on November 15, 2002
This Handbook is important to me and other psychology professors because it was the first in print for the new 21st Century wave of the Positive Psychology Movement. I say 'important' even though one honestly must say that for a more balanced view in academic psychology, one also should read the books edited by Ed Chang which give fair and balanced coverage of individual differences in both optimism and pessimism, including 'defensive pessimism.' Now, just published a few days ago, there is a second positive psychology handbook available, "A Psychology of Human Strengths" edited by Aspinwall and Staudinger. Compared to the first handbook, the new one's 23 chapters by various leading psychologists (including Seligman) are not only, well, "newer" -- they also have a better scholarly balance. For example, the chapter by Cantor on "Constructive Cognition" discusses her work with Norem on constructive pessimism. And a third handbook-type volume entitled "Flourishing" is also forthcoming. Concerning this first 21st Century Handbook of Positive Psychology, it will remain an important book not only for being first, but also perhaps for being too extreme, in an unrealistic way that is already being improved by a more realistic approach to positive psychology.