Category: Positive Psychology and Phenomenology - April 2017
 
 

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pdf.png Special Edition on Positive Psychology and Phenomenology - Guest Editorial (By Tharina Guse)  

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This Special Edition of the Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology has a broad thematic focus on qualitative research in Positive Psychology, which, at its core, is concerned with the study of human flourishing and well-being. Positive Psychology focuses on personal strengths and virtues, as well as processes and conditions which could contribute to optimal functioning. At its inception as a field of enquiry, Seligman (1999) linked Positive Psychology to the rich philosophical traditions of exploring the “good life”. While quantitative studies in the field have burgeoned, qualitative studies have been lagging behind (Donaldson, Dollwet & Rao, 2014; Rich, 2016). Adding to our understanding of “human messiness and complexity” (Hefferon, 2014) in exploring human well-being, this edition provides some insight into phenomenology as a method of qualitative enquiry. In the process, it explores experiences and processes of well-being of adult and child participants in research studies.


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pdf.png On Baking a Cake: The Phenomenological Method in Positive Psychology - By Graham A. du Plessis and Carolina du Plessis  

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The field of positive psychology has burgeoned since its formal inception with Martin Seligman’s 1998 APA presidential address. Aimed at better baking the positive half of the psychology “cake”, the gains in research and practice over the past decade and a half have been substantial. Among the chief reasons for the rapid growth and development in this field is the express emphasis on a positivistic scientific methodology. While this methodology has undoubtedly contributed much to the evolution and growth of the field, the empirical emphasis has arguably resulted in the concomitant neglect of the more qualitative complexities of optimal human functioning. The present paper contributes to the discussion regarding the role of method in the field of positive psychology and, using as case studies two papers from the field of phenomenology, argues specifically for the utility of phenomenological psychological methods in the baking of the metaphorical psychology cake. The case studies effectively serve to illustrate the manner in which phenomenological methods, through their focus on rich description and resistance to an interpretative framework, are condusive to contributing to methodological pluralism within positive psychology and thereby providing additional means whereby not only to continue the baking of the positive psychology cake, but, more particularly, to ensure that it is baked thoroughly by adjusting the oven’s heat to the optimal level.


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pdf.png The Positive Experiences of Becoming a Psychologist: A Master’s Student’s Journey - By Lindi Nel and Paul Fouché  

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Since most research on the topic of experiences related to becoming a psychologist is conducted from a pathogenic paradigm, the study reported in this paper aimed to describe the journey of a clinical master’s student from the perspective of positive psychology. A strengths-based paradigm allowed the researcher and the participant to understand the journey through the lens of personal growth, professional development, coping strategies, and attempts to make sense of the related difficulties. In this study, a qualitative research approach was used and a single case study design was employed. Data analysis followed the procedure of interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Themes that were conceptualized and operationalized within the structure of psychological well-being (Ryff, 1989) comprised six well-being domains, namely (a) personal growth; (b) purpose in life; (c) autonomy; (d) self-acceptance; (e) positive relationships with others; and (f) environmental mastery. The most prominent finding was that, while the experience of becoming a psychologist is known to be a long and difficult journey, it can also be rewarding and positive, and holds the potential to enhance psychological well-being.


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pdf.png Exploring Psychological Well-Being and Positive Emotions in School Children Using a Narrative Approach - By Chiara Ruini, Francesca Vescovelli, Veronica Carpi and Licia Masoni  

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While a large body of research has provided quantitative data on children’s levels of happiness, positive emotions and life satisfaction, the literature reflects a dearth of studies that analyze these dimensions from a narrative and qualitative point of view. Folk and fairy tales may serve as ideal tools for this purpose, since they are concerned with several concepts scientifically investigated by research in the field of positive psychology, such as resilience, self-realization, personal growth and meaning in life. The aim of the present study was to explore children’s well-being and positive emotions using an innovative narrative approach, which involved interviews and group discussions, as well as the analysis of fairy tales written and discussed in a group context. The sample included 95 school children who were asked to report and discuss in a group setting situations or experiences which triggered positive emotions and happiness in them. Guided by their teachers and a school psychologist, they were then asked to write their own original fairy tale drawing on the positive emotions that had previously emerged. Positive emotions were found to be triggered mainly by interpersonal relationships with peers as well as with family members. Hobbies and leisure time were also strongly associated with happiness and hedonic well-being, while personal fulfilment, self-esteem and goal achievement emerged as highly significant for children. In sum, the findings suggest that this school psycho-educative intervention based on narrative strategies provided useful information on children’s well-being and yielded positive feedback, the implications and possible further applications of which are discussed.


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pdf.png The Negotiation of Motor In/Capabilities by Two Children with Cerebral Palsy as Experienced by their Carers - By Pravani Naidoo  

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The study reported in this paper utilised a qualitative approach to investigate the everyday lives of two children with cerebral palsy, as experienced by their carers. Analysis of the data collected through in-depth interviews with the girls’ teachers, mothers and therapists was informed by the reflective lifeworld research approach of Dahlberg et al. (2008). The broader theme identified, negotiating motor in/capabilities, comprised the constituent sub-themes (i) identity and difference, and (ii) living motor in/capabilities in a disabling/enabling environment. The phenomenological approach employed revealed that, as experienced by their carers, the two girls, both of whom have quite profound forms of motor impairment, flourish by utilising their bodily and psychosocial resources towards experiencing enhanced autonomy and a sense of mastery. Overall, their respective carers served as resources for each of the girls, providing them with enabling social and physical environments that promote their optimal functioning. Theory-driven intervention efforts to promote social participation and well-being in children with cerebral palsy who have severe motor impairments would benefit from taking into account the nuances and complexities inherent in the everyday experiences of these children.


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ISSN 1445-7377 (Online issues)

ISSN 2079-7222 (Print issues)

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