Theory & Books

Here you will find theoretical positive psychology articles, book summaries, and reviews that explain scientific concepts and findings in the field for the sake of understanding and mastering these topics.

What Is the Cognitive Psychology Approach? 12 Key Theories

Cognitive Psychology

As I cross the busy road, a sea of information of varying degrees of importance confronts me. Maintaining focus on the oncoming traffic is paramount, yet I am barely aware of the seagulls flying overhead. These noisy birds only receive attention when I am safely walking up the other side […]

Classical Conditioning Learning Theory: 4 Classroom Examples

Classical Conditioning Learning

Have you ever wished that you could just ring a bell or sound a gong and your students would all become magically silent and give you their undivided attention? Would you enjoy the opportunity to have students quietly transition between activities with little disruption? For any teacher, these scenarios sound […]

Applying Social Learning Theory in Social Work & Education

Social Learning Theory

Many of us are familiar with the notorious Bobo Doll experiment by Bandura, Ross, and Ross (1961), but what does it have to do with social work and education? As it turns out, a lot. Social learning is a natural approach to acquiring new information relevant to all students and […]

12 Social Work Books Every Practitioner Should Read

Social Work Books

Social workers are tasked with helping survivors of childhood abuse, domestic violence, violent crime, disaster, war, and terrorism (Bride, 2007). While this mission list appears daunting, social workers get it done every day. It is critical that social workers remain up-to-date on current best practices to be most effective. Here […]

Developmental Psychology 101: Theories, Stages, & Research

Developmental psychology stages

Developmental psychology looks at how we grow and change in our thoughts and behaviors. You can imagine how vast this field of psychology is if it has to cover the whole of life, from birth through death. Just like any other area of psychology, it has created exciting debates and […]

13 Social Work Methods & Interventions for Helping Others

Social work methods

As communities become increasingly fragmented and the influence of traditional frameworks (familial, religious, and political) lessens, the role of social workers becomes progressively more important (Parker, 2013). While social work as a profession has remained in a state of flux for some years, dedicated professionals continue to support individuals, families, […]

4 Fascinating Classical Conditioning & Behaviorism Studies

Classical Conditioning

Can you think back to when you were in school and the bell rang for lunch? Did you experience a rumble in your stomach, even before you entered the dining hall and saw any food? If so, your unconscious behavior was actually a real-life example of classical conditioning. This article […]

What Is the Classical Conditioning Theory? 6 Real-Life Examples

Classic Conditioning Theory

Until the 1950s, behaviorism was the dominant school of thought in psychology. It attempted to explain behavior based on the effects of the environment and learning rather than innate or inherited factors (Gross, 2020). Classical conditioning theory, discovered by Russian physiologist and Nobel prize winner Ivan Pavlov, was central to […]

What Is Bandura’s Social Learning Theory? 3 Examples

Social Learning Theory

Albert Bandura’s social learning theory (SLT) suggests that we learn social behavior by observing and imitating the behavior of others. Bandura realized that direct reinforcement alone could not account for all types of learning, so he added a social element to his theory, arguing that people learn by observing others […]

Social Work Training: Top 25+ Courses, Degrees, & Online Options

Social Work Training

The employment of social workers in the United States is projected to grow by 13% from 2019 to 2029 to meet the growing needs of society (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021). Gaining and maintaining the skills and licenses necessary for newly qualified social workers to help in family, schools, […]

35+ Essential Skills & Values of Good Social Workers

Social work values

Social work continues to develop and grow as a profession, often with new and increasing demands and skills to meet the needs of the most vulnerable in society (Rogers, Whitaker, Edmondson, & Peach, 2020). However, while the context in which social work operates remains in constant change, one essential element […]

10 Fascinating Social Work Theories & Models

Social work theories

Professional social workers require detailed knowledge of social, mental, and interpersonal difficulties and the skills to work with the most vulnerable people in society. As a result, social work’s interest and involvement in family, community welfare, and social justice have contributed significantly to mental health practice and social policy (Bland, […]

14 Must-Read Acceptance & Commitment Therapy Books

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Books

Acceptance and commitment therapy, or ACT (pronounced “act”), is an evidence-based therapy that blends Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), humanistic, and mindfulness-based approaches to treatment. There is a lot of good stuff contained in the treatment that can help your clients. There is no better way to learn about ACT than to […]

