International Science Index


Impact of Positive Psychology Education and Interventions on Well-Being: A Study of Students Engaged in Pastoral Care


Positive psychology investigates human strengths and virtues and promotes well-being. Relying on this assumption, positive interventions have been continuously designed to build pleasure and happiness, joy and contentment, engagement and meaning, hope and optimism, satisfaction and gratitude, spirituality, and various other positive measures of well-being. In line with this model of positive psychology and interventions, this study investigated certain measures of well-being in a group of 45 students enrolled in an 18-week positive psychology course and simultaneously engaged in service-oriented interventions that they chose for themselves based on the course content and individual interests. Students’ well-being was measured at the beginning and end of the course. The well-being indicators included positive automatic thoughts, optimism and hope, satisfaction with life, and spirituality. A paired-samples t-test conducted to evaluate the impact of class content and service-oriented interventions on students’ scores of well-being indicators indicated statistically significant increase from pre-class to post-class scores. There were also significant gender differences in post-course well-being scores, with females having higher levels of well-being than males. A two-way between groups analysis of variance indicated a significant interaction effect of age by gender on the post-course well-being scores, with females in the age group of 56-65 having the highest scores of well-being in comparison to the males in the same age group. Regression analyses indicated that positive automatic thought significantly predicted hope and satisfaction with life in the pre-course analysis. In the post-course regression analysis, spiritual transcendence made a significant contribution to optimism, and positive automatic thought made a significant contribution to both hope and satisfaction with life. Finally, a significant test between pre-course and post-course regression coefficients indicated that the regression coefficients at pre-course were significantly different from post-course coefficients, suggesting that the positive psychology course and the interventions were helpful in raising the levels of well-being. The overall results suggest a substantial increase in the participants’ well-being scores after engaging in the positive-oriented interventions, implying a need for designing more positive interventions in education to promote well-being.  

