Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive” as Want to Read:
Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  1,476 Ratings  ·  139 Reviews
World renowned researcher Dr. Barbara Fredrickson gives you the lab-tested tools necessary to create a healthier, more
vibrant, and flourishing life through a process she calls "the upward spiral." You’ll discover:

•What positivity is, and why it needs to be heartfelt to be effective
• The ten sometimes surprising forms of positivity
• Why positivity is more important than ha
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published January 27th 2009 by Crown (first published January 1st 2009)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Feb 27, 2010 Meredith rated it did not like it
I've been hearing wonderful things about this book from people who loved it, but frankly, I couldn't get past the first few pages without wanting to throw up. This book has a powerful and important message, but it's completely lost in the saccharine, unrealistic delivery.

Fredrickson starts the book by portraying the same scenario viewed in two different ways: In the first, you sleep through your alarm, wake up too late for your morning workout, check your email and find that one coworker has dum
Jeff Suwak
Feb 26, 2014 Jeff Suwak rated it it was amazing
It's very strange that people act so antagonistic towards this book. It's written by an expert in psychology and everything in it is validated by empirical study. Yes, it's packaged as a 'self help' sort of book, but there are zero of those all-too-common, nonsensical 'folk remedies' for your psychological ailings. It's simply taking those methods that have been shown by study to work, and then advising on ways that they may be used to better one's life.

I am a bit of an afficianado/junkie for s
Mar 09, 2010 Kamal rated it did not like it
While the message of this book is timely, i.e. that positivity can make a huge difference in the social world and that we should all work toward developing a more positive attitude,the scientific basis for these discoveries seems much more dubious. In fact, the book fits quite definitively into the self-help section and not the popular science section. Don't be fooled by the author's credentials or her constant (methinks she protests too much) appeals to the scientific validity of her discoverie ...more
Oct 31, 2009 Kirsti rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My husband scoffed at this book, but I enjoyed it because (1) the author is a scientist, (2) she uses peer-reviewed studies as the basis of her work and fleshes it out with some qualitative and anecdotal evidence around the edges, and (3) she emphasizes that statements like "Be positive" and "Don't worry, be happy" and smiley-face logos are no help at all. In fact, she describes one study in which fake-smiling while angry actually led to heart injuries.

I would need to read this book again to ge
Oct 31, 2010 Cara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: life
A serious, in-depth book about happiness, which the author calls positivity to distinguish from the superficial fluffy self-help happiness stuff. She defines positivity to include joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe, and love. This book is full of results of scientific studies done by the author and others--everything she says is backed up experimentally.

The biggest take-away here is that a 3:1 ratio of positive to negative thoughts is the tipping point f
Aug 03, 2011 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Barb Fredrickson is a fellow Carl, Class of '86, and clearly head and shoulders above my intellectual level!! Still, when I saw she was receiving an alumni achievement award this year, I became interested in her "broaden and build" theory and noticed she had written a book, "Positivity," which was said to be accessible for all. Does it tell you something about my summer to know it's taken me about 2 months to work my way through this easily read, 230-page book? Barb offers many good (and scienti ...more
Dec 25, 2011 Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Ryan by: Aaron
Lately, I've been addicted to psychology books.

The Moral Animal: Why We Are, the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology triggered this obsession; Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Why We Believe in God(s): A Concise Guide to the Science of Faith and Man's Search for Meaning lent it much fuel. Positivity: Top-Notch Research Reveals the 3 to 1 Ratio That Will Change Your Life is a worthy addition to this list.

The author spends half the book supporting her thesis by describin
Molly Westerman
Barbara Fredrickson teaches at UNC-Chapel Hill, where I got my PhD in English; I've been aware of her work in positive psychology for years because a handful of my students took her classes--and they all LOVED them. I recently ran across an interview with Fredrickson and liked her discussion of how imprecise a term "happy" is and how inadequate various measures of it are, so I decided to read her book.

I probably should have read her scholarly articles instead (and I probably will, eventually). I
Apr 09, 2013 Marie-France rated it really liked it
While the title of this book definitely makes it look like just another self-help book, this one is different.

Author Barbara L. Fredrickson has scientific backing to help give tips on what to do to improve positivity in a person's life. The first part of the book is dedicated to discussing what has been extensively researched and what kind of data has been amassed over several years, on what effects positivity have on a person's life, whether it be in the work place, at home, or dealing with st
Eman Abdulaziz
Oct 13, 2015 Eman Abdulaziz rated it really liked it
I think this book is really useful and contains invaluable explanations and tools that help us to become more positive towards ourselves and life in general.

For the sake of benefit, I decided to write a somehow comprehensive summary and points on the most important information and applicable methods of positivity.

As positivity goes up, connectivity increases. And it links up with doing well and help us to bounce back from setbacks.

