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SCIE 624
Emotions, Motivation, and Positive Psychology

William Arsenio

Course Description

In this class we take an in-depth and critical look at current theory, research, and practice in the field of positive psychology – that is, the study of emotions, traits, and institutions that promote adaptive and healthy psychological functioning. Much of positive psychology focuses on the nature and motivational role of happiness and other positive emotions, and, consequently, the first half of this class begins with a detailed examination of the general psychological nature of emotions and especially the idea that “emotions contain the wisdom of the ages.” In this view, emotions are seen as intelligent adaptations for addressing recurring biological and psychological challenges.  

With this scientific and theoretical foundation in place, the second half of the class explores the specific nature of positive psychology, including evolutionary models of positive emotions and how they act to promote both social and cognitive development. We will also explore some of the emerging research on the psychological and physiological effects of positive emotions, and on the efficacy of attempts to improve and modify existing mood states. In addition to the primary focus on class readings, we will also examine some of the specific techniques used in this field to modify emotional states and traits such as meditation, guided life exercises, directed journal writing, etc. In-class sessions will include initial lectures by the instructor, multiple breakout discussion groups, as well as several academically-oriented movies on basic emotion and positive psychology themes.

Course Requirements
  1. 2 sets of readings must be completed before the first class - Maslow’s book, Towards a Psychology of Being, and chapters 1 - 4 & 12 – 14  in Oatley, Keltner, & Jenkin’s, (2006) book Understanding Emotions (2nd ed.). 

  2. A brief response paper (3 pages) on Towards a Psychology of Being is due at the 6th class meeting. This (ungraded) response paper simply summarizes what you see as the important themes of the book. 

  3. Each student will serve as a facilitator for one of the daily breakout discussion sections.  

  4. A brief report (3 pages) on an exploration of a technique used in positive psychology is due on the last day of class. 

  5. Finally, a 10-12 page paper is due 3 weeks after the completion of the class.  Additional details on course requirements will be distributed to all registered students at the 1st class.

Required Books

Maslow, A. (2nd or 3rd edition). Towards a Psychology of Being. MUST BE PURCHASED USED ONLINE. The other books are available at the bookstore.

Oatley, K., Keltner, D. & Jenkins, J. (2006). Understanding Emotions (2nd ed.). Oxford: Blackwell. 

Peterson, C. (2006). A Primer in Positive Psychology. New York: Oxford Press. 

All other readings are in the form of a required Xerox packet that can be purchased from PIP printing. Starting May 21st you can call 860 344-9001 to find out about the cost of the packet and get details on how to order one. You can also email to place an order, but this will require providing a credit card number before the purchase. I have been told that this is a secure email account/address.

Course Schedule
Emotional & Motivational Foundations: Classes 1-6
Class 1

Emotions – Overview: What are emotions and what are they good for? 

Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional Intelligence, Chapter 1 & 2, “What are emotions for?” and “Anatomy of an emotional hijacking.”  New York: Bantam Books.

Oatley, K., Keltner, D. & Jenkins, J. (2006). Understanding Emotions, Chapters 1, 2, & 4.  

Introduction to positive psychology exercises.

Class 2

Attachment & emotions: Early emotional relationships and tendencies.

Oatley, K., Keltner, D. & Jenkins, J. (2006). Understanding Emotions, Chapter 11.

Karen, R. (1990). Becoming attached. Atlantic Monthly article.  

Cassidy, J. (1994). Emotion regulation: Influences of attachment relationships.  In N. Fox (Ed.), The Development of Emotion Regulation (pp. 228-249) Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Class 3

Socialization and regulation of emotions: How do we first learn to control emotions?

Denham, S. (1998). Emotional development in young children. Chapter 4, “Socialization of emotional expressiveness & understanding”. New York: Guilford Press.  

Cole, P., Michel, M., & Teti, L. (1994). The development of emotion regulation and dysregulation: A clinical perspective. In N. Fox (Ed.), The Development of Emotion Regulation (pp. 73-100) Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Thompson, R., & Meyer, S. (2007). Socialization of emotion regulation in the family. In J. Gross (Ed.), Handbook of emotion regulation (pp. 249-268). New York: Guilford.

