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A Primer in Positive Psychology (Oxford Positive Psychology Series) Paperback – July 27, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0195188332 ISBN-10: 0195188330 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford Positive Psychology Series
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1st edition (July 27, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195188330
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195188332
  • Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,612 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Chris Peterson, one of the founding fathers of Positive Psychology, has written a wonderfully engaging and deeply stimulating introduction to this swiftly growing field. Intellectual history is interwoven with data, research findings with backstage gossip, to produce a delightful classic." -- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Director, Quality of Life Research Center and C.S. and D.J. Davidson Professor, Peter F. Drucker School of Management, Claremont Graduate University

"This excellent text gives readers a clear and interesting introduction to the field of positive psychology. Students will find the book easy to read, yet informative, and others can read the book because it covers fascinating material that is relevant to living a successful life." --Ed Diener, Alumni Distinguished Professor of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Editor, Perspectives on Psychological Science, and Journal of Happiness Studies

"This is the definitive textbook in Positive Psychology. But more than that, it may be the single best textbook on any subject that I have ever read. It's fun to read and it's authoritative-written as it is by one of the main investigators in the field. I can't remember reading a textbook before that both made me laugh out loud and brought tears to my eyes." --Martin E.P. Seligman, Fox Leadership Professor of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania, and Director, Positive Psychology Center

"Peterson offers his readers a marvelous blend of lucidity, originality, humor, kindness and scholarship. This is a book that should entice many thousands of readers into a lifetime of interest in psychology." --George Vaillant, Senior hysician at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

"This is a splendid book that presents the principles of positive psychology in a very understandable way. The exercises are well done and bring the material to life. This is a wonderful volume in the Oxford publishing tradition. It challenges the reader to see clients in a new way which will enhance psychological growth. As clinicians, we tend to focus on pathology, but positive psychology helps us to look beyond the obvious difficulties and see potential. Psychologists and psychology students need to be inspired; this book will do that and more."--Doody's

"Peterson moves gracefully, with gravitas and humor, and provides an honest account on positive psychology. Peterson provides a good overview of research findings on important themes...he also does a fine job of critical evaluation in many subdomains of psychological science...an excellent introduction to the area of positive psychology."--PsycCRITIQUES

"No one teaching, studying or intending to teach or study positive psychology should walk past this book...A masterful storyteller, [Peterson] leads the reader through the history, discoveries, victories, pitfalls and unresolved issues in positive psychology. One of the greatest virtues of the book is that it is full of personal examples and sometimes even a bit of professional gossip, giving it almost a novelistic read. Yet, a serious scholarly rigor is fully preserved - hundreds of research findings are presented in a clear, logical and engaging fashion."--Psychology Teaching Review

About the Author

Christopher Peterson has been at the University of Michigan since 1986. He is Professor of Psychology, the former director of clinical training, and an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, awarded in recognition of his accomplishments as an undergraduate instructor. Peterson is a member of the Positive Psychology Steering Committee, a consulting editor of the Journal of Positive Psychology, and a Templeton Senior Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania's Positive Psychology Center. He took the lead in creating the Values in Action (V.I.A.) Classification of Strengths, the most ambitious research project to date explicitly undertaken from a positive psychology perspective. Co-author of Character Strengths and Virtues (O.U.P. 2004), Peterson is among the world's 100 most-frequently cited psychologists during the past 20 years and has long-standing research interests in optimism, health, character, and well-being.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 29 customer reviews
This is an easy read and has a lot of very good information.
Excellent book if you want to understand the basics of Positive Psychology and all the scientific research that supports the field.
Faster Pastor
I would recommend this book to anyone, even people not enrolled in a positive psychology class.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

124 of 136 people found the following review helpful By Ben Dean PhD on November 19, 2006
Format: Paperback
At Coaching Toward Happiness and at MentorCoach, we

write about the leading figures in positive psychology

and in coaching and talk to them in live

teleconference interviews. We interviewed

Chris three times. His new book is exceptional.

Here's why:


1. It's The Best.


Okay. This is arguably the best introduction to positive

psychology ever written. It ties all the key issues

together in a compelling way. It provides understanding,

depth, rich resources, and it's fun to read.


2. It's Reader-Friendly.


It's a large trade paperback, 314 pages. Rich with fascinating

detail, web sites, movies, overarching explanations of research.

Bad writing makes the reader feel dumb. Good writing makes the

reader feel smart. Chris makes you feel smart.


3. If You Teach.


If you teach positive psychology, you have to use this book. Listen

to the founder of the field: "This is the definitive textbook in

positive psychology. But more than that, it may be the single best

textbook on any subject that I have ever read... (It) both made me

laugh out loud and brought tears to my eyes." -- Martin E. P. Seligman


4. For the Bright Professional


It's perfect for the curious, bright professional who's new to

positive psychology and wants to quickly get up to speed.
Read more ›
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Alvin Sewell on January 9, 2007
Format: Paperback
A Primer in Positive Psychology delivers a text full of the details from what has been concept for a decade. With the field of Positive Psychology coming to the point of being a deliverable product to the public, Dr. Peterson frames up a concise text of understandable background on what we are and how positive strategies of behavior throughout the lifetime can benefit all people. This establishes the goal of making Positive Psychology a core life training for students at all levels of education, beginning with primary stages. This textbook format gives parents the tools for themselves and their young adult children to teach themselves the principles of excelling at life, not just surviving it.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Linda Day on June 26, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I confess that I gave up reading "Authentic Happiness" half-way through, so I was not biased toward positive psychology. However, this was a text for a PP coaching class I took, and I liked it a lot -- very clear, straight-forward, easy to understand, full of substantive and interesting research, and even a bit of humor. I found myself looking forward to reading the assignments. My only fuss (which the author says he'll rectify in the next edition) is an inherent testosterone bias, (e.g., a key element of happiness is "winning," expressed in masculine terms rather than the kind of fulfillment that a soccer mom might get from raising great kids). Altogether a good explication of the rationale and value of positive psychology.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By J. Barr on December 30, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I first heard of "positive psychology" I thought..."so what is negative psychology supposed to be?" The terminology shouldn't hang you up. Positive psychology is a look a what psychology can be sans the illness orientation. What this means is that you are really studying how people can use their minds without concentrating on how that thing they do with their hair is an obvious sign of their insecurity, their masturbatory tendencies, or their love affair with their anal stage of development. The book has great information but is not written in a stuffy or pretentious way. Without a doubt it is one of the most readable psychology books I've ever had the pleasure of recommending. Even though the author supplies the reader with tons of references to help him in his continued study, for the casual reader this book can easily stand by itself. If you are lucky enough to get this as a text book in college enjoy the course and the professor wise enough to chose this book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By L. M. Keefer TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 18, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you're looking for an accessible foundation in positive psychology that is content rich, research-based and practical, then this book is for you.

It's used as a college textbook by the author/professor at U of Michigan who is a pioneer in the field, but it's much more interesting and humorous than the textbooks I've read for my college classes. It doesn't have that typical textbook feeling, but it's richer in ideas than what is on the mass market on happiness.

And there are exercises to try out in your life to improve your happiness at the end of each chapter. The author is brilliant and articulate. He's won teaching awards at U of M:you feel like you're in his classroom being taught by him without having to pay tuition--and that's positive! I learned about this book on a list of top 10 books on Happiness & Positive Psychology. It's a great book for psychology students, coaches, practicing psychologists and regular folk interested in the evolving and transforming field of positive psychology.
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