Psychologists interested in the study of well-being and happiness now have a central place to connect with colleagues around the world, thanks to the newly founded International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA). Since its establishment in October, IPPA has recruited more than 1,000 members—both from psychology and other related disciplines—dedicated to the science, practice and teaching of positive psychology. Yet despite the group's early appeal, it was almost not formed, says IPPA President Ed Diener, PhD.
"Initially, we resisted having an organization because we didn't want positive psychology to be separate from psychology in general," he says.
But as interest in the discipline grew and conferences and other events on positive psychology increased, so did the need for more coordination and communication about new research and collaboration opportunities, and the desire for a common identity among all positive psychologists, says Ilona Boniwell, PhD, IPPA's vice president and founder of the European Network of Positive Psychology. She says the group will help facilitate international research focused on hot topics in the field-such as the role optimism programs can play in schools or the effects of positive emotion on physical health-and develop common standards and expectations for teaching positive psychology.
Former APA President Martin E.P. Seligman, PhD, credits positive psychology's popularity-and IPPA's initial success-to a deeper understanding by the public of the scientific link between mental "wellness" and favorable outcomes, such as higher productivity and better health.
"It's occurred to our leaders-and even some of the world's leaders-that people are not only voting out of fear, but out of a desire for more meaning in life, more positive relationships and more positive emotion," says Seligman, who along with former APA CEO Raymond D. Fowler, PhD, will serve as IPPA's senior adviser. "People in democracies are starting to vote well-being."
IPPA will host the first World Congress on Positive Psychology, June 17-20, 2009, in Philadelphia. For more information or to join IPPA, visit www.ippanetwork.org.