Conceptualizing "positive attributes" across psychological perspectives

Journal of Personality:1-14 (2023)
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Abstract

The growth of positive psychology has birthed debate on the nature of what “positive” really means. Conceptualizations of positive attributes vary across psychological perspectives, and it appears these definitional differences stem from standards for “positive” espoused by three normative ethical frameworks: consequentialism, deontology, and virtue ethics. When definitions of “positive” do not align with one of these ethical schools, it appears researchers rely on preference to distinguish positive attributes. In either case, issues arise when researchers do not make their theoretical alignment explicit, leading to value-laden, often subjective criteria being smuggled into science as a description of what is positive. To foster a deeper critical understanding of the different approaches, we examine how these conceptual definitions of positive attributes (mis)align with their ethical traditions or fail to align with an ethical school.

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Anne Jeffrey
Baylor University

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