What the Research Says About Character Strengths: Overview

Signature Strengths

  • Randomized, controlled trial involving 3 groups - adults who targeted top 5 strengths, adults who targeted bottom 5 strengths, and a placebo group. The 2 intervention groups showed benefits to happiness for up to three months and depression benefits as well. Those with initially higher strength levels tended to benefit more from working on lower strengths while those initially lower in strengths levels tended to benefit more from working on higher strengths (Proyer et al., 2015). Click for full reference.
    Proyer, R. T., Gander, F., Wellenzohn, S., & Ruch, W. (2015). Strengths-based positive psychology interventions: A randomized placebo-controlled online trial on long-term effects for a signature strengths vs. a lesser strengths-intervention. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 456. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00456
  • Although not using VIA strengths, studies from different disciplines have shown that targeting the strong – a capitalization model – is superior in important ways to a focus on remediating deficiencies – a compensation model. Examples from psychotherapy (Cheavens et al., 2012) and the workplace (Meyers et al., 2015) are referenced here. Click for full reference.
    1. Cheavens, J. S., Strunk, D. R., Lazarus, S. A., & Goldstein, L. A. (2012). The compensation and capitalization models: A test of two approaches to individualizing the treatment of depression. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 50, 699-706. 2. Meyers, M.C., van Woerkom, M., de Reuver, R., Bakk, Z., & Oberski, D.L. (2015). Enhancing psychological capital and personal growth initiative: Working on strengths or deficiencies? Journal of Counseling Psychology, 62(1), 50-62. doi: 10.1037/cou0000050.
  • In a rare positive psychology intervention study of older adults (aged 50-79), the group assigned to work on using a signature strength in a new way was the most effective intervention overall as it lead to both increases in happiness and decreases in depression. Other interventions were effective for one or the other, for example, gratitude visit and 3 good things benefited happiness levels while 3 funny things reduced depression levels (Proyer et al., 2014a). Click for full reference.
    Proyer, R. T., Gander, F., Wellenzohn, S., & Ruch, W. (2014a). Positive psychology interventions in people aged 50–79 years: long-term effects of placebo-controlled online interventions on well-being and depression. Aging & Mental Health, 18(8), 997-1005.
  • Examines several positive interventions (e.g., signature strengths in new ways, three good things) and the type of person x intervention fit in predicting happiness/depression over 3.5 years. Finds continued practice, effort, preference, and early reactivity to be good predictors of happiness and/or depression (Proyer et al. 2014b). Click for full reference.
    Proyer, R. T., Wellenzohn, S., Gander, F., Ruch, W. (2014b). Toward a better understanding of what makes positive psychology interventions work: Predicting happiness and depression from the person × intervention fit in a follow-up after 3.5 years. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. doi:10.1111/aphw.12039
  • This study examined the endorsement and idealization of character strengths among married couples. Strengths endorsement and strengths deployment were related to relationship satisfaction. Another finding was that men’s idealization of their wives’ strengths was negatively associated with relationship satisfaction while this was not true for the wives (Lavy, Littman-Ovadia, & Bareli, 2014). Click for full reference.
    Lavy, S., Littman-Ovadia, H., & Bareli, Y. (2014). My better half: Strengths endorsement and deployment in married couples. Journal of Family Issues. DOI: 10.1177/0192513X14550365.
  • Strengths-based career counseling  was compared with conventional career counseling and both client groups had an increase in daily strengths use but only the former had enhanced self-esteem. At 3-month follow-up, the strengths-based career counseling group had a higher rate of employment (81%) than the conventional career counseling group (60%) (Littman-Ovadia, Lazar-Butbul, & Benjamin, 2014). Another study examining career work examined the relationship between vocational personalities (e.g., artistic, social, etc.) and character strengths; for example, the strength of love of learning explained nearly 10% of the "investigative personality" (Littman-Ovadia, Potok, & Ruch, 2013). Click for full reference.
    1. Littman-Ovadia, H., Lazar-Butbul, V., Benjamin, B. A. (2014). Strengths-based career counseling: Description and evaluation. Journal of Career Assessment. 2. Littman-Ovadia, H., Potok, Y., & Ruch, W. (2013). The relationship between vocational personalities and character strengths in adults. Psychology.
  • This randomized-controlled study showed the relationship between strengths use (the previous day) and positive mood the following day, as well as a connection between decreased mood (the previous day) and strengths use the following day. Finally, this study showed that a relationship intervention (writing a brief letter to a loved one daily) amplified the positive effects of strengths deployment on mood (Lavy, Littman-Ovadia, & Bareli, 2014). Click for full reference.
    Lavy, S., Littman-Ovadia, H., & Bareli, Y. (2014). Strengths deployment as a mood-repair mechanism: Evidence from a diary study with a relationship exercise group. Journal of Positive Psychology.
  • A normal population was randomly assigned to an Internet intervention (involving strengths work, gratitude, kindness, and other validated exercies) or a control group and the intervention group had improved balance of positive to negative affect over time (Drozd et al., 2014). Click for full reference.
    Drozd, F., Mork, L., Nielsen, B., Raeder, S., Bjorkli, C. A. (2014). Better days – A randomized controlled trial of an internet-based positive psychology intervention. Journal of Positive Psychology. DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2014.910822.
  • Both signature strengths and strengths balance (framed as "jack of all strengths" from the phrase "jack of all trades") uniquely predicted higher well-being. In addition, subjects had stronger implicit associations with signature strengths than with their lower strengths (Young, Kashdan, & Macatee, 2014). Click for full reference.
    Young, K. C., Kashdan, T. B., & Macatee, R. (2014). Strength balance and implicit strength measurement: New considerations for research on strengths of character. Journal of Positive Psychology.
  • In a study examining the relationships (moderators) of signature strengths use, signature strengths level, life calling, and life satisfaction, individuals low in calling and high in signature strengths level had the strongest connection between signature strengths use and life satisfaction. A key finding here is that the use of signature strengths is particularly important for those low in meaning and purpose (Allan & Duffy, 2013). Click for full reference.
    Allan, B. A., & Duffy, R. D. (2013). Examining moderators of signature strengths use and well-being: Calling and signature strengths level. Journal of Happiness Studies. DOI 10.1007/s10902-013-9424-0.
  • A strengths training intervention (involving noticing when, where, and how top strengths are used and writing about this) was found to be effective in boosting life satisfaction in the short-run and long-run in the Chinese education context. The placebo effect was ruled out by having some participants informed of the purpose of the study and some not and finding that this had no long-term effect on life satisfaction (Duan, Ho, Tang, Li, & Zhang, 2013). Click for full reference.
    Duan, W., Ho, S. M. Y., Tang, X., Li, T., & Zhang, Y. (2013). Character strength-based intervention to promote satisfaction with life in the Chinese university context. Journal of Happiness Studies. DOI 10.1007/s10902-013-9479-y.
  • The VIA Institute conducted four studies investigating the initial concept, criteria, and suggested quantity of "signature" strengths in individuals. Studies 1 and 2 used two different approaches to signature strengths criteria defining the strength as energizing, natural, and essential to one's core character. More than half of the subjects in each study identified having 11 or more signature strengths according to this more general definition. Studies 3 and 4 used more stringent criteria/methods. In these two studies about one third of individuals identified having 11 or more signature strengths and nearly 50% reported having 7 or fewer signature strengths. Additionally signature strengths were found to have significantly higher VIA scores than non-signature strengths. These results support the construct of signature strengths and indicate that the average number of signature strengths that people think of themselves as having is larger than positive psychology researchers originally proposed. Narrowing the criteria results in fewer strengths being identified as signature (Mayerson, 2013). Click for full reference.
    Mayerson, N. M. (2013). Signature strengths: Validating the construct. Presentation to International Positive Psychology Association, Los Angeles, CA, 82-83. DOI: 10.1037/e574802013-112.
  • Using one’s signature strengths in a new way increased happiness and decreased depression for 6 months (Gander, Proyer, Ruch, & Wyss, 2012). Click for full reference.
    Gander, F., Proyer, R. T., Ruch, W., & Wyss, T. (2012). Strength-based positive interventions: Further evidence for their potential in enhancing well-being. Journal of Happiness Studies.
  • The use of signature strengths elevates individuals’ harmonious passion (i.e., doing activities that are freely chosen without constraints, are highly important, and part of the individual’s identity). This then leads to higher well-being (Forest et al., 2012). Click for full reference.
    Forest, J., Mageau, G. V. A., Crevier-Braud, L., Bergeron, L., Dubreuil, P., & Lavigne, G. V. L. (2012). Harmonious passion as an explanation of the relation between signature strengths’ use and well-being at work: Test of an intervention program. Human Relations, 65 (9), 1233-1252.
  • Using one’s signature strengths in a new way increased happiness for 6 months and decreased depression for 3 months (Mongrain & Anselmo-Matthews, 2012). Click for full reference.
    Mongrain, M., & Anselmo-Matthews, T. (2012). Do positive psychology exercises work? A replication of Seligman et al. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 68 (4), 382-389.
  • Student evaluations in an undergraduate psychology course that used blogs for students to explore the use of signature strengths in new ways and gratitude exercises were significantly higher than student evaluations in the same course that did not use blogs (Bridges, Harnish, & Sillman, 2012). Click for full reference.
    Bridges, K. R., Harnish, R. J., & Sillman, D. (2012). Teaching undergraduate positive psychology: An active learning approach using student blogs. Psychology Learning & Teaching, 11 (2), 228-237.
  • Among youth, the use of signature strengths in novel ways along with personally meaningful goal-setting led to increases in student engagement and hope (Madden, Green, & Grant, 2011). Click for full reference.
    Madden, W., Green, S., & Grant, A. M. (2011). A pilot study evaluating strengths-based coaching for primary school students: Enhancing engagement and hope. International Coaching Psychology Review, 6 (1), 71-83.
  • A qualitative study examined the use of VIA strengths by women in the workplace and found that in all cases, strengths led to a “virtuous circle” in which the strengths use helped them overcome obstacles that had impeded strengths use. All subjects derived unique value from using character strengths at work (Elson & Boniwell, 2011). Click for full reference.
    Elston, F., & Boniwell, I. (2011). A grounded theory study of the value derived by women in financial services through a coaching intervention to help them identify their strengths and practice using them in the workplace. International Coaching Psychology Review, 6 (1), 16-32.
  • In a longitudinal study, strengths use was found to be an important predictor of well-being and led to less stress and increased positive affect, vitality, and self-esteem at 3-month and 6-month follow-up (Wood et al., 2011). Click for full reference.
    Wood, A. M., Linley, P. A., Matlby, J., Kashdan, T. B., & Hurling, R. (2011). Using personal and psychological strengths leads to increases in well-being over time: A longitudinal study and the development of the strengths use questionnaire. Personality and Individual Differences, 50, 15-19.
  • Exploratory study of experienced psychotherapists and their perceptions of how signature strengths enhance their work. Three themes emerged: meaningful work, higher energy levels, and enabling work environment conditions (Piquette-Tomei & Atkinson, 2010). Click for full reference.
    Piquette-Tomei, N., & Atkinson, K. E. (2010). Psychotherapists’ views of using signature strengths in the workplace: An exploratory study. Database: OAlster. University of Lethbridge.
  • There is a strong connection between well-being and the use of signature strengths because strengths helps us make progress on our goals and meet our basic needs for independence, relationship, and competence (Linley et al., 2010). Click for full reference.
    Linley, P. A., Nielsen, K. M., Gillett, R., & Biswas-Diener, R. (2010). Using signature strengths in pursuit of goals: Effects on goal progress, need satisfaction, and well-being, and implications for coaching psychologists. International Coaching Psychology Review, 5 (1), 6-15.
  • From student interviews it was found that those who are the best of the best at using signature strengths also maintain social support and build on their success which give them further confidence in their strengths use (Bowers & Lopez, 2010). Click for full reference.
    Bowers, K. M., & Lopez, S. J. (2010). Capitalizing on personal strengths in college. Journal of College and Character, 11 (1).
  • Random assignment to a group instructed to use 2 signature strengths or use 1 signature strength and 1 bottom strength revealed significant gains in satisfaction with life compared with a control group but no differences between the 2 treatment groups (Rust, Diessner, & Reade, 2009). Click for full reference.
    Rust, T., Diessner, R., & Reade, L. (2009). Strengths only or strengths and relative weaknesses? A preliminary study. Journal of Psychology, 143 (5), 465-476.
  • The identification of signature strengths followed by discussion with a friend about strengths and use of three signature strengths in daily life boost cognitive (but not affective) well-being at three months follow-up (Mitchell, Stanimirovic, Klein, & Vella-Brodrick, 2009). Click for full reference.
    Mitchell, J., Stanimirovic, R., Klein, B., & Vella-Brodrick, D. (2009). A randomised controlled trial of a self-guided internet intervention promoting well-being. Computers in Human Behavior, 25, 749–760.
  • The use of one’s top strengths leads to a decreased likelihood of depression and stress and an increase in satisfaction in law students (Peterson & Peterson, 2008). Click for full reference.
    Peterson, T. D., & Peterson, E. W. (2008). Stemming the tide of law student depression: What law schools need to learn from the science of positive psychology. Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law, and Ethics, 9 (2). Available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1277303
  • Focusing on a therapy client's strengths for 5 minutes prior to a session improves the therapeutic relationship, therapy outcomes, mastery experience, and strengths activation in the session; note that "strengths" focused on are not VIA strengths per se (Fluckiger et al., 2009; Fluckiger & Grosse Holtforth, 2008).Click for full reference.
    1. Fluckiger, C., Caspar, F., Grosse Holtforth, M., & Willutzki, U. (2009). Working with patients’ strengths: A microprocess approach. Psychotherapy Research, 19(2), 213-223. 2.  Fluckiger, C., & Grosse Holtforth, M. (2008). Focusing the therapist’s attention on the patient’s strengths: A preliminary study to foster a mechanism of change in outpatient psychotherapy. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 64, 876-890.
  • Using one’s signature strengths in a new and unique way is an effective intervention: it increased happiness and decreased depression for 6 months (Seligman, Steen, Park, Peterson, 2005). Click for full reference.
    Seligman, M. E. P., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60, 410–421. 