Positivity ratio is 3 to 1, whereas pathological positivity ratio
Mar 08, 2012 Deb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
*Goodbye Negative-ville, Hello Positive-ville*

If you've spent any time traveling in this here journey we call life, you've probably experienced how easy it is to fall into the downward spiral of negativity. A negative thought can easily lead to a negative feeling, which can kick off a negative behavior....which then leads to even more negative feelings, thoughts, and behaviors ad nauseam. Before you know it, the cycle can spiral out of control, and you've become a not-so-proud resident of Negat
Jun 24, 2009 Sapote3 added it
Shelves: did-not-finish
I got ahold of this after I heard Dr. Fredrickson present some findings on a local radio station; I have a hipster distrust of happiness and was hoping for some charts and graphs and tales of horrible things done to monkeys in the name of cognitive science, all with the conclusion that we should take more long walks. Instead I got told to make a gratitude list; this book is much heavier on the self-help then on the science journalism and sells itself about the same as a diet plan. I hate to say ...more
Oct 23, 2014 D rated it really liked it
This interesting book details the scientific research on how having a more positive attitude and outlook can "transform our lives from so-so to joyous" while impacting our health, relationships, career and just about everything else. Author Barbara Fredrickson gives concrete ideas on how to quite focusing on the negative things and start focusing on what is good and uplifting and joyous in our lives. Good common sense that we have all heard before, backed up by solid science. The only downside o ...more
May 12, 2015 Daniel rated it really liked it
Shelves: audible
The strongest parts of book for me is author describing her research and studies. Having completed book on mindfulness recently I found a lot of the advice based on research useful. I've heard her research referenced in other positive psychology books and businesses books so it was interesting to hear her description of positivity ratios.
Sep 16, 2015 Sally marked it as to-read
Maybe I want to read this, maybe I don't? I just watched a talk of hers as part of UCBerkley's Science of Happiness mooc.

Intelligently portrayed data grabs me every time, but overly-sweet anecdotes to portray said data never does.
Joan Young
Dec 27, 2010 Joan Young rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the practical application of science to living a life optimally. Dr. Fredrickson, herself a "happiness" skeptic, set out to help others understand what it takes to live life and flourish. Her book is filled with practical wisdom. I highly recommend it.
Jun 29, 2015 Amanda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is wonderful. The science behind positive thinking is very interesting and I am going to be recommending this book to my loved ones.
Keith Kendall
Sep 28, 2014 Keith Kendall rated it it was amazing
Shelves: self-help, psychology
This book didn't feel like a typical "self-help" book. It felt like something that, by applying the ideas in this book can actually make a difference in my life. So, three days before finishing this book, I went to the web site, and have been taking the positivity test daily since then. So far, my scores fluctuate wildly. Just taking the test causes me to think about my day, and my attitude towards it.

"Positivity doesn't mean we should follow the axioms 'Grin and bear it' or 'Don't worry, be hap
James Houston
Jan 02, 2014 James Houston rated it liked it
A coach-type recommended this to me as a building block of better work habits and personal progress. I finished it feeling better than I did when I came to it (and was able to draw enough links between my feeling better and the content of the book), so I consider it time well-enough spent.

The big unique selling proposition here is that having at least three positive thoughts for every one negative thought is a tipping point at which your mental state goes from frustrated, malaise-ridden and ine
May 09, 2015 Realini rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, read-again
Positivity by Barbara Fredrickson
A life changing classic- 10 out of 10

Scholars and reputed positive psychologists keep referring to the classic work by the excellent professor Barbara Fredrikson.
Her book is so wonderful that I read through it very slowly, to prolong my enjoyment.
It has some ground breaking discoveries and also explores terrain that seems to be common knowledge from the ancient days.
If only you would apply it.
Positive people live longer, more successful professional, private live
Irene McHugh
I really wanted to love every minute of this book. I wanted to learn practical methods to improve positivity in my life. While there were some specific statistics that were new and interesting to me, the majority of the generalizations were pretty self-evident.

"Hey, don't ruminate on things that worry you. That kind of thinking creates negativity."

"If the weather is agreeable, go outside for a bit to improve your positivity."

