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COVID-19 Resources: Learn how to apply character strengths to boost resilience and support others.
Character Strengths and Positive Relationships
- Three studies examined the perceived character strengths of one’s relationship partner. Higher recognition and appreciation of one’s partner’s character strengths predicted greater relationship commitment, satisfaction, investment, intimacy, self-expansion, and support for goals, while recognizing significant costs of strengths was associated with negative outcomes. Interestingly, these findings were not explained by the Big Five personality traits, capitalization, or gratitude. This study introduces a new research assessment measure called the Partner Strengths Scale (Kashdan et al., 2017). It is available free to researchers on the VIA site.
Kashdan, T.B., Blalock, D.V., Young, K.C., Machell, K.A., Monfort, S.S., McKnight, P.E., & Ferssizidis, P. (2017). Personality strengths in romantic relationships: Measuring perceptions of benefits and costs and their impact on personal and relational well-being. Psychological Assessment. http://doi.org/10.1037/pas0000464
- Reviewed 66 studies relating to empirical literature on strengths among same-sex couple relationships and organized the findings into 3 relationship processes (respect and appreciation of individual differences, positive emotions/interactions, effective communication/negotiation) and 4 positive relationship characteristics (perceived intimacy, commitment, egalitarian ideals, and “outness”) (Rostosky & Riggle, 2017). Rostosky, S. S., & Riggle, E. D. B. (2017). Same-sex couple relationship strengths: A review and synthesis of the empirical literature (2000–2016). Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, Np. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/sgd0000216
- Random selection of married individuals examining their perception of their partners’ humility, compassion/kindness, and positivity and found significant positive associations with martial satisfaction for each, as well as spousal humility serving as a protector factor against stress for women (Goddard et al., 2016).
Goddard, H. W., Olson, J. R., Galovan, A. M., Schramm, D. G., & Marshall, J. P. (2016). Qualities of character that predict marital well‐being. Family Relations: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Applied Family Studies, 65(3), 424-438. http://doi.org/10.1111/fare.12195
- Study of married people ranging in age and years of marriage that found all 24 character strengths as well as groupings of strengths (strengths of the heart, strengths of the mind, intrapersonal strengths, interpersonal strengths) were positively related to marital satisfaction (Guo, Wang, & Liu, 2015).
Guo, J., Wang, Y., & Liu, X. Y. (2015). Relation between marital satisfaction and character strengths in young people. Chinese Mental Health Journal, 29(5), 383-388.
- Discusses the use of an intervention around identifying character strengths in couples and family therapy, as well as in the initial stages of individual therapy for trauma recovery (Smith & Barros-Gomes, 2015).
Smith, E. N., & Barros-Gomes, P. (2015). Soliciting strengths systemically: The use of character strengths in couple and family therapy. Journal of Family Psychotherapy, 26(1), 42-46. http://doi.org/10.1080/08975353.2015.1002742
- 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). 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). 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.
Updated July 2019