Martin Seligman - What did you learn from Chris Peterson?

By Sophie Archibald | 14 June 2018

In April, Sue Langley and The Langley Group team were invited by the Happiness and Its Causes team to participate in a special event: An Afternoon with Martin Seligman.  The event started with a keynote presentation by Dr Seligman, followed by an interview and Q&A session, hosted by Sue.

In the third video of our series covering the interview with Sue Langley, Dr Martin Seligman shares his candid thoughts and knowledge around Positive Psychology and Wellbeing.

Chris Peterson was the Arthur F. Thurnau professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, and the former chair of the clinical psychology area. He worked with Martin, was science director of the VIA Institute on Character, and co-author of Character Strengths and Virtues for the classification of character strengths. He is noted for his work in the study of optimism, health, character, wellbeing and is one of the founders of positive psychology. (Wikipedia)

What did you learn from Chris Peterson?


What did you learn from him (Chris Peterson) that made you a better person?


Well... I’ve been interested in the distinction between liking or loving and respecting.

And what was astonishing about Chris is that people loved him, I mean you’ve met Chris. It was said of Gladstone, that when you met Gladstone, you went away thinking "that’s the smartest man I’ve ever met", and when you met Disraeli you went away thinking, "I’m the smartest man Disraeli’s ever met". 

Sue Langley Martin Seligman Chris Peterson

So Chris had this ability, he was a very shy person, pathologically shy, and he learned about sports, not because he was interested in sports but as a way to talk to other people. So Chris led a life in which his passing brought this outpouring of love, whereas the life I have led, when I die, there will be an outpouring of respect, but not an outpouring of love.

So I am very interested in the Gladstone/Disraeli difference, the Peterson/ Seligman difference and the difference between being loved and being respected, and I don't even know if you can have both.

The Interview Continues... More videos to come...

Watch previous videos:

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Martin Seligman's latest book 'The Hope Circuit: A Psychologist's Journey from Helplessness to Optimism' is available in our online shop - find out more here.

About the Author: Sophie Archibald

Sophie Archibald

Sophie manages marketing for the Langley Group, helping people around the world use positive psychology, neuroscience and emotional intelligence to flourish. She holds a BSc in Psychology from the University of Exeter, is accredited in the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT) and is currently studying the Langley Group Institute’s Diploma of Positive Psychology and Wellbeing.

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