Since the turn of the twenty-first century, the field of positive psychology has sought to implement a science of human flourishing so that we may lead happier, more fulfilling lives. It has found expression not only in academic papers but also popular books and, increasingly, in government policy. The Routledge International Handbook of Critical Positive Psychology is the first volume dedicated to a critical appraisal of this influential but controversial field of study.

The book critically examines not only the scientific foundations of positive psychology, but also the sociocultural and political tenets on which the field rests. It evaluates the current field of knowledge and practice, and includes chapters analysing the methodological constructs of the field, as well as others that question what positive psychology actually means by ideas such as happiness or well-being. Taking the debate further, the book then discusses how positive psychology can be applied in a wider variety of settings than is presently the case, helping communities and individuals by acknowledging the reality of people’s lives rather than adhering strictly to debateable theoretical constructs.

Including contributions from disciplines ranging from psychoanalysis to existential therapy, theology to philosophy, and contributors from throughout the world, The Routledge International Handbook of Critical Positive Psychology will be enlightening reading for anyone interested in how psychology has sought to understand human well-being.

chapter |2 pages


ByNicholas J. L. Brown, Tim Lomas, Francisco Jose Eiroa-Orosa

chapter 1|8 pages

Critical positive psychology

A creative convergence of two disciplines
ByPiers Worth, Matthew Smith

section 1|182 pages

Criticism of positive psychology

chapter 2|11 pages

The unavoidable role of values in positive psychology

Reflections in light of psychology’s replicability crisis
ByBrent Dean Robbins, Harris L. Friedman

chapter 3|27 pages

Taking a closer look at well-being as a scientific construct

Delineating its conceptual nature and boundaries in relation to spirituality and existential functioning
ByDouglas A. MacDonald

chapter 4|17 pages

The meaning and valence of gratitude in positive psychology

ByLiz Gulliford, Blaire Morgan

chapter 6|15 pages

Is positive psychology an indigenous psychology?

ByJeanne Marecek, John Chambers Christopher

chapter 7|18 pages

Community psychology’s contributions to happiness and well-being

Including the role of Context, Social Justice, and Values in our understanding of the good life
BySalvatore Di Martino, Francisco Jose Eiroa-Orosa, Caterina Arcidiacono

chapter 8|16 pages

Positive psychology

Intellectual, scientific, or ideological movement?
ByBernardo Moreno-Jiménez, Aldo Aguirre-Camacho

chapter 9|9 pages

Is positive psychology compatible with freedom?

ByDigby Tantam

chapter 10|19 pages

Critique of positive psychology and positive interventions 1

ByPaul T. P. Wong, Sandip Roy

chapter 11|12 pages

Toward a well-spoken explanatory style

ByPaul Kalkin

chapter 12|20 pages

An introduction to criticality for students of positive psychology

ByNicholas J. L. Brown

section |16 pages

Interlude 1

chapter 13|14 pages

Five historic philosophers discuss human flourishing and happiness in positive psychology

A speculative dialogue in three acts
ByLiz Gulliford, Kristján Kristjánsson

section 2|183 pages

Doing positive psychology critically

chapter 14|14 pages

A re-appraisal of boredom

A case study in second wave positive psychology
ByTim Lomas

chapter 15|18 pages

Affirming the positive in anomalous experiences

A challenge to dominant accounts of reality, life, and death
ByEdith Maria Steffen, David J. Wilde, Callum E. Cooper

chapter 16|18 pages

Uncovering the good in positive psychology

Toward a worldview conception that can help positive psychology flourish
ByPeter C. Hill, M. Elizabeth Lewis Hall

chapter 17|18 pages

Toward a culturally competent positive psychology

ByAdil Qureshi, Stella Evangelidou

chapter 18|18 pages

Cultural and racial perspectives on positive psychologies of humility

ByDavid R. Paine, Sarah H. Moon, Daniel J. Hauge, Steven J. Sandage

chapter 19|16 pages

Positive psychology’s religious imperative

ByDaniel K. Brown, David G. George

chapter 20|22 pages

Character strengths as critique

The power of positive psychology to humanise the workplace
ByRoger Bretherton, Ryan M. Niemiec

chapter 21|14 pages

Toward an integrative applied positive psychology

ByByron Lee

chapter 22|17 pages

Positive politics

Left-wing versus right-wing policies, and their impact on the determinants of wellbeing
ByTim Lomas

chapter 23|9 pages

A proposed enquiry into the effect of sociocultural changes on well-being

ByFrancisco Jose Eiroa-Orosa

chapter 24|15 pages


Towards a new measure of societal well-being
ByDaniel T. Gruner, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

section |12 pages

Interlude 2

chapter 25|10 pages

Pleasure as a form of liberatory practice

ByTod Sloan, Marisol García

section 3|161 pages

Applied perspectives

chapter 26|12 pages

Community social psychology and positive psychology

Learning from the experience of Latin America
ByRamón Soto Martínez, Salvatore Di Martino

chapter 27|16 pages

Positive, necessary, and possible lives

Experience and practice from the struggle for a dignified life
ByJosé Eduardo Viera, Lauren Languido

chapter 28|10 pages

Exploring the role of engagement in well-being and personal development

A review of adolescent and mental health activism
ByAnne C. Montague, Francisco Jose Eiroa-Orosa

chapter 29|12 pages

Citizenship, mental health, and positive psychology

ByJean-François Pelletier, Chyrell Bellamy, Maria O’Connell, Michaella Baker, Michael Rowe

chapter 30|15 pages

The brutality of reality

ByChris Beales

chapter 31|14 pages


Vices and virtues of a moral archetype 1
ByManos Rhodes Hatzimalonas

chapter 32|15 pages

Evaluating positive education

A framework and case study
ByDianne A. Vella-Brodrick, Nikki S. Rickard, Tan-Chyuan Chin

chapter 33|20 pages

Shaping positive education research to influence public policy

ByCharlie Simson, Lauren Rosewarne, Lea Waters

chapter 34|9 pages

Positive psychology at a city scale

ByMike Zeidler, Liz Zeidler, Byron Lee

chapter 36|20 pages

Feel good or be happy

Distinctions between emotions and development in the environmental psychology research of wellbeing
ByPablo Olivos, Ricardo Ernst