In April, Sue Langley and The Langley Group team were invited by the Happiness and Its Causes team to participate in a special event: An Afternoon with Martin Seligman.  The event started with a keynote presentation by Dr Seligman, followed by an interview and Q&A session, hosted by Sue.

In the second video of our series covering the interview with Sue Langley, Dr Martin Seligman shares his candid thoughts and knowledge around Positive Psychology and Wellbeing.


One of the things that I often talk about when we run our Diploma, is the value that you brought by creating positive psychology if you like, and making it a field as it is, yet I get frustrated sometimes that people think you are the only person. I try and encourage them to learn who are some of the other researchers, who are the key people that they should be looking at ….

And as you know there are now hundreds and thousands of people researching….

Who are some of your key people that we should look out for?


That’s something, so first let me say how much I agree with you. That when something is a cult of personality, (e.g.) Stalinist, it dies when the person dies, and so… it’s important that many people own it.

In fact, I have just been a cheerleader for a lot of these things and that’s why I put up under helplessness Steve Maier, under optimism David Clark and General Cornum, under prospection Chandra Sripada, Roy Baumeister and Peter Railton.

So my role is a strange role. I have asked myself really “what did I contribute to all of this?”, and on a bad day I say to myself something like “this all would have happened anyway, I mean the climate was right , there are plenty of people in it”.

And on a good day I say something like “I was a catalyst, that I was able to bring the right people together, at the right time“, and that there was a leadership part, not a brilliance part, yet rather (it was) knowing the right people, bringing them together that allowed it to grow.

Martin Seligman Key Researchers

Yet I think the basic thing I want to say is that any kind of movement like this, requires ownership by many, many people and its inimical to it, to think that there is one person who really was crucial to it.


It was lovely, I remember a couple of years ago, at The World Congress (the IPPA conference), you acknowledged that the character strengths and virtues work that Chris Peterson and Nansook Park did and “the Bible” if you like, you said “I wrote the forward and I got the money, they did all the work”.

And it was lovely to see you acknowledging names that other people haven’t heard of, and Chris Peterson as well I wanted to ask you about. I was lucky enough to be chairing a conference here and Chris Peterson was the keynote so I got to meet him, and I know he was a very dear friend of yours.

The outpouring of comments and amazing sense of loss when he passed away was huge and well deserved.

The interview continues. More videos coming soon… 

Check out previous videos:

Martin Seligman’s latest book ‘The Hope Circuit: A Psychologist’s Journey from Helplessness to Optimism’ is available in our online shop – find out more here.

To learn more about positive psychology, download your free white paper that distils the science, practice and impact of positive psychology on human happiness, performance and wellbeing.