The Quantified Self: New Avenues for Positive Psychology Research and Application - Part 1: Introduction & Overview

Self-Experimentation is a promising avenue of research in the positive psychology movement that has until now, not received much attention.  Advances in technology have enabled curious individuals to easily collect, analyze, and interpret quantifiable data on their everyday experiences.  These individuals then use this data to make positive changes in their lifestyles or to garner self-knowledge. 

The Quantified Self movement embraces the idea of self-knowledge through numbers.  This “community of practice” provides positive psychology an opportunity to further its study of exceptional individuals. In this series of posts I will:

a) briefly describe the history of self-experimentation, its outcomes, and my defense of its (in)validity

b) describe from an ethnographic perspective the “Quantified Self” movement (QS),

c) propose a study to investigate the possible individual differences between QS groups and non-QS groups,

d) examine the underlying process of self-experimentation, and

e) introduce the potential impact of self-experimentation capacity building interventions.

Along the way, I will address implications, future directions, and how QS can contribute to positive psychology, as well as how positive psychology can inform QS.  Towards the end of this series, I will begin to present some preliminary findings from my initial & exploratory research project (c) where I am looking at the potential implications Quantified Self and self-tracking activities have on meaning in life, subjective happiness, creativity, and other optimal functioning related constructs.

*This, as well as following posts in this series, have been adapted from a paper/proposal I wrote in Advanced Topics of Positive Psychology at Claremont Graduate University, taught by Dr. Mike Csikszentmihalyi and Dr. Jeanne Nakamura.  Also, I have just finished collecting data from participants in regards to my initial study, and will soon be digging into it and analyzing it, with the goal at the end of this series to present my findings.