What does Positive Psychology say about Courage?

Earlier philosophers state how courage is an essential virtue which floats between cowardice and rashness (Aristotle, 350 BCE/1999).  The changing face of courage has shifted from support for a diminishing cause viewed as heroic, to a non adaptive method of thinking (Barczewski, 2008; Knight & Saal, 1986). Primary courage research advocates that the process of courage entails overriding one emotion over another for example love, honour, and duty would overcome anger.

Researchers have further commented on the topic by implementing that is one is labelled as courageous it steers them towards personal growth (Finfgeld, 1999). With other stating that courageous behaviours lead to self confidence and selfless love leading to repetition of courageous behaviours (Castro, 2006). In addition it is proven by research that courageous behaviours benefits others by kindness (Faigin-Jones & Midlarsky, 2007; Pury & Kowalski, 2007) and altruistic

Positive Psychology incorporates courage into the Values in Action category as a bravery virtue meaning that you persevere, finishing ones tasks, integrity and acquiring positive energy for your task at hand (Pury & Kawalski, 2007). Measuring courage within the Positive Psychology is completed within the Values in Action inventory of strengths VIA-IS, (Peterson & Seligman, 2004)

How can Positive Psychology Practitioners use Courage?

Researchers state that believing in ones courage actually boosts courageous behaviours building upon ones self perception (Boyd and Ross, 1994). Others suggest that identifying ones self as a courageous person cultivates self growth (Finfgeld, 1999). In addition others propose a battlemind model of courage advocating courageous actions that cultivate self confidence and selfless love (Castro, 2006). The battlemind model can be incorporated by Positive Psychology Practitioners in cases of phobia’s, lack of self confidence, depression, loneliness, stress in providing Positive adaptive coping mechanisms for experiencing these negative emotions. Thus striving for a Positive Psychology Intervention would be implemented in order to avoid maladaptive coping mechanisms such as smoking or drinking. The NHS recommends cognitive behavioural therapies and counselling to boost self esteem (NHS, 2017).

Future of Courage

The future of courage research needs further research but one thing is determined is that by observing courageous actions determines more repetition of such behaviours. A more systematic approach is needed to acquire knowledge regarding practices, models; measures and succinct definitions are needed. Countries should have associations that acknowledge bravery and publishes them as an observational platform to encourage others to repeat bravery behaviours within our world. The Australian Bravery Association consists government officials providing nominations and awards to cultivate good citizenship (The Australian Bravery Association, 1991).  Good governance of a Positive practice indeed that advocates Positive Well being for all.



Lopez,S.J & Snyder,C,R, (2011) The Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology, Second edition, New York, United States of America, OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS.



About the author: Fizza Shah


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