What Is Cross-Cultural Psychology? 11 Research Findings & Theories

Cross cultural

As psychologists, counselors, and therapists, we must never lose sight of the fact that humans are members of a cultural species. Therefore, we must consider the effect of cultural learning on how we live, our drives, and our goals (Heine, 2010). As Steven Heine (2010) writes, “on no occasions do […]

What Is Sports Psychology? 9 Scientific Theories & Examples

Sports Psychology

Heading out the door at 5 a.m. for another long, cold training run in the dark takes single-minded motivation. And maintaining focus when your team is behind and heading into the final few minutes of the game requires mental toughness. Sports are played by the body and won in the mind, […]

What Is Separation Anxiety? 9 Worksheets for Children & Adults

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is characterized by excessive anxiety upon being separated from major attachment figures such as parents. Despite its origins in childhood, separation anxiety can also persist into adolescence and adulthood and is a risk factor for developing more severe anxiety-related symptoms such as panic attacks and agoraphobia (Lewinsohn, Holm-Denoma, […]

20 Best Sports Psychology Books for Motivating Athletes

Sports Psychology Books

While some athletes break through under pressure, performing at their very best, others falter, never realizing their potential (Mack & Casstevens, 2001). Mental toughness, resilience, self-confidence, and the right mindset are all factors in moderating the effects of stress while providing the drive for sportspeople to perform at their best […]

Epigenetics vs Genetics: How Do Genes Influence Behavior?


Richard Dawkins’s book The Selfish Gene created a considerable stir when it was first published in 1976. At that time, no one knew for sure exactly what a gene was, what they looked like, or how many existed. Yet, the brilliance of Dawkins’s work was that he side-stepped these issues. […]

Cognitive Dissonance Theory: An Example & 4 Ways to Address It

Cognitive Dissonance Theory

“Tomorrow I will start my diet,” I reflected, while munching a doughnut. If this has ever happened to you, you have experienced first-hand what this article is about: what happens when we act in a way that does not align with who we believe we are. That slight feeling of […]

Consciousness in Psychology: 8 Intriguing Theories & Examples

Consciousness in psychology

Consciousness is an enigma. While vital to the human experience, it remains obscure and hidden – the ghost in the machine (Hofstadter & Dennett, 1982). An epiphenomenon of the physical brain's complexity beneath, consciousness appears to rise from the activity of billions of neurons, like bubbles bursting at the top of […]

Personality Psychology 101: A Look At 7 Theories and Assessments

Personality Psychology

At one time or another, we all question who we are and how well we know ourselves. It’s part of the human condition. The search to understand human nature has been a journey lasting thousands of years, taking us from ancient Greece to modern gene labs. During that time, there […]

Evolutionary Psychology Explained: 9 Bold Ways to Rethink Psychology

evolutionary psychology

Like any other organ of the body, the brain is the product of many thousands of years of natural selection. If this is true of the hardware, shouldn’t the same biological processes apply to the software? Evolutionary psychologists claim that we have evolved countless mental programs, “each specialized for solving […]

Community Psychology: Resources for Helping Society Thrive

Community Psychology

A crisis is often a time of great suffering, disagreement, and confusion; yet, it can also be an opportunity for positive social transformation. To achieve constructive change in a community, it is vital to see the links between individual needs and global politics, economics, and cultural development (Riemer, Reich, Evans, […]

What Is Pathologizing & Overpathologizing in Psychology?


We often view the world through the lens of our biases. We bring cultural, professional, educational, and social baggage to our thoughts, decisions, and beliefs. As mental health professionals, we carry these preconceptions to our meetings with clients, influencing our diagnoses. Therefore, we can be guilty of refusing to accept […]

The Science of Spirituality: 16 Tips to Build Your Spiritual Practice

When plagues hit, people turned to religion. When war hits, people pray for and depend on one another. When terror tries to steal life from us, we stand in solidarity and hope for the goodness of humanity. Science is a very valuable part of humanity. However, it hasn’t yet explained […]

