The Tacit Assumptions of Scientific Practices and Experimental Setups in Positive Psychology

Philipp Eichenberger (doctoral project, ongoing)

Experiments are seen as the touchstone upon which scientific questions can be decided upon. For this reason, certain parameters of the underlying thesis are being measured and through the results of these measurements the thesis about the nature of things are being accepted or falsified.

The emerging branch of positive psychology seeks to understand human happiness and provide instruments to improve the prospects of becoming happy. Since positive psychology seems to rely on empirical methods alone to measure this phenomenon, the choice of experimental setups and measured parameters are giving us hints about the tacit assumptions the researchers have about the nature of human happiness. The decision of positive psychology to use a solely empirical approach already implies a specific point of view that in turn cannot be based on empirical research alone.

Positive psychology is doing research on success, happiness and the meaning of a good life, consequently the conclusions are presented as universal guidelines on how to live and approach everyday decisions. But what is the cognitive status of the practices and models of positive psychology? What are the limits and merits of this science?
In my research project I aim to analyse these experimental setups to assess why and to what effect specific approaches have been chosen.