Lambert, L., Joshanloo, M., Warren, M. A., Christiani, K., Lomas, T., Cody, B., Al Sabah, I., El Chalabi, A., & Kruchlik, G. (2023). Promoting kindness through the positive theatrical arts: Assessing Kuwait’s Boomerang programme. Psychological Studies, 1-13.
As the field of positive psychology aims to build and strengthen the well-being of individuals, its repertoire of empirically validated strategies designed to do so is growing. Kuwait’s “Boomerang” anti-bullying theatre programme designed to increase social kindness in schools is an example. The tools of applied theatre were taught to facilitators, who in turn trained seven to ten students who were real-life bullies, victims, and bystanders across seven Kuwaiti schools to become actors in each institution’s culminating theatre play. Participating acting students and audience members were assessed to determine the effects of the programme. Results showed that their perceptions of social cohesion and trust, a positive school climate, and life satisfaction improved. Implications for student well-being are discussed, alongside the broader use of the positive arts, an emerging area of positive psychology.
Gudka, M., Gardiner, K. L. K., & Lomas, T. (2023). Towards a framework for flourishing through social media: A systematic review of 118 research studies. Journal of Positive Psychology, 18(1), 86-105.
Background: Over 50% of the world uses social media. There has been significant academic and public discourse around its negative mental health impacts. There has not, however, been a broad systematic review in the field of Positive Psychology exploring the relationship between social media and wellbeing, to inform healthy social media use, and to identify if, and how, social media can support human flourishing. Objectives: To investigate the conditions and activities associated with flourishing through social media use, which might be described as ‘Flourishing through Social Media’. Method and Results: A systematic search of peer reviewed studies, identifying flourishing outcomes from usage, was conducted, resulting in 118 final studies across 7 social media platforms, 50,000+ participants, and 26 countries. Conclusions: The interaction between social media usage and flourishing is bi-directional and nuanced. Analysis through our proposed conceptual framework suggests potential for a virtuous spiral between self-determination, identity, social media usage, and flourishing.
This research continues the advances in applied positive psychology by measuring and exploring the factors which contribute to the happiness among people living in Prince Edward Island (PEI), Canada. This research provides a province-wide account of subjective well-being (SWB), which is defined as a person’s cognitive and affective evaluation of his or her life, by answering the questions: What is the measurable level of well-being of individuals in PEI? What are the relationships between community factors and components of well-being in PEI? Which quality of life factors most influence individual’s emotions and life satisfaction in PEI? Participation was voluntary, anonymous, and included just over 1% of the adult population of residents (n = 1381). Data was collected online between October and November 2020. Demographic variables were collected and analyzed using variance of mean scores from three self-reported well-being measures, Satisfaction with Life Scale, Positive and Negative Effect Schedule, and the World Health Organization’s (brief) Quality of Life Scale. Regression analysis was used to investigate contributions to well-being. Findings uncovered inequity in well-being among minority populations including, LGBT, gender diverse, Indigenous, disabled, and those living under the poverty line. This study provides a deeper understanding that Islanders view psychological health and healthy environment as important aspects of quality of life influencing their well-being. Results build on existing theories on the influence of income, age, and education have on well-being. Finally, the research provides a starting point and methodology for the continuous measurement and tracking of both the affective and cognitive accounts of well-being on PEI, or in other communities, provinces, or islands. This research provides insight into happiness as an indicator of how our society is performing and adds momentum towards the adoption of sustainable development goals, such as national happiness.
Lomas, T., Cowden, R., & VanderWeele, T. J. (2021). Befriending the butterfly: A multidimensional review of strategies to facilitate happiness and wellbeing. The European Journal of Applied Positive Psychology.
