Positive psychology has become a vibrant, well-regarded field of study, and a powerful tool for clinicians. But, for many years, the research in areas relevant to positive psychology, such as happiness, subjective well-being, and emotional intelligence, has been based on findings from largely White samples and has rarely taken the concerns of the ethnic community into consideration.

Now, for the first time, leaders in the field have come together to provide a comprehensive reference that focuses specifically on how a culturally-informed approach to positive psychology can help capitalize on the strengths of racial minority groups and have a greater potential to positively impact their psychological well-being. Taking into account the rich and diverse cultural histories of ethnic groups, the information presented in this volume can help clinicians use positive psychology to inspire minorities to be effective agents in their environments and communities.

Acting as a bridge between positive psychology theory and research — largely based on an essentialist view of human behavior — and the realities of practice and assessment in diverse groups, Positive Psychology in Racial and Ethnic Groups focuses on four main ethnic groups: Asian Americans, Latin Americans, African Americans, and American Indians.

Broken into five major sections — an introduction to the field, theory and research, assessment, clinical interventions, and a discussion of what the future may hold — this is a unique volume in the field, and a call to action for researchers and clinicians everywhere.

Table of Contents


Series Foreword
Frederick T. L. Leong

I. Introduction

  1. Positive Psychology in Racial and Ethnic Groups: A Second Call to Action!
    Edward C. Chang, Christina A. Downey, Jameson K. Hirsch, and Natalie J. Lin
  2. Positive Psychology in the Context of Race and Ethnicity
    Elizabeth L. Jeglic, Regina Miranda, and Lillian Polanco-Roman

II. Theory and Research

  1. Positive Psychology in Asian Americans: Theory and Research
    Lucy Zhang Bencharit and Jeanne L. Tsai
  2. Latina/os — Drive, Community, and Spirituality: The Strength Within (SOMOS Latina/os — Ganas, Comunidad, y El Espíritu: La Fuerza Que Llevamos Por Dentro)
    Jeanett Castellanos and Alberta M. Gloria
  3. Positive Psychology in African Americans
    Jacqueline S. Mattis, Nyasha Grayman Simpson, Wizdom Powell, Riana Elyse Anderson, Lawanna R. Kimbro, and Jacob H. Mattis
  4. Positive Psychology in American Indians
    Gayle Skawennio Morse, Julie Guay McIntyre, and Jeff King

III. Assessment

  1. Positive Psychology Assessment in Asian Americans
    Elizabeth A. Yu, Edward C. Chang, Hongfei Yang, and Tina Yu
  2. Positive Psychology Assessment Among Latinos
    Rosemary Gonzalez and Amado M. Padilla
  3. Positive Psychology Assessment in African Americans
    Laura P. Kohn-Wood and Alvin Thomas
  4. Positive Psychology Assessment in American Indians
    Jeff King

IV. Practice

  1. Social Connectedness Can Lead to Happiness: Positive Psychology and Asian Americans
    Michi Fu and Shannen Vong
  2. Positive Psychology Practice With Latin Americans
    Marisa J. Perera, Elizabeth A. Yu, Shao Wei Chia, Tina Yu, and Christina A. Downey
  3. Positive Psychology Practice With African Americans: Mental Health Challenges and Treatment
    Sussie Eshun and Esther Mortimer Packer
  4. Positive Psychology Practice With Native Americans
    Michael T. Garrett, J. T. Garrett, Russ Curtis, Mark Parrish, Tarrell Awe Agahe Portman, Lisa Grayshield, and Cyrus Williams

V. Conclusion

  1. Challenges and Prospects for Positive Psychology Research, Theory, Assessment, and Practice in a Multiracial and Multiethnic World
    Christina A. Downey, Edward C. Chang, Jameson K. Hirsch, and Natalie J. Lin


About the Editors

Editor Bios

Edward C. Chang, PhD, is a professor of psychology and social work, and a faculty associate in Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies, at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He is a fellow of the Asian American Psychological Association.

