May 8, 2019

Positive Psychology Approach to OB: Review Notes

Positive Psychology

The aim of positive psychology is to use scientific methodology to discover and promote the factors that allow individuals, groups, organizations, and communities to thrive. The subject area is concerned with optimal human functions or improved human functioning.

The factors or aspects identified in this branch of psychology include:

Hope, optimism, flow, happiness, capacity for love, capacity for vocation, courage, interpersonal skills,aesthetic sensibility, perseverance, forgiveness, originality, future mindedness, spirituality, high talent, wisdom, responsibility, nurturance, altruism, civility, moderation, tolerance, work ethic etc.

We can the above are concepts in positive psychology.


Psychology treats optimism as a cognitive characteristic in terms of generalized positive outcome expectancy and/or a positive causal attribution.

Optimists make external attribution (it is not their fault), unstable attribution (it is only a temporary set back) and specific attribution (the failure is only in this specific instance).

Martin Seligman suggests optimistic people try to distance themselves from past negative outcomes.


Martin Seligman "Whether or not we have hope depends on two dimensions of our explanatory style:pervasiveness and performance. Finding temporary and specific causes for misfortune is the art of hope."

C. Rick Snyder "Hope not only reflects the individual's determination that goals can be achieved, but also the person's belief that successful plans can be formulated and pathways identified in order to attain goals."

Snyder along with others has developed a hope scale and conducted number of research studies. These studies find a positive link between hope scale scores and goal expectancies, perceived control, self esteem, positive emotions, coping and achievement.

Subjective Well-Being (SWB) (Happiness)

In psychological theory and research, the term subjective well-being or simply SWB is preferred to the term happiness. The terms may be used by many interchangeably but SWB is considered more broader.

Ed Diener is the psychologist closely associated with SWB.

Separate components of SWB identified

1. Life satisfaction
2. Satisfaction with important domains
3. Positive affect - A feeling of experience of many pleasant emotions and moods
4. Low levels of negative affect - The feeling of experience of few unpleasant emotions and moods.

Diener and other researchers have developed a number of valid measures of SWB components.

Emotional Intelligence

Positive primary emotions are Love/affection, happiness/joy and surprise. Negative emotions are fear, sadness, anger, disgust, and shame.

Salovey and Mayor defined emotional intelligence as "the subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one's own and others' feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one's thinking actions."

Daniel Goleman explains emotional intelligence as "the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships."

Goleman classified this emotional intelligence and skill into two components: one component is related to self and the other component is related to dealing with others.

In the component dealing with self, the stages are self-awareness,self-management and self motivation.

In the component dealing with others the stages are empathy and social skills.

Self Efficacy

Albert Bandura  "personal judgment or belief of how well one can execute courses of action required to deal with prospective situations."

Stajkovic and Luthans "Self-efficacy refers to an individual's conviction (or confidence) about his or her abilities to mobilize the motivation, cognitive resources, and courses of action needed to successfully execute a specific task within a given context."


Baltes and Kunzmann write on the most general level we have defined wisdom as expert knowledge and judgement about important, difficult and uncertain questions associated with the meaning and conduct of life. Wisdom-related knowledge deals with matters of utmost personal and social significance.


Fred Luthans, Organizational Behavior, Ninth Ed., McGraw Hill, 2002

The concepts, hope, optimism and self efficacy along with another concept resilience are now made part of construct "psychological capital (PsyCap)". Read more about psychological capital in Psychological Capital

Using Positive Psychology in Managing People in Organizations

Practicing executives revise their organizational behavior knowledge to know the procedures of using various OB principles in the practice to create effective/productive and satisfying work environment. I shall focus on providing such content in my future updates. In the case of positive psychology, for the topic emotional intelligence, Goleman became a popular author and he wrote Social and Emotional Intelligence for Effective Leadership.

Leadership: Social Intelligence is Essential

Outstanding leadership requires a combination of self-mastery and social intelligence. Self-mastery refers to handling oneself through self-awareness and self-control in dealing with material things and living beings.

The leadership competencies apart from self-mastery are self-confidence, the drive to improve performance, staying calm under pressure, and a positive outlook with regard to others and their performance. Because, all these abilities are present in outstanding individual performers as far as their own performance is concerned.. When it comes to leaders, effectiveness in helping others to perform is required.  Solo stars are promoted to leadership positions,  flounder for lack of people skills. I created the 4Ps for Management Paradigm. Providing for Value, Purchase of input, Processing Inputs into Outputs and People Skills.

Several new studies now  confirm that social intelligence apart self-mastery is a must for leadership effectiveness. Goleman said the studies were based on the Emotional and Social Competence Inventory (ESCI), which Goleman and Richard Boyatzis designed.

More References
Paul B. Baltes and Utekunzmann,

Full Book on Positive Organizational Behavior
by Debra Nelson and Gary L. Cooper,
Pine Forge Press, 2007
Google Book Link with Preview Facility

Handbook of Hope: Theory, Measures, and Applications

C. Richard Snyder
Academic Press, 07-Jun-2000 - Psychology - 440 pages

In psychology. new research has shown that hope is closely related to optimism, feelings of control, and motivation toward achieving one's goals. The Handbook of Hope presents a comprehensive overview of the psychological inquiry into hope, including its measurement, its development in children, how its loss is associated with specific clinical disorders, and therapeutic approaches that can help instill hope in those who have lost theirs.

  • A final section discusses hope in occupational applications: how the use of hope can make one a better coach, teacher, or parent.
  • Defines hope as a construct and describes development of hope through the lifespan
  • Provides multiple instruments for measuring hope
  • Guides professionals in how to assess hope levels & implement hope as part of therapy
  • Relates hope to all portions of the population
  • Includes case studies, figures, and tables to aid understanding of research findings and concepts; discusses the importance of hope to relationships, achieving goals, and success at work

July - Management Knowledge Revision

Related Knols


Positive Psychology

Updated 9 May 2019,   10 April 2017,  21 May 2015, 14 July 2014,
First published: 4.2.2011