A Symposium Proposal for The Second China International Conference on Positive Psychology

Tsinghua University Beijing China:  Nov. 9-11, 2012

Symposium Title:       Studies and Practice of Positive Psychology —- The Hong Kong Experience



Members:              Prof. HO, Mun Yin Samuel (Discussant)何敏贤教授

Dr. CHAN, Yue Kuen Estella陈裕娟博士

Miss CHENG Fei 程菲

Dr. HUI, Na Na Anna 许娜娜博士

Dr. JIANG Feng姜锋

Dr. KWOK, YCL Sylvia 郭黎玉晶

Dr. LAI, Chuk Ling Julian黎祝龄博士

Dr. LIANG  Evelyna 梁以瑚博士

Dr. YU Xiaonan于肖楠博士

Dr. YUE, Xiao Dong岳晓东博士


Discussant:         Prof. HO, Mun Yin Samuel (Discussant)


Institution:           City University of Hong Kong


Email:                  munyinho@cityu.edu.hk


Presentation # 1:         From grief to grace: recovery from depression with the help of positive psychology and spirituality


Presenter:            Dr. Estella ChanYue Kuen 陈裕娟博士

Institution:            City University of Hong Kong香港城市大学

Email:                   estella@cityu.edu.hk





Big life changes are stressful and can have tremendous effects on one’s mental health. According to Social Readjustment Rating Scale of Holmes and Rahe, death of spouse, divorce and separation are the top 3 most stressful life events, and these changes involve loss. Loss often precipitates the onset of depression. The grief and the impact of the loss of one’s life partner can seriously impair one’s daily functioning and even lead to depression.

In this paper, I will present a case study about the lived experience and recovery of a woman with depression. Mrs. J had first onset of depression 3 years ago as reactive to the loss of her 15-year-long relationship with her husband when her husband left her for a young woman. All of Mrs. J’s dreams and her whole world shattered as a result of the sudden loss of her husband whom she had always been centred on for her life. She very much loves her husband and treats him as her lifelong partner and they had many plans how to spend their lives together, like teaching in a poor village school and traveling round the world after retirement. Mrs. J’s values and beliefs were smashed and she could not make sense of what’s happening on her and in the world when her husband abandoned her. Mrs. J said she was totally at a loss and experienced what Viktor Frankl said:  “the existential vacuum” – a feeling of emptiness and meaninglessness.  She became totally helpless with her hopeless future. She found herself completely unable to cope and could not find a why to say yes to live on and had nothing to live for. She was always weeping profusely and twice attempted suicide. She was diagnosed with depression 6 months later.

Mainly with the help from Christian counseling and her own effort to put into practice how to be happier from what she learned about positive psychology, like stop ruminating negative experiences, checking her negative thoughts, training herself to have positive self-talk, counting positive elements in her life, working out daily appreciation list to express gratitude to God and others, having regular physical exercise and picking up her interest in gardening, Mrs. J is now less depressed but more hopeful. She can find meaning in her suffering and built a closer relationship with God. She experienced God’s companion in the midst of difficult times. She believes God has a plan for her, and God is her deliver, keeper, guider and provider. She is going through a journey from grief to grace.

Mrs. J’s story tells us that medication is not the only means to deal withdepression. Mrs. J found positive psychology and spiritual healing help more than that of anti-depressants and this sheds light on mental health care. The implications are that positive psychology helps depressed people become happier and spirituality helps make meaning of what is happening to one’s life while finding meaning and value in one’s life are crucial to the recovery of persons with depression.


Key Words:  Depression, recovery, positive psychology, spirituality, spiritual healing


Presentation #2:       Creativity as a reserve capacity in older adults and a virtue in positive psychology


Author:                  Dr. HUI, Na Na Anna& Dr. Evelyna Liang


Institution:           City University of Hong Kong& Art for All


Email:                 annahui@cityu.edu.hk





The present study investigated if taking parting in collaborative creativity training could enhance creativity and problem solving in older adults. Participants included 74 healthy older adults aged between 60 and 87 with a median age of 72 participating in a community collaborative creativity and arts program. The participants were randomly assigned to two groups (39 persons in the Experimental Group and 35 persons in the Control Group). Participants in the Experimental Group were further randomized to form 2 classes. The 10-session trainingwas jointly hosted by the research team (4 sessions focus on problem solving) and a professional art facilitating group specialized in providing arts workshop (6 sessions focus on visual arts). Anadditional 1 session for pre-testwas heldat the beginning and 1 session for post-test after the 10th session.  After controlling for the cognitive abilities as measured by Raven’s Progressive Matrices (RPM), and Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) as well age, gender and educational attainment, significant differences were found in the figural creativity scores assessed by the Test for Creative Thinking – Drawing Production (TCT-DP, Urban & Jellen, 1996), and problem solving ability measured by the Everyday Problem Solving Inventory (EPSI, Cornelius & Caspi, 1987). The program design on themes of “Tree of Life” and “Cycle of Water” had integrated key concepts related to positive psychology, such as contentment with the past, happiness in the present, and hope for the future. These themes have also emerged in the creative products. Implications on enhancing creative abilities and engaging older adults in community and collaborative creative arts activities will also be discussed.


