Martin E.P. Seligman

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Biographical Information

"Martin E.P. Seligman, Ph.D., works on positive psychology, learned helplessness, depression, and on optimism and pessimism. He is currently Zellerbach Family Professor of Psychology and Director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania...

"His most recent book is the best-selling, Authentic Happiness (Free Press, 2002)...

"Dr. Seligman's research and writing has been broadly supported by a number of institutions including The National Institute of Mental Health (continuously since 1969), the National Institute of Aging, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Education, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation. His research on preventing depression received the MERIT Award of the National Institute of Mental Health in 1991. He is the network director of the Positive Psychology Network and Scientific Director of the Classification of Strengths and Virtues Project of the Mayerson Foundation..." [1]

Affiliations (Select) CV


Barbara Ehrenreich in her book Smile or Die: How Positive Thinking Fooled America and the World (Granta Books, 2009) draws particular attention to Seligman's own conservative political orientation, noting that:

"He is famously impatient with 'victims' and 'victimo1ogy,' saying, for example, in a 2000 interview: 'In general when things go wrong we now have a culture which supports the belief that this was done to you by some larger force, as opposed to, you brought it on yourself by your character or your decision.' It also turns out that he has spoken about his "learned helplessness" experiments with dogs at one of the military's SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape) schools, which were originally designed to help U.S. troops survive capture but changed their mission, post-9/11, to devising new forms of torture for suspected terrorists. (Seligman denies he was contributing to torture, writing in a 2008 e-mail that 'I strongly disapprove of torture and have never and would never provide assistance in its process.')" (p.169)

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch


  1. Martin E.P. Seligman, University of Pennsylvania, accessed November 13, 2011.