What's Wrong with Being Positive?

Samantha Warren

in Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology and Work

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780195335446
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 What's Wrong with Being Positive?

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  • Organizational Psychology
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This chapter critiques the underlying premises and potential effects of applying positive psychology (PP) in the workplace. It locates PP as a development of wider cultural (North American) trends toward greater emotionality, a need for fun and excitement in all spheres of life, and the “right” to happiness and conceptualization of selfhood as a project to be worked on through therapy and associated transpersonal activities. Denial of the cathartic value of so-called “negative” states and their role in the development of a healthy adult psyche are posited as challenges to the prima facie desirability of PP, as are the asymmetrical outcomes of encouraging positivity in employees. Organizations stand to gain considerably more than individuals from the PP movement and as such, the chapter suggests that PP represents a further appropriation/valorization of human qualities that should, perhaps, remain out of reach of the capitalist labor process. Furthermore, PP's claim to be moving psychology away from “deficit models” of behavior is questioned by drawing attention to the “discourses of improvement” that it is couched within.

Keywords: emotion; emotional labor; positive psychology; spirituality; therapy culture; wellness

Article.  7015 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Organizational Psychology ; Social Psychology

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