Brassington, K., & Lomas, T. (2020). Can Resilience Training Improve Well-Being for People in High-Risk Occupations? A Systematic Review through a Multi-Dimensional Lens. Journal of Positive Psychology. doi. 10.1080/17439760.2020.1752783
Background: 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.
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.
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.
Ireland has the second highest rate of child suicide in Europe. This dissertation using qualitative methods explores the risks, causes and aftermath of suicide in relation to how positive psychology (PP) can assist in addressing those insights in order to build resilience and reduce suicide ideation for school aged children in Ireland. The client is Principal of a secondary school in Southern Ireland, who
suffered the tragic loss of three senior pupils to suicide over a period of five years. The schools’ mission statement settled upon; “How can positive psychology help us to understand the risks and causes of suicide in school aged children and how can we apply those insights to instill resilience and prevent further tragedies in our school” Positive psychology defined as the science of what makes life worth living offers a relevant contrast for suicide which is concerned with proactively ending life. Point one explores suicide from three perspectives; those who have survived a serious attempt to end their own lives- parasuicide, those who have lost a relative or close one to suicide and lastly the organisations set up to address suicide ideation and effects. Point two takes the lead from these insights to give a good grounding in the areas of positive psychology research and theory that relate to the risks and causes of suicide and how they apply to school aged children. Point three is a plan of recommendations to address the problem throughpositive psychology interventions (PPI’s) which could be put in place to build resilience and prevent suicide in the clients’ and other schools.
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.