Martin E. P. "Marty" Seligman (//; born August 12, 1942) is an American psychologist, educator, and author of self-help books. Since the late 1990s, Seligman has been an avid promoter within the scientific community for the field of positive psychology. His theory of learned helplessness is popular among scientific and clinical psychologists. A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked Seligman as the 31st most cited psychologist of the 20th century.
August 12, 1942 |
Albany, New York
|Alma mater||Princeton University (A.B.)
University of Pennsylvania (Ph.D.)
|Known for||Positive psychology
|Institutions||University of Pennsylvania (Zellerbach Family Professor of Psychology)|
Seligman is the Zellerbach Family Professor of Psychology in the University of Pennsylvania's Department of Psychology. He was previously the Director of the Clinical Training Program in the department, and earlier taught at Cornell University. He is the director of the university's Positive Psychology Center. Seligman was elected President of the American Psychological Association for 1998. He is the founding editor-in-chief of Prevention and Treatment (the APA electronic journal) and is on the board of advisers of Parents magazine.
Seligman has written about positive psychology topics in books such as The Optimistic Child, Child's Play, Learned Optimism, and Authentic Happiness. His most recent book, Flourish, was published in 2011.
Early life and educationEdit
Seligman was born in Albany, New York. He was educated at a public school and at The Albany Academy. He earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy at Princeton University in 1964, graduating Summa Cum Laude. Seligman turned down a scholarship to study analytic philosophy at Oxford University, or animal experimental psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and accepted an offer to attend the University of Pennsylvania to study psychology. He earned his Ph.D. in psychology at University of Pennsylvania in 1967. On June 2, 1989 Seligman received an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Social Sciences at Uppsala University, Sweden 
Seligman's foundational experiments and theory of "learned helplessness" began at University of Pennsylvania in 1967, as an extension of his interest in depression. Quite by accident, Seligman and colleagues discovered that the experimental conditioning protocol they used with dogs led to behaviors which were unexpected, in that under the experimental conditions, the recently conditioned dogs did not respond to opportunities to learn to escape from an unpleasant situation. Seligman developed the theory further, finding learned helplessness to be a psychological condition in which a human being or an animal has learned to act or behave helplessly in a particular situation — usually after experiencing some inability to avoid an adverse situation — even when it actually has the power to change its unpleasant or even harmful circumstance. Seligman saw a similarity with severely depressed patients, and argued that clinical depression and related mental illnesses result in part from a perceived absence of control over the outcome of a situation. In later years, alongside Abramson, Seligman reformulated his theory of learned helplessness to include attributional style.
Enhanced interrogation controversyEdit
James Elmer Mitchell was involved in the development of enhanced interrogation techniques. Mitchell attended a meeting at Seligman's home regarding the September 11 attacks and the psychology of capitulation in December 2001. Mitchell also attended a three-hour talk from Seligman sponsored by the JPRA on learned helplessness and torture resistance at Naval Base San Diego in May 2002. The Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture stated that the enhanced interrogation techniques were based on the theory of learned helplessness. Seligman has stated that his involvement does not extend beyond those two events, he does not support torture, and he is grieved and horrified that good science may have been used for such a bad and dubious purpose as torture.
Seligman worked with Christopher Peterson to create what they describe as a 'positive' counterpart to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). While the DSM focuses on what can go wrong, Character Strengths and Virtues is designed to look at what can go right. In their research they looked across cultures and across millennia to attempt to distill a manageable list of virtues that have been highly valued from ancient China and India, through Greece and Rome, to contemporary Western cultures. Their list includes six character strengths: wisdom/knowledge, courage, humanity, justice, temperance, and transcendence. Each of these has three to five sub-entries; for instance, temperance includes forgiveness, humility, prudence, and self-regulation. The authors do not believe that there is a hierarchy for the six virtues; no one is more fundamental than or a precursor to the others.
In July 2011, Seligman encouraged British Prime Minister David Cameron to look into well-being as well as financial wealth in ways of assessing the prosperity of a nation. On July 6, 2011, Seligman appeared on Newsnight and was interviewed by Jeremy Paxman about his ideas and his interest in the concept of well-being.
In his latest book, Flourish, Seligman articulated an account of how he measures well-being, and titled this work, "Well-Being Theory". He concludes that there are five elements to "well-being", which fall under the mnemonic PERMA:
- Positive emotion — Can only be assessed subjectively
- Engagement — Like positive emotion, can only be measured through subjective means. It is presence of a flow state
- Relationships — The presence of friends, family, intimacy, or social connection
- Meaning — Belonging to and serving something bigger than one's self
- Achievement — Accomplishment that is pursued even when it brings no positive emotion, no meaning, and nothing in the way of positive relationships.
From Martin Seligmans book:
"Each element of well-being must itself have three properties to count as an element:
- It contributes to well-being.
- Many people pursue it for its own sake, not merely to get any of the other elements.
- It is defined and measured independently of the other elements."
These theories have not been empirically validated.
The Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania was established under the leadership of Seligman as the first educational initiative of the Positive Psychology Center in 2003.
Seligman plays bridge and finished second in the 1998 installment of one of the three major North American pair championships, the Blue Ribbon Pairs, as well as having won over 50 regional championships.
Seligman has seven children, four grandchildren, and two dogs. He and his second wife, Mandy, live in a house that was once occupied by Eugene Ormandy. They have home-schooled five of their seven children.