"Exercise more to generate better health, both mentally and physically.
Oct 22, 2014 Ash rated it it was ok
Admittedly, I was not in the correct mindset for this book: having read it at the behest of my employer and not seeking it out to enhance my life. However, I remain open to Fredrickson's approach and find merit in her central idea that that positivity is a state of mind that can be encouraged and expanded by mindful meditation and monitoring of responses to our daily environment/interactions. Negativity is not something to be avoided (as that is a fool's errand), but mitigated in seemingly small ...more
Experience Life
Mar 22, 2010 Experience Life rated it it was amazing
If you want to wrap your head around the best, most practical lessons of Positive Psychology in the most direct way possible, start here. Barbara Fredrickson, among the first researchers to study the effects of positive emotions on health, sheds light on a recent and fundamentally important scientific finding: In any given situation, a “positivity ratio” of three positive experiences to each negative one is required in order for individuals to thrive and flourish. Any less, and we start drifting ...more
First published in 2009, this book is even more relevant for society today. Dr Fredrickson is a Professor of Psychology and has spent decades studying the science of positive emotions. Positivity, according to Dr Fredrickson, can come in ten forms : joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe and love. While it is not possible to be rid of negativity in our lives, we can learn to increase our positivity and decrease our negativity. Our habitual patterns of though ...more
Renelle Turgeon
Oct 29, 2012 Renelle Turgeon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I decided to read this book for my Principles of Management class for my Guru Paper. I really enjoyed this book. I loved that she was a scientist and actually did hands on research to back up her results and information. I loved how see provided a guide in order to help you increase your positivity and challenges you to practice. I think more people should read about positivity because I feel that people forget to credit themselves and don’t enjoy what good there is around them. We tend to carry ...more
Dec 28, 2014 Jozef rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
In dit boek wordt heel dikwijls gezegd hoe sterk de bevindingen ervan onderbouwd zijn door wetenschappelijk onderzoek. Tegelijk krijg je heel weinig te lezen over die wetenschappelijke onderzoeken, waarvan de auteur, een autoriteit in de positieve psychologie, er verschillende zelf gedaan heeft.
Je krijgt slechts één onderzoek wat diepgaander uitgelegd en dan nog.
Mijn conclusie is dat positieve psychologie nog echt in zijn kinderschoenen staat.
Ondertussen heb ik ook artikelen gelezen die Frederic
Jan 06, 2014 Sortal rated it liked it
Shelves: psychology
One of the few books in positive psychology which at least attempts to delineate science from self-help. Part one is a persuasive argument for developing positivity, supported by research. Part two presents practical, evidence based tips.

It's disconcerting that the math behind Fredrickson's most interesting claim (the positivity ratio tipping point of 3:1) appears to have been debunked (1) and that her response (2) doesn't explain why such an error made it into publication.

Also unsettling (alb

Good description of Barbardy Frederickson research field, and how she discovered the 3:1 ratio of positive versus negative experiences that according to her model explain how some people thrive and are happier than others in their daily life.

It's based on solid research and however there is always something missing in books written by positive psychologists from this positive psychology school. This theory seems too dependent upon the culture where it was born (US) and ignoring cultural and his
Jul 30, 2009 Monty rated it liked it
I only skimmed this book. I liked that it combines research with stories. I especially like how the author provides much data and common sense to encourage the reader to decide to focus on the positives in life. Here's a link to the author's web page where you can take a 20 question daily positivity quiz to get an idea of where you're at in achieving a 3 to 1 positivity ratio.

A good companion read for this book is The Biology Of Belief: Unleashing The Po
Jun 03, 2011 Jane rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology, self-help
I especially enjoyed this book's realism about positive thinking. There are things about which we should be pessimistic, and it is actually good for us (her derogatory remarks about Pollyanna notwithstanding--obviously she's only seen the movie, not read Porter's book, which I think actually is in line with these research findings! In the book, Pollyanna isn't paralyzed because she falls from a tree when disobeying her aunt. She's randomly hit by a car. The theology all the way through is deeper ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth
  • A Primer in Positive Psychology
  • Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility
  • Curious?: Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life
  • The Resilience Factor: 7 Keys to  Finding Your Inner Strength and Overcoming Life's Hurdles
  • The Pursuit of Perfect: How to Stop Chasing Perfection and Start Living a Richer, Happier Life
  • The Law of the Garbage Truck: How to Respond to People Who Dump on You, and How to Stop Dumping on Others
  • What You Can Change and What You Can't: The Complete Guide to Successful Self-Improvement
  • Creating Your Best Life: The Ultimate Life List Guide
  • The Politics of Happiness: What Government Can Learn from the New Research on Well-Being
  • Handbook of Positive Psychology
  • Happiness: The Science Behind Your Smile
  • Immunity to Change: How to Overcome It and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Your Organization
  • The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want
  • The Happiness Manifesto
  • Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier
  • Making Hope Happen: Create the Future You Want for Yourself and Others
  • Emotional Equations: Simple Truths for Creating Happiness + Success
Dr Barbara Fredrickson is Kenan Distinguished Professor of Psychology and principal investigator of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Laboratory at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a leading scholar within social psychology, affective science, and positive psychology.
More about Barbara L. Fredrickson...

Share This Book

“The multitude of studies that I and other scientists have con ducted on positivity is destined to remain merely interesting dinner conversation until you deepen your self-study. You need to pivot away from what’s worked for others and toward what works for you. Have your own “Eureka!” moments. Discover for yourself what rouses genuine and heartfelt positivity.” 1 likes
“In fact, surveys show that the more people watch television, the more violent they judge the world to be. You might think that those who watch a lot of TV are simply better informed about the evils of the world. They’re not. They grossly over-estimate rates of violence. People who watch less TV are more accurate judges of the degree of risk we all might encounter each day.” 0 likes
More quotes…