Positive Psychology And The Self– Reflection Paper

Week 1

Positive Psychology: Foundations & Workplace Application

Reading & Questions

Pascale, R. T., & Sternin, J. 2005, ‘Your company’s secret change agents’ Harvard Business Review, vol. 83, no. 5, pp. 72-81.

1. Discuss the concept of “positive deviance”, what might be its association with positive psychology?

2. Discuss how traditional change management approaches such as bench-marking differ from those informed by positive deviance, describe the advantages and disadvantages of these approaches?

3. Present three of your favorite examples of positive deviance from the text.

4. What are the leadership implications of the positive deviance approach?

5. The authors opine that the positive deviance approach works best in which types of situations? How common do you believe such situations are within organisations?

6. Create a plan for applying the six-step positive deviance approach described by the authors to transforming an organization with which you are familiar (i.e. your work, favorite business, or educational institution).

Week 2

Virtues, Character Strengths



Go to the VIA CHARACTER INSTITUTE webpage and complete the questionnaire on VIA Survey of Character Strengths. Bring your results to class, either in print or soft form.


Reading & Questions

Roberts, L. M., Spreitzer, G., Dutton, J., Quinn, R., Heaphy, E., & Barker, B. 2005, ‘How to play to your strengths’, Harvard Business Review, vol. 83, no. 1, pp. 74-80.

1. What are the arguments the authors present against traditional corrective feedback?

2. Discuss the following statement: “It is a paradox of human psychology that while people remember criticism, they respond to praise”.

3. Is there any value in negative feedback? What is the optimum balance between positive and negative comments?

4. How might organizations expand or constrain the possibilities for employees to be extraordinary and cultivate their RBS – what are the organizational implications of such enabling or constraining?

5. Respond to the following statement: “The Reflected Best Self (RBS) exercise is simply an exercise in ego stroking”.

Week 3

Happiness, Flow & Flourishing



Go to the Authentic Happiness website and complete the Approaches to Happiness questionnaire.

Bring your results to class, either in print or soft form.


Reading & Questions

Achor, S. 2012. ‘Positive intelligence’. Harvard Business Review, vol. 90, pp. 100-102.

1. Are happier employees better employees? Isn’t it important to keep employees a little uncomfortable and anxious about their jobs? Explain the effects of anxiety and of happiness on work performance.

2. Describe three misconceptions related to the idea of increasing happiness.

3. Discuss the limitations of thinking about stress either just negatively or just positively. How can the positive effects of stress be enhanced?

4. Describe several happiness increasing exercises mentioned in the article. What do they have in common? Why do you think they are effective? Make a commitment to applying one of them over the next few days (or longer) and report your findings to the class.

5. Why do you think Achor titled this article as “Positive Intelligence” rather than something like “Happiness at Work”?

Week 4

Positive Emotions: Broaden and Build Theory



Go to the Authentic Happiness website, click on “Questionaire Centre” and complete the “Gratitude Survey”. Be sure to bring your results to class, either in print or soft form.


Reading & Questions

Fredrickson, B. L. 2003, ‘The value of positive emotions: The emerging science of positive psychology is coming to understand why it’s good to feel good’, American Scientist, vol. 91, no. 4, pp. 330-335.

1. Provide some reasons why it might be easier to study negative emotions over positive emotions?

2. Do you think humans might have an inherent negativity bias? If so, why?

3. How is the negativity bias reflected in organisations?

4. Explain the argument of broaden and build theory.

5. Discuss the organisational implications of broaden and build theory.

6. Considering that the annual financial cost of workplace stress to the Australian economy has been calculated as some $25 billion (Medibank Private 2008), describe the organisational implications of the undoing hypothesis.

Week 5

Appreciative Inquiry


Reading & Questions

Whitney, D. 1998. ‘Let’s change the subject and change our organization: An appreciative inquiry approach to organization change’. Career Development International, vol. 3, no. 7, pp. 314-319.

1. In your opinion, how common is a culture of deficit thinking in organisations? Can you think of some examples of Australian organisations currently stuck in a culture deficit thinking? What impact might this have on employees?

2. Do you have a favorite song, poem or saying? Have you considered that it might have alternative meanings depending upon who is reading, citing or listening to it within a specific context? Consider this phenomenon in relation to the “poetic principle” of AI? Bring some examples to share with the class.

3. Discuss the “anticipatory principle” within the context of the Pygmalion effect or the idea of self-fulfilling prophecies.

4. Critique the idea of learning from mistakes – what is the alternative approach proposed by AI?

5. Why is it important to begin the Discovery stage AI by stating desired objectives in the positive?

6. Describe the 4-D process – why do you think it has been so effective in leading transformation in a variety of settings?

7. Provide some examples of organizational transformation using AI from the text (the article) that most inspired you.

Week 6

Resilience – Developmental and Organisational Perspectives


Complete the Optimism Survey and bring your results to class

Reading and Questions

Seligman, M. E. (2011). Building resilience. Harvard Business Review, vol. 89, no. 4, 100-6.

1. Why do you think it is that we are more familiar with the concept of post-traumatic stress than we are with the concept of post-traumatic growth? Which concept is more helpful?

2. Provide some examples of organizational stressors that might trigger “learned hopelessness”. How can people develop “learned optimism” in such circumstances?

3. Describe the components of the “Psychological Fitness” program used in the US Army and relate them to what you have learned in 21929 thus far.

4. Explain the four ways of responding based upon the work of Shelly Gable and consider some situations in which you could begin applying active responding in your social interactions?

5. There has been a lot of criticism of the use of psychiatry as a mode of state control in Nazi Germany or the USSR. What do you think about applying Positive Psychology in the context of the US military? Is there are moral dilemma here? For that matter, is there a moral dilemma in applying Positive Psychology within a business or organizational context?

