Highly touted measure of emotional health criticized as math disaster
A 52-year-old, part-time graduate student with no previous training in psychology and little math education beyond high school has knocked a celebrated measure of the emotional mix needed to live well off its mathematical pedestal.
Nicholas Brown, who is completing a master’s degree in applied positive psychology at the University of East London in England, teamed up with two colleagues to demolish the math at the heart of a widely cited October 2005 American Psychologist paper that claimed to identify the precise ratio of positive to negative emotions that enables life success. The researchers’ takedown of what’s known as the critical positivity ratio appears July 15 in American Psychologist.
“It’s slightly worrying to discover that a leading journal could publish an article with so many obvious errors in it,” Brown says.