*This abstract was co-authored with Don Laird (Carlow University).

In the precent precarious time, psychology needs a paradigm shift to meet the existential crises we all face (Wong et al., 2022). Our paper redefines agency as an illustration of this new paradigm, which can make psychology more relevant and more effective for positive transformation in individuals and society.

Agency can be more broadly conceptualized to include ethical, instrumental, social, and ecological responsibility to make life better not just for oneself but for society and planet earth. Thus, all human beings need to have a sense of agency to develop one’s full potential, to speak up, and act as a responsible steward accountable not only to oneself and society but also to a Higher Authority (Arslan & Wong, 2022).

This broader, interdisciplinary, and intercultural conception of agency challenges the current dominant view of agency which is based on the perspective of individualism, materialism and neoliberalism by emphasizing the following themes: (1) Social justice, collective coping, social interests, and community building (Wong, 2023a) because we are all interconnected social agents; (2) self-efficacy cannot be the sole basis for hope for many people who feel hopeless and helpless because of sickness, disabilities, and circumstances; we need a new hope theory that is based on faith in God’s help and trust in collective community efforts (Wong, 2023b) and tragic optimism or hopeless hope (Wong, 2007). This broader new existential positive psychology paradigm (Wong, in press-a) is much needed for the suffering masses especially those in developing countries and the marginalized class in developed countries (Wong, in press-b).

This new paradigm has many practical implications including the following: Clinical interventions beyond the medical model (Wong & Laird, 2023); a new existential model of wellbeing and behavioral economics (Wong et al., 2023); equipping people for the reality of suffering (Arslan & Wong, 2023; Wong & Wong, in press); developing agape love for our neighbours in different cultures (Wong, 2023c; Wong & Mayer, 2023); cultivating the spiritual values of faith, hope, and love (Wong 2023d; Wong & Laird, in press); and self-transcendence as a less travelled road towards flourishing (Wong et al., 2021).


  1. Arslan, G. & Wong, P. T. P. (2022). Measuring personal and social responsibility: An existential positive psychology approach. Journal of Happiness and Health, 2(1), 1-11. https://doi.org/10.47602/johah.v2i1.5
  2. Arslan, G., & Wong, P. T. P. (2023). Embracing life’s challenges: Developing a tool for assessing resilient mindset in second wave positive psychology. Journal of Happiness and Health, 4(1), 1-10. https://doi.org/10.47602/johah.v4i1.53
  3. Wong, P. T. P. & Laird, D. (in press). The suffering hypothesis: Viktor Frankl’s spiritual remedies and recent developments. In C. McLafferty, Jr. and J. Levinson (Eds.), Logotherapy and Existential Analysis: Proceedings of the Viktor Frankl Institute of Logotherapy Frankl Institute Vienna (Vol. 2). Springer Research.
  4. Wong, P. T. P. (2007). Viktor Frankl: Prophet of hope for the 21st century. https://www.meaning.ca/article/viktor-frankl-prophet-hope-herald-positive-psychology
  5. Wong, P. T. P. (2023a, July 4). 4 inconvenient truths about community building for a better world [President’s Column]. Positive Living Newsletter. http://www.drpaulwong.com/4-inconvenient-truths-about-community-building-for-a-better-world
  6. Wong, P. T. P. (2023b, March 16). Hope keeps us moving forward [President’s Column]. Positive Living Newsletter. https://mailchi.mp/meaning.ca/pldt-mar-11967588
  7. Wong, P. T. P. (2023c). Pioneer in research in existential positive psychology of suffering and global flourishing: Paul T. P. Wong. Applied Research in Quality of Life, 18, 2153-2157. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11482-023-10207-7
  8. Wong, P. T. P. (2023d). Spiritual-existential wellbeing (SEW): The faith-hope-love model of mental health and total wellbeing. International Journal of Existential Positive Psychology, 12(1). https://www.meaning.ca/ijepp-article/vol12-no1/spiritual-existential-wellbeing/
  9. Wong, P. T. P. (in press-a). An existential perspective on positive psychology: Towards a general theory of global flourishing. In L. Hoffman (Ed.), APA Handbook of Humanistic and Existential Psychology. http://www.drpaulwong.com/existential-perspective-on-positive-psychology/
  10. Wong, P. T. P. (in press-b). The how of meaningful living.
  11. Wong, P. T. P., & Laird, D. (2023). Varieties of suffering in clinical setting: Re-envisioning mental health beyond the medical model. Frontiers in Psychology, 14. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2023.1155845
  12. Wong, P. T. P., & Mayer, C.-H. (2023). The meaning of love and its bittersweet nature. International Review of Psychiatry. https://doi.org/10.1080/09540261.2023.2173001
  13. Wong, P. T. P., & Wong, L. C. J. (in press). Meaning-Centered Positive Education (PE2.0) based on the new paradigm of Existential Positive Psychology (EPP). In G. Arslan & M. Yıldırım (Eds.), Handbook of Positive School Psychology Interventions: Evidence-Based Practice for Promoting Youth Mental Health.
  14. Wong, P. T. P., Cowden, R. G., Mayer, C.-H., & Bowers, V. L. (2022). Shifting the paradigm of positive psychology: Toward an existential positive psychology of wellbeing. In A. H. Kemp (Ed.), Broadening the scope of wellbeing science: Multidisciplinary and interdiscipinary perspectives on human flourishing and wellbeing (pp. 13-27). Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-18329-4_2
  15. Wong, P. T. P., Ho, L. S., Mayer, C.-H., Yang, F., & Cowden, R. G. (2023). Editorial: A new science of suffering, existential intelligence, and the new behavioral economics of happiness – toward a general theory of wellbeing. Frontiers in Psychology. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2023.1280613/full
  16. Wong, P. T. P., Mayer, C.-H., & Arslan, G. (2021). Editorial: Existential positive psychology (PP2.0) and the new science of flourishing through suffering [Special Issue]. Frontiers in Psychology. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.800308/full


Wong, P. T. P., & Laird, D. (under review). Agency, hope, and wellbeing [Abstract].