ABSTRACT

The origin story of psychology (PP) is by now a well worn tale: disenchanted by the way ‘psychology as usual’ seemed preoccupied with dysfunction, Martin Seligman used his ascension to the American Psychological Association (APA) presidency to inaugurate the new field of PP. Rather than deal in the currency of human failings, the promise of this new movement was to create a forum where scholars could explore the ‘brighter sides of human nature’ (Linley & Joseph, 2004, p. 4), from pleasure to fulfilment. Its emergence provided the definite sense of a movement within psychology towards ostensibly

‘positive’ phenomena (even if this territory had already been explored by fields like humanistic psychology; Resnick et al., 2001). Thus, in counterpart to fields like clinical psychology, that endeavour to alleviate the ‘negative’ states of mind of mental illness, PP might enquire into ‘positive’ mental states that constitute mental health. In this way, psychology as a whole could be brought into balance. However, in spite of its success, or even because of it, PP has drawn flak from critics who have queried its fundamental concepts and have even questioned whether it ought to exist at all (McNulty & Fincham, 2011). What are we to make of these developments?