Oral Presentation 6th World Congress on Positive Psychology 2019

The Coddling Of The Anglo-American Mind: The Disastrous Consequences Of Ignoring Basic Insights From Positive Psychology (#57)

Jonathan Haidt 1
  1. New York University Stern School of Business, New York, NY, United States

Ancient wisdom traditions offer valuable insights into how to live well and get along with others; these insights fit well with the findings of positive psychology (e.g., other people matter; change your appraisals to change your reality; growth through adversity). What would happen if a generation got cut off from these insights, as its members got hyper-connected to each other? I will argue that this is what has happened to  “generation Z” (born after 1994) in many of the English-speaking countries. I’ll show how parents, teachers and administrators, acting with the best of intentions, have raised children in ways that contradict both ancient wisdom and positive psychology, allowing bad ideas to flourish and guide child development. As a result, anxiety, depression, self-harm, and suicide rates have risen rapidly among teenagers since around 2011, while mistrust and conflict over words and everyday actions have increased. I’ll describe six causal threads that have contributed to this state of affairs, and I’ll lay out an agenda for positive psychologists to help members of “gen-Z” to thrive despite their inauspicious start.