Operant Conditioning Theory: Examples for Successful Habit Formation

Operant conditioning is a well-known theory, but how do you put it into practice in your everyday life? How do you use your knowledge of its principles to build, change, or break a habit? How do you use it to get your children to do what you ask them to […]

15 Must-Watch TED Talks on Positive Psychology

TED talks have been around for over 30 years now, and since they’ve been online, thousands of them have been uploaded for viewers like you and me. We’ve put together a list of our 15 favorite positive psychology TED talks to inspire you about key themes, from how we measure […]

What are Mental Health Theories? (Incl. List)

Have you ever met with a counselor or therapist and thought, "This is not a good fit?" It might have had something to do with the theories they use to inform their practice. Counselors and therapists worldwide receive training about the theoretical underpinnings of mental health. They learn how to […]

What is the Mental Health Continuum Model?

Think about it. When a person behaves oddly or deviates from the societal standards of normality, we address him/her in so many ways - depressed, anxious, moody, suicidal, and the list goes on. But how often do we hear ourselves categorizing the ‘mentally healthy’ people as happy, very happy, or […]

The 20 Best Books on Appreciative Inquiry

Appreciative inquiry is a strength-based approach to address changing and is considered a constructive alternative to traditional problem-solving. The intention in this process is to seek and leverage the best in people and place the focus more on what we want and less on what is broken. By changing the […]

The Connections Between Positive Psychology And Mental Health

Mental health therapists in the past dealt mostly with psychological diseases and the health issues that came from it. Their focus was less on individual factors like motivation, positive thinking, happiness, and emotional resilience, and more on the manifested symptoms of mental illness. George Vaillant, a pioneer in the field […]

10 Must-Read Positive Psychology Books

As extensive as this list of positive psychology books may be, it will never be ‘finished’ or ‘complete’. To make the list as valuable as possible, your contribution is not only greatly appreciated, but necessary. So in case you know of any positive psychology books that aren’t yet featured in […]

What is Environmental Psychology?

The term “environmental psychology” might be a bit ambiguous or confusing to you; if it is, you’re certainly not alone. It’s not a very large field yet, but it has the potential to be one of the most impactful ones yet regarding the future of being human. If your interest is […]

What is Kaplan’s Attention Restoration Theory (ART)?

Spending time in nature, by watching a sunset, gazing at the ocean or mountains, sitting in a park, escaping to the countryside or a nature retreat, or even just spending a few minutes to stare out the window, provides us with the opportunity to rest, reflect, and restore our very […]

What is Positive Psychology & Why is It Important?

If you’ve been hearing the term “positive psychology” thrown around a lot, but you’re not quite sure what it is, you’ve come to the right place! There are some common misconceptions about positive psychology, both about what it is and what it is not. To clear up some of these […]

Abraham Maslow, His Theory & Contribution to Psychology

Abraham Maslow was one of the most influential psychologists of the twentieth century. Among his many contributions to psychology were his advancements to the field of humanistic psychology and his development of the hierarchy of needs. Maslow’s career in psychology greatly predated the modern positive psychology movement, yet the field […]

Big Five Personality Traits: The OCEAN Model Explained

The Big Five personality traits are all about the following question: "Who are you?" It's a simple enough question, but it's one of the hardest ones to answer. There are many ways to interpret that question. An answer could include your name, your job title, your role in your family, […]

The Journal of Positive Psychology And Where To Find It

The Journal of Positive Psychology is the first-ever journal entirely dedicated to positive psychology. It publishes six issues a year and presents the latest scientific findings related to happiness, fulfillment, and flourishing. The Journal of Positive Psychology pools information from a multitude of disciplines that range from psychology to economics. […]

Positive Psychology Theory in a Nutshell

Positive psychology complements traditional psychology's focus on pathology. It studies strengths, virtues, and the factors that contribute to a full and meaningful life. "Probably the biggest insight is that happiness is not just a place, but also a process. Happiness is an ongoing process of fresh challenges and . . . […]

Positive Psychology: An Introduction (Summary + PDF)

One of the foundational articles in the field of positive psychology is “Positive Psychology. An Introduction,” written by Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. (2000) "Psychology is much larger than curing mental illness or curing diseases. I think it's about bringing out the best in people; it's about positive institutions; it's […]