This 12-month, $200,729 proposal will support New York Times columnist John Tierney (the Project Leader) as he researches, writes, and publishes a book on the power of positive thinking to overcome negativity bias. The book will be co-authored with Roy Baumeister, a Foundation grantee based at Florida State University and an expert on social psychology. The authors intend to address the following Big Questions: Which mental habits and attitudes are most conducive to human flourishing? What is positive thinking and how can it become a habitual exercise? What is negativity bias, how can people recognize it, and what are empirically proven strategies for overcoming it?
Tierney and Baumeister will begin by reviewing the recent scholarship on negativity bias, the psychological tendency to respond to negative events more powerfully than to positive events and to prioritize negative memories when making decisions about the future. The book will consist of 2–3 introductory chapters that explain negativity bias, while the remaining 9–10 chapters will offer a series of specific, laboratory-tested strategies for overcoming it. The authors have a contract from the Penguin Press, and will deliver an 80,000- to 100,000-word manuscript by early 2015, with plans for publication late-year 2015. The authors anticipate sales of 100,000 books, in keeping with their previous book, Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength. Penguin Press anticipates even greater sales for this book, with an even-larger media footprint. Accordingly, the intended audience for the book is the broad culture, both within the United States and abroad.