 Character Strengths in the Workplace

  • Character strengths use at work is connected with not only job satisfaction but also productivity and organizational citizenship behavior. These connections are explained by high positive emotions and engagement (Lavy & Littman-Ovadia, in press). Click for full reference.
    Lavy, S., & Littman-Ovadia, H. My better self: Using strengths at work and work productivity, organizational citizenship behavior and satisfaction (in press). Journal of Career Development.
  • In a workplace study involving 686 participants, the character strength of perseverance was the strength most associated with work productivity and least associated with counter-productive work behaviors. This was best explained by the workers’ sense of meaning at work and perceptions of work-as-a-career and as-a-calling (Littman-Ovadia & Lavy, in press). Click for full reference.
    Littman-Ovadia, H., & Lavy, S. (in press). Going the extra mile: Perseverance as a key character strength at work. Journal of Career Assessment.
  • In 2 workplace samples (a mixed group of several occupations and a nurses group), character strengths were connected with improved coping with work stress and decrease the negative effects of stress (Harzer & Ruch, 2015). Click for full reference.
    Harzer, C., & Ruch, W. (2015). The relationships of character strengths with coping, work-related stress, and job satisfaction. Frontiers in Psychology. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00165
  • In a study of nearly 10,000 New Zealand workers that examined indicators of flourishing, workers who reported a high awareness of their strengths had a 9.5 times more likely to be flourishing than those with low strengths awareness. Moreover, workers who reported high strengths use were 18 times more likely to be flourishing than those with low strengths use (Hone et al., 2015). Click for full reference.
    Hone, L. C., Jarden, A., Duncan, S., & Schofield, G. M. (2015). Flourishing in New Zealand workers: Associations with lifestyle behaviors, physical health, psychosocial, and work-related indicators. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 57(9), 973-983.
  • In a study of 442 employees across 39 departments in 8 organizations, a strengths-based psychological climate was linked with positive affect and work performance (van Woerkom & Meyers, 2014). Click for full reference.
    van Woerkom, M., & Meyers, M. C. (2014). My strengths count! Effects of a strengths-based psychological climate on positive affect and job performance. Human Resource Management.
  • Character strengths were related to job performance across two samples of employees (Harzer & Ruch, 2014). Click for full reference.
    Harzer, C., & Ruch, W. (2014). The role of character strengths for task performance, job dedication, interpersonal facilitation, and organizational support. Human Performance. 27(3), 183-205. DOI:10.1080/08959285.2014.913592
  • The use of strengths at work was connected with work performance, and this relationship is explained by vitality, concentration, and harmonious passion (Dubreuil, Forest, & Courcy, 2013). Click for full reference.
    Dubreuil, P., Forest, J., & Courcy, F. (2013). From strengths use to work performance: The role of harmonious passion, subjective vitality and concentration. Journal of Positive Psychology. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17439760.2014.898318
  • Employees who used four or more of their signature strengths had more positive work experiences and work-as-a-calling than those who expressed less than four (Harzer & Ruch, 2012a). Click for full reference.
    Harzer, C., & Ruch, W. (2012a). When the job is a calling: The role of applying one's signature strengths at work. Journal of Positive Psychology.
  • Regardless of which character strengths are used, the congruent use of strengths in the situational circumstances at work is important for fostering job satisfaction, pleasure, engagement, and meaning in one’s job (i.e., the alignment of one’s signature strengths with work activities is what matters; Harzer & Ruch, 2012b). Click for full reference.
    Harzer, C., & Ruch, W. (2012b). The application of signature character strengths and positive experiences at work. Journal of Happiness Studies.
  • In a qualitative case study of a management development program, a key finding was to help managers develop new “tools” and behaviors and core to these tools was signature strengths use (Berg & Karlsen, 2012). Click for full reference.
    Berg, M. E., & Karlsen, J. T. (2012). An evaluation of management training and coaching. Journal of Workplace Learning, 24 (3), 177-199.
  • Across occupations, curiosity, zest, hope, gratitude, and spirituality are the Big 5 strengths associated with work satisfaction (Peterson et al., 2010). Click for full reference.
    Peterson, C., Stephens, J. P., Park, N., Lee, F., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2010). Strengths of character and work. Oxford handbook of positive psychology and work. In Linley, P. A., Harrington, S., & Garcea, N. (Eds.). Oxford handbook of positive psychology and work (pp. 221-231). New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Among volunteer and paid workers, endorsing strengths is related to meaning, but both endorsing AND deploying strengths is connected to well-being (Littman-Ovadia & Steger, 2010). Click for full reference.
    Littman-Ovadia, H., & Steger, M. (2010). Character strengths and well-being among volunteers and employees: Toward an integrative model. Journal of Positive Psychology, 5 (6), 419-430.
  • Character strengths use was connected with personal well-being and job satisfaction (Littman-Ovadia & Davidovitch, 2010). Click for full reference.
    Littman-Ovadia, H., & Davidovitch, N. (2010). Effects of congruence and character-strength deployment on work adjustment and well-being. International Journal of Business and Social Science, 1 (3), 138-146.
  • Character strengths – especially zest, perseverance, hope, and curiosity – play a key role in health and ambitious work behavior (Gander, Proyer, Ruch, & Wyss, 2012). Click for full reference.
    Gander, F., Proyer, R. T., Ruch, W., & Wyss, T. (2012). The good character at work: An initial study on the contribution of character strengths in identifying healthy and unhealthy work-related behavior and experience patterns. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health.
  • In a three-year thematic analysis of drivers of employee engagement, focusing on character strengths was among the three most crucial drivers (along with managing emotions and aligning purpose; Crabb, 2011). Specifically, employees are encouraged to identify, use, and alert others of their signature strengths as well as converse with managers about strengths use opportunities in the organization. Click for full reference.
    Crabb, S. (2011). The use of coaching principles to foster employee engagement. The Coaching Psychologist,7 (1), 27-34.
  • In a unique study of top-level executive leaders of for-profit companies (studying only the strengths of honesty/integrity, bravery, perspective, social intelligence), each of these strengths were important for performance but honesty/integrity had the most contribution in explaining variance in executive performance (Sosik et al., 2012). Click for full reference.
    Sosik, J. J., Gentry, W. A., & Chun, J. A. (2012). The value of virtue in the upper echelons: A multisource examination of executive character strengths and performance. Leadership Quarterly, 23, 367-382.
  • A study of strengths under the virtue of wisdom (creativity, curiosity, judgment, love of learning, and perspective) found them to be related to higher performance on a creative task and negatively related to stress (Avey et al., 2012). Click for full reference.
    Avey, J.B., Luthans, F., Hannah, S.T., Sweetman, D., & Peterson, C. (2012). Impact of employees’ character strengths of wisdom on stress and creative performance. Human Resource Management Journal, 22 (2), 165-181.
  • Among 226 employees, the strengths under the virtue of transcendence – hope, humor, gratitude, and spirituality (not appreciation of beauty/excellence) – had a direct positive relationship with a calling work orientation (Gorjian, 2006). Click for full reference.
    Gorjian, N. (2006). Virtue of transcendence in relation to work orientation, job satisfaction and turnover cognitions.  Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, 67 (2-B), 1190.
  • Life satisfaction strengths, spiritual strengths, and community-building strengths do not appear to be overtly encouraged in the workplace; instead it is the temperance and hardworking strengths that are emphasized (Money et al., 2008). Click for full reference.
    Money, K., Hillenbrand, C., & Camara, N. D. (2008). Putting positive psychology to work in organizations. Journal of General Management, 34 (2), 21-26.
  • Top 10 (rank order) strengths expressed at work: honesty, judgment, perspective, fairness, perseverance, love of learning, leadership, zest, curiosity, social intelligence.Click for full reference.
    Money, K., Hillenbrand, C., & Camara, N. D. (2008). Putting positive psychology to work in organizations. Journal of General Management, 34 (2), 21-26.
  • Bottom 5 (starting with lowest) strengths expressed at work: religiousness/spirituality, appreciation of beauty/excellence, love, bravery, modesty/humility. Click for full reference.
    Money, K., Hillenbrand, C., & Camara, N. D. (2008). Putting positive psychology to work in organizations. Journal of General Management, 34 (2), 21-26.
  • Strengths of which were determined to be a “high match” with work demands: only honesty, judgment, perspective, fairness, and zest. Click for full reference.
    Money, K., Hillenbrand, C., & Camara, N. D. (2008). Putting positive psychology to work in organizations. Journal of General Management, 34 (2), 21-26.
  • Appreciation of beauty/excellence was the only strength determined to be a “low match” with work demands; the rest of the strengths were a “medium match.” Click for full reference.
    Money, K., Hillenbrand, C., & Camara, N. D. (2008). Putting positive psychology to work in organizations. Journal of General Management, 34 (2), 21-26.
  • Work demands required the individual to use more of the following strengths than what is natural for them: perseverance, love of learning, leadership, curiosity, self-control, and prudence. Click for full reference.
    Money, K., Hillenbrand, C., & Camara, N. D. (2008). Putting positive psychology to work in organizations. Journal of General Management, 34 (2), 21-26.
  • Work demands required less of these strengths than what is natural for the individual: social intelligence, gratitude, teamwork, hope, humor, creativity, kindness, forgiveness, modesty/humility, bravery, love, appreciation of beauty/excellence, spirituality. Click for full reference.
    Money, K., Hillenbrand, C., & Camara, N. D. (2008). Putting positive psychology to work in organizations. Journal of General Management, 34 (2), 21-26.
  • In a study looking at the 5 character strengths under the transcendence virtue among 226 employees, 106 hospital nurses, and 120 child protective service social workers, several variables were examined. All the strengths (except appreciation of beauty/excellence) had a positive relationship with work-as-a-calling and hope, gratitude, and spirituality had a positive impact on work satisfaction through work-as-a-calling (Gorjian, 2006). Click for full reference.
    Gorjian, N. (2006). Virtue of transcendence in relation to work orientation, job satisfaction and turnover cognitions. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, 67(2-B), 1190.

VIA Character Strengths in Positive Education (and Children/Youth)

