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Summary of Research Findings

The study of character strengths and the environment is increasing in research groups (including the VIA Institute) from different countries. This research seems to unfold in one of two larger (although overlapping and related) areas of study: nature connection and positive environmental behaviors.

Research Articles

  • A study of tourists in Australia were asked about character strengths and positive environmental behaviors and found that those expressing curiosity, judgment, social intelligence, or self-regulation were more likely to report engaging in positive environmental behaviors (Warren & Coghlan, 2016).
    Warren, C., & Coghlan, A. (2016) Using character strength-based activities to design pro-environmental behaviours into the tourist experience. Anatolia, 27(4), 480-492.
  • VIA Institute, large-scale study of 14,648 people examining their self-reported pro-environmental behavior (PEB), their willingness to sacrifice for PEB, and their level of the motivational emotion known as elevation. Results found that PEB was best predicted by appreciation of beauty, love of learning, curiosity, bravery, and zest, while elevation was best predicted by appreciation of beauty, spirituality, gratitude, social intelligence, and kindness (Diessner & Niemiec, 2022).
    Diessner, R., & Niemiec, R. M. (2022). Can beauty save the world? The character strength of appreciation of beauty predicts proenvironmental behavior and moral elevation better than 23 other major character strengths. Manuscript under review.
  • Examined the connection between character strengths (gratitude, purpose, hope) and four types of civic engagement, namely volunteering, environmentalism, political behavior, and social movement behavior. Numerous between-person and within-person findings were discovered (Oosterhoff et al., 2021).
    Oosterhoff, B., Whillock, S., Tintzman, C., & Poppler, A. (2021). Temporal associations between character strengths and civic action: A daily diary study. Journal of Positive Psychology.
  • A study of nearly 1,000 students found that intellectual-oriented character strengths (e.g., love of learning, curiosity) are strongly connected with nature relatedness, with the strongest connection being for the character strength of appreciation of beauty/excellence (Merino, Valor, & Redondo, 2020).
    Merino, A., Valor, C., & Redondo, C. (2020). Connectedness is in my character: the relationship between nature relatedness and character strengths. Environmental Education Research. DOI:
  • Developed a broad measure of environmental self-efficacy and found the character strengths of zest and leadership showed relationships with environmental and generalized self-efficacy; in addition kindness, humility, prudence, fairness, and forgiveness showed relationships with only environmental self-efficacy (Moeller & Stahlmann, 2019).
    Moeller, B. L., & Stahlmann, A. G. (2019). Which character strengths are focused on the well-being of others? Development and initial validation of the environmental self-efficacy scale: Assessing confidence in overcoming barriers to pro-environmental behavior. Journal of Well-Being Assessment,3, 123-135.
  • 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, 2014).
    Corral-Verdugo, V., Tapia-Fonllem, C., & Ortiz-Valdez, A. (2014). On the relationship between character strengths and sustainable behavior. Environment and Behavior.

Updated August 2022