Lessons on how to boost well-being need to happen in collaboration with schools, government organizations and corporations, said
Dr. Martin E.P. Seligman, who is working with Facebook and Google experts to find ways to boost global well-being.
students who took a year of literature courses infused with
positive psychology compared with peers who had literature
alone and found a significant difference in their school
“The kids who had the positive psychology literature courses
were rated by their teacher as having higher social skills. Their
zest for learning is higher and their grades are better,” he said.
Seligman’s work to build psychological resilience among
soldiers in the U.S. Army offers further evidence that a large
organization can foster well-being, he said. Using a strategy
similar to his teacher-training program, the University of
Pennsylvania under Seligman’s direction is training the Army’s
4,500 drill sergeants how to instruct soldiers in managing the
stressors of combat and military life, build resilience and avoid
worst-scenario thinking. Early data on the program show that
soldiers who get the training from their sergeants experience
less catastrophic thinking and exhibit better coping skills, said
to boost well-being across a large swath of the population, he
said. He has recently talked with gaming experts interested in
collaborating with him to develop such games.
He is also working with experts from Facebook and Google
to look at ways that their data could aid his global well-being
Social media technology could allow him and other
researchers to give a real-time assessment of the world’s well-being almost instantly. “We can do this is by combing search
terms, blogs, Facebook and Twitter” for words and phrases
that relate to well-being, said Seligman. Such a search when
the Chilean miners were rescued last year showed that the
well-being lexicon went up in Chile, but not in Argentina, said
“We are validating the possibility that we can do much better
than public polling,” he said. n
For more on Seligman’s work with the U.S. Army, see www.