Research Articles

Understanding the Association between Positive Psychological Functioning at Work and Cognitive Wellbeing in Teachers

Gökmen Arslan

Journal of Positive School Psychology , Vol. 2 No. 2 (2018), 10 October 2018, Page 113-127

Teachers play a central role in facilitating children’s cognitive, emotional, and behavioral development. Therefore, it is essential to investigate and understand the psychological factors that are associated with effective teaching and teacher wellbeing. The purpose of the present study is to present the association between teachers’ positive functioning at work and cognitive wellbeing in Turkish educators.  Participants of the study comprised of 295 teachers (60.3% female), and they ranged in age from 23 to 55 years (M = 32.43, SD = 7.85). Findings from correlation analysis demonstrated the significant and positive association between cognitive wellbeing and school connectedness, teaching efficacy, and overall teacher functioning, ranging from moderate to large effect. Following, the outcomes indicated the significant effects of wellbeing groups on teachers’ functioning and revealed that teachers with high levels of wellbeing had greater positive functioning at work than those with low and average wellbeing levels. Taken together, the results suggest that high level of wellbeing is associated with teachers’ healthy and successful functioning at work.

Nature Connectedness Moderates the Effect of Nature Exposure on Explicit and Implicit Measures of Emotion

Ethan A. McMahan, David Estes, Jessica S. Murfin, Cruz M. Bryan

Journal of Positive School Psychology , Vol. 2 No. 2 (2018), 10 October 2018, Page 128-148

Previous research indicates that both short-term and long-term exposure to natural environments is associated with higher levels of emotional well-being. However, less research has examined whether person-related factors may impact the salutogenic effects of nature. In the current study, we examined whether trait-level nature connectedness moderates the effect of exposure to nature on explicit and implicit measures of affect. Participants (n = 89) completed baseline measurements of trait nature connectedness and affective state. Approximately two weeks later, participants viewed a lab-based immersive simulation of either a natural or built environment and then again completed measures of affective state. Findings indicated that trait nature connectedness moderated the effect of nature on affect, with more positive outcomes of nature exposure observed among those high in nature connectedness. These findings suggest that interacting with nature may be especially beneficial for those who already feel a strong sense of connectedness to the natural environment.

Does Savoring Mediate the Relationships between Explanatory Style and Mood Outcomes?

Paul E. Jose, Bee T. Lim, Soyeon Kim, Fred B. Bryant

Journal of Positive School Psychology , Vol. 2 No. 2 (2018), 10 October 2018, Page 149-167

Research has shown that explanatory style predicts negative mood outcomes as well as positive mood outcomes, but the mechanisms by which this occurs are unclear. We investigated here whether the manner in which people savor life events might help explain these relationships. Specifically, we examined whether amplifying and dampening savoring mediated the associations between pessimistic and optimistic explanatory styles on the one hand, and positive and negative mood outcomes on the other. A sample of 103 university students completed self-report measures of explanatory style (ASQ), savoring (WOSC), and a variety of mood outcomes (i.e., happiness, life satisfaction, depression, and anxiety). A manifest variable path model showed that: a) amplifying savoring mediated between optimism and positive mood; and b) dampening savoring mediated between pessimism and negative mood. Also, as expected, dampening savoring was a significant negative predictor of positive mood outcomes, and both optimism and pessimism were significant predictors of positive mood outcomes. Altogether these results provide support for several conclusions. First, explanatory style seemed to significantly impact in predictable ways on positive and negative mood states: optimism positively predicted positive outcomes and pessimism positively predicted negative outcomes. And second, savoring significantly mediated the influence of explanatory style on both positive and negative mood states. This latter finding suggests that positive and negative expectations about life significantly shape how individuals react to and regulate positive events in their life.

Past to Future: Self-Compassion Can Change our Vision

Wendy J. Phillips

Journal of Positive School Psychology , Vol. 2 No. 2 (2018), 10 October 2018, Page 168-190

Self-compassion is known to heighten our ability to manage past or present negative life events.  This study investigated whether self-compassion also influences future-outlook, by examining its effects on optimism, savouring-anticipating, balanced time perspective, use of future oriented words, and use of positively oriented affective words.  Australian students (Mage= 34.81, SD = 10.14) either wrote self-compassionately about a recent negative experience (n = 169) or completed a control writing task (n = 167).  Participants in the self-compassion condition generally reported a brighter future-outlook than control participants, but effects varied according to baseline trait self-compassion.  Participants with low trait self-compassion reported a more balanced time perspective and used more positively oriented affective words and future oriented words; whereas participants with high trait self-compassion scored higher only on savouring-anticipating and experienced decrements in balanced time perspective.  Unexpectedly, the self-compassion induction did not influence optimism.  This study is among the first to demonstrate that self-compassion can influence future-outlook.  As future-outlook has been associated with many positive health outcomes, these findings suggest that increases in positive future-outlook may represent another mechanism through which self-compassion conveys its positive effects on well-being.

This paper aims to provide further empirical evidence for the relevance of the goal-striving reasons framework in relation to people’s positive psychological functioning. More specifically, it presents an extended version of the goal-striving reasons framework which, compared with the original framework, is shown to have increased predictive strength for work engagement and burnout. This also demonstrates, for the first time, the relevance of the goal-striving reasons framework for the work context. The paper also provides evidence of the theoretical differences between the goal-striving reasons framework and the self-concordance model. These differences revolve around the notion that goal-striving reasons are more sensitive to the influence of others and are therefore significantly correlated with people’s assertiveness levels, whereas self-concordance is not. Following on from these theoretical differences around assertiveness, findings further show that goal-striving reasons also reduce the negative effects of high work intensity on burnout. The study employed a quantitative, longitudinal research design comprising of 257 voluntary sector workers (not volunteers) at time 1 and 137 participants at time 2. Findings are mainly based on multiple (including hierarchical) regression analyses. Theoretical and practical implications of the findings revolve around the notion that the extended goal-striving reasons framework constitutes a more comprehensive measure of goal-reasons when compared to the original framework. It also offers a real alternative to self-concordance when measuring goal-reasons - particularly in a research context where goal pursuits are not freely chosen but are strongly influenced by others.

Review Articles

An Art History of Happiness: Western Approaches to the Good Life through the Last 1000 Years, As Illustrated in Art

Tim Lomas, Colin Lomas

Journal of Positive School Psychology , Vol. 2 No. 2 (2018), 10 October 2018, Page 214–237

A prominent criticism of positive psychology is that it has been shaped by its Western context, and yet that this ‘situatedness’ often remains unacknowledged. Consequently, this paper offers an archaeological analysis of conceptualisations of happiness in the West. More specifically, the paper explores the emergence of significant ideas relating to the good life through the innovative device of studying artworks, on the premise that being featured in art is an effective signifier of when a given idea rose to prominence. Taking a time span of 1,000 years, one artwork per century has been selected to illustrate the emergence of a particular stream of thought during that centennial period. The paper elucidates the roots of current ideas around happiness in fields like positive psychology, and in the West more generally. It is hoped this type of ‘consciousness-raising’ activity may help such fields acknowledge and overcome any limitations arising from their cultural situatedness.