  • Eighth grade students participating in an intervention program involving five, 1-hour character strengths classroom activities had significant benefits to well-being compared to those in a comparison group (Oppenheimer et al., 2014). Click for full reference.
    Oppenheimer, M. F., Fialkov, C., Ecker, B., & Portnoy, S. (2014). Teaching to strengths: Character education for urban middle school students. Journal of Character Education, 10(2), 91-105.
  • Examines four types of “class clown” behaviors and character strengths profiles therein. In general, class clowns were higher in humor and leadership (75% had humor as a signature strength) and lower in prudence, self-regulation, humility, honesty, fairness, perseverance, and love of learning (Ruch, Platt, & Hofmann, 2014). Click for full reference.
    Ruch, W., F., Platt, T., & Hofmann, J. (2014). The character strengths of class clowns. Frontiers in Psychology.
  • Flagship article on VIA in education arguing for a more individualized approach to the application of character strengths in education as differentiated from monolithic and one-size-fits-all (traditional) approaches to character that predominate both past and present. Presents research-based strengths practices for classrooms, schools, and educators (Linkins, Niemiec, Gillham, & Mayerson, 2014). Click for full reference.
    Linkins, M., Niemiec, R. M., Gillham, J., & Mayerson, D. (2014). Through the lens of strength: A framework for educating the heart. Journal of Positive Psychology. DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2014.888581
  • Examined a 6-session, character strengths program for 9-12 year-olds in a classroom setting compared with non-randomized controls. After 3 months, the strengths group scored significantly higher on class cohesion and relatedness need satisfaction and lower on class friction, in addition to higher positive emotion, classroom engagement, and strengths use (Quinlan, Swain, Cameron, & Vella-Brodrick, 2014). Click for full reference.
    Quinlan, D. M., Swain, N., Cameron, C., & Vella-Brodrick, D.A. (2014). How ‘other people matter’ in a classroom-based strengths intervention: Exploring interpersonal strategies and classroom outcomes. Journal of Positive Psychology. DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2014.920407
  • Describes 5 character strengths initiatives woven into a large school (K-12), involving strengths in sport, student leadership, counseling, and English curriculum (White & Waters, 2014). Click for full reference.
    White, M. A., & Waters, L. E. (2014). A case study of ‘The Good School:’ Examples of use of Peterson’s strengths-based approach with students. Journal of Positive Psychology. DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2014.920408
  • Longitudinal study revealing character virtues stability over three years for children between the ages of 12 and 14. Overall the virtues were stable across the three years with a slight increase in the virtues of humanity and justice, and girls scored higher than boys across the six VIA virtues over three assessment periods (Ferragut, Blanca, & Ortiz-Tallo, 2014). Click for full reference.
    Ferragut, M., Blanca, M. J., & Ortiz-Tallo, M. (2014). Psychological virtues during adolescence: A longitudinal study of gender differences. European Journal of Development Psychology. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.108 /17405629.2013.876403
  • High poverty, high performing adolescents from 3 urban schools experienced a focus on "performance character" or "moral character." A moral character focus led to significantly higher levels of integrity while performance character focus led to significantly higher levels of perseverance and community connectedness (Seider, Novick, & Gomez, 2013). Click for full reference.
    Seider, S., Novick, S., & Gomez, J. (2013). The effects of privileging moral or performance character development in urban adolescents. Journal of Early Adolescence, 33 (6), 786-820.
  • In a longitudinal study of adolescent’ transition to middle school, intellectual and temperance strengths predicted school performance and achievement, interpersonal strengths related to school social functioning, and temperance and transcendence strengths predicted well-being (Shoshani & Slone, 2012). Click for full reference.
    Shoshani, A., & Slone, M. (2012). Middle school transition from the strengths perspective: Young adolescents’ character strengths, subjective well-being, and school adjustment. Journal of Happiness Studies.
  • In a study of children’s adjustment to first grade, parents’ intellectual, interpersonal, and temperance strengths related to their child’s school adjustment, while the children’s intellectual, interpersonal, temperance, and transcendence strengths related to first-grade adjustment (Shoshani & Ilanit Aviv, 2012). Click for full reference.
    Shoshani, A., & Ilanit Aviv, I. (2012). The pillars of strength for first-grade adjustment – Parental and children's character strengths and the transition to elementary school. Journal of Positive Psychology, 7 (4), 315-326.
  • In a study of adolescents’ character strengths and career/vocational interests, intellectual strengths were related to investigative and artistic career interests, transcendence and other-oriented strengths were related to social career interests, and leadership strengths were associated with enterprising career interests (Proyer, Sidler, Weber, & Ruch, 2012). Click for full reference.
    Proyer, R. T., Sidler, N., Weber, M., & Ruch, W. (2012). A multi-method approach to studying the relationship between character strengths and vocational interests in adolescents. International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance, 12 (2), 141-157.
  • In a study of adolescent romantic relationships, honesty, humor, and love were the most preferred character strengths in an ideal partner (Weber & Ruch, 2012a). Click for full reference.
    Weber, M., & Ruch, W. (2012a). The role of character strengths in adolescent romantic relationships: An initial study on partner selection and mates’ life satisfaction. Journal of Adolescence.
  • Character strengths of the mind (e.g., self-regulation, perseverance, love of learning) were predictive of school success (Weber & Ruch, 2012b). Click for full reference.
    Weber, M., & Ruch, W. (2012b). The role of a good character in 12-year-old school children: Do character strengths matter in the classroom? Child Indicators Research, 5 (2), 317-334.
  • In a study of the VIA Youth Survey, five strengths factors emerged and were independently associated with well-being and happiness (Toner, Haslam, Robinson, & Williams, 2012). Click for full reference.
    Toner, E., Haslam, N., Robinson, J., & Williams, P. (2012). Character strengths and wellbeing in adolescence: Structure and correlates of the Values in Action Inventory of Strengths for Children.  Personality and Individual Differences, 52 (5), 637-642.
  • A study of 319 adolescent students between the ages of 12-14 were divided into two groups in which 2/3 received character strengths-builder activities and strengths challenges within the school curriculum (called Strengths Gym), and 1/3 did not; those who participated in strengths experienced increased in life satisfaction compared to the controls (Proctor et al., 2011). Click for full reference.
    Proctor, C., Tsukayama, E., Wood, A., M., Maltby, J., Fox Eades, J., & Linley, P. A. (2011). Strengths gym: The impact of a character strengths-based intervention on the life satisfaction and well-being of adolescents. Journal of Positive Psychology, 6 (5), 377-388.
  • Among high school students, other-oriented strengths (e.g., kindness, teamwork) predicted fewer depression symptoms while transcendence strengths (e.g., spirituality) predicted greater life satisfaction (Gillham et al., 2011). Click for full reference.
    Gillham, J., Adams-Deutsch, Z., Werner, J., Reivich, K., Coulter-Heindl, V., Linkins, M., Winder, B., Peterson, C., Park, N., Abenavoli, R., Contero, A., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2011). Character strengths predict subjective well-being during adolescence. Journal of Positive Psychology, 6 (1), 31-44.
  • Reviews exercises and examples of applying siganture strengths in classroom work, classroom management, and curriculum, e.g., in art, history, language arts, transitions, service, and community (Molony & Henwood, 2010). Click for full reference.
    Molony, T., & Henwood, M. (2010). Signature strengths in positive psychology. Communique, 38 (8), 15-16.
  • Positive education programming which heavily involves character strengths assessment and intervention led to improved student school skills and greater student enjoyment and engagement in school (e.g., improved curiosity, love of learning, and creativity; Seligman et al., 2009). Click for full reference.
    Seligman, M. E. P., Ernst, R. M., Gillham, J., Reivich, K., & Linkins, M. (2009). Positive education: Positive psychology and classroom interventions. Oxford Review of Education, 35 (3), 293-311.
  • Among a Chinese sample, teachers high in zest, hope, and emotional strengths tended to experience more positive emotion, greater life satisfaction, and less negative emotions (Chan, 2009). Click for full reference.
    Chan, D. W. (2009). The hierarchy of strengths: Their relationships with subjective wellbeing among Chinese teachers in Hong Kong. Teaching and Teacher Education, 25 (6), 867-875.
  • The most prevalent character strengths in very young children are love, kindness, creativity, curiosity, and humor (Park & Peterson, 2006a). Click for full reference.
    Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2006a). Character strengths and happiness among young children: Content analysis of parental descriptions. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7, 323-341.
  • When compared with U.S. adults, youth from the U.S. are higher on the character strengths of hope, teamwork, and zest and adults are higher on appreciation of beauty & excellence, honesty, leadership, open-mindedness (Park & Peterson, 2006b). Click for full reference.
    Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2006b). Moral competence and character strengths among adolescents: The development and validation of the Values in Action Inventory of Strengths for Youth. Journal of Adolescence, 29, 891-905.
  • Convergence of strengths between parents and child are modest except for spirituality where it is substantial (Peterson & Seligman, 2004). Click for full reference.
    Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. New York: Oxford University Press and Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  • Character strengths with a developmental trajectory (least common in youth and increase over time through cognitive maturation) are appreciation of beauty & excellence, forgiveness, modesty, open-mindedness (Park & Peterson, 2006a; 2006b). Click for full reference.
    1. Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2006a). Character strengths and happiness among young children: Content analysis of parental descriptions. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7, 323-341. 2. Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2006b). Moral competence and character strengths among adolescents: The development and validation of the Values in Action Inventory of Strengths for Youth. Journal of Adolescence, 29, 891-905.
  • Focus groups with 459 high school students from 20 high schools found that students largely believe the 24 VIA strengths are acquired and that the strengths develop through ongoing experience, the students cited minimal character strength role models, and they particularly valued the strengths of love of learning, perspective, love, social intelligence, leadership, and spirituality (Steen, Kachorek, & Peterson, 2003). Click for full reference.
    Steen, T. A., Kachorek, L. V., & Peterson, C. (2003). Character strengths among youth. Journal of Youth & Adolescence, 32 (1), 5-16.

Character Strengths and Disability

    • Reviews the research on character strengths and disability observing that when the disability field discusses “strengths” and “strengths-based approaches” it is usually referring to strength categories known as skills, interests, and resources, and not character strengths. This paper offers a framework of tools/concepts for the intellectual/developmental disabilities field to bring the latest character strengths science into assessment, interventions, and systems of support (Niemiec, Shogren, & Wehmeyer, in press). Click for full reference.
      Niemiec, R. M., Shogren, K. A., & Wehmeyer, M. L. (in press). Character strengths and intellectual/developmental disability: A call to action. Intellectual disability.
    • Preliminary work examining the inclusiveness of VIA Youth Survey for youth with disabilities. This study found that the assessment was reliable and meaningful for youth with and without disabilities and similar strengths profiles emerged (Shogren et al., in press). Click for full reference.
      Shogren, K. A., Wehmeyer, M. L., Lang, K., & Niemiec, R. M. (in press). The application of the VIA classification of strengths to youth with and without disabilities.
      • Discusses the evidenced-based, group therapy approach for people with intellectual/developmental disabilities called Interactive-Behavioral Therapy (IBT). Discusses modifications to include positive psychology elements including character strengths (e.g., case discussion of the “virtual gratitude visit”) (Tomasulo, 2014). Click for full reference.
        Tomasulo, D. (2014). Positive group psychotherapy modified for adults with intellectual disabilities. Journal of Intellectual Disabilities.
        • Part of this paper discusses the value of using targeted interventions for character strengths to improve the lives of people with physical disabilities, such as those being treated in rehabilitation centers (Chan et al., 2013). Click for full reference.
          Chan, J. Chan, F., Ditchman, N., Phillips, B., & Chou, C. (2013). Evaluating Snyder’s hope theory as a motivational model of participation and life satisfaction for individuals with spinal cord injury: A path analysis. Rehabilitation Research, Policy, and Education, 27(3), 187-205.
          • Examined the character strength of humor among people with Asperger's/autism and found that it was the 16th highest strength on average compared with typically developing individuals (matched by age, gender, and education) in which humor ranked 8th. In addition, humor was related only to the life of pleasure among people with Asperger's whereas humor was related to pleasure, engagement, meaning, and life satisfaction among typically developing individuals (Samson & Antonelli, 2013). Click for full reference.
            Samson, A. C., & Antonelli, Y. (2013). Humor as character strength and its relation to life satisfaction and happiness in Autism Spectrum Disorders. Humor: International Journal of Humor Research, 26 (3), 477-491.
            • A pilot character strengths-focused group (4 sessions) for caretakers of children with cerebral palsy found significantly lower parent stress and higher hope at the conclusion of the group and at 1-month follow-up (Fung et al., 2011). Click for full reference.
              Fung, B. K. K., Ho, S. M. Y., Fung, A. S. M., Leung, E. Y. P., Chow, S. P., Ip, W. Y., Ha, K. W. Y., & Barlaan, P. I. G. (2011). The development of a strength-focused mutual support group for caretakers of children with cerebral palsy. East Asian Archives of Psychiatry, 21 (2), 64-72.
            • Offers psychometrics on a measure of positive traits for people with intellectual/developmental disabilities, along with discussion of activities for boosting them (Woodard, 2009). Most of the 10 traits assessed are VIA character strengths, for example, forgiveness, humor, gratitude, courage, self-control, kindness, and optimism. Click for full reference.
              Woodard, C. (2009). Psychometric properties of the ASPeCT-DD: Measuring positive traits in persons with developmental disabilities. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 27, 433-444.
              • Although it uses “dated” and no-longer-accepted terminology (see Wehmeyer et al., 2008), this article suggests that character strengths can play an important role in Down syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, and Williams syndrome (Dykens, 2006). Click for full reference.
                Dykens, E. M. (2006). Toward a positive psychology of mental retardation. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 76(2), 185-193.
                • In a study of adolescents with and without cognitive disabilities, hope, optimism, locus of control, and self-determination were strongly correlated and both hope and optimism predicted life satisfaction in the youth with and without disability (Shogren et al., 2006). Click for full reference.
                  Shogren, K. A., Lopez, S. J., Wehmeyer, M. L., Little, T. D., & Pressgrove, C. L. (2006). The role of positive psychology constructs in predicting life satisfaction in adolescents with and without cognitive disabilities: An exploratory study. Journal of Positive Psychology, 1(1), 37-52.

