CHAPTER 2

THE WAY THINGS ARE—AND HOW TO MAKE THEM BETTER

Martin Seligman, renowned psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, is an expert in happiness and optimism. But he didn’t start his career studying positive psychology: he started out by shocking dogs.

When Seligman was in grad school, he would place a dog in a large crate that was divided by a small fence, which the dogs could see and jump over.1 Mind you, this was not for giggles: he was writing a field-changing dissertation on learning. After placing a dog on one side of the crate, Seligman administered a painful shock through the floor that the dog was standing on.

What do you think happened?

Before you answer, you should know there were two types of dogs. One set of dogs ...

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