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 #OtherPeopleMatter Movement, that we’re building together, is happening nationwide. While every school is proud of their own colors and logo, we encourage Partner Schools to consider ordering shirts with the base color GREEN (through our Shop page or with a local vendor as close to Pantone 357 as possible) because it will cause a lot of your students to ask, “Why green?” This question will allow teachers at our Partner Schools to explain that by being part of The Positivity Project they are not just a member of their school, but also connected with students and schools across America.
How much does it cost to become a Partner School?
We are a mission-based nonprofit seeking to enhance our country. The only cost to schools is for trainings. We do not charge any type of fee – whether a sign-up fee, an annual fee, or fees for resources – to Partner Schools.
When and where are trainings?
All of our trainings are listed on our website. We recommend that schools send a principal, counselor, and 3-5 staff members. By sending a team of educators to a P2-100 Initial Implementation Training, schools will have the knowledge and confidence necessary to teach positive psychology’s 24 character strengths.
What types of schools does The Positivity Project partner with?
We work with public, private, and charter schools in urban, rural, and suburban areas. We started in the fall of 2015 with one Partner School (K-6) in Liverpool, NY. In 2016-17, we partnered with 33 K-8 schools in 11 states. In 2017-18, we grew to over 180 Partner Schools, to include pilot high schools.
Is content different for different grade levels?
Yes. We provide slide presentations with differentiated content for grades K-2, 3-5, and 6-8. The content is “refreshed” prior to the start of each school year. At the high school level, implementation is more student-led with an emphasis on the positive use of social media.
What are the similarities across different grade levels?
Our model is broadly applicable to all grade levels. The main points of emphasis in any Partner School are: the importance of relationships, the #OtherPeopleMatter Mindset, 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 two PhDs on our Board of Directors. Drs. Kate Kuhlman and Tova Walsh are leading research into our impact, writing papers for academic journals, and presented at the 2017 Association for Psychological Science Conference. You can learn more about their research at our 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. This is really important, as the P2 is more than a “program”, but instead a nationwide movement. 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 two “make up” weeks and have a handful of strengths that are taught for two weeks.
All the strengths are equally important, so teaching a strength for two weeks doesn’t mean it’s more important; it just works best with the calendar. And, for strengths that are taught for two weeks, we provide you with extra content through the Weekly Slide Presentation so that you have everything you need to teach it.
How can I access the resources to use in my classroom?
Once your school principal completes the Principal Pledge, we will connect with your school’s Tech POC to get a list of Google Drive staff accounts. Then, you just need to be signed into your school account and you’ll be able to access everything on our Resources page.
I attended a P2IT and am responsible for training my school’s staff. Do you have resources to help me?
Yes. To help you educate your teachers on effective implementation, we have created the following resources:
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.