                  Universality, Prevalance and General Findings

                  • Offers analyses and validity information for VIA Survey translations. Languages from the following nations were examined in this study: Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Portugal, Brazil, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, mainland China (simplified Chinese), and Hong Kong (traditional Chinese) (McGrath, in press).Click for full reference.
                    McGrath, R. E. (in press). Measurement invariance in translations of the VIA inventory of strengths. European Journal of Psychological Assessment.
                  • This study provides an alternative to traditional factor analyses in understanding factors and examining the VIA Classification. Several analyses were conducted included studying the views of 70 experts (from philosophy, psychology, theology) and 41 laypersons on how they would rate the strengths and the categories they would place them in. Most of the character strengths aligned with the original projected virtue with one main exception (i.e., humor lined up best under humanity and wisdom) A subsequent factor analysis performed across these ratings revealed 6 factors (Ruch & Proyer, 2015). Click for full reference.
                    Ruch, W., & Proyer, R. T. (2015). Mapping strengths into virtues: the relation of the 24 VIA-strengths to six ubiquitous virtues. Frontiers in Psychology. http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00460
                  • In a unique study involving the development of a three-factor model for character strengths, results were consistent across three data sets constituting over 1 million cases, revealing strong evidence for strengths reflecting 3 components – caring, inquisitiveness, and self-control (McGrath, 2015). Click for full reference.
                    McGrath, R. E. (2015). Integrating psychological and cultural perspectives on virtue: The hierarchical structure of character strengths. Journal of Positive Psychology, 10(5), 407-424. DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2014.994222
                  • Offers psychometric data on the shortened version of the VIA Survey (240 items). Robert McGrath took the 5 items with the highest corrected item-total correlations to create the 120-question version. He did the same for the best 3 items on the 72-item version but only the former is discussed in this paper (Littman-Ovadia, 2015). Click for full reference.
                    Littman-Ovadia, H. (2015). Short form of the VIA Survey: Construction of scales and preliminary tests of reliability and validity. International Journal of Humanities Social Sciences and Education, 2(4), 229-237.
                  • Discusses ideas for a relational developmental systems model of character development and considers necessary research testing of such a model (Lerner & Callina). Click for full reference.
                    Lerner, R. M., & Callina, K. S. (2014). The study of character development: Towards tests of a relational developmental systems model. Human Development, 57, 322–346. DOI: 10.1159/000368784
                  • Examined sustainable behavior, defined as positive behavior aimed at the protection of the soci-physical environment including ecological, altruistic, and equitable beahviors. The character strengths most associated with sustainable behavior included kindness, fairness, hope, love, and teamwork (Corral-Verdugo, Tapia-Fonllem, & Ortiz-Valdez, 2013). Click for full reference.
                    Corral-Verdugo, V., Tapia-Fonllem, C., & Ortiz-Valdez, A. (2013). Character strengths, virtues, and sustainable behavior. Unpublished manuscript.
                  • Found significant correlations between character strengths and temperament, character strengths and resilience, and that temperament could accurately predict high or low levels of resilience and character strengths (Hutchinson, Stuart, & Pretorius, 2010; 2011). Click for full reference.
                    1. Hutchinson, A. K., Stuart, A. D., & Pretorius, H. G. (2011).The relationships between temperament, character strengths, and resilience. The Human Pursuit of Well-Being, 133-144.2. Hutchinson, A. M. K., Stuart, A. D., & Pretorius, H. G. (2010). Biological contributions to well-being: The relationships amongst temperament, character strengths and resilience. SA Journal of Industrial Psychology, 36(2), 1-10.
                  • Examined the character strengths of residents across 50 U.S. cities and examined city-level outcomes such as entrepreneurship and voting behavior, and the relation to strengths of the head (intellectual and self-oriented) and strengths of the heart (emotional and interpersonal) (Park & Peterson, 2010). Click for full reference.
                    Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2010). Does it matter where we live? The urban psychology of character strengths. American Psychologist, 65(6), 535–547.
                  • Discusses two classes of character strengths (not mutually exclusive): focus and balance strengths. Focus strengths (e.g., creativity, perseverance, leadership) help the individual develop and express personal strengths while balance strengths (e.g., perspective, fairness, teamwork) help the individual develop and bring about harmony within the self and between the self and others” (Bacon, 2005). Click for full reference.
                    Bacon, S. F. (2005). Positive psychology’s two cultures. Review of General Psychology, 9, 181-192.
                  • The process of working with character strengths involves three main steps, the Aware-Explore-Apply model, which involves strengths-spotting, combating strengths blindness and cultivating strengths awareness (aware); exploring strengths overuse, underuse, use across contexts, past use with problems and successes (explore); and taking action with goal-setting, deploying and aligning strengths, and valuing strengths in others (apply) (Niemiec, 2013). Click for full reference.
                    Niemiec, R. M. (2013). VIA character strengths: Research and practice (The first 10 years). In H. H. Knoop & A. Delle Fave (Eds.), Well-being and cultures: Perspectives on positive psychology (pp. 11-30). New York: Springer.
                  • The connection between character strengths and positive emotions was explored and the strengths most strongly loading as emotional strengths were zest, hope, bravery, humor, love, and social intelligence (Gusewell & Ruch, 2012). Click for full reference.
                    Güsewell, A., & Ruch, W. (2012). Are only emotional strengths emotional? Character strengths and disposition to positive emotions. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-being, 4 (2), 218–239.
                  • A review of character strength interventions found small to moderate effect sizes while hypothesizing reasons why strength interventions work, such as factors relating to strengths use, need satisfaction, goal-setting, and goal-striving (Quinlan, Swain, & Vella-Brodrick, 2012). Click for full reference.
                    Quinlan, D., Swain, N., & Vella-Brodrick, D. A. (2012). Character strengths interventions: Building on what we know for improved outcomes. Journal of Happiness Studies, 13 (6), 1145-1163.
                  • In examining the packages of positive psychology interventions (offering 2, 4, or 6 exercises, or placebo), it was found that those offered 2 or 4 had the largest decreases in depression (Schueller & Parks, 2012). Exercises included using signature strengths in new ways, savoring, three good things, life summary, gratitude visit, and active-constructive responding. Click for full reference.
                    Schueller, S.M., & Parks, A.C. (2012). Disseminating self-help: Positive psychology exercises in an online trial. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 14 (3), e63. 
                  • In a randomized controlled study of interventions involving “strengths development” and “talent identification,” only the latter group was linked with a fixed mindset in which individuals believe their personal attributes are not amenable to change efforts (Louis, 2011). Click for full reference.
                    Louis, M. C. (2011). Strengths interventions in higher education: The effect of identification versus development approaches on implicit self-theory. Journal of Positive Psychology, 6 (3), 204-215.
                  • In a study of gender differences and character strengths, women scored highest on the strengths of honesty, kindness, love, gratitude, and fairness, while men scored highest on honesty, hope, humor, gratitude, and curiosity. Life satisfaction was predicted by zest, gratitude, hope, appreciation of beauty/excellence, and love for women, while life satisfaction was predicted by creativity, perspective, fairness, and humor for men (Brdar, Anic, & Rijavec, 2011). Another study of gender differences found women to be higher on gratitude than men (Mann, 2014). Click for full reference.
                    1. Brdar, I., Anic, P., & Rijavec, M. (2011). Character strengths and well-being: Are there gender differences? The Human Pursuit of Well-Being, 145-156. 2. Mann, N. B. (2014). Signature strengths: Gender differences in creativity, persistence, prudence, gratitude, and hope. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, 74(7-B(E)), np. 
                  • In a study of attachment orientations among 394 individuals, most character strengths were negatively associated with both avoidant and attachment orientations, and the strength of hope was a mediator for both orientations (Lavy & Littman-Ovadia, 2011). Click for full reference.
                    Lavy, S., & Littman-Ovadia, H. (2011). All you need is love? Strengths mediate the negative association between attachment orientations and life satisfaction. Personality and Individual Differences, 50, 1050-1055.
                  • Strengths can be cultivated through enhanced awareness, accessibility, and effort and are highly contextualized phenomena that emerge in patterns and alongside goals, interests, and values (Biswas-Diener, Kashdan, & Minhas, 2011). Click for full reference.
                    Biswas-Diener, R., Kashdan, T. B., & Minhas, G. (2011). A dynamic approach to psychological strength development and intervention. Journal of Positive Psychology, 6 (2), 106-118.
                  • In a sample of over 83,000 people taking the VIA-Survey, researchers did not find evidence for a distinct state of superior functioning (e.g., enlightenment or wisdom) indicating that character strengths are dimensional (not categorical like DSM mental disorders; McGrath, Rashid, Park, & Peterson, 2010).Click for full reference.
                    1. McGrath, R. E., Rashid, T., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2010). Is optimal functioning a distinct state? The Humanistic Psychologist, 38, 159-169. 2. Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2010). Does it matter where we live? The urban psychology of character strengths. American Psychologist, 65 (6), 535–547.
                  • In examining participants’ preferences for positive psychology exercises, those who benefited most from using signature strengths in new ways had a strong preference for the gratitude visit intervention (Schueller, 2010). Participants had a preference for matched exercises than unmatched exercises and subsequently reported higher well-being; no differences were found in terms of adherence (Schueller, 2011). Another study found that two groups (a group who selected their preference for an intervention and a group randomly assigned) had equally positive increases in happiness and decreases in depression; in addition to gratitude exercises, another intervention was using signature strengths in a new way (Silberman, 2007). Click for full reference.
                    1. Schueller, S. M. (2010). Preferences for positive psychology exercises. Journal of Positive Psychology, 5 (3), 192-203. 2. Schueller, S. M. (2011). To each his own well-being boosting intervention: Using preference to guide selection. Journal of Positive Psychology, 6 (4), 300-313. 3.  Silberman, J. (2007). Positive intervention self-selection: Developing models of what works for whom. International Coaching Psychology Review, 2 (1), 70-77.
                  • Character strengths are moderately heritable (Steger, Hicks, Kashdan, Krueger, & Bouchard, 2007). Click for full reference.
                    Steger, M. F., Hicks, B., Kashdan, T. B., Krueger, R. F., & Bouchard, T. J., Jr. (2007). Genetic and environmental influences on the positive traits of the Values in Action classification, and biometric covariance with normal personality. Journal of Research in Personality, 41, 524-539.
                  • Character may occupy the most central role in the field of positive psychology. Pleasure, flow, and other positive experiences are enabled by good character (Park & Peterson, 2009a; Peterson, Ruch, Beerman, Park, & Seligman, 2007). Click for full reference.
                    1. Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2009a). Character strengths: Research and practice. Journal of College and Character, 10 (4), np. 2. Peterson, C., Ruch, W., Beerman, U., Park, N., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2007). Strengths of character, orientations to happiness, and life satisfaction. Journal of Positive Psychology, 2, 149-156.
                  • Twin studies show that love, humor, modesty, and teamwork are most influenced by environmental factors (Steger et al., 2007). Click for full reference.
                    Steger, M. F., Hicks, B., Kashdan, T. B., Krueger, R. F., & Bouchard, T. J., Jr. (2007). Genetic and environmental influences on the positive traits of the Values in Action classification, and biometric covariance with normal personality. Journal of Research in Personality, 41, 524-539.
                  • The most prevalent character strengths in a UK sample were open-mindedness, fairness, curiosity, love of learning, and kindness (Linley et al., 2007). Click for full reference.
                    Linley, P. A., Maltby, J., Wood, A. M., Joseph, S., Harrington, S., Peterson, C., Park, N., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2007). Character strengths in the United Kingdom: The VIA inventory of strengths. Personality and Individual Differences, 43, 341-351.
                  • Young adults (ages 18-24) from the US and Japan showed similar distributions of VIA strengths – higher strengths of kindness, humor, and love and lower strengths in prudence, modesty, and self-regulation; in addition females reported more kindness and love while males reported more bravery and creativity (Shimai, Otake, Park, Peterson, & Seligman, 2006). Click for full reference.
                    Shimai, S., Otake, K., Park, N., Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2006). Convergence of character strengths in American and Japanese young adults. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7, 311-322.
                  • The most prevalent character strengths in human beings in descending order are kindness, fairness, honesty, gratitude, judgment (McGrath, 2014; Park, Peterson, & Seligman, 2006). Click for full reference.
                    Park, N., Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2006). Character strengths in fifty-four nations and the fifty US states. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 1 (3), 118-129.
                  • The least prevalent character strengths in human beings are prudence, modesty, and self-regulation (Park, Peterson, & Seligman, 2006). Click for full reference.
                    Park, N., Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2006). Character strengths in fifty-four nations and the fifty US states. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 1 (3), 118-129.
                  • Character strengths are universal (Dahlsgaard, Peterson, & Seligman, 2005; Park, Peterson, & Seligman, 2006). High rates of agreement, desirability, and development of VIA character strengths were found in remote cultures (Kenyan Maasai & Inughuit in Northern Greenland) and the U.S. (U. of Illinois students; Biswas-Diener, 2006). VIA character strengths are remarkably similar across 54 nations and across the United States (Park, Peterson, & Seligman, 2006). Click for full reference.
                    1. Dahlsgaard, K., Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2005). Shared virtue: The convergence of valued human strengths across culture and history. Review of General Psychology, 9 (3), 203–213. 2. Park, N., Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2006). Character strengths in fifty-four nations and the fifty US states.  Journal of Positive Psychology, 1 (3), 118-129. 3.
                    Biswas-Diener, R. (2006). From the equator to the North Pole: A study of character strengths. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7, 293–310.
                  • There are 24 strengths of character that meet 8, 9, or all 10 of the following criteria: fulfilling, morally valued, do not diminish others; nonfelicitous opposites; traitlike; distinctiveness; paragons; prodigies; selective absence; institutions/rituals (Peterson & Seligman, 2004). Click for full reference.
                    Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. New York: Oxford University Press and Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
                  • A number of factor analyses have been conducted on the adult VIA Survey. Most studies find four or five factors to emerge. By far, the largest study using over 650,000 subjects (McGrath, 2013) found four factors. For citations, see Brdar and Kashdan (2010); Choubisa & Singh (2011); Khumalo, Wissing, & Temane, (2008); Littman-Ovadia & Lavy (2012); Macdonald, Bore, and Munro (2008); McGrath (2013); Peterson et al. (2008); Ruch et al. (2010); Shryack, Steger, Krueger, and Kallie (2010); Singh and Choubisa (2010), Azanedoa et al. (2014). Click for full reference.
                    1.  McGrath, R. E. (2013). Scale- and item-level factor analysis of the VIA Inventory of Strengths. Assessment. DOI: 10.1177/1073191112450612. 2.  Brdar, I., & Kashdan, T.B. (2010). Character strengths and well-being in Croatia: An empirical investigation of structure and correlates. Journal of Research in Personality, 44, 151-154. 3. Choubisa, R., & Singh, K. (2011). Psychometrics encompassing VIA-IS: A comparative cross cultural analytical and referential reading. Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology, 37 (2), 325-332. 4.  Khumalo, I. P., Wissing, M. P., & Temane, Q. M. (2008). Exploring the validity of the Values-In-Action Inventory of Strengths (VIA-IS) in an African context. Journal of Psychology in Africa, 18 (1), 133-142. 5.  Littman-Ovadia, H., & Lavy, S. (2012). Differential ratings and associations with well-being of character strengths in two communities. Health Sociology Review, 1378-1410. 6.  Macdonald, C., Bore, M., & Munro, D. (2008). Values in action scale and the big 5: An empirical indication of structure. Journal of Research in Personality, 42 (4), 787-799. 7. Peterson, C., Park, N., Pole, N., D’Andrea, W., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2008). Strengths of character and posttraumatic growth. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 21, 214-217. 8.  Ruch, W., Proyer, R. T., Harzer, C., Park, N., Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2010). Values in action inventory of strengths (VIA-IS): Adaptation and validation of the German version and the development of a peer-rating form. Journal of Individual Differences, 31 (3), 138-149. 9.  Shryack, J., Steger, M.F., Krueger, R.F. & Kallie, C.S. (2010). The Structure of virtue: An empirical investigation of the dimensionality of the virtues in action inventory of strengths. Personality and Individual Differences, 48, 714-719. 10. Singh, K., & Choubisa, R. (2010). Empirical validation of values in action-inventory of strengths (VIA-IS) in Indian context. National Academy of Psychology India Psychological Studies, 55 (2), 151-158. 5. Azañedoa, C.M., Fernández-Abascalb, E. G., & Barracac, J. (2014). Character strengths in Spain: Validation of the Values in Action Inventory of Strengths (VIA-IS) in a Spanish sample. Clínica y Salud, 25, 123-130.
                  • Additional structural, cross-cultural, and psychometric analyses have been conducted in the VIA Survey, for other examples, see Duan, Li, & Zhang (2011); Haslam, Bain, & Neal (2004); Littman-Ovadia & Lavy (2012), Wen-jie et al. (2011). Click for full reference.
                    1. Duan, W., Li, T., & Zhang, Y. (2011). Values in Action Inventory of Strengths and its review of process in applied research.  Chinese Journal of Clinical Psychology, 19 (2), 205-208. 2. Haslam, N., Bain, P., & Neal, D. (2004). The implicit structure of positive characteristics. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30 (4), 529-541. 3. Littman-Ovadia, H., & Lavy, S. (2012). Character strengths in Israel: Hebrew adaptation of the VIA Inventory of Strengths. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 28 (1), 41-50. 4. Wen-jie, D., Yu, B., Yong-hong, Z., & Xiao-qing, T. (2011). Values in Action Inventory of Strengths in college students: Reliability and validity. Chinese Journal of Clinical Psychology, 19 (4), 473-475.
                  • Properties of the VIA Youth Survey (for ages 10-17) are discussed in several articles, for examples, see Park & Peterson (2005); Park & Peterson (2006b); Ruch et al. (2014); Toner et al. (2012); van Eeden et al. (2008).Click for full reference.
                    1. Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). The Values in Action Inventory of Character Strengths for Youth. In K. A. Moore & L. H. Lippman (Eds.), What do children need to flourish? Conceptualizing and measuring indicators of positive development (pp. 13-23). New York: Springer. 2.  Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2006b). Moral competence and character strengths among adolescents: The development and validation of the Values in Action Inventory of Strengths for Youth. Journal of Adolescence, 29, 891-905. 3. Ruch, W., Weber, M., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2014). Character strengths in children and adolescents: Reliability and initial validity of the German values in action inventory of strengths for youth (German VIA-Youth). European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 30 (1), 57-64. DOI: 10.1027/1015-5759/a001160 4.  Toner, E., Haslam, N., Robinson, J., & Williams, P. (2012). Character strengths and wellbeing in adolescence: Structure and correlates of the Values in Action Inventory of Strengths for Children.  Personality and Individual Differences, 52 (5), 637-642. 5. van Eeden, C., Wissing, M. P., Dreyer, J., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2008). Validation of the Values in Action Inventory of Strengths for Youth (VIA-Youth) among South African learners.  Journal of Psychology in Africa, 18 (1), 143-154. 
                  • There are two studies that examine relationships between the VIA Survey and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). One study (Choong & Britton, 2007) found nine significant covariations such as creativity-intuition; fairness-sensing; gratitude extroversion; perseverance-judging. The other study (Munro, Chilimanzi, & O'Neill) found several findings including extraverts scoring stronger on curiosity and humor compared to introverts and appreciation of beauty excellence scorers being higher on intuition. Click for full reference.
                    1. Choong, S., & Britton, K. (2007). Character strengths and type: Exploration of covariation. International Coaching Psychology Review, 2 (1), 9-23. 2. Munro, N., Chilimanzi, Y., & O’Neill, V. (2012). Character strengths and psychological type in university peer educators. South African Journal of Psychology, 42 (1), 12-24.

