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Martin Seligman

Martin E.P. Seligman (Albany, New York, 12 August 1942) is an American psychologist and writer. He is well known for his work on the idea of "learned helplessness", and more recently, for his contributions to leadership in the field of Positive Psychology.

According to Haggbloom et al's study of the most eminent psychologists of the 20th Century, Seligman was the 13th most frequently cited psychologist in introductory psychology textbooks throughout the century.[1]

Seligman is the Robert A. Fox Leadership Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, Department of Psychology. He was previously the Director of the Clinical Training Program in the department. Seligman has served as President of the American Psychological Association (APA) Division of Clinical Psychology. In 1998, Seligman was elected President of the APA[2] by the widest margin in its history. He is the founding Editor-in-Chief of Prevention and Treatment Magazine (the APA electronic journal), is on the Board of Advisors of Parents Magazine, and is Chairman of the Scientific Board at Foresight, Inc.

Seligman is also a best selling author, writing about Positive Psychology topics such as The Optimistic Child, Learned Optimism, and, in 2002, Authentic Happiness.

Seligman is also a talented bridge player, whose accomplishments include a second-place finish in one of the three major North American pair championships, the Blue Ribbon Pairs (1997) along with many regional championships.


Positive psychology

Main article: Positive psychology

"Positive psychology", the study of optimal human functioning, is an attempt to respond to the systematic bias inherent in psychology's historical emphasis on mental illness rather than on mental wellness. Some humanistic psychologists developed theories along these lines, but without solid empirical support. The pioneering research of a new generation of psychologists has led to a renewed interest in this approach, providing a firm scientific foundation for the study of human happiness and optimal function, thus adding a positive side to the predominantly negative discipline of psychology.

MAPP program

The Master of Applied Positive Psychology program at the University of Pennsylvania was established under the leadership of Martin Seligman as the first educational initiative of the Positive Psychology Center in 2003. Offered through the University’s College of General Studies, the degree is granted by the Graduate Division of Arts and Sciences.

Developed by an interdisciplinary team of scholars, the program benefits from the hands-on involvement of innovators in the field and represents ground-breaking applied research. Directed toward working professionals and recent college graduates in related fields, the program trains students in the history, theory, and basic research methods of Positive Psychology and in the application of Positive Psychology in various professional settings.

There is now another programme running along the same lines as the Penn. programme at the University of East London in the U.K.


  • Seligman, M.E.P. (1975). Helplessness: On Depression, Development, and Death. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman. ISBN 0-7167-0752-7 (Paperback reprint edition, 1992, W.H. Freeman, ISBN 0-7167-2328-X)
  • Seligman, M.E.P. (1990). Learned Optimism. New York: Knopf. (reissue edition, 1998, Free Press, ISBN 0-671-01911-2)
  • Seligman, M.E.P. (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, 1995, Ballantine Books, ISBN 0-449-90971-9)
  • Seligman, M.E.P. (1996). The Optimistic Child: Proven Program to Safeguard Children from Depression & Build Lifelong Resilience. New York: Houghton Mifflin. (Paperback edition, 1996, Harper Paperbacks, ISBN 0-06-097709-4)
  • Seligman, M.E.P. (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, 2004, Free Press, ISBN 0-7432-2298-9)


  1. ^ Haggbloom, S.J. et al. (2002). The 100 Most Eminent Psychologists of the 20th Century. Review of General Psychology. Vol. 6, No. 2, 139–15.
  2. ^ List of APA Presidents

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Categories: American psychologists | Social psychologists | Positive psychologists | American self-help writers | American bridge players | 1942 births | Positive psychology

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