Week 7

Attached Files:

· File 12 Item PsyCap Questionnaire.pdf (42.856 KB)

Psychological Capital



Download, print and complete the attached PsyCap questionnaire. Bring your results to discuss in class, either in print or soft form.

Luthans, F., Avey, J. B., Avolio, B. J., Norman, S. M., & Combs, G. M. 2006, ‘Psychological capital development: Toward a microintervention’, Journal of Organizational Behavior, vol. 27, no. 3, pp. 387-393.

1. Describe the four components of PsyCap, as well as the inclusion criteria.

2. The authors describe the PsyCap components as having a “synergistic effect”, what does that mean? Relate this concept to broaden and build theory as discussed in Week 3 of 21929.

3. Relate the idea of confidence or self-efficacy development via modeling or vicarious learning to the concept of positive deviance sampling discussed in Week 1 of 21929.

4. What are the similarities and differences in how these authors describe the construct of resiliency when compared with resilience as described in the article by Seligman discussed in Week 6?

5. What are your thoughts on the authors’ attempt to calculate a return of investment percentage for PsyCap training?

6. Could selfishness be a potential limitation of the PsyCap construct? Explain your reasoning.

Week 8

Mindfulness at Work

Reading and Questions:

Langer, E. 2014, ‘Mindfulness in the age of complexity’, Harvard Business Review, vol. 92, no. 3, pp. 68-73.

1. Describe the differences between mindful and mindless behaviour.

2. Discuss the relationship between mindfulness, mistakes and creativity. Can you think of any examples from your own experience?

3. Discuss the relationship between mindfulness and charisma. Why do you think mindful people might be more charismatic?

4. Do you think there a relationship between mindfulness and empathy? Provide some examples of how this could benefit organizational practice?

5. How important is context to mindful behaviour? Support your response with examples.

Week 9

Attached Files:

· File authentic-leadership-questionnaire(1).pdf (56.226 KB)

Positive Leadership, Authentic Leadership

Read the following Harvard Business Review article and respond to the questions below before coming to class:

George, B., Sims, P., McLean, A. N. & Mayer, D. 2007. ‘Discovering your Authentic Leadership’, Harvard Business Review, vol. 85, no. 2, pp. 129-138.

1. What are some of the criticisms that the authors offer of traditional leadership theories and approaches?

2. Explain the basic premise of Authentic Leadership.

3. How does the notion of learning from your life story feature in Authentic Leadership? Can you provide an example from the paper and your own life?

4. Discuss the importance of self-awareness and addressing blind-spots for Authentic Leadership.

5. Can you describe a blind-spot that others could see but with took you a long time to become aware of and ultimately address? How did that improve your life?

6. How do values translate into practical leadership principles and behaviours? Provide an example from your own life.

7. Discuss the relationship between values and extrinsic motivation. What are the extrinsic rewards that appeal most to you?

8. Discuss the importance of having a strong support team for Authentic Leadership? How do Authentic Leaders go about building such a team?

Complete the attached Authentic Leadership Questionnaire and bring your feedback to discuss during your tutorial:

· authentic-leadership-questionnaire_1_.pdf

Week 10

Organisational Compassion Studies

Reading & Questions:

Simpson, A.V., Cunha, M.P. & Rego, A. 2015, ‘Compassion in the context of capitalistic organizations: Evidence from the 2011 Brisbane floods’, Journal of Business Ethics, vol. 130, no. 3, pp. 683-703.

1. Explain Solomon, Frost and Ghoshal’s arguments for why organisations are also places of compassion, even if not recognised as such in organisational theory.

2. Describe the four key principles of Conscious Capitalism. How does this philosophy compare with business philosophies that draw from Adam Smith’s invisible hand, or Darwinian survival of the fittest? What do Mackey and Sisodia mean when they refer to win-win-win-win-win solutions?

3. Discuss three perspectives on the implicit assumptions of capitalism, including how were these were seen to inform the organisational responses to employee support during the Brisbane floods of 2011?

4. Explain employee reactions to the three categories of organisational responses to the flood situation. Discuss the relevance of these findings to evolutionary explanations of “survival of the fittest” and “broaden and build theory”.

5. Discuss the statement that “compassion is more than merely a psychological state”. What are the arguments presented to explain organisational compassion as related to culture, systems and processes?

6. Discuss the relationship between organsiational compassion and leadership.

7. Discuss the notion of using compassion instrumentally as a mode of power over others. Provide some examples from the article where employees perceived that “compassion” was being provided instrumentally.

Week 11

Meaning, Purpose & Positive Connections


Go to the Authentic Happiness website, entre the “Questionnaire Center” and complete the “Work-Life Questionaire”. Be sure to bring your results to class, either in print or soft form.

Reading and Questions:  

Porter, M.E. & Kramer, M.R. 2011, ‘Creating shared value’, Harvard Business Review, vol. 89, no. 1/2, pp. 62-77.

1. Reflect on the relationship between the notions of meaning, purpose and value?

2. Describe Shared Value in a nutshell, what is the difference between shared value and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?

3. What assumptions and theories are at the heart of the presumed “trade-off” or conflict between economic efficiency and social progress? According to the authors how can business and society be brought back together?

4. Companies are always trying to reduce costs. Can Shared Value help to reduce short-term and long-term costs?

5. What is the potential role of marketing, finance, supply chain, HR and new product development in enabling shared value?

6. Is shared value the future of the industry? Or is it just a new way to brand ‘capitalism’ for the customers, consumers and regulatory authorities?

7. With your group members pick one of the companies mentioned in the reading (Google, IBM, Intel, J&J, Nestle, Unilever and Wal-Mart) and discuss how that company is creating shared value through its products and value chain?


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