[1] Baylis, N. (2004). Teaching positive psychology. In P. A. Linley & S. Joseph (Eds.), Positive psychology in practice (pp. 210-217). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
[2] Beck, J. S. (1995). Cognitive therapy: Basics and beyond. New York, NY: Guilford Press.
[3] Beck, A. T. (1967). Depression: Clinical, experimental, and theoretical aspects. New York, NY: Harper & Row.
[4] Bolier, L., Haverman, M., Westerhof, G. J., Riper, H., Smit, F., & Bohlmeijer, E. (2013). Positive psychology interventions: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled studies. BioMed Central Public Health, 13, 119. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-119
[5] Bono, G., McCullough, M. E., & Root, L. M. (2008). Forgiveness, feeling connected to others, and well-being: Two longitudinal studies. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34, 182-195.
[6] Bozkurt, T. (2014). New horizons in education: Positive education and emerging leadership roles of counselors. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 140, 452-461.
[7] Burton, C. M., & King, L. A. (2004). The health bene- fits of writing about intensely positive experiences. Journal of Research in Personality, 38(2), 150–63
[8] Campbell, A. V. (1987). Rediscovering pastoral care. New York, NY: Crossroad.
[9] Clebsch, W., & Kaekle, C. R. (1967). Pastoral care in historical perspective. New York, NY: Harper and Row.
[10] Clinebell, H. (1984). Basic types of pastoral care & counseling: Resources for the ministry of healing & growth. Nashville, TN: Abingdon.
[11] Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
[12] Comparing regression coefficients between two groups (2017). UCLA: Statistical Consulting Group. Retrieved from
[13] Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The Satisfaction with Life Scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49, 71-75.
[14] Diener, E., & Suh, E. (1997). Measuring quality of life: Economic, social, and subjective indicators. Social Indicators Research, 40, 189–216.
[15] Diener, E., Tay, L., & Myers, D. G. (2011). The religion paradox: If religion makes people happy, why are so many dropping out? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101, 1278-1290.
[16] Duckworth, A. L., Steen, T. A., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2005). Positive psychology in clinical practice. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 1, 629-651. doi: 10.1146/annurev.clinpsy.1.102803.144154
[17] Ellison, C. (1991). Religious involvement and subjective well-being. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 32, 80-90.
[18] Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subject wellbeing in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(2), 377–89.
[19] Folkman, S. & Moskowitz, J. T. (2000). Positive affect and the other side of coping. American Psychologist, 55(6), 647–54.
[20] Fredrickson, B. L. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The broaden- and-build theory of positive emotions. American Psychologist, 56, 218–226.
[21] Fredrickson, B.L., & Joiner, T. (2002). Positive emotions trigger upward spirals toward emotional well-being. Psychological Science, 13(2), 172–75.
[22] Gable, S. L., & Haidt, J. (2005). What (and why) is positive psychology? Review of General Psychology, 9(2), 103-110. doi: 10.1037/1089-2680.9.2.103
[23] Gander, F., Proyer, R. T., Ruch, W., & Wyss, T. (2013). Strength-based positive interventions: Further evidence for their potential in enhancing well-being and alleviating depression. Journal of Happiness Studies, 14, 1241. doi:10.1007/s10902-012-9380-0
[24] Gander, F., Proyer, R.T., & Ruch, W. (2016) Positive psychology interventions addressing pleasure, engagement, meaning, positive relationships, and accomplishment increase well-being and ameliorate depressive symptoms: A randomized, placebo-controlled online study. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 686. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00686
[25] Held, B. S. (2004). The negative side of positive psychology. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 44, 9–46.
[26] Inglehart, R. (2002). Gender, aging, and subjective well-being. International Journal of Comparative Sociology, 43(3-5), 391-408.
[27] Ingram, R. E., & Wisnicki, K. S. (1988). Assessment of positive automatic cognition. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 56, 898–902.
[28] Kazdin, A.E., & Weisz, J. R. (2003). Evidence based psychotherapies for children and adolescents. New York, NY: Guilford
[29] Kendall, P. C., Howard, B. L., & Hays, R. C. (1989). Self-referent speech and psychopathology: The balance of positive and negative thinking. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 13 (6), 583-598.
[30] Kristjánsson, K. (2012a). Positive psychology and positive education: Old wine in new bottles? Educational psychologist, 47 (2), 86-105. doi: 10.1080/00461520.2011.610678
[31] Kristjánsson, K. (2012b). Aristotelian motivational externalism. Philosophical Studies, 164(2), 419–442. doi:10.1007/s11098-012-9863-1
[32] Levin, l. S. (1996). How prayer heals: A theoretical model. Alternative Therapies, 2, 66-73.
[33] Lopez, S. J., & Gallagher, M. W. (2009). A case for positive psychology. In S. J. Lopez & C. R. Snyder (Eds.), Oxford handbook of positive psychology (2nd ed., pp. 3-6). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
[34] Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K. M., & Schkade, D. (2005). Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change. Review of General Psychology, 9(2), 111-131. doi: 10.1037/1089-2680.9.2.111
[35] Mazzucchelli, T. G., Kane, R. T., & Rees, C. S. (2010). Behavioral activation interventions for well-being: A meta-analysis. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 5, 105-121. doi: 10.1080/17439760903569154
[36] Meisenberg, G., & Woodley, M. A. (2015). Gender differences in subjective well-being and their relationships with gender equality. Journal of Happiness Studies, 16, 1539–1555. doi: 10.1007/s10902-014-9577-5
[37] Nathan, P.E., & Gorman, J.M. (2002). A Guide to treatments that work (2nd ed.) New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
[38] Pallant, J. (2010). SPSS survival manual (4th ed.). Australia: Allen & Unwin Book Publishers.
[39] Piedmont, R. L. (2010). Assessment of spirituality and religious sentiments: Technical manual (2nd ed.). Timonium, MD: author.
[40] Proyer, R. T., Gander, F., Wellenzohn, S., & Ruch, W. (2015). Strengths-based positive psychology interventions: A randomized placebo-controlled online trial on long-term effects for a signature strengths- vs. a lesser strengths-intervention. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 456. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00456
[41] Scheier, M. F., Carver, C. S., & Bridges, M. W. (1994). Distinguishing optimism from neuroticism: A reevaluation of the Life Orientation Test. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67, 1063-1078.
[42] Schueller, S. M. (2010). Preferences for positive psychology exercises. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 5, 192-203. doi: 10.1080/17439761003790948
[43] Schwartz, S. H., & Bilsky, W. (1990). Toward a theory of the universal content and structure of values: Extensions and cross-cultural replications. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58, 878-891.
[44] Schwartz, C. E., Meisenhelder, J. B., Yusheng, A., & Reed, G. (2003). Altruistic social interest behaviors are associated with better mental health. Psychosomatic Medicine, 65, 778-785.
[45] Seligman, M. E. P. (2002a). Positive psychology, positive prevention and positive therapy. In C. R. Snyder, & S. J. Lopez (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology (pp. 3-7). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
[46] Seligman, M. E. P. (2002b). Authentic happiness: Using the new positive psychology to realize your potential for lasting fulfillment. New York, NY: Free Press.
[47] Seligman, M. E. P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 55, 5-14. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.55.1.5
[48] Seligman, M. E. P., Ernst, R. M., Gillham, J, Reivich, K., & Linkins, M. (2009). Positive education: Positive psychology and classroom interventions. Oxford Review of Education, 35, 293–311.
[49] Seligman, M. E. P., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60, 410-421. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.60.5.410
[50] Snyder, C. R. (1989). Reality negotiation: From excuses to hope and beyond. Journal of Clinical and Social Psychology, 8, 130-157.
[51] Snyder, C. R. (2002). Hope theory: Rainbows in the mind. Psychological Inquiry, 13, 249-275.
[52] Snyder, C. R., Harris, C., Anderson, J. R., Holleran, S. A., Irving, L. M., Sigmon, S. T., et al. (1991). The will and the ways: Development and validation of an individual-differences measure of hope. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60(4), 570-585.
[53] Snyder, C., Ilardi, S., Michael, S., & Cheavans, J. (2000). Hope theory: Updating a common process for psychological change. In C. Snyder & R. Ingram (Eds.), Handbook of psychological change: Psychotherapy processes and practices for the 21st century (pp. 128–53). New York, NY: Wiley.
[54] Tugade, M. M., & Fredrickson, B.L. (2004). Resilient individuals use positive emotions to bounce back from negative emotional experiences. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 86(2), 320– 33.
[55] Weinstein, N., & Ryan, R. M. (2010). When helping helps: Autonomous motivation for prosocial behavior and its influence on well-being for the helper and recipient. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98 (2), 222-244.
[56] Weissberg, R.P., Kumpfer, K.L., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2003). Prevention that works for children and youth: An introduction. American Psychologist, 58(6/7), 425–32.
[57] Wheeler, J. A., Gorey, K. M., & Greenblatt, B. (1998). The beneficial effects of volunteering for older volunteers and the people they serve. A meta-analysis. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 47, 69-79.
[58] Wood, A., Froh, J., & Geraghty, A. (2010). Gratitude and well-being: A review and theoretical integration. Clinical Psychology Review, 30, 890-905. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2010.03.005.