: Students will have an orientation in class on the week before departure and the travel intinerary will be posted on canvas the Friday before departure the latest.

 

Long Study tour: Exploring well-being in Greece

Athens  Acropolis from Plaka night view

Purpose: The purpose of the long study tour is to explore wellbeing in the Greek (cultural, historical and political) context. We will focus on positive initiatives and structures as well as on learning about the culture and life in contemporary Athens. The study tour will include field visits, lectures, exercises as well as sightseeing and cultural activities.

Timing: March 24 - March 29 (Sunday to Friday)

Orientation: Students will have an orientation in class on the week before departure and the travel intinerary will be posted on canvas the Friday before departure the latest.

Guest Lecturers

Helena Löfgren,  psychotherapist, mindfulness instructor

Vidia Negrea, clinical psychologist, restorative justice facilitator, faculty member of International Institute for Restorative Practices

 

Approach to Teaching

The class will involve an interactive pedagogy with short lectures, group activities, discussions, personal reflections and guest lectures as well as workshops and field studies. Students are encouraged to apply theory in practice as well as sharing reflections in class. The teacher together with the students is responsible for creating a safe and engaging learning environment.

Expectations of the Students

In order to successfully complete the course students are required to attend all classes, field studies and study tour events. Students can benefit the most from the class if they come prepared. It includes being punctual, attentive and prepared with the assigned readings and  homework. Engaging constructively in classwork means active listening during lecture time, asking questions, sharing knowledge and academic or personal reflections during discussions or group-work and being able to shift successfully between these different work modes. Active engagement also includes being present not only physically but mentally as well. Regular multitasking, disengaging or disruptive behaviors negatively affect the grade. Students can contribute to a higher quality and a more fun learning experience by their active participation. By being respectful to one another and by being proactive they can also contribute to class well-being. 

Evaluation

Students have the opportunity to deepen their knowledge of positive psychology through various assignments over the course of the semester. The individual written assignments (core course week paper and final paper) motivate students to deepen, integrate and synthetize their knowledge using their analytical and academic thinking skills. The group project assignment provides an opportunity for students to use their creativity and interest in the applied field of positive psychology as well as to practice teamwork and persuasive academic presentation.

Grading

Assignment Evaluation

Percent

Participation and engagement

Individual

10%

 Study tour leaderships

Group

10% (5%+5%)

 Core Course Week Paper

Individual

25%

Applying Positive Psychology Group Project Presentation

Group

25%

Final paper

Individual

30%

Total

 

100%

Detailed assignment description will be available on Canvas.

 Assignment Dates and Deadlines Overview

Assignment

Evaluation

%

Deadlines

Participation and engagement

Individual

10%

 ongoing

 Study tour leadership

Group

10% (5%+5%)

 CCW and Long study tours     ON THE SPOT

 Core Course Week Paper

Individual

25%

 Febr. 17. Sun (midnight) uploaded on canvas

 

Applying Positive Psychology Group Project Presentation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Group

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

25%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Group 1,2,3:

March 18. Monday in class

Group 4,5,6:

March 21. Thursday in class

Finalizing groups: Febr. 18 Mon in class

1 page draft/group upload:  Febr. 27. Wed (midnight)

Final paper

Individual

30%

April 28. Sun (midnight)

Total

 

100%

 

 

Academic Regulations  

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on:

 

Academic Honesty

Plagiarism and Violating the Rules of an Assignment

DIS expects that students abide by the highest standards of intellectual honesty in all academic work. DIS assumes that all students do their own work and credit all work or thought taken from others.   Academic dishonesty will result in a final course grade of “F” and can result in dismissal. The students’ home universities will be notified. DIS reserves the right to request that written student assignments be turned in electronic form for submission to plagiarism detection software.  See the Academic Handbook for more information, or ask your instructor if you have questions.

Policy on late papers 

Late papers will not be accepted. Once the schedule of the group presentations is agreed it can not be modified. 

Use of laptops or phones in class 

In order to motivate students' engagement laptops or phones are required to be used for only note taking purposes unless instructed otherwise. 

 

Course Summary:

Date Details