                  Character Strengths and Life Satisfaction

                  • This study found that self-esteem partially explained the connection between life satisfaction and strengths use and this effect was stronger for students with low to moderate levels of positive affect (Douglass & Duffy, 2015).Click for full reference.
                    Douglass, R., & Duffy, R. (2015). Strengths use and life satisfaction: A moderated mediation approach. Journal of Happiness Studies
                  • In a study of adults living in Switzerland, the strengths with the highest relationship with life satisfaction were hope, zest, love, social intelligence, and perseverance; the researchers also examined correlations with positive affect, negative affect, and correlations across age groups (Martinez-Marti & Ruch, 2014). Click for full reference.
                    Martinez-Marti, M. L., & Ruch, W. (2014). Character strengths and well-being across the life span: data from a representative sample of German-speaking adults living in Switzerland. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 1253. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01253
                  • Character strengths were shown to have the biggest impact on well-being in a study examining contact with nature, the big 5, and character strengths (Korotkov & Godbout, 2014). Click for full reference.
                    Korotkov, D., & Godbout, A. (2014). Perosnality, motivation, nature, and well-being. Personality and Individual Differences, 60, S65.
                  • Several of the character strengths that have shown repeatedly to correlate highly with life satisfaction were put to the test. Participants were assigned to an experimental group targeting those strengths (e.g., zest, hope, gratitude, curiosity, and humor), another group targeting strengths with lower correlations with life satisfaction (e.g., appreciation of beauty/excellence, creativity, kindness, love of learning, perspective), or a wait-list control. The first group showed the strongest improvements in life satisfaction, however, participants in both intervention groups subjectively reported higher gains in well-being than the control group (Proyer, Ruch, & Buschor, 2012). Click for full reference.
                    Proyer, R. T., Ruch, W., & Buschor, C. (2012). Testing strengths-based interventions: A preliminary study on the effectiveness of a program targeting curiosity, gratitude, hope, humor, and zest for enhancing life satisfaction. Journal of Happiness Studies.
                  • In a sample of 334 Swiss adults and 634 peer (informant) ratings, the results converged suggesting that hope, zest, and curiosity (and gratitude and love) have key roles in the connection between character strengths and life satisfaction. Informant reports also related positively to the endorsement of pleasure, engagement, and meaning (Buschor, Proyer, & Ruch, 2013). Click for full reference.
                    Buschor, C., Proyer, R. T., & Ruch, W. (2013). Self- and peer-rated character strengths: How do they relate to satisfaction with life and orientations to happiness? Journal of Positive Psychology, 8 (2), 116-127.
                  • In a study examining strength factors, the transcendence strengths were the strongest predictor of life satisfaction and positive affect, while all the strength factors related to self-efficacy in which the leadership factor was the strongest predictor. This research highlights how different strengths are relevant for different positive outcomes (Weber et al., 2013). Click for full reference.
                    Weber, M., Ruch, W., Littman-Ovadia, H., Lavy, S., & Gai, O. (2013). Relationships among higher-order strengths factors, subjective well-being, and general self-efficacy – The case of Israeli adolescents. Personality and Individual Differences, 55, 322-327.
                  • In addition to replication of the connection between hope, gratitude, love, zest, and curiosity with life satisfaction, the strengths that were the best predictors of future life satisfaction were hope and spirituality (Proyer et al., 2011). Click for full reference.
                    Proyer, R. T., Gander, F., Wyss, T., & Ruch, W. (2011). The relation of character strengths to past, present, and future life satisfaction among German-speaking women. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 3 (3), 370-384.
                  • Three groups emerged in a study of 27 nations and routes to happiness: nations high in pleasure & engagement; those high in engagement & meaning; and those low in pleasure, engagement, & meaning. Nations highest in each route were: South Africa (pleasure), Switzerland (engagement), and South Korea (meaning). All pathways predicted life satisfaction, wherein meaning & engagement are most robust (replication; Park, Peterson, & Ruch, 2009). Click for full reference.
                    Park, N., Peterson, C., & Ruch, W. (2009). Orientations to happiness and life satisfaction in twenty-seven nations. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 4 (4), 273-279.
                  • Pleasure, engagement, and meaning predicted life satisfaction in both Australian and US samples, and replicated the finding that there are stronger relationships with the latter two (Vella-Brodrick, Park, & Peterson, 2009). Click for full reference.
                    Vella-Brodrick, D. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2009). Three ways to be happy: Pleasure, engagement, and meaning. Findings from Australian and US samples. Social Indicators Research, 90, 165-179.
                  • Viewing one’s work as a “calling” in which one’s work is viewed as a source of fulfillment that is socially useful and personal meaningful, rather than as financial reward or career advancement, is predicted by the character strength of zest (Peterson et al., 2009). Click for full reference.
                    Peterson, C., Park, N., Hall, N., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2009). Zest and work. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 30, 161-172.
                  • Among youth, the character strengths most related to life satisfaction are love, gratitude, hope, and zest; very young children (ages 3-9) described by their parents as happy are also noted as showing love, hope, and zest (Park & Peterson, 2009b). Click for full reference.
                    Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2009b). Strengths of character in schools. In R. Gilman, E. S. Huebner, & M. J. Furlong (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology in schools (pp. 65-76). New York: Routledge.
                  • In a survey of the VIA classification with 839 Croatians, only curiosity and zest were consistently part of the top 5 strengths linked to attaining pleasure, engagement, and meaning (Brdar & Kashdan, 2010). Click for full reference.
                    Brdar, I., & Kashdan, T.B. (2010). Character strengths and well-being in Croatia: An empirical investigation of structure and correlates. Journal of Research in Personality, 44, 151-154.
                  • Replication study finding similarly strong (e.g., hope, zest) and weak (e.g., modesty, appreciation of beauty & excellence) correlations with life satisfaction in a sample of Swiss, Germans, and Austrians; life satisfaction was highest among the Swiss (Ruch et al., 2007). Click for full reference.
                    Ruch, W., Huber, A., Beermann, U., & Proyer, R. T. (2007). Character strengths as predictors of the "good life" in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. In Romanian Academy, "George Barit" Institute of History, Department of Social Research (Ed.), Studies and researches in social sciences (Vol. 16). Cluj-Napoca, Romania: Argonaut Press, 123-131.
                  • Total score on the VIA-IS (all 24 character strengths) correlated positively with life satisfaction (.44) indicating that strong character is associated with happiness and the good life (Ruch et al., 2007). Click for full reference.
                    Ruch, W., Huber, A., Beermann, U., & Proyer, R. T. (2007). Character strengths as predictors of the "good life" in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. In Romanian Academy, "George Barit" Institute of History, Department of Social Research (Ed.), Studies and researches in social sciences (Vol. 16). Cluj-Napoca, Romania: Argonaut Press, 123-131.
                  • Life satisfaction increased with degree of virtuousness (development of character strengths) but was more apparent of an increase for the less virtuous (Ruch et al., 2007). Click for full reference.
                    Ruch, W., Huber, A., Beermann, U., & Proyer, R. T. (2007). Character strengths as predictors of the "good life" in Austria, Germany and  Switzerland. In Romanian Academy, "George Barit" Institute of History,  Department of Social Research (Ed.), Studies and researches in social sciences (Vol. 16). Cluj-Napoca, Romania: Argonaut Press, 123-131.
                  • The character strengths most associated with the meaning route to happiness are religiousness, gratitude, hope, zest, and curiosity (Peterson et al., 2007). Click for full reference.
                    Peterson, C., Ruch, W., Beerman, U., Park, N., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2007). Strengths of character, orientations to happiness, and life satisfaction. Journal of Positive Psychology, 2, 149-156.
                  • The character strengths most associated with the engagement route to happiness are zest, curiosity, hope, perseverance, and perspective (Peterson et al., 2007). Click for full reference.
                    Peterson, C., Ruch, W., Beerman, U., Park, N., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2007). Strengths of character, orientations to happiness, and life satisfaction. Journal of Positive Psychology, 2, 149-156.
                  • The character strengths most associated with the pleasure route to happiness are humor, zest, hope, social intelligence, and love (Peterson et al., 2007). Click for full reference.
                    Peterson, C., Ruch, W., Beerman, U., Park, N., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2007). Strengths of character, orientations to happiness, and life satisfaction. Journal of Positive Psychology, 2, 149-156.
                  • Among young adults from the US and Japan, happiness was associated with zest, hope, curiosity, and gratitude (Shimai et al., 2006). Click for full reference.
                    Shimai, S., Otake, K., Park, N., Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2006). Convergence of character strengths in American and Japanese young adults. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7, 311-322.
                  • Parent’s strength of self-regulation was strongly associated with his or her child’s life satisfaction, but not their own (Park & Peterson, 2006a). Click for full reference.
                    Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2006a). Character strengths and happiness among young children: Content analysis of parental descriptions. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7, 323-341.
                  • The pursuit of meaning and engagement are much more predictive of life satisfaction than the pursuit of pleasure (Peterson, Park, & Seligman, 2005). Click for full reference.
                    Peterson, C., Park, N., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2005). Orientations to happiness and life satisfaction: The full life versus the empty life. Journal of Happiness Studies, 6, 25-41.
                  • The 5 character strengths most highly related to life satisfaction are hope (r = .53), zest (r = .52), gratitude (r = .43), curiosity (r = .39), and love (r = .35). These strengths consistently and repeatedly show a robust, consistent relationship with life satisfaction (Park, Peterson, & Seligman, 2004). The correlations given were from a sample of 3907 individuals; see article for data on two additional samples. Click for full reference.
                    Park, N., Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Strengths of character and well-being. Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology, 23, 603–619.
                  • The character strengths least related to life satisfaction (weak association) are modesty/humility, creativity, appreciation of beauty & excellence, judgment/open-mindedness, and love of learning (Park, Peterson, & Seligman, 2004). Click for full reference.
                    Park, N., Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Strengths of character and well-being. Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology, 23, 603–619.

