Positive Psychology as a Scientific Movement

By Jonathan Simmons.

Published by The International Journal of Science in Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Psychology has always been vulnerable to fads, producing its share of psychological movements and therapeutic cults that blur the borderline between science and non-science. It is important for sociologists and other scholars who study the social life of scientists and intellectuals to engage with the content of ideas and to take conflicts about scientific legitimacy seriously. This research examines a debate regarding scientific legitimacy in a qualitative case study informed by Frickel and Gross’s general theory of scientific/intellectual movements. The focus will be positive psychology’s emergence at the end of the last decade and its failure to persuade the wider psychology community of its necessity due to its use of culturally embedded concepts and aggressive framing strategies. Understanding how positive psychology works to establish itself as value-free, objective science, while desiring to be perceived as relevant to the public contributes to discussions about framing and boundaries in science.

Keywords: Science, Knowledge, Controversy

The International Journal of Science in Society, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp.43-52. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 184.078KB).

Jonathan Simmons

PhD Student, Sociology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Jonathan Simmons is a Sociology PhD student at the University of Alberta. His doctoral research involves an investigation of the value-system embraced by members of the skeptical movement and how appeals to science constitute lifestyle actions. Some of his other interests include lifestyle movements, the sociology of religion and secular studies, and the advancement of the public understanding of science and technology.