Positive Psychology Movie Awards

Can character strengths and well-being be enhanced through the use of films?

For over a decade, Ryan Niemiec (psychologist, coach, Education Director of the VIA Institute on Character) has been researching and creating lists of films which showcase key themes from Positive Psychology. He suggests that some films can create ‘cinematic elevation’ – motivating us to be better people who show more altruism and consideration of others.

Elevation is an emotion that we may experience from seeing people around us do good for others. The term ‘cinematic elevation’ suggests that film characters displaying positive behaviour towards others such as kindness, generosity or courage can uplift us, inspire us to take action and behave that way ourselves.

The annual list of films has been playfully termed the Positive Psychology Movie Awards and offers an opportunity to actively look for and enjoy positive examples of human behaviour towards others. Niemiec suggests that these films can be used as a discussion point with others or simply for enjoyment.

The current awards have numerous categories and can be viewed online along with a brief overview of why they were chosen. Examples of categories are:

  • Positive relationships
  • Meaning
  • Humour
  • Mindfulness
  • Happiness
  • Strengths
  • Parenting
  • Resilience

The current award for best Positive Psychology Film goes to Mary Poppins Returns with much credit given to its uplifting songs and storyline…

If you were to make your own list of films that showcased positive emotions or character strengths, which would you include and why? Perhaps you could use this to start:

  • Film club with friends
  • Family movie night
  • Multimedia work with pupils

Thanks for reading!

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