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How do positive psychology interventions work? A short-term placebo-controlled humor-based study on the role of the time focus


Wellenzohn, Sara; Proyer, René T; Ruch, Willibald (2016). How do positive psychology interventions work? A short-term placebo-controlled humor-based study on the role of the time focus. Personality and Individual Differences, 96:1-6.

Abstract

The past years have seen a growing interest in the study of positive psychology interventions. Meta-analytic ev- idence suggests that they are effective in enhancing happiness and ameliorating depression. However, far less is known on why and how they work. We test two proposed working mechanisms: An attentional shift to the pos- itive, and savoring positive emotions. The proposed mechanisms are tested by manipulating the time focus (past, present, or future) in the instruction of a one-week online humor-based positive intervention (three funny things). A sample of 695 adults was randomly assigned to one of the intervention condition or a placebo control condition. All three variants were effective in enhancing happiness and ameliorating depressive symptoms from pre- to post-intervention compared to the placebo control condition. As expected, the present variant was asso- ciated with both mechanisms, while the past variant was more strongly associated with the savoring mechanism, and the future variant more strongly with the attentional shift mechanism. This initial study provides first sup- port for the potential working mechanisms of effective positive interventions.

Abstract

The past years have seen a growing interest in the study of positive psychology interventions. Meta-analytic ev- idence suggests that they are effective in enhancing happiness and ameliorating depression. However, far less is known on why and how they work. We test two proposed working mechanisms: An attentional shift to the pos- itive, and savoring positive emotions. The proposed mechanisms are tested by manipulating the time focus (past, present, or future) in the instruction of a one-week online humor-based positive intervention (three funny things). A sample of 695 adults was randomly assigned to one of the intervention condition or a placebo control condition. All three variants were effective in enhancing happiness and ameliorating depressive symptoms from pre- to post-intervention compared to the placebo control condition. As expected, the present variant was asso- ciated with both mechanisms, while the past variant was more strongly associated with the savoring mechanism, and the future variant more strongly with the attentional shift mechanism. This initial study provides first sup- port for the potential working mechanisms of effective positive interventions.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords:DoktoratPsych Erstautor
Language:English
Date:2016
Deposited On:30 Nov 2016 15:09
Last Modified:02 Feb 2018 10:52
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0191-8869
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2016.02.056

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