New Psychology Class Encourages Students to Think Positive

Aug. 29, 2011

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Students enrolled in Baylor University's newly developed psychology class will focus on an often overlooked aspect of psychology this fall: Positivity.

Dr. Michael Frisch, professor of psychology and neuroscience, and Dr. Wade Rowatt, associate professor and director of the Ph.D. program in psychology, have collaborated to create the university's first "Positive Psychology" class, which is designed to help students analyze happiness and the meaning of life.

"We can scientifically study people's strengths and happiness and not just their problems and pathologies or mental disorders," said Frisch, a clinical psychologist and an international authority on positive psychology. "Since World War II, psychology's focus has been on what is wrong with people instead of what is right. We need to scientifically study what makes life worth living as well as how to cultivate virtues like courage and kindness in the world."

Frisch and Rowatt began organizing the class for Baylor students due to its popularity at other universities - such as Harvard College - and because the theme of the class corresponds with the Baylor mission.

"Our president and provost just said that Baylor is a place for students to explore the purpose and meaning of life," Frisch said. "This is a major focus of positive psychology, which is the science of studying and promoting human happiness, meaning and a better quality of life for all."

While the class is listed as a lecture course, Rowatt said it differs from traditional teaching because it allows students to learn and practice positivity exercises, such as writing gratitude letters, time management and the 5-to-1 ratio of positive to negative communication in relationships or group interactions.

"There is good research in relationship literature that five positive experiences to one negative experience increases well-being and is a sign of happy versus unhappy people," Rowatt said. "This can be compliments versus criticism, in the form of communication, or as long as an act is genuine, like a kind deed or a surprise gift."

Frisch and Rowatt expect the class to be offered on a regular basis. Positive Psychology is listed as PSY 3399. Students are required to have taken PSY 1305 and PSY 2402.

For more information, please contact For more information, please contact Dr. Michael Frisch or Dr. Wade Rowatt.

by Carmen Galvan, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805

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