Personalizing a Positive Psychology Intervention Improves Well-being


Heintzelman, S. J., Kushlev, K., & Diener, E. (2023). Personalizing a positive psychology intervention improves well-being. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 1–22.


A variety of positive psychology intervention (PPI) activities can increase subjective well-being. Still, there is variability in the impact of various PPI activities across people. In two studies, we examine strategies for personalizing a program of PPI activities to efficiently increase subjective well-being. In Study 1 (N = 516), we examined participants' beliefs about and employment of various PPI activity selection strategies. Participants favored self-selection over weakness-based, strength-based, or random activity assignments. When making activity selections for themselves, they reported using the weakness-based strategy the most. The tendency to make weakness-based activity selections related to negative affect whereas strengths-based activity selections related to positive affect. In Study 2 (N = 112), we randomly assigned participants to complete a set of five PPI activities allocated either randomly, based on their skill weaknesses, or based on their self-selections. Completing life-skills lessons significantly increased subjective well-being from baseline to post-test. Furthermore, we found evidence for added benefits in terms of subjective well-being, broad well-being outcomes, and skills improvement of the weakness-based and self-selection personalization strategies compared with the random assignment of these activities. We discuss the implications for research, practice, and the well-being of individuals and societies offered by the science of PPI personalization.

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