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Martin Seligman

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Other names  Marty
Name  Martin Seligman

Role  Psychologist
Fields  Psychology
Martin Seligman greatergoodberkeleyeduimagesuploadsmartinsel
Born  August 12, 1942 (age 73) Albany, New York (1942-08-12)
Institutions  University of Pennsylvania (Zellerbach Family Professor of Psychology)
Alma mater  Princeton University (A.B.) University of Pennsylvania (Ph.D.)
Known for  Positive psychology Learned helplessness
Education  University of Pennsylvania (1967), Princeton University
Awards  Guggenheim Fellowship for Social Sciences, US & Canada
Books  Authentic Happiness, Learned Optimism, Character Strengths and Virtues, Flourish: A New Understa, The optimistic child
Similar People  Eric Rodwell, Albert Bandura, David Rosenhan, Zia Mahmood, B F Skinner

Martin seligman the new era of positive psychology

Martin E. P. "Marty" Seligman (; born August 12, 1942) is an American psychologist, educator, and author of self-help books. Since the late 1990s, Seligman has been an avid promoter within the scientific community for the field of positive psychology. His theory of learned helplessness is popular among scientific and clinical psychologists. A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked Seligman as the 31st most cited psychologist of the 20th century.


Martin Seligman Martin Seligman Quotes QuotesGram

Seligman is the Zellerbach Family Professor of Psychology in the University of Pennsylvania's Department of Psychology. He was previously the Director of the Clinical Training Program in the department, and earlier taught at Cornell University. He is the director of the university's Positive Psychology Center. Seligman was elected President of the American Psychological Association for 1998. He is the founding editor-in-chief of Prevention and Treatment (the APA electronic journal) and is on the board of advisers of Parents magazine.

Martin Seligman httpsppcsasupennedusitesppcsasupennedu

Seligman has written about positive psychology topics in books such as The Optimistic Child, Child's Play, Learned Optimism, and Authentic Happiness. His most recent book, Flourish, was published in 2011.

On positive psychology martin seligman

Early life and education

Seligman was born in Albany, New York. He was educated at a public school and at The Albany Academy. He earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy at Princeton University in 1964, graduating Summa Cum Laude. Seligman turned down a scholarship to study analytic philosophy at Oxford University, or animal experimental psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and accepted an offer to attend the University of Pennsylvania to study psychology. He earned his Ph.D. in psychology at University of Pennsylvania in 1967. On June 2, 1989 Seligman received an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Social Sciences at Uppsala University, Sweden

Learned helplessness

Seligman's foundational experiments and theory of "learned helplessness" began at University of Pennsylvania in 1967, as an extension of his interest in depression. Quite by accident, Seligman and colleagues discovered that the experimental conditioning protocol they used with dogs led to behaviors which were unexpected, in that under the experimental conditions, the recently conditioned dogs did not respond to opportunities to learn to escape from an unpleasant situation. Seligman developed the theory further, finding learned helplessness to be a psychological condition in which a human being or an animal has learned to act or behave helplessly in a particular situation — usually after experiencing some inability to avoid an adverse situation — even when it actually has the power to change its unpleasant or even harmful circumstance. Seligman saw a similarity with severely depressed patients, and argued that clinical depression and related mental illnesses result in part from a perceived absence of control over the outcome of a situation. In later years, alongside Abramson, Seligman reformulated his theory of learned helplessness to include attributional style.

Enhanced interrogation controversy

James Elmer Mitchell was involved in the development of enhanced interrogation techniques. Mitchell attended a meeting at Seligman's home regarding the September 11 attacks and the psychology of capitulation in December 2001. Mitchell also attended a three-hour talk from Seligman sponsored by the JPRA on learned helplessness and torture resistance at Naval Base San Diego in May 2002. The Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture stated that the enhanced interrogation techniques were based on the theory of learned helplessness. Seligman has stated that his involvement does not extend beyond those two events, he does not support torture, and he is grieved and horrified that good science may have been used for such a bad and dubious purpose as torture.

