Positive Psychology is a new field and has been having many advances from the time it was developed. However, it has had both positive as well as negative impacts on people belonging to the different sections of the society. This assignment, therefore, looks into the positive impact of this field on these groups and how the groups react to it. Further, it also criticizes the individualistic nature of this new field. Finally, the assignment also includes a few suggestions provided by me in order to change this individualistic nature of positive psychology and how they would benefit all people. The assignment, further, includes my opinions about the racist nature of positive psychology and consists of evidences that I have included and discussed with respect to my claim in order to explain why I agree with the claim and how much I support and have witnessed the discrimination carried out against the people who are Non-Whites.
Human psychology plays an important part in every individual’s life. It explains why we act the way we do and helps us to solve both minor every-day as well as severe problems. Psychology assigns causes to the ways we behave and provides us with positive ways as to how we can deal with certain things that are very important to us. Psychology enables individuals to understand themselves, both mentally as well as emotionally. It studies the processes that take place from childhood and continue throughout life. There are various sub-fields in the field of psychology which cover the different phases of life.
People of all ages are benefitted from the field of psychology because the field does not ignore any of the important aspects of life. In fact, psychological studies can carried out on people who are normal and also on the ones who are not normal. In other words, they can be conducted on abnormal people, too. The field, further, explains what distinguishes abnormal from what is actually considered to be ‘normal’ and covers the issue of individual differences. Even though psychology is relatively one of the most recent and youngest sciences, it has actually been growing rapidly all around the world. The field of psychology has been playing a very essential role in studying the personalities of different individuals and what can be done to improve one’s present behaviour or overall personality. It contributes to the understanding of self and its different kinds.
In order to understand the various forms of stresses, we must use the approaches proposed by the various psychologists from over the world. Moreover, psychological studies also focus on the natural environment and make us realise its importance and provides us with reasons to understand its value and to respect it. The field also focuses on the social aspects and enables us to understand how psychology is related to the society. Thus, its benefits lead us to think that psychology is always positive and equally studies all individuals. However, positive psychology may not all be positive for individuals in its approach. In this assignment, we look into the field of positive psychology and the way it has affected the lives of people, the rich and poor alike. In the course of being positive, positive psychology has instead started taking its turn towards negativity for some people. These people include the coloured and other ethnic minorities.
Since psychology focuses on society, it also covers aspects such as race and religion. “America prefers to envision itself as a land of equality, where people coexist in a melting pot or a rainbow of colours and cultures.” (Bompadre, 2008). What concerns us is that if it is all true. Well, even though America has abolished racism, it stills lays within the groundwork of many principles of life. This is true especially in the case of psychology. Race has played a big part in the proposing of principles of positive psychology. “The goal, according to Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi, was to create a field focused on human well-being and the conditions, strengths and virtues that allow people to thrive.” (Azar, 2011). However, if we analyse the situation more closely, we would realise that this goal is not suitable for all the sections of the society. Racism has tended to become a major drawback in this particular field because it favours one race and not the others.
Positive psychologists guide us in various ways as to how we should live our lives. They claim that our life would be full of sickness, both mental and physical, if we do not live positively in the way they guide us to. “Positive psychology is implicitly racist. It focuses heavily upon increasing the happiness of white people and pays comparatively less attention to the wellbeing of people of colour and ethnic minorities.” I agree as well as disagree with this claim. “Positive Psychology has become so visible that even major brands such as Coke, Starbucks, BMW, and others appear to have incorporated themes of happiness, positivity, and joy into their advertising campaigns.” (Nuys, 2010). In other words, in order to promote their products as best, these brands use the idea of positive psychology. The main focus behind using this positive psychology is to generate income. However, such advertisements only tend to appeal the rich people and not the people from remote communities.
“Positive psychology has been criticized as overemphasizing the potential of individuals to transcend their circumstances.” (Coyne, 2013). This means that the measures suggested by positive psychology are not favourable to everyone alike. For example, we know that the coloured and minorities are not as rich as the Whites. Therefore, not every section of the society can afford the same opportunities as the Whites. When we conduct various experiments, we find serious differences in the results of the individuals. We find that these differences are based on social differences which include race and ethnicity. For instance, if we conduct an experiment related to enjoying luxuries, we would find that the responses of the coloured and minorities would be negative, whereas they would be positive for the rich White people. Moreover, the lifestyles explained in the theories of positive psychology tend to favour the Whites than the other sections of the society.
When positive psychologists refer to incomes, we realise that the rich Whites are benefitting more than the coloured minority. It is a well-known fact that the Non-Whites earn much less than how much the Whites earn. So the suggestions for a better life can be applied only to the Whites. From such examples, I do agree that positive psychology is indeed individualistic because they mainly focus on the Whites and the different ways of improving their lives if they are a little stressed or troubled. The needs and welfare of the coloured and other minorities are ignored due to which they get marginalised and isolated from the mainstream society. Such sections do not have a proper understanding of how they belong to the society because they are avoided and often not taken seriously. Such incidents tend to decrease the participation of the small sections of the society in healthy activities.
However, if we consider individual differences in the field of positive psychology, we would realise that every positive psychology guru is different. In other words, while some of these gurus ignore the choices and well-being of the smaller sections of the society, others promote their wellbeing. Thus, while some psychologists drive people from these small sections away from the mainstream, others try to integrate them into the normal society as much as possible.
Keeping such differences in mind, I would like to see more and more people from the smaller sections engaging themselves in the positive activities of the society. Every individual must be taken into account by the positive psychologists in order to actually be successful in achieving positive outcomes. Moreover, by encouraging more inter-racial group activities, the social interaction between all individuals may be improved due to which the field of positive psychology may be widened. This may, in turn, make the field more popular and its results, more affective. Another way in which the positive psychologists may stop themselves from being too individualistic is by taking a common groundwork for all individuals rather than only for the Whites. Thus, the field of positive psychology is growing very fast and its advances, according to me, should be positive for all people and not just a few people. In fact, while helping and guiding people, positive psychology should never include racism or discrimination of any kind. Instead of focusing on the characteristics of one group and analysing, positive psychology should cover all aspects of life, involving all people. Therefore, everyone should work on bringing a positive change in this field of psychology or else it would impact the smaller sections of the society very negatively. In fact, it already has impacted the lives of these people. However, if a change is not brought about, then such discrimination and ignorance against these minority groups would only promote them to commit crimes and develop other unhealthy habits. This would, in turn, bring the society down as a whole because no matter what a society consists of people belonging to all groups, irrespective of being big or small.
Coyne, J. (2013, August 21). Positive Psychology Is Mainly For Rich White People. Retrieved from http://blogs.plos.org/mindthebrain/2013/08/21/positive-psychology-is-mainly-for-rich-white-people/
Bompadre, V. (2008, October 1). Stacking The Deck Against Racism. Retrieved from http://insight.kellogg.northwestern.edu/article/stacking_the_deck_against_racism
Miller, A. (2008). A Critique of Positive Psychology-or ‘The New Science of Happiness’. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9752.2008.00646.x
Nuys, D. (2010, November 3). Popping The Happiness Bubble: The Backlash Against Positive Psychology (Part 1). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-happiness-dispatch/201011/popping-the-happiness-bubble-the-backlash-against-positive
Azar, B. (2011, April). Positive Psychology Advances, With Growing Pains. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/04/positive-psychology.aspx