                  Character Strengths and Health and Wellness

                  • Qualitative study examining an exercise program that is tailored to each individual’s signature strengths. Results showed improvements in exercise adherence, enjoyment of exercise, and achievement (Stocker & Hefferon, in press). Click for full reference.
                    Stocker, S., & Hefferon, K., (in press). The development of a character strengths based exercise program for exercise adherence. A qualitative inquiry.
                  • Greater endorsement of character strengths is associated with a number of health behaviors, such as feeling healthy, leading an active way of life (e.g., zest), the pursuit of enjoyable activities, healthy eating, watching one’s food, and physical fitness. All character strengths (except humility and spirituality) were associated with multiple health behaviors. While self-regulation had the highest associations overall, curiosity, appreciation of beauty/excellence, gratitude, hope, and humor also displayed strong connections with health behaviors (Proyer, Gander, Wellenzohn, & Ruch, 2013). Click for full reference.
                    Proyer, R. T., Gander, F., Wellenzohn, S., & Ruch, W. (2013). What good are character strengths beyond subjective well-being? The contribution of the good character on self-reported health-oriented behavior, physical fitness, and the subjective health status. Journal of Positive Psychology.
                  • Character strengths were highly correlated with well-being subscales of self-acceptance, purpose, and environmental mastery, as well as good physical and mental health (Leontopoulou & Triliva, 2012). Click for full reference.
                    Leontopoulou, S. & Triliva, S. (2012). Explorations of subjective wellbeing and character strengths among a Greek University student sample. International Journal of Wellbeing, 2 (3), 251-270.
                  • Older adult patients with a chronic physical disability at an inpatient rehabilitation facility were randomly assigned to a 7-day strengths-based intervention group or a control group and significant improvement on distress was found for the treatment group (O'Donnell, 2013). Click for full reference.
                    O’Donnell, P. J. (2013). Psychological effects of a strength-based intervention among inpatients in rehabilitation for pain and disability. (Doctoral dissertation). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. ISBN: 978-1-303-53639-7.
                  • Individuals who use their character strengths experienced greater well-being, which was related to both physical and mental health. Strengths use was a unique predictor of subjective well-being after self-esteem and self-efficacy were controlled for (Proctor, Maltby, & Linley, 2009). Click for full reference.
                    Proctor, C., Maltby, J., & Linley, P. A. (2009) Strengths use as a predictor of well-being and health-related quality of life. Journal of Happiness Studies, 10, 583-630.
                  • Character strengths were associated with lower levels of sexual behaviors and sex-related beliefs among African-American adolescents. Specifically on the VIA, higher love of learning was related to boys’ self-reported abstinence from sexual intercourse and boys’ & girls’ self-reported abstinence from drug use; higher curiosity was related to boys’ & girls’ belief in no premarital sex (love of learning was also significant for boys); prudence was related to reported abstinence from sexual intimacy; judgment was related to sexual initiation efficacy for girls & boys (leadership was also significant for girls; Ma et al., 2008). Click full reference.
                    Ma, M., Kibler, J. L., Dollar, K. M., Sly, K., Samuels, D., Benford, M. W., Coleman, M., Lott, L., Patterson, K., & Wiley, F. (2008). The relationship of character strengths to sexual behaviors and related risks among African American adolescents. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 15 (4), 319-327.
                  • Adolescent students who counted blessings reported higher levels of optimism and life satisfaction, less negative affect, and fewer physical symptoms (Froh, Sefick, & Emmons, 2008). Click for full reference.
                    Froh, J. J., Sefick, W. J., & Emmons, R. A. (2008). Counting blessings in early adolescents: An experimental study of gratitude and subjective well-being. Journal of School Psychology, 46, 213-233.
                  • Hope was a significant predictor of medication adherence among asthma patients between 8 and 12 (Berg, Rapoff, Snyder, & Belmont, 2007). Click for full reference.
                    Berg, C. J., Rapoff, M. A., Snyder, C. R., & Belmont, J. M. (2007). The relationship of children’s hope to pediatric asthma treatment adherence. Journal of Positive Psychology, 2, 176-184.
                  • When an individual has a physical disorder, there is less of a toll on life satisfaction if they are high on the character strengths of bravery, kindness, and humor (Peterson, Park, & Seligman, 2006). Click for full reference.
                    Peterson, C., Park, N., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2006). Greater strengths of character and recovery from illness. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 1 (1), 17–26.
                  • When an individual has a psychological disorder, there is less of a toll on life satisfaction if they are high on the character strengths of appreciation of beauty & excellence and love of learning (Peterson, Park, & Seligman, 2006). Click for full reference.
                    Peterson, C., Park, N., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2006). Greater strengths of character and recovery from illness. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 1 (1), 17–26.
                  • The strengths of the “heart” (e.g., love, gratitude) are more strongly associated with well-being than are strengths of the “head” (e.g., creativity, open-mindedness/judgment, appreciation of beauty and excellence; Park & Peterson, 2008b; Park, Peterson, & Seligman, 2004). Click for full reference.
                    1. Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2008b). The cultivation of character strengths. In M. Ferrari & G. Poworowski (Eds.), Teaching for wisdom (pp. 57-75). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. 2. Park, N., Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Strengths of character and well-being. Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology, 23, 603–619.
                  • The practice of gratitude (counting blessings) is linked to fewer physical symptoms, more optimistic life appraisals, and more time exercising and improved well-being and optimal functioning (Emmons & McCullough, 2003). Click for full reference.
                    Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 377–389.
                  • The practice of gratitude is linked to increases in well-being among those with neuromuscular disease (Emmons & McCullough, 2003). Click for full reference.
                    Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 377–389.
                  • Grateful individuals report higher positive mood, optimism, life satisfaction, vitality, religiousness and spirituality, and less depression and envy than less grateful individuals (McCullough, Emmons, & Tsang, 2002). Click for full reference.
                    McCullough, M. E., Emmons, R. A., & Tsang, J. (2002). The grateful disposition: A conceptual and empirical topography. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 112-127.
                  • Grateful people tend to be more helpful, supportive, forgiving, empathic, and agreeable (McCullough, Emmons, & Tsang, 2002). Click for full reference.
                    McCullough, M. E., Emmons, R. A., & Tsang, J. (2002). The grateful disposition: A conceptual and empirical topography. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 112-127.

                  Character Strengths and Achievement

                  • In a study of primary school students and a study of secondary school students, several character strengths were associated with positive classroom behavior (e.g., perseverance, social intelligence, prudence, hope, self-regulation) and school achievement (e.g., love of learning, perseverance, zest, perspective, gratitude, hope) (Wagner & Ruch, 2015). Click for full reference.
                    Wagner, L., & Ruch, W. (2015). Good character at school: Positive classroom behavior mediates the link between character strengths and school achievement. Frontiers in Psychology. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00610
                  • The character strengths – perseverance, love, gratitude, and hope – predict academic achievement in middle school students and college students (reported in Park & Peterson, 2009a). Click for full reference.
                    Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2009a). Character strengths: Research and practice. Journal of College and Character, 10 (4), np. 
                  • Effective teachers (judged by the gains of their students on standardized tests) are those who are high in social intelligence, zest, and humor in a longitudinal study (reported in Park & Peterson, 2009a). Click for full reference.
                    Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2009a). Character strengths: Research and practice. Journal of College and Character, 10 (4), np. 
                  • Popular students, as identified by teacher ratings, are more likely to score highly on civic strengths such as leadership and fairness, and temperance strengths of self-regulation, prudence, and forgiveness.  Interestingly, none of the humanity strengths such as love and kindness were related to popularity (Park & Peterson, 2009b). Click for full reference.
                    Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2009b). Strengths of character in schools. In R. Gilman, E. S. Huebner, & M. J. Furlong (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology in schools (pp. 65-76). New York: Routledge.
                  • Academic achievement among school children is predicted by perseverance and temperance strengths (Peterson & Park, 2009). Click for full reference.
                    Peterson, C., & Park, N. (2009). Classifying and measuring strengths of character. In S. J. Lopez & C. R. Snyder (Eds.), Oxford handbook of positive psychology, 2nd edition (pp. 25-33). New York: Oxford University Press.
                  • Military performance among West Point cadets was predicted by the character strength of love (Peterson & Park, 2009). Click for full reference.
                    Peterson, C., & Park, N. (2009). Classifying and measuring strengths of character. In S. J. Lopez & C. R. Snyder (Eds.), Oxford handbook of positive psychology, 2nd edition (pp. 25-33). New York: Oxford University Press.
                  • Military leaders' character strength of humor predicted their followers' trust while followers’ character strength of perspective earned their leaders' trust (Sweeney et al., 2009). Click for full reference.
                    Sweeney, P., Hannah, S. T., Park, N., Peterson, C., Matthews, M., & Brazil, D. (2009). Character strengths, adaptation, and trust. Paper presented at the International Positive Psychology Association conference on June 19, 2009.
                  • Strengths that predicted GPA in college students were perseverance, self-regulation, prudence, judgment and love of learning (Lounsbury et al., 2009). Click for full reference.
                    Lounsbury, J. W., Fisher, L. A., Levy, J. J., & Welsh, D. P. (2009). Investigation of character strengths in relation to the academic success of college students. Individual Differences Research, 7 (1), 52-69.
                  • Predictors of college satisfaction were hope, social intelligence, self-regulation, and fairness (Lounsbury et al., 2009). Click for full reference.
                    Lounsbury, J. W., Fisher, L. A., Levy, J. J., & Welsh, D. P. (2009). Investigation of character strengths in relation to the academic success of college students. Individual Differences Research, 7 (1), 52-69.
                  • After controlling for IQ, strengths of perseverance, fairness, gratitude, honesty, hope, and perspective predicted GPA (Park & Peterson, 2008a). Click for full reference.
                    Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2008a). Positive psychology and character strengths: Application to strengths-based school counseling. Professional School Counseling, 12 (2), 85-92.
                  • Character strengths are related to achievement, life satisfaction, and well-being in children and youth (Park & Peterson, 2008a). Click for full reference.
                    Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2008a). Positive psychology and character strengths: Application to strengths-based school counseling. Professional School Counseling, 12 (2), 85-92.
                  • The combined use of the VIA Survey and The Teacher Behaviors Checklist offers a new approach in faculty development that assists faculty in becoming more reflective and deliberate about their teaching and learning strategies (McGovern & Miller, 2008). Click for full reference.
                    McGovern, T. V., & Miller, S. L. (2008). Integrating teacher behaviors with character strengths and virtues for faculty development. Teaching of Psychology, 35 (4), 278-285.
                  • In a study of nearly 1200 kids who wore a beeping watch leading them to write about their thoughts, feelings, and actions eight times per day, the most curious kids were compared with the bored kids (the top 207 and the bottom 207). The curious were more optimistic, hopeful, confident, and had a higher sense of self-determination and self-efficacy believing they were in control of their actions and decisions, than the bored kids who felt like pawns with no control of their destiny (Hunter & Csikszentmihalyi, 2003). Click for full reference.
                    Hunter, J. P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2003). The positive psychology of interested adolescents. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 32 (1), 27-35.
                  • Higher hope levels are related to greater scholastic and social competence and to creativity levels (Onwuegbuzie, 1999). Click for full reference.
                    Onwuegbuzie, A. J. (1999). Relation of hope to self-perception. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 88, 535-540.