Class 4

Emotions & psychopathology: How & why do “functional” emotions go wrong?

Oatley, K., Keltner, D. & Jenkins, J. (2006). Understanding Emotions, Chapters 12, 13, & 14

Class 5

Emotions & Culture: Are emotions “universal”?

Oatley, K., Keltner, D. & Jenkins, J. (2006). Understanding Emotions, Chapter 3.

Cole, P., Bruschi, C., & Tamang, B. (2002). Cultural differences in children’s emotional reactions to difficult situations. Child Development, 73, 983-996. 

Niiya, Y., Ellsworth, P., & Yamaguchi, S. (2006). Amae in Japan and the United States: A “culturally unique” emotion. Emotion 9(2), 279-295.

Positive Psychology: Classes 6-12
Class 6

The roots of positive psychology: Maslow & humanistic psychology 

“Delayed Introductions” – see pages 26-28 A Primer of Positive Psychology

Maslow, A. (1968). Towards a psychology of being. Discussion groups.

Class 7

Basic concepts in positive psychology: What is it & how does it work? 

Max, T. (2007), Happiness 101: Can classes in positive psychology teach students not just to feel good but also to do good. New York Times Magazine, January 7, 46-51. 

Seligman, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 55, 5-14.

Peterson, C. (2006). A Primer in Positive Psychology, Chapters 1 & 2.

Class 8

Pleasure, happiness, & positive thinking: The “heart” of positive psychology     

Peterson, C. (2006). A Primer in Positive Psychology, Chapters 3, 4 & 5.

Class 9

Broaden-and-build: Psychological mechanisms involved in positive emotions 

Fredrickson, B. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. American Psychologist, 56, 218-226. 

Fredrickson, B. & Levenson, R. (1998). Positive emotions speed recovery from cardiovascular sequelae of negative emotion. Cognition and Emotion, 12, 191-220.  

Tugade, M., & Fredrickson, B. (2004). Resilient individuals use positive emotions to bounce back from negative experiences. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 86(2), 320-333.

Class 10

Positive emotions and life-span development: Origins, consistency, and change. 

Larson, R., (2000). Toward a psychology of positive youth development. American Psychologist, 55, 99-109. 

Baltes, P., & Staudinger, U. (2000) Wisdom: A metaheuristic (pragmatic) to orchestrate mind and virtue toward excellence: American Psychologist, 55, 99-109.  

Diener, E., Deiner, M., & Diener, C. (1995). Factors predicting the subjective well-being of nations. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 69, 851-864. 

Deiner, E., Lucas, R., & Scollon, C. (2006). Beyond the hedonic treadmill: revising the adaptation theory of well-being. American Psychologist, 61, 305-314.

Class 11

Positive psychology & health (Mental & Physical): What is the evidence? 

Peterson, C. (2006). A Primer in Positive Psychology, Chapter 9. 

Seligman, M, Steen, T., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions, American Psychologist, 60, 410-421.  

Davidson, R. Kabat-Zinn, J., Schumacher, J., Rosenkrantz, M., Muller, D., Santorelli, S., et al. (2003). Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation. Psychosomatic Medicine, 65, 564-570. 

Urry., H., Nitschke, J., Dolski, I., Jackson, D., Dalton, K., Mueller, C., et al. (2004). Making a life worth living: Neural correlates of well-being. Psychological Science, 15(6), 367-372 

Seligman. M., Rashid, T., & Parks, A. (2006). Positive psychotherapy. American Psychologist, 61, 774-788
Class 12

Positive Psychology in Relationships & Institutions.  

Peterson, C. (2006). A Primer in Positive Psychology, Chapters 10 & 11. 

Wentzel, K. (2002). Are effective teachers like good parents? Teaching styles and student adjustment in early adolescence. Child Development, 73, 287-301. 

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