Happiness has been compared to a butterfly that ever eludes one’s deliberate efforts to grasp it. However, recent decades have seen a wealth of research which suggests it may indeed be possible to facilitate happiness – and wellbeing more broadly – or at least invite its appearance. This paper offers a narrative review of this literature, taking an expansive multidimensional approach to allow the broadest possible view of what such facilitation may involve or permit. This means not only looking at individualised strategies and activities (e.g., meditation), as reviews in this arena tend to limit themselves too, but also efforts to make people’s sociocultural contexts more conductive to happiness and wellbeing. While remaining cognizant of the limitations of the existing literature, this paper provides evidence for practical strategies that may facilitate happiness and wellbeing in sustainable ways.
Brassington, K., & Lomas, T. (2021). Can resilience training improve well-being for people in high-risk occupations?
A systematic review through a multidimensional lens. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 16(5), 573-592.
Psychological resilience may be central to Positive Psychology as one way to face the dark side of life. But is resilience training universally effective? This paper initiates a systematic review of primary research on resilience training in high-risk occupations. Methods: Examined resilience training outcomes and conducted analysis from a multidimensional perspective. Results: 33 papers totalling 10,741 participants, 12 occupations, and eight countries. Although 81% (n=118) of Principal Outcomes reaching statistical significance showed improved well-being, resilience training was less effective in populations with prior trauma exposure or already experiencing the negative sequelae of trauma. Conclusion: Given the moral imperative to adequately prepare people in high-risk occupations for exposure to adverse stressors, further research is recommended into improving the effectiveness of resilience training for those already with primary or vicarious trauma exposure; and whether such training should also be offered to close family and co-workers of people in high-risk occupations.
Choaibi, R. & Lomas, T. (2021). Coaching vulnerable youths for positive change: A coaching relationship model for promoting adolescent interpersonal relationships with trusted adults. International Coaching Psychology Review, 16(2).
Objective: Despite the growing research in Coaching Psychology, there is little literature on the psychology of coaching adolescents within community settings. This study aimed to explore youth work practitioner experiences to gain insights into how vulnerable adolescents are supported in their emotional wellbeing within the domain of Coaching Psychology. Methods: The study explored, through semi-structured interviews with 13 qualified youth practitioners how emotional wellbeing may be promoted in adolescents within existing positive development and Coaching Psychology theoretical frameworks. Results: The findings, using Grounded Theory methods presents a Holding-Containing-Attunement Coaching Model that conceptualises the coaching relationship processes for promoting an authentic, communicative environment to enhance adolescent interpersonal relationships with trusted adults. The emotions-focused model informs a coaching relationship framework based on the environment provided by participants (holding), their way of being (containing) and perceived emotions-related outcomes (attunement). Discussion: The Model forms the basis of a framework for promoting emotional wellbeing in adolescents and an emerging Emotional Attunement theory on the coaching relationship that can be further researched and used to coach positive adolescent development. Conclusions: The findings of this study go some way to addressing the gap in current adolescent coaching research, and provides valuable insights into the understudied area of Coaching Psychology within community settings. The Holding-Containing-Attunement Model and Emotional Attunement theory makes a significant contribution to the discussion on the need for a dedicated theory on the coaching relationship.
Waters, L., Cameron, K., Nelson-Coffey, K., Crone, D. L., Kern, M. L., Lomas, T., Oades, L., Owens, R. L., Pawelski, J. O., Rashid, T., Warren, M. A., White, M. A., & Williams, P. (2021). Collective wellbeing and posttraumatic growth during COVID-19: how positive psychology can help families, schools, workplaces and marginalized communities. The Journal of Positive Psychology, doi: 10.1080/17439760.2021.1940251
Positive psychology approaches have been shown to play a vital role in protecting mental health in times of challenge and are, therefore, important to include when studying the psychological outcomes of COVID-19. While existing research has focused on individual psychological health, this paper focuses on collective wellbeing and collective posttraumatic growth, with the aim of more clearly identifying the positive experiences and potential for positive growth for key institutions in our society during the pandemic. A range of positive psychology interventions for families, schools, workplaces, and clinical psychology are presented. The paper then considers how three broad-reaching phenomena existing in our wider society (i.e., arts and culture, eco-connection, and wellbeing literacy) can be used to boost collective wellbeing. A positive systems approach to understand civilian responses to the pandemic together with an examination of the role that positive psychology can play in supporting marginalized groups are also discussed.
