Agency is a mindset that consists of efficacy, optimism, and imagination. When cultures and epochs believe in individual agency, progress occurs. When they do not, stagnation occurs. Seligman reviews this for Western history, as well as the modern findings on helplessness, optimism, and prospection. Efficacy and optimism can be taught, but teaching better imagination awaits research.
Dr. Martin E.P. Seligman is the Director of the Penn Positive Psychology Center and Zellerbach Family Professor of Psychology in the Penn Department of Psychology. He is also Director of the Penn Master of Applied Positive Psychology program (MAPP). He was President of the American Psychological Association in 1998, during which one of his presidential initiatives was the promotion of Positive Psychology as a field of scientific study. He is a leading authority in the fields of Positive Psychology, resilience, learned helplessness, depression, optimism and pessimism. He is also a recognized authority on interventions that prevent depression, and build strengths and well-being. He has written more than 350 scholarly publications and 30 books.
Learn more about Dr. Seligman's background here.