                  Character Strengths and Mental Illness, Problems and Trauma Recovery

                  • Two studies explored the link between VIA virtues and posttraumatic growth among people in China who had experienced the trauma of a natural disaster (first study) or a range of traumatic experiences (second study). Results revealed significant, positive correlations between virtues and posttraumatic growth (Duan & Guo, 2015) and a significant relationship between virtues and trait resilience where the former contributed more to posttraumatic growth while the latter was a strong predictor of PTSD (Duan, Guo, & Gan, 2015).Click for full reference.
                    1. Duan, W., & Guo, P. (2015). Association between virtues and posttraumatic growth: Preliminary evidence from a Chinese community sample after earthquakes. PeerJ, 3, e883. https://dx.doi.org/10.7717/peerj.883 2. Duan, W., Guo, P., & Gan, P. (2015). Relationships among trait resilience, virtues, post-traumatic stress disorder, and post-traumatic growth. PLOS One. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0125707
                  • Discusses how character strengths might relate to psychological disorders including how psychopathology can represent the opposite, absence, or excess of character strengths (Seligman, 2014). Click for full reference.
                    Seligman, M. E. P. (2014). Chris Peterson’s unfinished masterwork: The real mental illnesses. Journal of Positive Psychology. DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2014.888582
                  • Character strengths changes were examined in groups before and after three tragedies that occurred in diffferent parts of the U.S. Significant changes in strengths were found for one of the tragedies and changes were not consistent across the three (Schueller et al., 2014). Click for full reference.
                    Schueller, S. M., Jayawickreme, E., Blackie, L. E. R., Forgeard, M. J. C., & Roepke, A. M. (2014). Finding character strengths through loss: An extension of Peterson and Seligman (2003). Journal of Positive Psychology. DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2014.920405
                  • Feasibility study of impact of signature strengths exercise and gratitude exercise for people with traumatic brain injury. Random assignment found the interventions group to be superior to the control group on happiness and mood with no significant improvement on self-concept (Andrewes, Walker, & O'Neill, 2014). Click for full reference.
                    Andrewes, H. E., Walker, V., & O’Neill, B. (2014). Exploring the use of positive psychology interventions in brain injury survivors with challenging behavior. Brain Injury, 28 (7), 965-971.
                  • Several character strengths were examined in relation to mental health stigma and found that social intelligence and kindness were associated with less stigma, while those with judgment/critical thinking were less likely to hold those with disorders personally responsible for aquiring the condition (Vertilo & Gibson, 2014). Click for full reference.
                    Vertilo, V., & Gibson, J. M. (2014). Influence of character strengths on mental health stigma. Journal of Positive Psychology, 9 (3), 266-275.
                  • An exploratory, feasibility study of suicidal inpatients found that there was good benefit to applying positive psychology exercises for this population. Clinically relevant benefits including improved levels of hopelessness and optimism were found. Exercises included deliberate use of a character strength, gratitude letter, acts of kindness, best possible self, commitment to values-based living, and others (Huffman et al., 2013). Click for full reference.
                    Huffman, J., C., DuBois, C. M., Healy, B., C., Boehm, J. K., Kashdan, T. B., Celano, C. M., Denninger, J. W., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2013). Feasibility and utility of positive psychology exercises for suicidal inpatients. General Hospital Psychiatry.
                  • Reviewed the research on positive psychology interventions and addictions and recovery (Krentzman, 2013); one of the focus areas examined character strengths and drinking behaviors. For example, Logan, Kilmer, and Marlatt (2010) found those students who abstained from drinking had higher scores than drinkers on all 6 VIA Classification virtues with significantly higher scores on justice, temperance, and transcendence. Not surprisingly temperance was the most robust virtue across each analysis. Click for full reference.
                    1. Krentzman, A. R. (2013). Review of the application of positive psychology to substance abuse use, addiction, and recovery research. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 27 (1), 151-165. DOI: 10.1037/a0029897. 2. Logan, D. E., Kilmer, J. R., & Marlatt, G. A. (2010). The virtuous drinker: Character virtues as correlates and moderators of college student drinking and consequences. Journal of American College Health, 58, 317–324.
                  • Character strengths buffer people from vulnerabilities that can lead to depression and anxiety, such as the need for approval and perfectionism (Huta & Hawley, 2010). Click for full reference.
                    Huta, V., & Hawley, L. (2010). Psychological strengths and cognitive vulnerabilities: Are they two ends of the same continuum or do they have independent relationships with well-being and ill-being? Journal of Happiness Studies, 11, 71–93.
                  • In psychiatric rehab programs at the Department of Veterans Affairs, the act of simply taking the VIA Survey is experienced as a positive intervention with most participants reporting positive outcomes; an additional intervention used is veterans carrying a prompt with them (i.e., a strengths card") which serves as a reminder of their signature strengths (Kobau et al., 2011). Click for full reference.
                    Kobau, R., Seligman, M. E. P., Peterson, C., Diener, E., Zack, M. M., Chapman, D., & Thompson, W. (2011). Mental health promotion in public health: Perspectives and strategies from positive psychology. American Journal of Public Health, 101 (8), e1-e9. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2010.300083
                  • Tayyab Rashid (2009; Rashid & Ostermann, 2009) discusses the rationale, importance, tenets, cautions, and conceptual framework for the use of character strengths in clinical psychology practice. For example, he argues that psychotherapists should assess and construct therapeutic exercises not just around transgressions but also compassion, not just targeting grudges and vengeance but also gratitude and forgiveness, not just negativity but also love and kindness. Click for full reference.
                    1. Rashid, T. (2009). Positive interventions in clinical practice. Journal of Clinical Psychology: In Session, 65 (5), 461-466. 2. Rashid, T., & Ostermann, R. F. (2009). Strength-based assessment in clinical practice. Journal of Clinical Psychology: In Session, 65 (5), 488-498.
                  • Hope, kindness, social intelligence, self-regulation, and perspective buffer against the negative effects of stress and trauma (Park & Peterson, 2006c; Park & Peterson, 2009a). Click for full reference.
                    1. Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2006c). Methodological issues in positive psychology and the assessment of character strengths. In A. D. Ong & M. van Dulmen (Eds.), Handbook of methods in positive psychology (pp. 292-305). New York: Oxford University Press. 2. Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2009a). Character strengths: Research and practice. Journal of College and Character, 10 (4), np. 
                  • Character strengths encompass an estimated 60-70% of the programming and interventions that make up positive psychotherapy which has been found in trials to be beneficial for people suffering from depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, nicotine dependence, and borderline personality (Rashid & Anjum, 2007; Seligman, Rashid, & Parks, 2006). Click for full reference.
                    1. Rashid, T., & Anjum. A (2007). Positive psychotherapy for children and adolescents. In J. R. Z. Abela & B. L. Hankin (Eds.), Depression in children and adolescents: Causes, treatment and prevention (pp. 250–287).  New York: Guilford Press. 2.  Seligman, M. E. P., Rashid, T., & Parks, A. C. (2006). Positive psychotherapy. American Psychologist, 61, 774–788. 3. Rashid, T. (2014). Positive psychotherapy: a strength-based approach. Journal of Positive Psychology. DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2014.920411
                  • Persistence, honesty, prudence, and love were substantially related to fewer externalizing problems such as aggression (Park & Peterson, 2008a). Click for full reference.
                    Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2008a). Positive psychology and character strengths: Application to strengths-based school counseling. Professional School Counseling, 12 (2), 85-92.
                  • Hope, zest, and leadership were substantially related to fewer problems with anxiety and depression (Park & Peterson, 2008a). Click for full reference.
                    Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2008a). Positive psychology and character strengths: Application to strengths-based school counseling. Professional School Counseling, 12 (2), 85-92.
                  • Posttraumatic growth in various dimensions corresponds with particular character strengths: improved relationships with others (kindness, love), openness to new possibilities (curiosity, creativity, love of learning), greater appreciation of life (appreciation of beauty, gratitude, zest), enhanced personal strength (bravery, honesty, perseverance), and spiritual development (religiousness; Peterson et al., 2008; Tedeschi & Calhoun, 1995). Click for full reference.
                    1. Peterson, C., Park, N., Pole, N., D’Andrea, W., & Seligman, M.E.P. (2008). Strengths of Character and posttraumatic growth. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 21 (2), 214–217. 2. Tedeschi, R. G., & Calhoun, L. G. (1995). Trauma and transformation: Growing in the aftermath of suffering. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
                  • The more traumatic events an individual reports, the higher the character strength scores (with the exception of gratitude, hope, and love; Peterson et al., 2008). Click for full reference.
                    Peterson, C., Park, N., Pole, N., D’Andrea, W., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2008). Strengths of character and posttraumatic growth. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 21, 214-217.
                  • Hope is negatively related to indicators of psychological distress and school maladjustment (internalizing and externalizing behaviors; Gilman, Dooley, & Florell, 2006). Click for full reference.
                    Gilman, R., Dooley, J., & Florell, D. (2006). Relative levels of hope and their relationship with academic and psychological indicators among adolescents. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 25, 166-178.
                  • Gratitude, hope, kindness, leadership, love, spirituality, and teamwork all increased in a U.S. sample (but not a European sample) two months after the September 11th (2001) attack on the World Trade Center in New York City; ten months after September 11th, these character strengths were still elevated but to a lesser degree (Peterson & Seligman, 2003). Click for full reference.
                    Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2003). Character strengths before and after September 11. Psychological Science, 14, 381-384.


                  Character Strengths and Mindfulness

                  • Reviews the integration of mindfulness and character strengths, offers three case studies applying Mindfulness-Based Strengths Practice (MBSP) successfully in the business/organizational setting, and offers anecdotal support that MBSP boosts positive relationships and helps people manage problems (Niemiec & Lissing, 2015). Click for full reference.
                    Niemiec, R. M., &Lissing, J. (2015, in press) Mindfulness-based strengths practice (MBSP) for enhancing well-being, life purpose, and positive relationships. In I. Ivtzan & t. Lomas (Eds.), Mindfulness in positive psychology: The science of meditation and wellbeing. London: Routledge.
                  • Initial pilot data and qualitative reviews of Mindfulness-Based Strengths Practice (MBSP), an 8-week program that integrates and builds character strengths and mindfulness, is beneficial in boosting well-being, signature strengths, engagement, purpose, and positive relationships (Niemiec, 2014). Click for full reference.
                    Niemiec, R. M. (2014). Mindfulness and character strengths: A practical guide to flourishing. Cambridge, MA: Hogrefe.
                  • Mindfulness helps to overcome blind spots in self-knowledge, such as the quality and quantity of information individuals have about themselves and how people process information about themselves (Carlson, 2013). Click for full reference.
                    Carlson, E. N. (2013). Overcoming the barriers to self-knowledge: Mindfulness as a path to seeing yourself as you really are. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 8 (2), 173-186.
                  • Increased amount of time spent using strengths has been found to correlate significantly with mindfulness (Jarden et al., 2012). Click for full reference.
                    Jarden, A., Jose, P., Kashdan, T., Simpson, O., McLachlan, K., & Mackenzie, A. (2012). [International Well-being Study]. Unpublished raw data.
                  • The integration of mindfulness and character strengths creates a synergy of mutual benefit that can foster a virtuous circle in which mindful awareness boosts strengths use which, in turn, enlivens mindfulness (Niemiec, Rashid, & Spinella, 2012). Click for full reference.
                    Niemiec, R. M., Rashid, T., & Spinella, M. (2012). Strong mindfulness: Integrating mindfulness and character strengths. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 34 (3), 240-253.
                  • In examining principles of mindful living, 16 character strengths interventions are suggested to enhance and support healthy, mindful living (Niemiec, 2012). Click for full reference.
                    Niemiec, R. M. (2012). Mindful living: Character strengths interventions as pathways for the five mindfulness trainings. International Journal of Wellbeing, 2 (1), 22-33. 
                  • Researchers have proposed the possibility that if everyone has signature strengths and if mindfulness can enhance their use then it’s possible mindfulness could be beneficial for most people (Baer & Lykins, 2011). Click for full reference.
                    Baer, R. A., & Lykins, E. L. M. (2011). Mindfulness and positive psychological functioning. In K. M. Sheldon, T. B. Kashdan, & M. F. Steger (Eds.), Designing positive psychology: Taking stock and moving forward (pp. 335–348). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
                  • Mindfulness and curiosity each help to align individuals’ actual self (people’s beliefs about who they think they are) and their ideal self (the image people would like to be; Ivtzan, Gardner, & Smailova, 2011). This relates to the character strengths work of knowing one’s core self or identity. Click for full reference.
                    Ivtzan, Gardner, & Smailova (2011). Mindfulness meditation and curiosity: The contributing factors to wellbeing and the process of closing the self-discrepancy gap. International Journal of Wellbeing, 1 (3), 316-326.
                  • Mindfulness provides exposure or a new perspective of one’s internal and external environments (Brown, Ryan, & Creswell, 2007). Click for full reference.
                    Brown, K. W., Ryan, R. M., & Creswell, J. D. (2007). Mindfulness: Theoretical foundations and evidence for its salutary effects. Psychological Inquiry, 18 (4), 211-237.
                  • Mindfulness may facilitate successful self-regulation and self-regulation may facilitate greater mindfulness (Masicampo & Baumeister, 2007). Click for full reference.
                    Masicampo, E. J., & Baumeister, R. F. (2007). Relating mindfulness and self-regulatory processes. Psychological Inquiry, 18 (4), 255-258.
                  • The two-part, operational definition for mindfulness by 11 leading scientists embodies two character strengths – mindfulness is the self-regulation of attention with an attitude of curiosity, openness, and acceptance (Bishop et al., 2004). Click for full reference.
                    Bishop, S. R., Lau, M., Shapiro, S. L., Carlson, L., Anderson, N. D., Carmody, J., et al. (2004). Mindfulness: A proposed operational definition. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 11, 230–241.