This study seeks to understand the role that courage plays in the development and practice of coaches. Courage is mentioned frequently in the coaching literature, but this research is the first study to investigate its significance. Within the precepts of constructivist grounded theory, which is appropriate for the investigation of under-represented topics, the perspectives of 12 coaches of varying levels of experience revealed that courage is required throughout a coaching career. It was found that courage enables coaches to deliver their best work and is integral to an ongoing cycle of increasing self-awareness and professional development.
Positive psychology has fruitfully interacted with numerous other disciplines, creating new hybrid paradigms. One such instance involves coaching and coaching psychology, which share the field's focus on enhancing wellbeing and performance across life domains. As a result, there is an emergent interest in exploring their interaction with positive psychology, and developing frameworks for their integration. To shed further light on their relationship, this paper explores four perspectives on the intersections between these emerging fields, including (a) the fields as essentially coterminous; (b) positive psychology encompassing coaching psychology; (c) coaching psychology encompassing positive psychology; and (d) the fields as overlapping but not coterminous (the author's preferred perspective). More generally, the paper offers suggestions for how positive psychology can integrate with the various kinship fields in these processes of hybridisation.
Lomas, T., Roache, A., Rashid, T., & Jarden, A. (2019). Developing ethical guidelines for positive psychology practice: An on-going, iterative, collaborative endeavour. Journal of Positive Psychology. doi: 10.1080/17439760.2019.1651892
As positive psychology has developed as a field, questions have arisen around how to ensure best practice, including with respect to ethics. This issue is particularly pertinent vis-à-vis its applied dimensions, such as positive psychology interventions by students and graduates of MAPP programmes. However, the field has hitherto lacked clear ethical guidelines to assist practitioners. Aiming to address this gap, the authors have devised a set of guidelines, in collaboration with key stakeholders across the positive psychology community, published in the International Journal of Wellbeing. The current article briefly summarises the importance, development, content, and future directions of these guidelines, thus providing a concise overview of this important project. It is hoped that this article, together with the guidelines themselves, will not only highlight the importance of ethical practice, but offer practical suggestions for guiding practitioners in the field.
Gourov, D., & Lomas, T. (2019). ‘It’s about wholeness. I love my awesomeness and I love my flawesomeness’: An IPA analysis of coaching with the shadow in mind. The Coaching Psychologist, 15(2), 10-20.
Difficult emotions and cognitive states are recognised in second wave positive psychology as being a gold mine for personal growth. The growing body of knowledge in positive psychology gives coaching psychologists a perimeter to work with, whilst archetypal shadow analysis, rooted in Jung’s teachings, gives depth and insight. While definitions of coaching vary considerably, it can be argued to function as shining a light onto things that are hidden for the client, thereby bringing wholeness and clarity. Interpretive phenomenological analysis was used to analyse coaching with the shadow in mind, where this work became defined as looking at parts that are hidden, suppressed, unowned and unacknowledged by us and others. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with four professional coaches. Three higher order themes were identified: the coach’s personal journey through the shadow, what a shadow coach does and the client’s journey into the shadow. These themes may generate insight into this paradigm of coaching for the first time and is an important step in the ongoing integration of second wave positive psychology and coaching psychology.
These guidelines are the result of a collaborative and independent working group led by Aaron Jarden, Tayyab Rashid, Annalise Roache and Tim Lomas. The guidelines are independent of any organisation or association; however, numerous parties have been involved in the development and refinement of this first iteration. It is the authors’ intention to update the guidelines on a bi-annual cycle to further strengthen their depth and breadth of functionality, and we welcome feedback from the community to firstname.lastname@example.org
Schimschal, S. E., & Lomas, T. (2018). Gritty leaders: The impact of grit on positive leadership capacity. Psychological Reports. doi: 10.1177/0033294118785547
The concepts of grit and positive leadership are central to extraordinary performance. However, to date there has been little empirical analysis of the relationship between a leader’s level of grit and their capacity to implement positive leadership strategies and practices. This correlational study explores these linkages, taking grit subfactors into consideration as well as three dimensions of positive leadership. Convenience sampling was used to survey 100 leaders across a range of industries. Respondents completed the Grit Scale and 18 questions from the Positive Leadership Practices Self-Assessment. Results indicated that grit positively correlated with positive leadership, and perseverance exhibited a stronger relationship than passion. Further, grit accounted for variance in positive leadership. These findings provide a solid evidence base for giving leaders access to development opportunities that can accelerate the growth of grit and positive leadership.
