Thursday, May 19, 2011

Martin Seligman Wants to Apply Positive Psychology to Games, the Army

Martin Seligman. From Princeton.
Martin Seligman, considered to be the father of positive psychology, is still pushing the science in new and interesting directions, according to Gamasutra. His recipe for happiness is PERMA, or positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, and achievement. Seligman is now assisting the U.S. Army in teaching PERMA to soldiers in an attempt to alleviate common problems that soldiers have, like post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, drug abuse, and divorce.

The Army will ship drill sergeants to the University of Pennsylvania, where Seligman teaches. The effectiveness of PERMA techniques will then be measured on one million soldiers over their entire careers. The whole program will cost $150 million.

On the topic of games, Seligman mentions a lot of untapped potential. Though he hasn't seen any games that relate to positive psychology thus far, he says, "I believe that PERMA's future...might be that gaming will be the great, exponential amplifier. Teaching emotional literacy to young people throughout the entire world [through gaming]." He also mentions a lack of research on this topic, but that there is some evidence of Bridge's positive effect in preventing dementia.

For more on positive gaming, you might check out Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal. I haven't read it, but I'd really like to. You can also click on my Martin Seligman tag.


  1. I like the idea of teaching kids and bringing some positive changes via gaming. This will really reach millions of people!

  2. Yeah, it's great that games can be used for this. Modern video games often just provide mindless entertainment (like summer blockbuster movies), so I like hearing about more useful and positive applications for them.

  3. Yes, exactly! Although I must admit I can't say I can really imagine what such a game look like. I guess we'll have to wait and see!