Such a myopic view of the literature is partially responsible for the backlash against PP; most researchers would react negatively if a positive psychologist failed to cite their prior work and claimed to have discovered something new.
The second fundamental problem with PP is scientism—the belief that the positivist paradigm of the scientific method is the only way to examine truth claims and the only good and trustworthy method to achieve happiness, well-being, and flourishing.
This issue of citation amnesia becomes especially problematic when positive psychologists investigate topics related to existential psychology.
For instance, Heintzelman and King’s (2014) conceptual problem regarding meaning in life was mainly due to their lack of understanding regarding Viktor Frankl’s concepts of meaningfulness and the existential vacuum (Brown & Wong, 2015).
Such belief in scientism amounts to fantasy and is detrimental to scientific progress (Durston, 2015).
PP advocates the scientific method of testing hypotheses, developing self-reports based on operationally defined constructs, and conducting experimental tests, all of which has been effective in producing many “scientific studies” that are quickly published in the popular press and accepted by businesses and individuals to increase their success and happiness (Coplan, 2009).
However, the unexpected downside of elitism was the development of a mutual admiration fraternity of citing and publishing each other’s work, with enthusiastic followers blindly embracing every word from PP leaders—hook, line, and sinker.
This marked the beginning of a breakdown of critical thinking, which has adversely affected the peer review process ever since, resulting in many PP publications with serious deficiencies that should have been caught during the peer review process (Brown, Sokal, & Friedman, 2014).
PP has taken the world of psychology by storm since Martin Seligman’s presidential address at the American Psychological Association’s Annual Convention of 1998 (Fowler, Seligman, & Koocher, 1999), but the backlash has been just as fast and furious (Bohart & Greening, 2001; Ehrenreich, 2010; Held, 2004; Lazarus, 2003; Taylor, 2001).
It can be argued that the persistent criticism of PP is closely related to the very strategy responsible for its success.