At the interpersonal and group level, positive psychology emphasizes the development of empathy, cooperation, trust, goodwill, and good intentions.
On the third level, the social, positive psychology can provide tools for policy-making.
In a telephone interview with EFEsalud, the Frenchman Jacques Lecomte, honorary president of the French Association of Positive Psychology, says so.
Lecomte has just published in Spain “El mundo va mucho mejor de lo que piensas” (Current Platform).
An essay in which, against all “preconceived ideas”, he tries to demonstrate that, in spite of everything, humanity is progressing, and he does so based on data and statistics from international organizations.
Positive Psychology: Necessary Hope
The author defends a “necessary hope” to face the catastrophic discourses, which he assures generate inhibition and immobilism in people.
The “prophets of misfortune demobilize us and incite authoritarian policies.
According to Lecomte, there are scientific studies that maintain that catastrophist communication generates rejection, and gives as an example, certain information about the environment.
“With regard to the environmental catastrophe, for example, if you spend too much time giving information, if it is excessive, it is the effect of inhibition that is produced.
But it also warns that not alerting enough and effectively enough has negative effects of course.
“Now with climate change it can already be shown to have a negative influence, but an excessively catastrophic session has harmful effects.
Presenting a catastrophic view of the world, he explains in his book, comes from a threefold error: cognitive, emotional and commercial:
. Cognitive: to believe that the more information is provided on a subject, the more sensitized people will be.
. Emotional: believing that the more dramatic information is provided, the more people will commit themselves.
. Commercial: believing that bad news sells better than good news.
He maintains that there are many international reports and data that speak of a 50% reduction in maternal and infant mortality since 1990 or the global eradication of smallpox.
Also the reconstitution of the ozone layer; or the rediscovery of more than 350 species of animals that were considered missing.
Other figures show that the number of countries that have abolished the death penalty has multiplied by 13 since 1950 or that homicides have fallen by 65% in twenty years.
Time to denounce
“It is true that our world is still far from perfect, but it does not rush into catastrophe and it is legitimate to be optimistic in thinking about the future,” he writes.
For the author, “many militants or journalists think that it is necessary to dramatize the state of our world to provoke a healthy shock. This strategy has its advantages, but also its hard limits.
A time of denunciation, he insists in his message, can be useful, but when it is prolonged in excess, “it tends to drag us towards catastrophic agony, towards a feeling of impotence and, consequently, to immobilism”.
That is why he invites us to act instead of the military against it.
“If we want to live in a better world, we must be aware of the progress we have made and inspire changes that improve society rather than just criticize what doesn’t work.
Lecomte appeals to what he calls “optirrealism”, which means that authentic optimism needs realism in order not to fall into illusion, but, in the same way, the most appropriate form of realism consists in being an active optimist.
In the last pages of his essay he lists up to 50 reasons, supported by data, for “being optimistic”.
And he groups them under the following headings: humanity lives better; it lives with better health; in the environment we advance; and there has never been so little violence.
This standard-bearer of positive psychology concludes that good news “sells very well, contrary to what is believed and are also the most shared on social networks.