- — (1975). Helplessness: On Depression, Development, and Death. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman. ISBN 0-7167-0752-7. (Paperback reprint edition, W.H. Freeman, 1992, ISBN 0-7167-2328-X)
- — (1991). Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life. New York: Knopf. ISBN 0-671-01911-2. (Paperback reprint edition, Penguin Books, 1998; reissue edition, Free Press, 1998)
- — (1993). What You Can Change and What You Can't: The Complete Guide to Successful Self-Improvement. New York: Knopf. ISBN 0-679-41024-4. (Paperback reprint edition, Ballantine Books, 1995, ISBN 0-449-90971-9)
- — (1996). The Optimistic Child: Proven Program to Safeguard Children from Depression & Build Lifelong Resilience. New York: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0091831199. (Paperback edition, Harper Paperbacks, 1996, ISBN 0-06-097709-4)
- — (2002). Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment. New York: Free Press. ISBN 0-7432-2297-0. (Paperback edition, Free Press, 2004, ISBN 0-7432-2298-9)
- — (Spring 2004). "Can Happiness be Taught?". Daedalus. 133 (2): 80–87. doi:10.1162/001152604323049424.
- Peterson, Christopher; Seligman, Martin E.P. (2004). Character Strengths and Virtues. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195167015.
- — (2011). Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being. New York: Free Press. ISBN 978-1-4391-9075-3.
- Positive Psychology Center, University of Pennsylvania.
- Bower, Gordon H. (1981). The psychology of learning and motivation: advances in research and theory. Academic Press, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. p. 30. ISBN 9780125433150. "The most popular theoretical interpretation of the learned helplessness phenomenon to date is that of Seligman (1975) and Maier and Seligman (1976)."
- Haggbloom, Steven J.; Warnick, Jason E.; Jones, Vinessa K.; Yarbrough, Gary L.; Russell, Tenea M.; Borecky, Chris M.; McGahhey, Reagan; et al. (2002). "The 100 most eminent psychologists of the 20th century". Review of General Psychology. 6 (2): 139–152. doi:10.1037/1089-26220.127.116.11.
- "A Brief Biography of Psychologist Martin Seligman". psychology.about.com.
- "Former APA Presidents". American Psychological Association.
- "Martin Seligman, Ph.D".
- "Honorary doctorates". Uppsala University, Sweden.
- Seligman, M.E.P.; Maier, S.F. (1967). "Failure to escape traumatic shock". Journal of Experimental Psychology. 74 (1): 1–9. doi:10.1037/h0024514. PMID 6032570.; Overmier, J.B.; Seligman, M.E.P. (1967). "Effects of inescapable shock upon subsequent escape and avoidance responding". Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology. 63 (1): 28–33. doi:10.1037/h0024166. PMID 6029715.
- Seligman, M.E.P. (1975). Helplessness: On Depression, Development, and Death. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman. ISBN 0-7167-2328-X.
- Abramson, L.Y.; Seligman, M.E.P.; Teasdale, JD (1978). "Learned helplessness in humans: Critique and reformulation". Journal of Abnormal Psychology. 87 (1): 49–74. doi:10.1037/0021-843X.87.1.49. PMID 649856.
- Dilanian, Ken (6 March 2016). "Psychologist Defends Harsh CIA Interrogations". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on 6 March 2016. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
- Shane, Scott (11 August 2009). "2 U.S. Architects of Harsh Tactics in 9/11's Wake". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
- Melechi, Antonio (29 September 2016). "Bodies of evidence: psychologists and the CIA torture scandal". Times Higher Education.
- Seligman, Martin. "A letter to the editor". Voltaire Network. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
- Horton, Scott (14 July 2008). "Six Questions for Jane Mayer, Author of The Dark Side". Harper's Magazine. Retrieved 2009-02-04.
Seligman said his talk was focused on how to help U.S. soldiers resist torture — not on how to breakdown resistance in detainees. ... Mitchell has denied that these theories guided his and the CIA's use
- Seligman, Martin (18 March 2010). "A Response to Bryant Welch". Huffington Post.
- Shaw, Tamsin; Seligman, Martin. "'Learned Helplessness' & Torture: An Exchange". The New York Review of Books.
- Linley, P.A.; Maltby, J.; Wood, A.M.; Joseph, S.; Harrington, S.; Peterson, C.; Park, N.; Seligman, M.E.P. (2007). "Character strengths in the United Kingdom: The VIA Inventory of strengths" (PDF). Personality and Individual Differences. 43 (2): 341–351. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2006.12.004.
- Seligman, Martin (2011). Flourish. New York: Free Press. pp. 16–20. ISBN 9781439190760.
- "MAPP program". University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved 10 April 2014.
- Francis, Henry G., Editor-in-Chief; Truscott, Alan F., Executive Editor; Francis, Dorthy A., Editor, Sixth Edition (2001). The Official Encyclopedia of Bridge (6th ed.). Memphis, TN: American Contract Bridge League. p. 732. ISBN 0-943855-44-6. OCLC 49606900.
- Burling, Stacey (30 May 2010). "The power of a positive thinker". philly.com. The Inquirer - Interstate General Media. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
- Hirtz, Rob (January 1999). "Martin Seligman's Journey: from Learned Helplessness to Learned Happiness". The Pennsylvania Gazette. The University of Pennsylvania.
- Authentic Happiness, Seligman's homepage at University of Pennsylvania
- "Eudaemonia, the Good Life: A Talk with Martin Seligman", an article wherein Seligman speaks extensively on the topic of eudaemonia
- "The Positive Psychology Center", a website devoted to positive psychology. Martin Seligman is director of the Positive Psychology Center of the University of Pennsylvania.
- Program description for Master of Applied Positive Psychology degree established by Seligman
- Martin E. P. Seligman's curriculum vitae at the University of Pennsylvania
- TED Talk: Why is psychology good?
- University of Pennsylvania's page on MAPP program