There is a gap in the research on clothing and well-being with only two studies previously mentioned that have investigated these areas together (Smith, 2017b; Masuch & Hefferon, 2014), and although it has received little attention, clothing is something we wear close to our bodies that can influence the way we think, feel, and behave, and it has the potential to contribute to our positive well-being.
Martin Seligman, former president of the American Psychological Association, recognized that psychology had consumed its research efforts towards understanding and finding cures for mental illness and he argued for a new positive psychology approach as one of his initiatives with the goal ‘to utilize quality scientific research and scholarship to reorient [psychological] science and practice toward human strength” (1999, p. 561).
Since World War II, psychology has focused on researching pathologies such as depression and learning how to repair the damage in the context of the disease model of human functioning; however, positive psychology uses a preventative approach that aims to enhance the strengths of individuals and communities rather than repair their weaknesses (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000).
Psychology has prevailed in helping people live with and overcome mental illness; however, the field of positive psychology can illuminate an understanding of how humans thrive and build positive qualities (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000; Gable & Haidt, 2005). Seligman argues that the negative aspect of psychology should be complemented by positive research emphasizing
FASHION AND POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY:
INTERACTIONS BETWEEN CLOTHING, MOOD, SELF-CONCEPT, AND WELL-BEING 10 “the most positive qualities of an individual: optimism, courage, work ethic, future-mindedness, interpersonal skill… growth, mastery, drive, and character building” and focus on “what makes life most worth living” (1999, pp. 560-562).
Positive psychology is about positive subjective experience and research in this field would determine “what actions lead to well-being, positive individuals, to flourishing communities” and “make life better for all people-not just the mentally ill” (1999, pp. 560-562). Positive psychology is defined as ‘the scientific study of optimal human functioning.
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