Key words:creativity, positive psychology, arts, problem solving and older adults


Presentation #3:         What does the Brief Resilience Scale measure in Chinese undergraduates?


Authors:                 Dr. LAI Chuk LingJulian, Dr. Yue Xiaodong


Institution:             City University of Hong Kong


Email:                 Julian.lai@cityu.edu.hk





This study examined the utility of an adapted version of the Brief Resilience Scale (BRS) to measure the ability to bounce back from stress in Chinese undergraduates from Hong Kong and Nanjing, China. The BRS together with measures tapping optimism, self-esteem, hopelessness, and physical health were administered to 547 Hong Kong and 268 Nanjing Chinese undergraduates. Results of exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis showed that items of the BRS were loaded on one single factor in both samples. Scores of the BRS were significantly correlated with that of optimism, self-esteem, hopelessness, and physical health in the predicted direction. Results of multiple regression analyses indicated that the BRS was able to explain additional variance in physical health after the effects of resilience-conferring qualities, optimism and self-esteem, had been taken into account. Moreover, using path analysis, BRS scores were shown to substantially mediate the link between the two resilience qualities and physical health in both samples, which provide additional support to the claim that the BRS measures the ability to bounce back. This pattern of results suggests that the BRS is a reliable and valid instrument for measuring the ability to bounce back from stress in Chinese undergraduates. Implications for further research on resilience with the Chinese people were discussed.


Key words: resilience, optimism, brief resilience scale (BRS),  China


Presentation #4:   To forgive or not to forgive: The mediating effect of subjective happiness and forgiveness


Authors:              Dr. YUE Xiaodong & Dr. JIANG Feng

岳晓东博士 姜锋(博士生)

Institution:           City University of Hong Kong


Email:                 ssxdyue@cityu.edu.hk




Previous research shows both social identity and happiness contributes to one’s willingness to forgive, but little is known about what their joint impact is on forgiving behaviors. In this article, the authors tested whether making an in-group identity salient and increasing happiness lead to greater forgiveness of a perpetrator, and what the interaction effect is. Study 1 indicated that people in Philippines who felt much happier than people in Hong Kong, were found more willing to forgive than their counterparts in Hong Kong. Moreover, Filipinos, tended to be more forgiving toward the perpetrator for both when in-group members were killed and when out-group members were killed; conversely, Hong Kong people, tended to forgive less when their in-group members were killed than when their out-group members were killed. In Study 2, participants’ emotional feelings were manipulated (happy, neutral, and sad). Results showed that happy emotion leaded to more forgiveness than did sad emotion and in-group member got hurt leaded to less forgiveness than did out-group member got hurt. More importantly, consistent with Study 1, happy participants tended to forgive the perpetrator more no matter their in-group or out-group members were hurt; however, sad participants tended to forgive less when their in-group members were hurt than when their out-group were hurt. Issues on forgiveness and group relationship are discussed.

Key words: happiness  social identity  forgiving  in-group  out-group


Presentation #5: Applying positive psychology to primary school students in Hong Kong



Author:              KWOK, YCL Sylvia (Dr.)

Institution:         Department of Applied Social Studies, City University of Hong Kong.

E-mail:              scyckwok@cityu.edu.hk





The project aims to: (a) enhance hope among the students, cultivate a sense of agency and goal attainment, and facilitate the students’ design of different pathways to achieve the goal. (b) promote self-gratitude, as well as gratitude and emotional expression to others.Five groups were held for 35 students from five primary schools. The students were selected by the teachers into the experimental groups, and matched comparison groups were also recruited. A total of 7 sessions were conducted for each group weekly, with each session lasted for one and a half hour.

There were 20 males and 15 females in the experimental group, and the same number of males and females in the comparison group. The average age of the students is 10.6, and they are studying in primary 5 and 6.  65% of the students were born in Hong Kong, while 35% came from Mainland China. 57% live with both parents, and 43% live with one parent only.

A variety of activities were used in the groups, including experiential exercises, simulation games, story-telling, role play, drawing, guided imagery, discussion and sharing. Cognitive-behavioral coaching was incorporated in the design of activities.

