Dr. Martin Seligman

Founder of Positive Psychology and Chairman of the Positive Psychology Center at at the University of Pennsylvania

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Philadelphia, PA, USA

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Martin E.P. Seligman, Ph.D., works on learned helplessness, on depression, on optimism and pessimism, and on positive psychology. He is currently Fox Leadership Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. He is well known in academic and clinical circles and is a best-selling author.

His bibliography includes more than 20 books and 170 articles on motivation and personality. Among his better-known works are Learned Optimism(Knopf, 1991), What You Can Change & What You Can’t(Knopf, 1993), The Optimistic Child (Houghton Mifflin, 1995), Learned Helplessness (Freeman, 1975, 1993) and Abnormal Psychology (Norton, 1982, 1988, 1995, with David Rosenhan). He is the recipient of two Distinguished Scientific Contribution awards from the American Psychological Association, the Laurel Award of the American Association for Applied Psychology and Prevention, and the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Society for Research in Psychopathology. He holds an honorary Ph.D. from Uppsala, Sweden and Doctor of Humane Letters from the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology. Dr. Seligman received both the American Psychological Society’s William James Fellow Award (for contribution to basic science) and the James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award (for the application of psychological knowledge).

Dr. Seligman’s research and writing has been broadly supported by a number of institutions including The National Institute of Mental Health (continuously since 1969), the National Institute of Aging, the National Science Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation. His research on preventing depression received the MERIT Award of the National Institute of Mental Health in 1991. He is the network director of the Positive Psychology Network and Scientific Director of the Values-in-Action Project of the Mayerson Foundation.

For 14 years, he was the Director of the Clinical Training Program of the Psychology Department of the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Seligman was named a “Distinguished Practitioner” by the National Academies of Practice, and in 1995 received the Pennsylvania Psychological Association’s award for “Distinguished Contributions to Science and Practice.” He is a past-president of the Division of Clinical Psychology of the American Psychological Association. Dr. Seligman served as the leading consultant to Consumer Reports for their pioneering article, which documented the effectiveness of long-term psychotherapy. He is scientific director of Foresight, Inc, a testing company, which predicts success in various walks of life.

His books have been translated into more than sixteen languages and have been best sellers both in America and abroad. His work has been featured on the front page of the New York Times, Time, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, the Reader’s Digest, Redbook, Parents, Fortune, Family Circle, and many other popular magazines. He has been a spokesman for the science and practice of psychology on numerous television and radio shows. He has written columns on such far-flung topics as education, violence, and therapy. He has lectured around the world to educators, industry, parents, and mental health professionals.

In 1996 Dr. Seligman was elected President of the American Psychological Association, by the largest vote in modern history. His primary aim as APA President was to join practice and science together so both might flourish, a goal that has dominated his own life as a psychologist. His major initiatives concerned the prevention of ethnopolitical warfare and the study of Positive Psychology.

Since 2000 his main mission has been the promotion of the field of Positive Psychology. This discipline includes the study of positive emotion, positive character traits, and positive institutions. As the science behind these becomes more firmly grounded, Dr. Seligman is now turning his attention to training Positive Psychologists, individuals whose practice will make the world a happier place, in a way that parallels clinical psychologists having made the world a less unhappy place.

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