The Downside of Positivity

Photograph courtesy of Sam PutnamIs there a negative side to positivity? Psychology researcher Cynthia Stifter explores that question in “exuberant” children — kids who are more positive and active than their peers, yet may also be more likely to show behavioral problems due to their impulsivity, interest in novelty, and lack of fear.

Stifter, a professor of human development and psychology at Pennsylvania State University — and the former graduate advisor of Bowdoin’s Associate Professor of Psychology Samuel Putnam — recently spoke about her research to a full audience of Bowdoin students and faculty in Kanbar Hall. Stifter and Putnam have published five papers together, analyzing exuberance and other aspects of temperament and behavior in early childhood.

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