Foundational Frameworks of Positive Psychology: Mapping Well-Being Orientations

Louise Lambert, Holli Anne Passmore, Mark D. Holder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)


The scientific study of well-being has been strongly influenced by ideas from a number of related fields, including different areas of psychology. Two major philosophical traditions-hedonia and eudaimonia-underscore much of our current understanding of well-being, and are reflected across early and contemporary psychological theories of well-being. These traditions help delineate the various conceptualisations of well-being and its components; moreover, these traditions influence which research questions are asked, and where and how answers are sought. This has resulted in a plethora of categories and terms referring to similar, yet distinct, concepts such as: well-being, happiness, optimal or positive experiences, life satisfaction, and flourishing. Given the difficulties of distinguishing these concepts, this article aims to provide clarity by delineating the major orientations in positive psychology. We provide a "road-map" to theories and models of well-being found within positive psychology, thereby providing a starting a point from which an integrative framework of theories and models of well-being can be developed. To that end, also included in this review is a selection of well-being models that lie beyond the traditional frameworks. We conclude with a consideration of several criticisms that have been directed at positive psychology, and provide recommendations for future directions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-321
Number of pages11
JournalCanadian Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Positive psychology
  • character strengths
  • eudaimonia
  • hedonia
  • well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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