Positive Computing
Technology for Wellbeing and Human Potential
by Rafael A. Calvo and Dorian Peters

Amazon |  MIT Press
Translations:  Japanese | Chinese | Korean  


Ben Shneiderman:  “Positive Computing lays a solid theoretical foundation for designers of the next generation of user interfaces who will shape positive user experiences. It goes deeply into familiar territory of motivation, engagement, and flow, then all the way to mindfulness, empathy, and compassion.”
+ Distinguished University Professor, Department of Computer Science, University of Maryland, College Park

Don Norman: “In Positive Computing, Calvo and Peters show how research in the psychological principles of enjoyment, engagement, and empowerment can be used to design technology that enhances our lives, creates more engagement and pleasure, and makes positive contributions to our emotional lives. Three cheers to Calvo and Peters for Positive Computing: It's about time.”
+ Director of the Design at UC San Diego Program;  author of The Design of Everyday Things

Dacher Keltner:  “This brilliant book is a clarifying clarion call for bringing out the good in the new digital technologies. It will disabuse you of many misconceptions, inspire you with visionary proposals, and make the case for how the new technologies can be designed to serve the greater good of our species.”
+ Professor of Psychology, UC Berkeley; Faculty Director, Greater Good Science Center

Mary Czerwinski:  “Positive Computing by Rafael Calvo and Dorian Peters is a deep exploration of the theory, psychology, analysis, and passion around using computing to make a positive influence on the world. Every graduate student studying this new, multidisciplinary field should have a copy at his or her fingertips. Calvo and Peters leave no stone unturned in discussing the many facets around positive computing, and have sought out the broadest set of references. The book was written in an engaging and practical manner and was a pleasure to read. I know I will go back to my copy again and again for useful insights.”
+ Research Manager of the Visualization and Interaction Research Group, Microsoft Research

Steve Whittaker:  “This book is an important contribution, providing excellent background on a complex emerging area that promises to be very significant from both a societal and scientific perspective.”
+ Professor of Human Computer Interaction, UC Santa Cruz


The book includes sidebars on special topics by:
  • Jeremy Bailenson, Stanford University 
  • Timothy Bickmore, Northeastern University
  • danah boyd, Harvard and Microsoft 
  • Jane Burns, Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre 
  • David Caruso, Yale University and the EI Skills Group 
  • Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Claremont Graduate University 
  • Felicia Huppert, University of Cambridge
  • Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, University of Southern California 
  • Adele Krusche and Mark Williams, University of Oxford
  • Jane McGonigal, Institute for the Future 
  • Jonathan Nicholas, Inspire Foundation 
  • Don Norman, Nielsen Norman Group
  • Yvonne Rogers, University College London


"We're seeing the beginning of an important shift in the focus of modern technologies, in which multidisciplinary efforts to support psychological wellbeing are helping to shape thinking around how we design for digital experience. 

In the same way that economists are measuring wellbeing at the national level, and psychologists have been measuring it at an individual level for decades, it’s time to consciously and systematically consider wellbeing measures in the design and evaluation of technology. We refer to this area of work—the design and development of technology to support psychological wellbeing and human potential—as positive computing."

Positive Computing brings together research and methods from fields as diverse as psychology, economics, education, neuroscience and human-computer interaction in order to provide an initial foundation, theoretical framework, and evaluation methods for an emerging field. It looks not only at technologies custom-built to foster psychological wellbeing, but also at the potential for wellbeing research to enhance the experience of all technology.

In the second half of the book, the authors zoom in on several determinant factors of wellbeing including: positive emotions, self-awareness, motivation, engagement, mindfulness, empathy, compassion and altruism, and for each of these, explore supporting literature, strategies that exist for fostering each factor, current technologies, and possibilities for future work.

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