As positive psychology has matured as a field, among its most prominent successes has been the emergence of a strong applied dimension, known as applied positive psychology. This burgeoning arena of praxis has involved the development of interventions and activities designed to promote well-being. This chapter offers an overview of these efforts, which are organized here according to a multidimensional meta-theoretical framework known as the LIFE (Layered Integrated Framework Example) model. This framework features the four main ontological “dimensions” of the person (mind, body, culture, and society), each of which is stratified into five levels. The model provides a comprehensive map of the person, and of their well-being, allowing us to situate and appreciate the range of interventions and strategies that have been developed within APP.
Although positive psychology (PP) was initially conceived as more a shift in perspective (towards the “positive”) than a new field per se, in pragmatic terms, it is arguably beginning to function as a distinct discipline, with people self-identifying as “positive psychologists.” Thus, we contend it is time for the field to start developing a system of professional (e.g., ethical) guidelines to inform the practice of PP. To this end, we outline one such possible system, drawing on guidelines in counselling and psychotherapy. Moreover, we argue for the creation of two tiers of professional identity within PP. Firstly, people with a master’s qualification in PP might label themselves “positive psychology practitioners.” Secondly, we raise the possibility of creating a professional doctorate in PP which would enable graduates to assume the title of “positive psychologist.” We hope that this paper will contribute towards a dialogue within the field around these issues, helping PP to develop further over the years ahead.
The aim of the present study was to make an idiographic investigation about the difficulties that are encountered by people who self-identify as having difficulties with self-compassion. Although a growing number of studies have been carried out concerning the concept of self-compassion, most research designs were quantitative. Based on this gap, the current study expanded the scope to include a qualitative dimension of the recent literature on self-compassion and Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was adopted as methodological preference, which particularly monitors the lived experience of participants. In consequence of four in-depth semi-structured interviews, four super-ordinate themes emerged; the doubleedged-sword: perfectionism, the flaws of compassion, the effects of a third person, and the advantages of self-criticism. In line with pre-existing research, these findings explored the reasons behind self-undermining behaviours and misconstructions about self-compassion, which are a barrier to gentle self-talk. Furthermore, unfavourable effects of the social environment prime participants to maladaptive perfectionism and excessive self-criticism, which are considered a success formula by the participants. This study's purpose is to present a detailed roadmap about the self-destructive journey of the people with low self-compassion. It will help researchers and clinicians to develop future interventions in order to cultivate kind and encouraging attitudes in self-critical people.
O'Brien, K., & Lomas, T. (2016). Developing a Growth Mindset through outdoor personal development: can an intervention underpinned by psychology increase the impact of an outdoor learning course for young people? Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning. doi: 10.1080/14729679.2016.1232199
This study considers the impact of using a series of Mindset interventions during a five-day outdoor personal development (OPD) course. Self-efficacy, resilience and Mindset were measured pre course, post course and one month post course. It was hypothesised that both experimental and control groups would increase their self-efficacy and resilience, and that the Mindset (experimental) group would significantly increase beyond the levels of the control group, who took part in the standard OPD course. It was also predicted that the Mindset group would move towards a Growth Mindset, whereas the control group would not show any change in Mindset. Hypotheses were tested using a randomised, quasi-experimental method. Separate mixed analyses of variance were carried out for each dependent variable, followed by planned comparisons and post-hoc tests using a Bonferroni correction. Results showed that both groups increased self-efficacy over time; however, there was no further significance for the experimental group. Resilience only increased significantly in the experimental group while the control group made no significant gain, and students in the experimental group moved significantly towards a Growth Mindset while the control group did not.