                  Character Strengths Interactions

                   

                  • Examined 4 character strengths dyads and their connection with meaning in life. For three dyads (honesty/kindness, love/social intelligence, and hope/gratitude), meaning was highest when the strengths within a pair were both high; the opposite was found for bravery/fairness where the degree of discrepancy predicted life meaning when bravery was higher (Allan, 2014). This research supports the concepts of “character strengths balance” and that “all 24 character strengths matter.” Click for full reference.
                    Allan, B.A. (2014). Balance among character strengths and meaning in life. Journal of Happiness Studies. DOI 10.1007/s10902-014-9557-9
                  • This article presents several studies that support the mutual impact (predictive abilities) of two character strengths upon one another). It found that gratitude and humility reinforce one another (Kruse et al., 2014). The VIA Institute has referred to this phenomenon in which the expression of one strength naturally elicit the expression of other strengths as "the towing principle" and also as a "virtuous circle." Click for full reference.
                    Kruse, E., Chancellor, J., Ruberton, P. M., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2014). An upward spiral between gratitude and humility. Social, Psychological, and Personality Science, 1-10. DOI: 10.1177/1948550614534700.
                  • This study draws a connection between humility, awe, and spirituality, in a religious context (Krause & Hayward, 2014). Click for full reference.
                    Krause, N., & Hayward, R. D. (2014). Religious involvement and humility. Journal of Positive Psychology, 9 (3), 254-265.
                  • This study in the workplace finds a connection between emotional intelligence and teamwork (Farh, Seo, & Tesluk, 2012). Click for full reference.
                    Farh, C. I. C. C., Seo, M. G., & Tesluk, P. E. (2012). Emotional intelligence, teamwork effectiveness, and job performance: The moderating role of job context. Journal of Applied Psychology, 97 (4), 890-900.
                  • This study draws a relationship between one dimension of spirituality/religiousness (positive/neutral reminders of God) and improved self-regulation (Laurin, Kay, & Fitzsimons, 2011). Click for full reference.
                    Laurin, K., Kay, A. C., & Fitzsimons, G. M. (2011). Divergent effects of activating thoughts of God on self-regulation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102 (1), 4-21.
                  • The interaction of teamwork and love of learning are at the heart of this article reviewing a pedagogy around team-based learning, which lead to student strengths development (Thomas & McPherson, 2011). Click for full reference.
                    Thomas, M. D., & McPherson, B. J. (2011). Teaching positive psychology using team-based learning. Journal of Positive Psychology, 6 (6), 487-491.
                  • This study examines the unique effects of gratitude and of forgiveness and finds that the former is often more robust than the latter for a variety of mental health outcomes; argues for more studies reflecting on character strength profiles/combinations, rather than solely studying strengths in isolation from one another (Breen et al., 2010). Click for full reference.
                    Breen, W. E., Kashdan, T. B., Lenser, M. L., & Fincham, F. D. (2010). Gratitude and forgiveness: Convergence and divergence on self-report and informant ratings. Personality and Individual Differences, 49 (8), 932-937.
                  • This study examined the predictive potential of self-compassion (i.e., the character strength of kindness turned inward). This strength related positively with wisdom/perspective and optimism/hope, among other positive benefits (Neely et al., 2009). Click for full reference.
                    Neely, M. E., Schallert, D. L., Mohammed, S. S., Roberts, R. M., & Chen Y. (2009). Self-kindness when facing stress: The role of self-compassion, goal regulation, and support in college students’ well-being. Motivation and Emotion, 33, 88-97.

                  Overuse and Underuse of Strengths

                   

                  • Offers a practical conceptual framework for discussing and understanding the overuse of character strengths through 10 guiding principles, for example, “when a strength is overused, it is no longer a strength,” “any of the 24 character strengths can be overused,” “overuse can be managed by bringing forth other strengths,” and “despite the benefits of reframing, overuse remains a deficit-based approach because it emphasizes what is wrong” (Niemiec, 2014). Click for full reference.
                    Niemiec, R. M. (2014). The overuse of strengths: 10 principles. [Review of the motion picture Divergent]. PsycCRITIQUES, 59(33). NP. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0037734
                  • Too much (overuse) and too little (underuse) of character strengths use can have a negative impact on well-being and other important factors (for a review, see Grant and Schwartz, 2011). Click for full reference.
                    Grant, A. M., & Schwartz, B. (2011). Too much of a good thing: The challenge and opportunity of the inverted u. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6, 61-76.
                  • Support was found that managers/leaders tend to overdo their talents (not character strengths) and to a lesser degree underuse their talents (Kaiser & Overfield, 2011). Click for full reference.
                    Kaiser, R. B., & Overfield, D. V. (2011). Strengths, strengths overused, and lopsided leadership. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 63 (2), 89-109.
                  • Philosophical article offering insights for the science of character around the types of character, plurality of character, and the concept of unity of character (Fowers, 2008). Click for full reference.
                    Fowers, B. J. (2008). From continence to virtue: Recovering goodness, character unity, and character types for positive psychology. Theory & Psychology, 18 (5), 629-653.
                  • In a theoretical paper, the argument is made that the VIA character strengths should not be treated independently from one another, should be cautioned from overuse, and that a “master” strength of practical wisdom is needed in order to effectively deploy strengths (Schwartz & Sharpe, 2006). Click for full reference.
                    Schwartz, B., & Sharpe, K. E. (2006). Practical wisdom: Aristotle meets positive psychology. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7, 377-395.
                  • Emphasizes the importance of all 24 strength and development and balance among the range of virtues referred to as the “unity of character” (Fowers, 2008).Click for full reference.
                    Fowers, B. J. (2008). From continence to virtue: Recovering goodness, character unity, and character types for positive psychology. Theory & Psychology, 18(5), 629-653.

                  Character Strengths and Positive Relationships

                  • Study of relationship functioning and communication among 422 married and cohabitating individuals. Argues that character strengths – enacted as marital virtues – will strengthen the marriage. Practical suggestions offered (Veldorale-Brogan, Bradford, & Vail, 2010). Click for full reference.
                    Veldorale-Brogan, A., Bradford, K., & Vail A. (2010). Marital virtues and their relationship to individual functioning, communication, and relationship adjustment. Journal of Positive Psychology, 5(4), 281-293.
                    • Three studies which revealed findings that curious people expect closeness during intimate conversations whereas less curious people do not expect closeness; and only the curious people felt close to partners during both intimate and small-talk conversations (Kashdan et al., 2011). Click for full reference.
                      Kashdan, T.B., McKnight, P.E., Fincham, F.D., & Rose, P. (2011). When curiosity breeds intimacy: Taking advantage of intimacy opportunities and transforming boring conversations. Journal of Personality, 79, 1369-1401.

                    Character Strengths and Specific Populations

                    • Abuse survivors: When comparing college students with and without history of childhood abuse, forgiveness, appreciation of beauty/excellence, and gratitude were significantly lower among those with an abuse history (Moore, 2011). Click for full reference.
                      Moore, W. (2011). An investigation of character strengths among college attendees with and without a history of child abuse. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, 71(8-B), 5137.
                      • Art therapists and students of art: curiosity, appreciation of beauty/excellence (Riddle & Riddle, 2007). Click for full reference.
                        Riddle, J. A., & Riddle, H. M. (2007). Men and art therapy: A connection through strengths. Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, 24(1), 10-15.
                        • College students: humor, love, kindness, honesty, and social intelligence were most endorsed (Karris & Craighead, 2012). Click for full reference.
                          Karris, M., A., & Craighead, W. E. (2012). Differences in character among U.S. college students. Individual Differences Research 10(2), 69-80.
                          • Geriatrics: Interventions involving gratitude, curiosity, courage, altruism, optimism, meaning, and other strength-based areas were delivered to 74 older adults in nursing homes and community centers. Reduced depression and increased happiness, gratitude, and life satisfaction were found (Ho, Yeung, & Kwok, 2014). Click for full reference.
                            Ho, H. C., Y., Yeung, D. Y., & Kwok, S. Y. C. L. (2014). Development and evaluaton of the positive psychology intervention for older adults. Journal of Positive Psychology, 9(3), 187-197. DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2014.888577.
                            • Graduate students: Curiosity, love, kindness, social intelligence, and honesty were most endorsed; the virtues of humanity, wisdom, and justice were the highest endorsed. A qualitative analysis revealed several core themes: the power of strengths; the value of a strengths-based approach; the complexity of strengths-based work; and strengths born from challenge and adversity (Fialkov & Haddad, 2012). Click for full reference.
                              Fialkov, C., & Haddad, D. (2012). Appreciative clinical training. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 6(4), 204-210.
                              • Homeless: social intelligence, kindness, perseverance, honesty, and humor were most endorsed, whereas curiosity, humility, appreciation of beauty/excellence, forgiveness, teamwork, and gratitude were infrequently or never mentioned (Tweed, Biswas-Diener, & Lehman, 2012).. Click for full reference.
                                Tweed, R. G., Biswas-Diener, R., & Lehman, D. R. (2012). Self-perceived strengths among people who are homeless. Journal of Positive Psychology, 7(6), 481-492.
                                • Law students: Displayed a similar profile as other highly educated groups – top strengths were judgment, curiosity, love of learning, and fairness. Character strengths related positively to undergraduate grades but negatively to LSAT scores and law school grades (Kern & Bowling, 2015). Click for full reference.
                                  Kern, M. L., & Bowling, D. S. (2015). Character strengths and academic performance in law students. Journal of Research in Personality, 55, 25–29
                                  • Military: Officers in the Indian army and civilian managers scored high in all 24 strengths but significant differences arose between the two groups on 14 strengths (Banth & Singh, 2011). Click for full reference.
                                    Banth, S., & Singh, P. (2011). Positive character strengths in middle-rung army officers and managers in civilian sector. Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology, 37(2), 320-324.
                                    • Military: Military students (in Argentina) reported higher character strengths scores than civilians; in addition, cadets with high academic or military performance in their final year had higher levels of perseverance than low-performing cadets in their final year (Cosentino & Castro Solano, 2012). Honesty, hope, bravery, perseverance, and teamwork in a sample of U.S. and Norwegian military samples (Matthews et al., 2006). Click for full reference.
                                      Matthews, M. D., Eid, J., Kelly, D., Bailey, J. K. S., & Peterson, C. (2006). Character strengths and virtues of developing military leaders: An international comparison. Military Psychology, 18(Suppl.), S57–S68. Consentino, A. C., & Castro, A. (2012). Character strengths: A study of Argentinean soldiers. Spanish Journal of Psychology, 15(1), 199-215.
                                      • Musicians: Musicians scored significantly higher than non-musicians on self-regulation and appreciation of beauty/excellence and lower than amateurs and lower than non-musicians on teamwork, fairness, and leadership (Ruch, 2014). Click for full reference.
                                        Ruch, W. (2014). The flock of sheep revisited: Character strength profiles of musicians. Psychology of Music.
                                        • Religious people: Those who practice their religion score higher on kindness, love, hope, forgiveness, and spirituality, in addition to a more meaningful life, compared with those who have a religion but don’t practice it and the non-religious (Berthold & Ruch, 2014). Click for full reference.
                                          Berthold, A., & Ruch, W. (2014). Satisfaction with life and character strengths of non-religious and religious people: It’s practicing one’s religion that makes the difference. Frontiers in Psychology. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00876
                                            • Teachers: The highest strengths among teachers in Slovenia were fairness, kindness, honesty, and love while the lowest strengths were creativity, humor, and love of learning (Gradisek, 2012). Click for full reference.
                                              Gradisek, P. (2012). Character strengths and life satisfaction of Slovenian in-service and pre-service teachers. CEPS Journal, 2(3), 167-180.

                                                 

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                                                Toner, E., Haslam, N., Robinson, J., & Williams, P. (2012). Character strengths and wellbeing in adolescence: Structure and correlates of the Values in Action Inventory of Strengths for Children.  Personality and Individual Differences, 52(5), 637-642.

                                                Tweed, R. G., Biswas-Diener, R., & Lehman, D. R. (2012). Self-perceived strengths among people who are homeless. Journal of Positive Psychology, 7(6), 481-492.

                                                Vella-Brodrick, D. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2009). Three ways to be happy: Pleasure, engagement, and meaning. Findings from Australian and US samples. Social Indicators Research, 90, 165-179.

                                                Vertilo, V., & Gibson, J. M. (2014). Influence of character strengths on mental health stigma. Journal of Positive Psychology, 9 (3), 266-275. 

                                                Wade, N. G., Worthington, E. L., & Meyer, J. E. (2005). But do they work? A meta-analysis of roup interventions to promote forgiveness. In E. L. Worthington (Ed.), Handbook of forgiveness (pp. 423-439). New York: Routledge.

                                                Weber, M., Ruch, W., Littman-Ovadia, H., Lavy, S., & Gai, O. (2013). Relationships among higher-order strengths factors, subjective well-being, and general self-efficacy – The case of Israeli adolescents. Personality and Individual Differences, 55, 322-327.

                                                Weber, M., & Ruch, W. (2012a). The role of character strengths in adolescent romantic relationships: An initial study on partner selection and mates’ life satisfaction. Journal of Adolescence.

                                                Weber, M., & Ruch, W. (2012b). The role of a good character in 12-year-old school children: Do character strengths matter in the classroom? Child Indicators Research, 5(2), 317-334.

                                                West, B. J., Patera, J. L., & Carsten, M. K. (2009). Team level positivity: Investigating positive psychological capacities and team level outcomes. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 30, 249-267.

                                                White, M. A., & Waters, L. E. (2014). A case study of ‘The Good School:’ Examples of use of Peterson’s strengths-based approach with students. Journal of Positive Psychology. DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2014.920408 

                                                Wood, A. M., Linley, P. A., Matlby, J., Kashdan, T. B., & Hurling, R. (2011). Using personal and psychological strengths leads to increases in well-being over time: A longitudinal study and the development of the strengths use questionnaire. Personality and Individual Differences, 50, 15-19.

                                                Young, K. C., Kashdan, T. B., & Macatee, R. (2014). Strength balance and implicit strength measurement: New considerations for research on strengths of character. Journal of Positive Psychology. DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2014.920406
                                                 

                                                 

                                                Updated 4/18/2016

                                                For more info, contact the Education Director at the VIA Institute on Character: Ryan Niemiec