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The recent debunking by Brown, Sokal, and Friedman of some high-profile results applying chaos theory to positive psychology creates the opportunity to shed light on the quality work that has been done by others in this area. Too many humanists may be unaware of the large volume of legitimate work that exists in the literature apart from Fredrickson and Losada’s article. Often, such legitimate lines of research are ignored, not for lack of scientific merit, but because of artificial guild boundaries and similar silos that separate groups of scientists—even when working in similar areas. It would be unfortunate to have one “bad apple” of an article spoil the reputation of the good scientific progress that has been made over the past couple of decades applying nonlinear dynamical systems theory to humanistic concepts. The present article is intended to help prevent and correct some of these problems, by providing an accesible review of some of this higher quality work.


This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Journal of Humanistic Psychology in 2017 following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at DOI: 10.1177/0022167817741784.


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