Frequently Asked Questions


What’s the meaning behind #OtherPeopleMatter?

#OtherPeopleMatter is our motto, hashtag, and the spirit of the movement we are building. It originated with Dr. Chris Peterson, one of the founders of positive psychology and Mike Erwin’s mentor and advisor in graduate school. Other People Matter was Chris’ thesis resulting from his decades of research. As Chris wrote in 2008, he would often begin lectures by stating, “I can sum up positive psychology in just three words – Other People Matter. Period. Anything that builds relationships between and among people is going to make you happy.” Chris passed away suddenly in October 2012 and we are proud to carry on his legacy through the research on character and relationships that he led for over a decade.

Please see below for a video of Chris and Mike explaining Other People Matter.

Who was Dr. Chris Peterson?

Dr. Chris Peterson was a Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan and Co-Director of the Michigan Positive Psychology Center. In 2010, he was awarded the university’s Golden Apple Award, given annually to one professor who “treats each lecture as if it were his last.” Chris was one of the founders and leading figures in positive psychology – and was among the 100 most widely cited psychologists in the world. He served as research director of the Values in Action (VIA) project, which described, classified, and measured character strengths. His VIA Survey of Signature Strengths has been taken by more than a million people throughout the globe.

Chris authored A Primer in Positive Psychology and Pursuing the Good Life, and co-authored Character Strengths and Virtues, which sits at the foundation of what P2 Partner Schools teach. He also wrote a column for Psychology Today called “The Good Life.” His final article, “Awesome: E Pluribus Unum,” was published four days before his death and its last two sentences exemplify Chris’ belief that Other People Matter. He wrote: “We are all the same, and each of us is unique, certainly in death but also in life. May we all stop and notice.”

You can learn more about Chris and his work by reading his Psychology Today column, purchasing his books, and watching the videos below.

What’s the meaning behind the #PositivityShield?

The #PositivityShield, our logo, is the plus sign (for Positivity) that forms into the letter P (for Project), as in The Positivity Project or the P2. It was created by our design team, Rule29.

What is with the color green? Our school colors are different. Do we have to wear green #PositivityShield shirts?

We chose the color green to serve as the base color for The Positivity Project because it represents hope, optimism, and endurance. The movement focused on character and relationships, that we’re building together, is happening nationwide. We know that schools are proud of their own colors and logo — and to support that we’ve worked with our gear partners for schools to design their own Positivity Project t-shirts. Click here to develop your own School Spirit Store or design your own custom t-shirt.

When and where are trainings?

All of our in-person trainings are listed on our website. If possible, it’s great to send a principal, counselor, and 3 teachers to an in-person training. However, attending in-person training is not mandatory. And, we have an outstanding online P2 100 Initial Implementation Training Video that empowers each Partner School to lead a staff-wide 3-hour professional development. We encourage all Partner Schools — both new and returning — to leverage this great tool to help all staff members understand the why, what, and how of effective P2 implementation.

What types of schools does The Positivity Project partner with?

We work with public, private, charter, and home schools in urban, rural, and suburban areas. We started in the fall of 2015 with one Partner School in Syracuse, NY. Since then, we’ve grown to over 800 Partner Schools serving more than 400,000 students.

Is content different for different grade levels?

Yes. P2 resources are differentiated by every grade level from PreK-12. Our Tier 1 slide presentations are the fundamental building block for off-the-shelf (i.e., “low floor”) resources. These tools subsequently go “up” through Tier 2 and 3 lessons, project-based learning (PBL), P2 for Families, 2-week middle and high school relationships courses, and middle and high school electives – and they go “wide” through assemblies, and other school-specific tools to engage students, staff, families, and the local community. Learn more about our resources here.

What are the similarities across different grade levels?

Our model is broadly applicable to all grade levels. The emphasis in any Partner School is the “P2 Trifecta”: the importance of relationships, the #OtherPeopleMindset, and the 24 character strengths vocabulary and concepts.

Do you have research to support your hypotheses?

Yes. In addition to Dr. Peterson’s research and the studies mentioned on our Why Relationships page, we have peer-reviewed research articles into The Positivity Project’s effectiveness on our Research & Impact Page.

Where can I find the Character Strength Calendar? Do all Partner Schools need to follow the exact order? Why are some strengths taught for two weeks?

You can find the Character Strengths Calendar on our Resources page.  Its purpose is to have one single calendar that all of our Partner Schools nationwide can follow. Having a single calendar allows our Partner Schools to use the same language on social media — as well as share best practices and learn from each other.

We know that schools are on all types of different schedules — and that it’s not feasible for everyone to stick to this exact calendar. So, if a school can’t start on the exact date, or needs to miss a week, they can make it up elsewhere. To help schools do that, we’ve incorporated “make-up” weeks.

All the strengths are equally important. Gratitude lasts for two weeks due to the short week for Thanksgiving.

How can I access the resources to use in my classroom?

Once your school principal completes the online form, we will connect with your school’s P2 Leader to get a list of Google Drive staff accounts. Then, you just need to be signed in to your school account and you’ll be able to access everything on our Resources page.

I attended a P2 100 and am responsible for training my school’s staff. Do you have resources to help me?

Yes. We have created a P2 100 Initial Implementation Video for our Partner Schools. Its purpose is to train your school’s entire staff in 3 hours. Enabling your fellow staff members to understand the research driving the P2 and how to successfully implement the P2 is a key step in the Partner School journey — and we believe this course will help you achieve those goals.

It features 50 minutes, broken into 8 sections, of P2 co-founder Mike Erwin directly teaching the research behind positive psychology, character strengths, and the importance of relationships. Following Mike’s instructions, we have included videos of “P2 in Action” at partner elementary and middle schools.

We recommend a Partner School’s principal and P2 Leader co-facilitate the training — but feel free to do what you think is best. The course facilitators will be able to lead the training by facilitating discussions, in a think-pair-share format, at designated points at the end of each section.

You can also check out great videos of our Partner Schools in action on our YouTube Channel here.

My students and I want to take the Values in Action (VIA) Character Strengths Survey. How can we do that? Is The Positivity Project affiliated with the VIA Institute?

The Positivity Project is not affiliated with the VIA Institute. However, we do strongly encourage teachers to take the VIA Character Strengths Survey as part of their introduction to The Positivity Project. That’s because the survey, initially developed by Dr. Chris Peterson, helps teachers internalize the character strengths vocabulary and concepts.

The VIA has two different surveys, one for adults and one for children (age 10-17). It is up to schools whether or not their teachers or students take the VIA Character Strengths Survey. You can find both surveys here.

If your students are under age 13 or if you do not want students to provide their email address, you can set up a Teacher Site here.

We are getting ready to kick off P2 at our school. Can you give us some direction on how to best promote it to our students?

First, we recommend that you take a look at the elementary, middle, and high school Implementation Strategy Playbooks, available on our resources page. To connect with other Partner Schools and see what they’re up to, you can follow the hashtag #PositivityInAction on Twitter.
Additionally, we recommend the following:
1. Conduct a 1- or 3-hour staff-wide P2 using the P2 100 Video.
2. Encourage your teachers to go to the Resources page on our website and to this short overview of what resources are available to them.
3. Print and hang the Positivity Shield and Character Strength Word Wall Placards in every classroom in the building. This consistent exposure helps students understand the 24 character strengths vocabulary and concepts.
4. Look through the beginning of year checklists for new or returning Partner Schools.

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