This chapter reflects on how positive psychology and personality science have co-evolved and how they may continue to do so. The key substantive question it explores is this: to what extent and in what ways are positive emotions, orientations, and actions critical for human well-being? Drawing on research in personality science, it makes the case that for some individuals, under certain circumstances, adopting a so-called northern tilt will be highly adaptive. Under other circumstances, however, an upward-bound approach to life might be less adaptive. At its worst, unmitigated positivity might catch us unawares and bring us to our knees. The chapter begins by taking stock of some shared themes in positive psychology and the study of personality. It starts with the most important common concern-the conceptual and empirical analysis of human well-being and the diverse forms it may take. It then discusses three major sources of influence on human well-being: stable features of persons such as traits and basic orientations, volitional action such as personal projects, and influences within the social ecology where traits are expressed and projects are pursued. After taking stock, it proposes three areas for future exploration that blend the aspirations of both of these vital fields of inquiry.

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Keywords Northern tilt, Personality science, Positive emotions, Positive psychology, Well-being
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195373585.003.0015
Citation
Little, B.R. (2011). Personality Science and the Northern Tilt: As Positive as Possible Under the Circumstances. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195373585.003.0015