Results show that there are significant differences in the change in life satisfaction score from pre-test to post-test between the experimental and comparison groups. There are also significant differences in the change in depression score from pre-test to post-test between the two groups. However, there are no significant differences in the change in scores from pre-test to post-test between the two groups in other measures including anxiety, life orientation, hope, gratitude and happiness.

Integration of cognitive-behavioral coaching and positive psychology is effective for primary school students to decrease their depression level and increase their life satisfaction. Future project can stress more on positive emotions (i.e. gratitude, happiness), positive thinking (i.e. optimism, hope), positive behaviors (i.e. problem solving, conflict resolution) and incorporate the meaning of life in the theme of “hope”.


Keywords:positive psychology, hope, gratitude, primary school students


Presentation #6:            Increase resilience and decrease adaptation difficulties in Chinese new immigrants to Hong Kong: A randomized controlled trial

提高香港新移民的韧性并降低适应困难: 随机对照试验

Authors:               Dr. YU Xiaonan于肖楠博士

Institution:           City University of Hong Kong香港城市大学

Email:                  nancy.yu@cityu.edu.hk




            Immigration occurs globally, and immigrants are vulnerable to the development of adaptation difficulties. There is little evidence available for effective programmes to enhance immigrant adaptation outside the West. This pilot randomized controlled trial tested the effectiveness of two interventions to decrease adaptation difficulties by 1) providing knowledge of resources relevant to the Hong Kong context, or 2) enhancing personal resilience in immigrants to Hong Kong from Mainland China. A total of 220 participants were randomly assigned to three conditions: Information, Resilience, or Control arms. They completed measures on adaptation difficulties, knowledge, personal resilience and four processes targeted in the four sessions of the Resilience condition (i.e., self-efficacy, positive thinking, altruism, and goal setting) at baseline, immediately after the intervention (post-intervention), and at three-month follow-up. Both programmes had high acceptability and were feasible to implement in the community. The Information intervention resulted in higher increases post-intervention in knowledge than the other two arms. The Resilience intervention reported greater increases in personal resilience than the Control arm at both post-intervention and three months later, and than the Information arm at three-month follow-up. Although both interventions reported greater decreases in adaptation difficulties than the Control arm at post-intervention and three months later, no significant differences were found when they were compared to each other at both time points. Change in knowledge had no significant mediation effect on adaption difficulties, but change in personal resilience from baseline to post-intervention fully mediated the effect of the intervention on the outcome of adaptation difficulties at three-month follow-up. The Resilience intervention also resulted in higher increases post-intervention in the four processes targeted in each session: self-efficacy, positive thinking, altruism and goal setting, compared to the other two arms. These findings indicate evidence for benefits of the Information and Resilience interventions, and informed further development of our programmes.

Key words: Resilience, adaptation, immigrants, randomized controlled trial, Chinese


Presentation #7:Optimism and Marital Quality:the mediation effects of income and spousal support



Authors:       CHENG Fei(程菲  博士生), CHEN Zhi-Yan, YUE Xiao-Dong

Institution:    City University of Hong Kong香港城市大学

Email:           feicheng@cityu.edu.hk




      In the past several decades, psychologists have paid close attention to martial quality., optimism is a key personal characteristic of being satisfied with marital quality. Yet, there remain import questions about how individual strengths can contribute to positive process that support a satisfying relationship. It is necessary to clear mechanism of optimism to marital quality for developing interventions of close relationshiops. We examined the the mediation effects of income and spousal social support for elucidating the mechanisms the link optimists’ positive expectations to the fulfillment of these expectations.


At the basis of research on Chinese marital quality, the present study surveyed relationships of optimism and marital quality. Our samples are 3960 Chinese married people from 39 cities of 21 provinces, with average age of (39.32±8.16) years, age range from 20-69. We used Marital Adjustment Test (MAT), Scheier and Carver’s optimism questionnaire which called the Life Orientation Scale (LOT-R) to examine the associations between optimism and marital quality and the mediation effects of spousal social support and income. The main findings are as follows:

  • At present, the marital quality status of married person in China shows to be above average. And education status, income level, whether the registered residencebeing in city, marriage age, whether having children are important factors influencing marital quality.
  • Optimism is the predictor of marital quality, income and spousal social support has mediation effect. The influence of income to marital quality is fully mediated by spousal social support
  • As the result of SEM model of optimism and marital quality, the influences of optimism on marital quality have gender differences. The positve effects of spousal social support on marital quality of females more than males, also the effects of optimism on marital quality have same differences.


As the results of our study, optimism is important predictor of marital quality. We examined the mechanism of optimism that the mediation effects of income and spousal social support. As the SEM model, the influence of optimism on marital quality has sex differences.


Key words: Marital Quality; Optimism; Spousal social support; income

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