Positive psychology

Seligman worked with Christopher Peterson to create what they describe as a 'positive' counterpart to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). While the DSM focuses on what can go wrong, Character Strengths and Virtues is designed to look at what can go right. In their research they looked across cultures and across millennia to attempt to distill a manageable list of virtues that have been highly valued from ancient China and India, through Greece and Rome, to contemporary Western cultures. Their list includes six character strengths: wisdom/knowledge, courage, humanity, justice, temperance, and transcendence. Each of these has three to five sub-entries; for instance, temperance includes forgiveness, humility, prudence, and self-regulation. The authors do not believe that there is a hierarchy for the six virtues; no one is more fundamental than or a precursor to the others.

In July 2011, Seligman encouraged British Prime Minister David Cameron to look into well-being as well as financial wealth in ways of assessing the prosperity of a nation. On July 6, 2011, Seligman appeared on Newsnight and was interviewed by Jeremy Paxman about his ideas and his interest in the concept of well-being.


In his latest book, Flourish, Seligman articulated an account of how he measures well-being, and titled this work, "Well-Being Theory". He concludes that there are five elements to "well-being", which fall under the mnemonic PERMA:

  • Positive emotion — Can only be assessed subjectively
  • Engagement — Like positive emotion, can only be measured through subjective means. It is presence of a flow state
  • Relationships — The presence of friends, family, intimacy, or social connection
  • Meaning — Belonging to and serving something bigger than one's self
  • Achievement — Accomplishment that is pursued even when it brings no positive emotion, no meaning, and nothing in the way of positive relationships.
  • From Martin Seligmans book:

    "Each element of well-being must itself have three properties to count as an element:

    1. It contributes to well-being.
    2. Many people pursue it for its own sake, not merely to get any of the other elements.
    3. It is defined and measured independently of the other elements."

    These theories have not been empirically validated.

    MAPP program

    The Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania was established under the leadership of Seligman as the first educational initiative of the Positive Psychology Center in 2003.

    Personal life

    Seligman plays bridge and finished second in the 1998 installment of one of the three major North American pair championships, the Blue Ribbon Pairs, as well as having won over 50 regional championships.

    Seligman has seven children, four grandchildren, and two dogs. He and his second wife, Mandy, live in a house that was once occupied by Eugene Ormandy. They have home-schooled five of their seven children.

    Seligman was inspired by the work of the psychiatrist Aaron T. Beck at the University of Pennsylvania in refining his own cognitive techniques and exercises.


  • — (1975). Helplessness: On Depression, Development, and Death. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman. ISBN 0-7167-0752-7.  (Paperback reprint edition, W.H. Freeman, 1992, ISBN 0-7167-2328-X)
  • — (1991). Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life. New York: Knopf. ISBN 0-671-01911-2.  (Paperback reprint edition, Penguin Books, 1998; reissue edition, Free Press, 1998)
  • — (1993). What You Can Change and What You Can't: The Complete Guide to Successful Self-Improvement. New York: Knopf. ISBN 0-679-41024-4.  (Paperback reprint edition, Ballantine Books, 1995, ISBN 0-449-90971-9)
  • — (1996). The Optimistic Child: Proven Program to Safeguard Children from Depression & Build Lifelong Resilience. New York: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0091831199.  (Paperback edition, Harper Paperbacks, 1996, ISBN 0-06-097709-4)
  • — (2002). Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment. New York: Free Press. ISBN 0-7432-2297-0.  (Paperback edition, Free Press, 2004, ISBN 0-7432-2298-9)
  • — (Spring 2004). "Can Happiness be Taught?". Daedalus. 133 (2): 80–87. doi:10.1162/001152604323049424. 
  • Peterson, Christopher; Seligman, Martin E.P. (2004). Character Strengths and Virtues. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195167015. 
  • — (2011). Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being. New York: Free Press. ISBN 978-1-4391-9075-3. 
  • References

    Martin Seligman Wikipedia