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CAN A POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY INTERVENTION IMPROVE COGNITIVE PERFORMANCE? Ella Duvall August, 2011
Positive psychology… <ul><li>Wellbeing, happiness and flourishing </li></ul><ul><li>Emerging field, in the last 10 years <...
The present research study… <ul><li>Positive psychology in education  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To improve wellbeing </li></ul...
Using signature strengths in new ways (USSNW).. <ul><li>Your signature strengths are particular strengths of character tha...
Using signature strengths in new ways (USSNW).. <ul><li>Values in Action Inventory of Strengths  ( Peterson & Seligman, 20...
Letter transformation task <ul><li>4 letters in a sequence </li></ul><ul><li>Transform all letters by 4 </li></ul><ul><li>...
Letter transformation task <ul><li>Access of long term memory to locate the appropriate starting place in the alphabetical...
Method
Preliminary Findings N20 Participants who took part in the USSNW intervention show a greater mean improvement in correct r...
What do these findings mean? <ul><li>Descriptive statistics with  this small sample support our  hypothesis </li></ul><ul>...
<ul><li>Are other positive interventions  similarly effective? </li></ul><ul><li>For how long for? </li></ul><ul><li>Longi...
<ul><li>To conclude:- positive psychology is making an impact in psychology showing that wellbeing is a valuable human end...
References <ul><li>Seligman et al, (2005). Positive Psychology  Progress: Empirical Validation of Interventions, American ...
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Study2011

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  1. 1. CAN A POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY INTERVENTION IMPROVE COGNITIVE PERFORMANCE? Ella Duvall August, 2011
  2. 2. Positive psychology… <ul><li>Wellbeing, happiness and flourishing </li></ul><ul><li>Emerging field, in the last 10 years </li></ul><ul><li>Is there a point to researching happiness? </li></ul><ul><li>… yes, the causal effect works both ways! (Lyubomirski et al, 2005) </li></ul><ul><li>How can we achieve more positive states ? (Seligman et al, 2005) - using signature strengths in new ways - three good things </li></ul>
  3. 3. The present research study… <ul><li>Positive psychology in education </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To improve wellbeing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To prevent against depression </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Can a positive psychology intervention also improve our cognitive performance? </li></ul><ul><li>Hypothesis: participants cognitive performance will improve with practice and familiarity but the improvement will be greater for participants of a positive psychology intervention </li></ul>
  4. 4. Using signature strengths in new ways (USSNW).. <ul><li>Your signature strengths are particular strengths of character that you will bring you abundant gratification and authentic happiness when exercised. </li></ul><ul><li>E.g. love of learning, bravery and valor, gratitude </li></ul>
  5. 5. Using signature strengths in new ways (USSNW).. <ul><li>Values in Action Inventory of Strengths ( Peterson & Seligman, 2004 ) </li></ul><ul><li>Exercise your strengths in new ways or new areas of your life for one week </li></ul><ul><li>E.g. writing a letter of forgiveness </li></ul><ul><li>Found to decrease depressive </li></ul><ul><li>symptoms and increase </li></ul><ul><li>happiness for up to six </li></ul><ul><li>months (Seligman et al, 2005) </li></ul>
  6. 6. Letter transformation task <ul><li>4 letters in a sequence </li></ul><ul><li>Transform all letters by 4 </li></ul><ul><li>a b c d e f g h I j… </li></ul><ul><li> L J A S </li></ul><ul><li>‘ transformed by 4’ equals </li></ul><ul><li> P N E W </li></ul>(Rajman, Hamilton & Hockey ,1977)
  7. 7. Letter transformation task <ul><li>Access of long term memory to locate the appropriate starting place in the alphabetical sequence </li></ul><ul><li>Transformation of each letter </li></ul><ul><li>Rehearsal and storage of the accumulating answer </li></ul>
  8. 8. Method
  9. 9. Preliminary Findings N20 Participants who took part in the USSNW intervention show a greater mean improvement in correct responses in the task compared to participants in the control.
  10. 10. What do these findings mean? <ul><li>Descriptive statistics with this small sample support our hypothesis </li></ul><ul><li>However, this has not been supported statistically and the power to test this needs to be improved by the larger sample </li></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><li>Are other positive interventions similarly effective? </li></ul><ul><li>For how long for? </li></ul><ul><li>Longitudinal placebo controlled design </li></ul><ul><li>Cognitive performance in school </li></ul>What’s next?
  12. 12. <ul><li>To conclude:- positive psychology is making an impact in psychology showing that wellbeing is a valuable human endeavor; happiness plays a causal role in many so kinds of desirable life outcomes. Governments are starting to recognise the importance of wellbeing and improved performance would certainly appeal to their current economy-driven objectives. However research findings showing that cognitive function is affected by a positive mind has not yet been bought to fruition. </li></ul>
  13. 13. References <ul><li>Seligman et al, (2005). Positive Psychology Progress: Empirical Validation of Interventions, American Psychologist, 60, 5, 410-421 </li></ul><ul><li>Lyubomirski et al, (2005). The Benefits of Frequent Positive Affect: Does Happiness Lead to Success? American Psychological Association, 313, 6 </li></ul><ul><li>Peterson & Seligman, (2004 ) . Character strengths and virtues: A classification and handbook.NewYork: Oxford University Press/Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. </li></ul>Acknowledgements Professor Chris Barker
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