Effects of a positive psychology intervention on the subjective wellbeing and efficacy beliefs of teaching staff

Assignment type: Thesis
Author: Francesca Nagle
Submitted: June 2015


A variety of interventions have been developed based on the positive psychology principle of building positive emotion and subjective experience. Specifically, interventions designed to promote reflection on positive experiences have been cited as an effective way to increase one’s subjective wellbeing. A systematic review of the existing literature was conducted to examine the efficacy of such interventions within non-clinical populations. Findings demonstrated a range of positive outcomes, including increases in positive affect, decreases in negative affect and improved life satisfaction. However, the review identified a number of methodological limitations within the current evidence base, including variation in intervention methods and aspects of implementation, which make it difficult to draw firm conclusions regarding the efficacy of such interventions in improving wellbeing. Consideration was also given to a number of factors which may moderate intervention efficacy, including participant motivation, continued effort and preference for specific interventions. Research has also begun to identify a range of individual difference factors which may influence the effectiveness of such interventions. Directions for future research include improvements to existing methodologies, as well as a need for systematic exploration of how features of both the individual and intervention may interact to influence wellbeing outcomes.

The empirical paper evaluated the effects of a positive psychology intervention on the subjective wellbeing and efficacy beliefs of teaching staff. Primary and secondary teaching staff (N= 49) were assigned at the school level to a daily ‘Three Good Things’ intervention (Seligman et al., 2005) or a neutral events diary control condition. Components of subjective wellbeing (positive and negative affect, satisfaction with teaching), self-reported efficacy in teaching and work-related burnout were assessed at pre and post-intervention. Contrary to previous findings, no significant differences were
observed between the two intervention conditions in relation to the identified outcome measures, and results were not in the expected direction. Changes in positive affect were associated with changes in efficacy beliefs. Findings extend the evidence base regarding the application of positive psychology interventions in educational contexts and outcomes in relation to self-efficacy. Future research directions and relevant implications for practice are considered.

Download thesis (PDF) via ePrints Soton