Kennett, P., & Lomas, T. (2015). Making meaning through mentoring: Mentors finding fulfilment at work through self-determination and self-reflection. International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring, 13(2), 29-44.
Abstract: Organisations are increasingly concerned with promoting employee engagement. Research from positive psychology suggests that one key driver of engagement is experiencing work as meaningful. Organisations are therefore keen to understand how meaningful work is created. The present study conjectured that becoming a mentor might be one effective way of experiencing meaning at work. In-depth interviews were conducted with four experienced mentors, analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis, to understand the impact that mentoring has on mentors. It was found that mentoring could indeed be a meaningful experience, enhancing work-related fulfilment. More detailed analysis revealed that meaning was engendered through a potent combination of self-determination (incorporating autonomy, relatedness and competence) and self-reflection, and a theoretical model was devised to reflect these findings. The paper offers recommendations for organisations, showing that mentoring relationships may not only benefit mentors (and mentees), but also organisations themselves.
In this current world of globalization, expatriates are a common factor among the majority of private and public organization, multi-lateral institutions and NGO’s. Nonetheless, ex-patriates do not often relocate alone. For this reason, spouses and families comprise an important socio-economic and psychological issue. However, despite the numerous amounts of research highlighting the poor levels of well-being among spouses, the field of psychology has failed to address this issue. Studies on strength-based interventions have demonstrated effective results to improve well-being. This study aims to explore the effects of a strength-based intervention on the wellbeing of ex-patriate spouses and to examine the difficulties and challenges spouses experienced when practicing it. Four ex-patriate’s spouses were interviewed before and after the intervention. The data was analyzed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Three superordinate themes emerged 1) The struggle to practice the intervention (2) Search of novelty and excitement and (3) Well-being improvement. The results suggest that the effectiveness of the strengths intervention is influenced by multiple key elements affecting and in some cases, limiting spouse’s responses to the exercise. This research concludes that even though spouse’s well-being slightly improved, it also had positive effects on other psychological components such as self-concept, selfawareness and motivation. Finally, this study highlights the need for further research to better understand both the mechanisms by which practicing strengths contribute to this outcome and the complex rationalization process individuals go through when applying strengths.
Abstract: Being engaged in an activity one is passionate about has been tied to feeling life is worth living for. Existing research in passion has explored this phenomenon purely using quantitative research methodology, and by tying an individual’s passion to a specific activity. In this study, passion was explored in semi-structured interviews with 12 participants. The qualitative grounded theory analysis revealed a passionate way of being, with passion being located in the individual rather than in a specific activity. A new phenomenon to positive psychology, a passionate way of being is about having a purpose, creating positive impact, and pursuing variety. These key elements, amongst others, created a reinforcing, self-sustaining spiral, which offered a route to hedonic and eudaimonic happiness, generally serving to enhance life (though it could also detract from life if it became overpowering).
Abstract: Although money is central to people’s lives, the impact of people’s attitudes to money on their well-being has rarely been studied. The present study explored the effect of giving away money on an individual’s life satisfaction, self-esteem and money-related attitudes (anxiety, distrust, power-prestige and retention time). An innovative intervention was designed in which participants were invited to either give away money (the experimental condition) or spend money on themselves as usual (the control condition) for three days. The impact of the intervention was assessed using a mixed methods design, comprising pre- and post- quantitative self-report scales (life satisfaction, self-esteem and money-related attitudes) together with qualitative diary reports (analysed using grounded theory). As hypothesized, participation in the intervention led to significant increases in wellbeing in the experimental group, including improvements in life satisfaction and self-esteem. In addition, while the control group experienced higher post-test levels of money-related anxiety, the experimental group suffered no such increases. The results provide corroboration for the powerful idea that charity does not only benefit the recipient, but positively impacts upon the donor too.