Universitat Internacional de Catalunya

Positive Psychology

Positive Psychology
Second semester
Main language of instruction: Catalan

Other languages of instruction: Spanish

Teaching staff

On Fridays after class with prior appointment via email, nvila@uic.es


Positive psychology encompasses the study of positive experiences, positive character strengths, relationships, and the institutions and practices that facilitate their development. Positive experiences include the mental states of fluency and mindfulness and emotions about the present (pleasure, satisfaction, laughter), past (e.g., nostalgia, satisfaction, pride), and future (e.g., hope, optimism). The distinction between the pleasant life, the good life and the meaningful life will be identified. Positive character traits include wisdom, courage, compassion, love, humanity, justice, temperance, self-efficacy, resilience, imagination, creativity, and spirituality/transcendence. The classification of these is explored through the virtues. Positive relationships include factors that enhance meaning and well-being among partners, family, friends, coworkers, and the community. Positive institutions are exemplified by positive education, positive work environments, healthy families, human leadership, and the development of civic virtues.


This course also reviews the history of positive psychology and the contributions that this new field has made to several traditional areas of research in psychology. Throughout the course we will also engage in experiential learning and practical exercises to increase well-being, which will inform our theoretical and empirical understanding of important issues in positive psychology.

Pre-course requirements

No requirements needed. 


The mission of this course is to provide an up-to-date understanding of theoretical and empirical developments in positive psychology. More generally, this course is intended to enhance your appreciation of how the scientific method can advance our understanding of the human condition.

At the end of this course, you should be able to:

• Understand and articulate key concepts, findings and controversies in the emerging field of positive psychology

• Understand research methods (including measures, interventions, and research paradigms) used in positive psychology research.

• Assess the evidence for the validity, both internal and external, of empirical claims in contemporary positive psychology research

• Articulate from first-hand experience with positive psychology activities a perspective on how positive psychology is (or is not) relevant to your life


  • 50 - To acquire the ability to relate concepts, analyse and synthesise.
  • 51 - To develop decision making skills.
  • 52 - To develop interpersonal skills and the ability to work as part of a team.
  • 53 - To acquire the skills necessary to learn autonomously.
  • 54 - To be able to express one’s ideas and formulate arguments in a logical and coherent way, both verbally and in writing.
  • 56 - To be able to create arguments which are conducive to critical and self-critical thinking.

Learning outcomes

• Demonstrate an understanding of the rationale behind positive psychology.

• Articulate the fundamental objectives of positive psychology.

• Identify and analyze the key conceptual and theoretical frameworks that underpin positive psychology.

• Identify the contributions of other studies from various disciplines and their influence on the development of a positive approach to mental health.

• Differentiate between the different forms of well-being (cognitive and affective, subjective and objective).

• Distinguish between problem-focused and strengths-based approaches to mental health and well-being.

• Understand and apply a strengths-based approach to mental health issues.

• Discuss current issues in positive psychology and identify areas that require more scientific attention.

• Analytical and cognitive skills will be developed through critical evaluations of theoretical and empirical contributions.

• Innovative and creative thinking skills will be promoted by encouraging multidisciplinary perspectives and developments to be taken into account and synthesized.

• Written communication skills will be developed through assignment work.

• Reflective thinking will be developed through daily learning processes, experiences of growth and development.

• Students will learn to synthesize a large volume of relevant conceptual and empirical works.


1. Introduction to Positive Psychology (Chapters 1 and 2)

2. Positive emotions and experiences (Chapter 3)

3. Happiness (Chapters 4)

4. Optimism and Resilience (Chapter 5)

5. Finding your strengths and Virtues (Chapters 6 and 7)

6. Interests, Skills and Talent (Chapter 8)

7. Welfare (Chapter 9)

8. Positive Psychology of Relationships: Love and Social Connections (Chapter 10)

9. Compassion and Forgiveness

10. Happiness and Material Wealth

11. Meaning and Purpose

12. Flow, Presence, Freedom

13. Flourishing, Creativity

14. Gratitude

15. Positive Institutions (Chapter 11)

16. The Future of Positive Psychology (Chapter 12)

Teaching and learning activities

In person

Class discussions, presentations by experts, class activities related to cases, role play activities, reflection activities.

Evaluation systems and criteria

In person

1. Reflection article 1: 20%

2. Reflection article 2: 20%

3. Final exam: 60% (at least 5/10 points must be obtained to pass the course)

In the second call (in June) the make-up exam will count for 70% of the course grade and the other 30% will be the grade obtained during the course. The resit exam must be passed for the continuous assessment grade to be taken into account.



Bibliography and resources

  • Peterson, C. (2006). A Primer in Positive Psychology. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Kaufman, S.B. (2013). Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined. New York, NY: Basic Books.
  • Haidt, J. (2005). The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom. New York,NY: Basic Books.
  • Nettle, D. (2006). Happiness: The Science Behind Your Smile. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.