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Summary of Research Findings

Each of the character strengths seem to relate positively to one another but this varies quite a bit by degree. This section explores research studies that examine the mutual impact or link between two or more character strengths to one another.

Research Articles

  • This article discusses two studies that investigated the relationship between the 24 character strengths and flexibility, through typical and daily behaviors that relate to three specific aspects of flexibility: predictability, adaptability, and orderliness. Across both studies, strong positive relationships were observed between predictability and humility and prudence, between adaptability and most character strengths, as well as between orderliness and perseverance, prudence, and self-regulation (Vylobkova & Heintz, 2023). Vylobkova, V., & Heintz, S. (2023). A meeting of positive behaviors: The relations of three aspects of flexibility with character strengths. Frontiers in psychology, 13, 1078764.
  • This study contributes meaningfully to the field of individual differences by investigating the relationship between personality (as per the Five-Factor Model) and character (based on the VIA classification) using self- and peer-reports that were examined at both the domain/factor and scale/facet levels with 152 participants. Findings indicate a strong overlap but not redundancy between personality and character, with exceptions in certain facets, supporting their convergent and discriminant validity and suggesting they are distinct yet closely related constructs (Ruch, Vylobkova, & Heintz, 2023). Ruch, W., Vylobkova, V., & Heintz, S. (2023). Two of a kind or distant relatives? A multimethod investigation of the overlap between personality traits and character strengths. Journal of Individual Differences, 44(4), 263–270.
  • 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.”
    Allan, B.A. (2014). Balance among character strengths and meaning in life. Journal of Happiness Studies.
  • 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."
    Kruse, E., Chancellor, J., Ruberton, P. M., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2014). An upward spiral between gratitude and humility. Social, Psychological, and Personality Science, 1-10.
  • This study draws a connection between humility, awe, and spirituality, in a religious context (Krause & Hayward, 2014).
    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).
    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).
    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).
    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).
    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).
    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.

Updated December 2023