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Positivity: Top-Notch Research Reveals the 3 to 1 Ratio That Will Change Your Life Paperback – December 29, 2009

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Positivity: Top-Notch Research Reveals the 3 to 1 Ratio That Will Change Your Life + Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being + The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony; 1 edition (December 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307393747
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307393746
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,122 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Positive psychology pioneer Fredrickson introduces readers to the power of harnessing happiness to transform their lives, backed up by impressive lab research. The author lays out the core truths and 10 forms of positivity—joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe and love—in a book that promises to change the way people look at feeling good. Disdainful of Pollyannaism, Fredrickson remains realistic in her treatment and provides scientific evidence to illustrate her findings that maintaining a 3:1 positivity ratio of positive thoughts to negative emotions creates a tipping point between languishing and flourishing. The book includes compelling case studies, concrete tips, a Positivity Self Test and a tool kit for decreasing negativity and raising the positivity ratio. Although many of Fredrickson's methods and theories (notes on meditation and karma) will seem familiar to anyone versed in yoga or eastern religions, the scientific foundation of her arguments and additional online resources (www.positivityratio.com) offer readers a chance to experiment with positivity and very possibly lead richer lives. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Written by one of the most influential contributors to this new perspective in science, Positivity provides a wonderful synthesis of what positive psychology has accomplished in the first decade of its existence. It is full of deep insights about human behavior as well as useful suggestions for how to apply them in everyday life."
—Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Ph.D., author of Flow

"Positivity is literally the feel-good book of the year, providing a scientifically sound prescription for joy, health, and creativity. Read one to two chapters daily as needed or until grumpiness subsides."
—Daniel Gilbert, professor of psychology, Harvard University, and author of Stumbling on Happiness

From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

This book is a very worthwhile read.
One admirable aspect of Barbara Fredrickson's thinking is that it is clearly consistent with the constructive merger positive psychology and pragmatic systems science.
Dr. Michael Hogan
Positivity is a book that's loaded with information that will help anyone improve their daily outlook.
Bill Shoemaker

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

202 of 218 people found the following review helpful By GirlScoutDad on May 4, 2011
Format: Paperback
Okay, don't get me wrong: I'm not a grumpy sourpuss intent on raining on the parade of Positive Psychology books published in recent years. I'm actually a mental health professional, a big fan of positive psychology, and I offer workshops to people on bringing positive psychology principles and tools into their lives. Fredrickson is an accomplished researcher, and her writing is pleasing at times. However, her main thesis (that we should strive to experience 3 positive emotions for every 1 negative emotion) is vague and impractical, and her recommendations for how to do so are better and more comprehensively stated elsewhere (such as in Martin Seligman's Authentic Happines or his more recent work, Flourishing). Given the avalanche of positive psychology books raining down on the unsuspecting public nowadays, one must be discerning in which ones to read and purchase, and while this is not a bad book, I didn't find it to be the most helpful or well-written one - especially in contrast to Seligman's magnum opus "Flourishing", which was, unfortunately for Fredrickson, published at nearly the same time.

The strength of the book is in the early section, where the author explains her theory of positive and negative emotions, and describes her list of the 10 positive emotions that we would all benefit from having more of in our lives. Fredrickson asserts that negative emotions aid human survival by narrowing and limiting what we perceive as our range of actions, while positive emotions aid survival by "broadening and building" our options for actions. For example, the negative emotion of "fear" of, say, a predator, limits our idea of possible actions to "run for your life".
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104 of 116 people found the following review helpful By Cornelius on August 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I've read 4 books on the subject of positive psychology and this here was my least favorite. It isn't terrible by any stretch of the imagination, but I'll outline my final judgment with a list of pros and cons.


1. The author's research and contribution to the field of positive psychology is both interesting and useful. The awareness that positive emotions "broaden and build" is insightful and intuitively makes sense.

2. Decent introduction and overview of positive emotions and psychology.

3. Some useful exercises.


1. Much of the book is written in a way that, like many self help books, is just bloated. The author, like many others, spends pages and pages telling you what the book is going to do for you when it could be telling what it should be telling you so that it could do something for you. In short, I don't want a book to spend pages and pages pumping me up by telling me what it's going to do for me over and over. It's like a bad infomercial and a complete waste of pages.

2. There are better books out there on this subject, one of which is titled "The How of Happiness" and which I found to just be better in every respect.

My suggestion is to read the research from the author of "Positivity...", as it seems to be an important and consistently reproduced contribution to the field, and get "The How of Happiness".
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49 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Daniel L. Marler on February 21, 2010
Format: Paperback
There is an area of research and investigation in the field of psychology that is called the "positive psychology movement". For many years, psychologists studied what was wrong with people. They investigated aberrant behavior and psychological disorders. You might say they studied those who were emotionally unhealthy. That's what seemed to make the most sense to those working in the field. But somewhere along the way someone asked a pretty good question: "Hey, what if we studied healthy people? What if we investigated those who were emotionally healthy and happy and well adjusted?"

Seems like a pretty good idea, doesn't it?

The basic thought is: instead of just trying to figure out what's wrong with people who are emotionally unhealthy, maybe there would be value in trying to figure out what's right with people who are emotionally healthy. Maybe that information would be really helpful to us. In fact, it might even be more helpful!

Thus began the positive psychology movement. (Well, its beginnings were probably a little more complicated than that, but you get the picture.) One of the pioneers of the movement was Martin Seligman who published the oft-cited, best-selling, "Learned Optimism". Barbara L. Fredrickson is now considered to be one of the leading researchers in this movement and she presents many of the interesting and helpful results of her research in "Positivity".

A person might be tempted to think that this is pop psychology by untrained lay persons who tell lots of "feel-good" stories and encourage people to say "I'm feeling fantastic" all day long. That's not the case. This is not about having a "Positive Mental Attitude", Matt Foley style.
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139 of 165 people found the following review helpful By Reader from Washington, DC VINE VOICE on March 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dear Friends: I am somewhat disappointed with this book. The author is clearly a very brilliant scholar in her field, and writes clearly and in an interesting manner.

But she is more focused on how her scientific studies and those of her colleagues provided some of the first testable scientific evidence for the value of increasing one's positive emotions than she is in presenting how the results of those studies can be implemented by people with serious life problems seeking to increase their "positivity."

Some of her techniques involve going to her website, recording daily monitoring of one's emotions, and voluntering to add the reader's results to her database. That's a clever way to find new study volunteers, but not what I'd expect in a self-help book.

Her recommendations for troubled seekers are surprisingly few and bland, given the intense, in-depth amount of research she has clearly done in this field. The book also needed a stronger editor, as there is much repetition of material.

I was also surprised by her showcasing of certain Buddhist techniques that can be used to increase "positivity" with any acknowledgement that similar or identical techniques exist in other religions and spiritualities, such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam. She appeared unaware that the common elements of mysticism and meditation are not confined to Buddhism.

In addition, the examples given in the book of people benefiting from its principles are largely of happily married people with children where everything turned out well for them when they implemented the very few "positivity" techniques that the author suggests

I wondered -- what about the people who implemented these "positivity" techniques, but still had to deal with unfortunate outcomes?
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