Robert Biswas-Diener

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Robert Biswas-Diener (born July 27, 1972) is a positive psychologist, author and instructor at Portland State University. Biswas-Diener's father is Ed Diener, a psychologist.

Biswas-Diener's research focuses on income and happiness, culture and happiness, and positive psychology. Biswas-Diener's research has led him to areas such as India, Greenland, Israel, Kenya, and Spain,[1] and he has been called the "Indiana Jones of positive psychology".[2] He obtained his PhD in 2009 on "Material wealth and subjective well-being" from the University of Tromsø.[3] Biswas-Diener is interested in looking into the difference between a procrastinator and what he calls an "incubator".[4]

Biswas-Diener is an author of books and articles and sits on the editorial boards of the Journal of Happiness Studies and Journal of Positive Psychology.[1] Biswas-Diener also co-founded The Strengths Project, a charity whose mission is to "help underprivileged individuals and groups realise their strengths to enhance quality of life and build on their life circumstances."[5]


The psychological study of happiness is referred to as subjective well-being. Researchers are principally interested in the measurement, causes and consequences of being happy. Biswas-Diener has contributed to the study of happiness principally through his investigations of the well-being of exotic groups traditionally overlooked by psychologists.[6][7] These include the Amish, the Maasai and homeless people.

Positive Diagnosis[edit]

Positive psychologists have argued that there is a need create a taxonomy of “what goes right with people” as well as “what goes wrong with people.”[8] Previous attempts have focused on uni-dimensional approaches such as identify individual strengths. Biswas-Diener has expanded on these approaches by creating a “multi-axial” approach to comprehensive diagnosis similar to the DSM Multi-axial Approach used in clinical psychology. His positive diagnosis model includes:

  • Axis 1: Capacities (strengths and interests)
  • Axis 2: Well-being (life satisfaction and psychological well-being)
  • Axis 3: Future Orientation (hope and optimism)
  • Axis 4: Situational Benefactors
  • Axis 5: Values


Many researchers have examined the phenomenon of procrastination. Some researchers have noted that procrastination can be adaptive. Biswas-Diener has examined the work styles of people who knowingly procrastinate and allow mounting anxiety to propel them to high performance, albeit “at the last minute.”[9] He has identified this work style as “incubator.”


A major area of interest within positive psychology theory and research has been on the topic of strengths. Strengths are disproportionately represented among publications in the Journal of Positive Psychology. Biswas-Diener and his colleagues argue that strengths are potentials rather than traits and that they can be cultivated through effort.[10] Following from this argument is the idea that strengths can be over or underused and that “strengths development” is largely a matter of learning to use strengths appropriately to unique situations. They further argue that if used inappropriately strengths use may be associated with social costs or personal psychological harm.


Biswas-Diener has written that courage consists of two separable processes: managing the emotion of fear and “boosting the willingness to act”.[11] He suggests that courage consists of skills that can be learned.


  • Jhangiani, R. & Biswas-Diener, R. (2017). Open:The philosophy and practices that are revolutionizing education and science.
  • Kashdan, T. & Biswas-Diener, R. (2014). The Upside of Your Dark Side:Why being your whole self-- not just your "good self"-- drives success and fulfillment.
  • Biswas-Diener, R. (2012). The Courage Quotient: How science can make you braver.
  • Biswas-Diener, R. (2011). Positive psychology as social change.
  • Biswas-Diener, Robert. (2010) Practicing Positive Psychology Coaching: Assessment, Diagnosis, and Intervention.
  • Linley, A., Willars, J., & Biswas-Diener, R. (2010). The strengths book: Be confident, be successful, and enjoy better relationships by realising the best of you.
  • Diener, Ed., and Biswas-Diener, Robert. (2008) Happiness: Unlocking the mysteries of psychological wealth.
  • Biswas-Diener, R., and Ben Dean (2007) Positive Psychology Coaching (2007)


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ "The truth about happiness may surprise you -". CNN.
  3. ^ Biswas-Diener, Robert (2009-10-07). "Material wealth and subjective well-being". PhD Abstract. Retrieved 1 November 2010.
  4. ^ "Working Under Pressure Can Be a Strength - Robert Biswas-Diener".
  5. ^
  6. ^ Diener, Ed; Vittersø, Joar; Biswas-Diener, Robert (September 2005). "Most People are Pretty Happy, but There is Cultural Variation: The Inughuit, The Amish, and The Maasai". Journal of Happiness Studies. 6 (3): 205–226. doi:10.1007/s10902-005-5683-8.
  7. ^ Diener, Ed; Biswas-Diener, Robert (April 2006). "The Subjective Well-Being of the Homeless, and Lessons for Happiness". Social Indicators Research. 76 (2): 185–205. doi:10.1007/s11205-005-8671-9.
  8. ^ "Positive Psychology News Daily » Practicing Positive Psychology Coaching by Robert Biswas-Diener (Book Review)".
  9. ^ Biswas-Diener, Robert (7 September 2010). Practicing Positive Psychology Coaching: Assessment, Activities and Strategies for Success (Paperback) (1 ed.). Wiley. ISBN 978-0470536766.
  10. ^ Biswas-Diener, Robert; Kashdan, Todd B.; Minhas, Gurpal (2011). "A dynamic approach to psychological strength development and intervention". The Journal of Positive Psychology. 6 (2): 106–118. doi:10.1080/17439760.2010.545429.
  11. ^ Biswas-Diener, Robert (10 April 2012). The Courage Quotient (Hardcover) (1 ed.). Jossey-Bass. ISBN 978-0470917428.

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