Martin Seligman

Martin Seligman: A Profile of the Psychologist

Martin Seligman is one of the most influential psychologists of the modern era. He is best known for his work on positive psychology, which seeks to understand and promote human flourishing. Seligman has made major contributions to the field of psychology, including the development of the concept of learned helplessness, the founding of the Positive Psychology movement, and the creation of the PERMA model of wellbeing.

Early Life and Education

Martin Seligman was born in Albany, New York in 1942. He was the second of three children, and his parents were Jewish immigrants from Austria. Seligman attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a BA in 1964 and a PhD in psychology in 1967. During his time at the University of Pennsylvania, Seligman conducted research on the effects of punishment on behavior, which would later become the basis of his work on learned helplessness.


Seligman began his career as a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania in 1967. In 1975, he published his seminal paper, “Learned Helplessness,” which would become the foundation of his work in the field of psychology. In the paper, Seligman argued that humans can become “helpless” in the face of uncontrollable events, leading to a sense of hopelessness and despair.

Seligman’s work on learned helplessness led to the development of the concept of “positive psychology,” which seeks to understand and promote human flourishing. In 1998, Seligman founded the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, which is now the world’s largest center for research and education in the field.

In addition to his work on positive psychology, Seligman also developed the PERMA model of wellbeing, which describes five essential components of a meaningful and fulfilling life: Positive emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment.

Awards and Accomplishments

Seligman has been recognized for his work in psychology with numerous awards and honors, including the American Psychological Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the William James Award, and the University of Pennsylvania’s Distinguished Alumnus Award. He has also been inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and he is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science.


Martin Seligman’s contributions to the field of psychology have been profound. His work on learned helplessness and positive psychology has revolutionized the way we think about human behavior and wellbeing. His research has provided invaluable insight into how we can lead more meaningful and fulfilling lives. His legacy will live on for generations to come.


1. What is Martin Seligman’s background?

Martin Seligman is an American psychologist who is a leader in the field of Positive Psychology. He is the founding father of the Positive Psychology movement and has written extensively on the subject.

2. What is Positive Psychology?

Positive Psychology is a branch of psychology that focuses on the study of positive emotions, strengths, and virtues that enable individuals to lead fulfilling and meaningful lives. It looks at the factors that contribute to wellbeing and resilience.

3. What are Martin Seligman’s main areas of research?

Martin Seligman’s main areas of research are Positive Psychology, Learned Helplessness, and Authentic Happiness. He has written extensively on these topics and has developed a range of interventions to help people increase their wellbeing.

4. What is Learned Helplessness?

Learned Helplessness is a psychological phenomenon in which an individual begins to believe that they are unable to control their environment or change their circumstances. It is often seen in cases of depression and anxiety.

5. What is Authentic Happiness?

Authentic Happiness is a concept developed by Martin Seligman which looks at how individuals can find lasting happiness and fulfilment through cultivating positive emotions, enhancing their strengths, and engaging in meaningful activities.

6. What interventions has Martin Seligman developed?

Martin Seligman has developed a range of interventions based on Positive Psychology principles. These include the PERMA model, which focuses on Positive Emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishments. He has also developed the ABCDE model, which looks at Adversity, Beliefs, Consequences, Disputation, and Energization.

7. What books has Martin Seligman written?

Martin Seligman has written several books on Positive Psychology, including “Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being”, “Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment”, and “Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life”.

8. Where can I find more information about Martin Seligman?

More information about Martin Seligman can be found on his website, Additionally, there are a range of books and articles written by him which can be accessed online.

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