Since the turn of the twenty-first century, the field of positive psychology has sought to implement a science of human flourishing so that we may lead happier, more fulfilling lives. It has found expression not only in academic papers but also popular books and, increasingly, in government policy. The Routledge International Handbook of Critical Positive Psychology is the first volume dedicated to a critical appraisal of this influential but controversial field of study.

The book critically examines not only the scientific foundations of positive psychology, but also the sociocultural and political tenets on which the field rests. It evaluates the current field of knowledge and practice, and includes chapters analysing the methodological constructs of the field, as well as others that question what positive psychology actually means by ideas such as happiness or well-being. Taking the debate further, the book then discusses how positive psychology can be applied in a wider variety of settings than is presently the case, helping communities and individuals by acknowledging the reality of people’s lives rather than adhering strictly to debateable theoretical constructs.

Including contributions from disciplines ranging from psychoanalysis to existential therapy, theology to philosophy, and contributors from throughout the world, The Routledge International Handbook of Critical Positive Psychology will be enlightening reading for anyone interested in how psychology has sought to understand human well-being.

chapter 1|8 pages

Critical positive psychology

A creative convergence of two disciplines

section 1|182 pages

Criticism of positive psychology

chapter 2|11 pages

The unavoidable role of values in positive psychology

Reflections in light of psychology’s replicability crisis

chapter 3|27 pages

Taking a closer look at well-being as a scientific construct

Delineating its conceptual nature and boundaries in relation to spirituality and existential functioning

chapter 7|18 pages

Community psychology’s contributions to happiness and well-being

Including the role of Context, Social Justice, and Values in our understanding of the good life

chapter 8|16 pages

Positive psychology

Intellectual, scientific, or ideological movement?

section |16 pages

Interlude 1

section 2|183 pages

Doing positive psychology critically

chapter 14|14 pages

A re-appraisal of boredom

A case study in second wave positive psychology

chapter 15|18 pages

Affirming the positive in anomalous experiences

A challenge to dominant accounts of reality, life, and death

chapter 16|18 pages

Uncovering the good in positive psychology

Toward a worldview conception that can help positive psychology flourish

chapter 20|22 pages

Character strengths as critique

The power of positive psychology to humanise the workplace

chapter 22|17 pages

Positive politics

Left-wing versus right-wing policies, and their impact on the determinants of wellbeing

chapter 24|15 pages


Towards a new measure of societal well-being

section |12 pages

Interlude 2

section 3|161 pages

Applied perspectives

chapter 26|12 pages

Community social psychology and positive psychology

Learning from the experience of Latin America

chapter 27|16 pages

Positive, necessary, and possible lives

Experience and practice from the struggle for a dignified life

chapter 28|10 pages

Exploring the role of engagement in well-being and personal development

A review of adolescent and mental health activism

chapter 30|15 pages

The brutality of reality

chapter 31|14 pages


Vices and virtues of a moral archetype 1

chapter 32|15 pages

Evaluating positive education

A framework and case study

chapter 36|20 pages

Feel good or be happy

Distinctions between emotions and development in the environmental psychology research of wellbeing