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Web-Based Positive Psychology Interventions: a reexamination of effectiveness


Woodworth, RJ and O'Brien-Malone, A and Diamond, MR and Schuz, B, Web-Based Positive Psychology Interventions: a reexamination of effectiveness, Journal of Clinical Psychology, 73, (3) pp. 218-232. ISSN 0021-9762 (2017) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

DOI: doi:10.1002/jclp.22328


Objective: Seligman, Steen, Park, and Peterson (2005) suggested that positive psychology interventions (PPIs) contain specific, powerful, therapeutic ingredients that effect greater increases in happiness and reductions in depression than a placebo control. This study reexamined the three PPIs that Seligman et al. found to be most effective when delivered over the internet.

Method: Three PPIs and a placebo control, identical with the interventions used by Seligman et al., were examined in a web-based, randomized assignment design.

Results: Mixed-design analysis of variance and multilevel modeling showed that all interventions, including the placebo, led to significant increases in happiness and reductions in depression. The effects of PPIs were indistinguishable from those of the placebo control.

Conclusion: Using web-based delivery, both PPIs and theoretically neutral placebos can increase happiness and reduce depression in self-selected populations. Possible explanations include that non-specific factors common to most therapeutic treatments are responsible for the observed changes, or that cultural or other context-related variables operate to account for the divergent findings.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:positive psychology, replication, happiness, e-mental health
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Clinical and health psychology
Research Field:Health psychology
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Behaviour and health
UTAS Author:Woodworth, RJ (Miss Rosalind Woodworth)
UTAS Author:O'Brien-Malone, A (Dr Angela O'Brien-Malone)
UTAS Author:Diamond, MR (Dr Mark Diamond)
UTAS Author:Schuz, B (Dr Benjamin Schuez)
ID Code:110148
Year Published:2017 (online first 2016)
Web of Science® Times Cited:15
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:2016-07-15
Last Modified:2022-08-29
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