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Using the Dualistic Model of Passion (Vallerand, On passion for life activities: The dualistic model of passion. In M. P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 42, pp. 97–193). New York: Academic, 2010; The psychology of passion. New York, in press), I demonstrate that passion matters for the field of education. Passion is defined as a strong inclination for a self-defining activity that we love, value, and spend a considerable amount of time on. Two types of passion are proposed: a harmonious and an obsessive passion. Obsessive passion is involved when people feel that they can’t help themselves and surrender to their desire to engage in the passionate activity. It results from a controlled internalization (Ryan & Deci (2000). The “what” and “why” of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11, 227–268) of the activity in the person’s identity. On the other hand, harmonious passion refers to a strong inclination for the activity that nevertheless remains under the person’s control. The person can choose when to and when not to engage in the activity. Harmonious passion results from an autonomous internalization of the activity in identity. I review research that reveals that harmonious passion for teaching is typically associated with adaptive outcomes, while obsessive passion is related to less adaptive and at times maladaptive outcomes. These findings have been obtained with respect to a number of affective, cognitive, mental, and physical health, relationships, and performance variables with diverse populations. These findings also apply for passion for one’s studies. I also address the role of personality and social variables in the development of passion. Finally, some directions for future research are proposed.


Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

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Book Chapter

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