Dr. Chang received his BA in psychology and philosophy from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and his MA and PhD degrees from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He completed his APA-accredited clinical internship at Bellevue Hospital Center–New York University Medical Center.

Dr. Chang serves as a program evaluator for the Michigan Department of Community Health–Social Determinants of Health, working with the Asian Center Southeast Michigan. He also serves as an associate editor of American Psychologist and Cognitive Therapy and Research.

Dr. Chang has published more than 100 works on optimism and pessimism, perfectionism, social problem solving, and cultural influences on behavior. He is the editor of Optimism and Pessimism: Implications for Theory, Research, and Practice (2001); Self-Criticism and Self-Enhancement: Theory, Research, and Clinical Implications (2006); Handbook of Adult Psychopathology in Asians: Diagnosis, Etiology, and Treatment (2012); and is a coeditor of Virtue, Vice, and Personality: The Complexity of Behavior (2003); Social Problem Solving: Theory, Research, and Training (2004); Judgments Over Time: The Interplay of Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors (2006); Handbook of Race and Development in Mental Health (2012); and Biopsychosocial Approaches to Understanding Health in South Asian Americans (forthcoming).

Along with other honors and awards, Dr. Chang was the recipient of the 2012 Theodore Millon Award in Personality Psychology sponsored by the American Psychological Foundation and the Society of Clinical Psychology.

Christina A. Downey, PhD, is an associate professor and chair of psychology at Indiana University Kokomo. She received her BA in psychology from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, and her MS and PhD degrees in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Dr. Downey completed her APA-accredited clinical internship at the University of Michigan Center for the Child and Family, and the University of Michigan Psychological Clinic. She has published articles on various topics related to lay concepts of health, eating disorder symptoms and perfectionism, perceptions of online versus face-to-face social interactions, and effective college teaching methods in journals such as Eating Behaviors, Psychology and Health, the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, and the Journal of Effective Teaching. She also serves on the editorial board of Cognitive Therapy and Research, and is a reviewer for several scholarly journals.

Dr. Downey was coeditor of the Handbook of Race and Development in Mental Health (2012) and has published several chapters on racial and ethnic factors in positive and negative mental health.

Jameson K. Hirsch, PhD, is an associate professor of clinical psychology and assistant chair at East Tennessee State University, and maintains faculty appointments in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Rochester Medical Center, the Department of Public Health, East Tennessee State University, and as a research scientist at the Mountain Home VAMC.

Dr. Hirsch received his PhD from the University of Wyoming, completed his APA-accredited internship at SUNY Upstate Medical Center, and his National Institute on Mental Health postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.

Dr. Hirsch's research focuses on protective, positive psychological characteristics that buffer against psychopathology, particularly depression and suicidal behavior, occurring in the context of stressors such as medical illness and impairment and in underserved and under-represented groups, including rural, elderly, and ethnic minority individuals.

Dr. Hirsch has published more than 75 peer-reviewed articles on protective factors, including positive affect, happiness, optimism, forgiveness, hopefulness and future orientation, as they relate to physical and mental health. He currently serves as a member of the APA Committee on Rural Health and on numerous editorial boards, including those of Cognitive Therapy and Research and Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior.

Natalie J. Lin, MHSA, is a postgraduate fellow in health care administration at Kaiser Permanente, Southern California. She received her MHSA degree from the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Ms. Lin received her BA in psychology and a BMA in piano performance, both achieved with honors distinction, from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She has conducted, presented, and published research on a wide range of topics, including perfectionism, rumination, optimism, motivation, well-being, suicide-risk, and multicultural psychology.

In addition to conducting research in these areas, Ms. Lin has also previously served as a research associate of the Asian Center Southeast Michigan, a nonprofit community-based organization focusing on the diverse health needs of Asians and Asian Americans living in Southeast Michigan.