Can people improve their lives by smiling more, trying to have a better posture, and by thinking about good memories? Can individuals become more successful by deliberatively engaging in positive actions and thoughts? Do people feel better by following recommendations from naïve psychology? In the present article we discuss these questions, noting that although some popular interventions thought to be universally beneficial (e.g., inductions of happiness, self-affirmation, empowerment, self-distancing) can sometimes yield positive outcomes, at other times the outcomes can also be negative. Taking an empirical approach based on experimental evidence, we postulate that understanding the underlying processes discovered in the science of persuasion is the key for specifying why, when, and for whom these practical initiatives are more likely to work or to backfire.
Briñol, P., Petty, R., Gandarillas, B., & Moreno, L. (2020). Are Positive Interventions Always Beneficial? The Spanish Journal of Psychology, 23, E23.