The POB Research Group

Drawing of a man in a suit repeated in rows.
Image by: Carpe Diem 101

Thomas Duening
POB Research Group at UCCS

The Positive Organizational Behavior Research Group (POB Research Group) in the College of Business at UCCS is focused on applying the principles of positive psychology to the issues and challenges faced by organizations and their leaders. Positive psychology is a relatively new approach to understanding human behavior. It is unique in that it benefits from advances in scientific methodology and instrumentation for studying human emotions, cognitions, and behaviors. The new science is saddled, however, with negative connotations that many people have around the "power of positive thinking" movement of the mid 20th century. Positive psychology is not at all related to the Norman Vincent Peale positive thinking approach, but it is occasionally confused with that.

To help clarify the scientific focus of the POB Research Group, I provide this brief introduction to positive psychology. The best way to think about it is by way of contrast with traditional psychology. Psychology as a scientific field began in the late 19th century. From those early days, the focus of the profession was on relieving suffering in people afflicted with dysfunctional psychological conditions. For most of the 20th century, in fact, the primary focus of the human sciences generally was to help people achieve a stable state of "normal functioning" within society, organizations, and family life.

Great strides have been made in the relief of human suffering (although much work still remains). Given the advances in psychological and pharmacological methods for providing relief to those suffering emotional pain, psychologists naturally began to wonder if their profession could contribute more to human progress. To that end, two prominent leaders of psychological science, Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, convened a group of international practitioners and scholars and initiated the field of positive psychology. Positive psychology was to build upon the achievements of traditional psychology. Its mission would be not to provide relief to those who are suffering, but to provide tools and guidelines to people who desire to function at optimal levels. The graphic below highlights this difference between traditional and positive psychology.


Continuum of traditional psychology to positive psychology


The POB Research Group is dedicated to applying the scientific findings and discoveries that are emerging from investigations in positive psychology to organizational topics, problems, and issues. Our team is also conducting its own original research and publishing in a wide range of business and organizational science journals. We invite your feedback on our work, this website, and positive psychology generally. More important, the POB Research Group envisions itself as a resource to the region and, indeed, to organizations and organizational leaders around the world.