As discussed in Paper #1, positive emotions and thinking, character strengths, and values are integral to positive psychology. Positive psychology asserts that by addressing each of these core concepts, people can live a happier, and by extension healthier, life. However, the productivity and well-being which can result from the applications of positive psychology are viable far beyond the personal level; when utilized at the institutional level, the same efficacy can be seen in much broader contexts. Accordingly, in this paper I will discuss the usage of the aforementioned core concepts in three distinct institutional areas: family, school, and the workplace. I will conclude on the underlying themes seen in each, and the effect that positive psychology can have in creating improved, more viable institutions.
At an institutional level, family can theoretically have many different make-ups, though for the purpose of this assessment, we’ll be specifically referencing Urie Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory, specifically, the Microsystem. In other words, “family” refers to the core nuclear family with whom the children have direct interaction (e.g. parents). Within the family, the parenting style which most utilizes positive psychology is the, “Authoritative Parenting Style.” In this parenting style, parents hold high expectations for their children, but do so in an environment which is communicative, warm, and respectful.
Dr. Helen Altman Klein describes the authoritative parenting style as one in which positive emotions and thinking are cultivated, with parents instilling the tools necessary in their children for them to control their emotions. A focus is placed on allowing children to explore their own feelings in ways which are supported and encouraged. Character strengths play a large role in authoritative families, in that each child’s individual needs are attended to and addressed; parents focus on being responsive and allowing their child to grow in the ways unique to them. Likewise, personal values are instilled in the child through the creation of clear boundaries, expectations, and goal setting. When expectations are not met or rules are broken, clear, fair, and consistent punishments are utilized in order to guide the child towards behaviors which fulfill their potential. By being taught the skills necessary to regulate emotions, having their unique needs met and cultivated, and being provided with fair goals and punishments when those expectations fail to be met, “Children who have been raised in authoritative homes score higher on a variety of measures of competence, social development, self-perceptions, and mental health than those raised in authoritarian, permissive, or neglectful homes. This is true not only in childhood, but also during adolescence, as evidenced by higher academic achievement and psychosocial development, and fewer behavioral problems” (Klein, 2012).
Similarly, in order for a school to operate as an...