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Reality TV gets positive: Psychological reflections [...]
Anthony M. Grant
The Australian ABC television series "Making Australia Happy" followed eight individuals as they completed an intensive eight week positive psychology coaching program using scientifically-validated positive psychology interventions. The show generated the largest ever web-based response to an ABC program with over 1,000,000 hits on the ABC website, (initially crashing the ABC servers) and over 45,000 registered individuals taking online assessments and doing positive psychology exercises. Over the eight-weeks participants’ levels of stress, anxiety and depression reduced remarkably, levels of subjective well-being and psychological well-being increased and there were significant improvements in a range of biochemical markers including blood pressure, cortisol and melatonin. Participants’ mean performance on a cold presser task (a measure of physical resilience) increased from 57 seconds to 131 seconds post-program. In addition, pre-post Magnetoencephalography (MEG) brain scans showed significant positive changes in brain functioning. A 24 week follow-up indicated that the gains in positive psychological functioning were maintained. This reflective article, written by the psychologist presenter of the show outlines these findings and discusses some of the challenges for psychologists working at the intersection of science and commercialism, particularly in areas such as positive psychology.
Keyword: Positive psychology; coaching; Reality TV.
Full article: Volume 6, Issue 2 pages 229 - 239