Latest Research on Character Strengths

  • Generally speaking, character education programs continue to be unclear and ill-defined. This paper uses recent literature to offer a prototype of seven features by which character education programs might be evaluated and discussed (McGrath, in press).
    McGrath, R. E. (in press). What is character education? Development of a prototype. Journal of Character Education
  • This meta-analysis focused on the popular intervention “use your signature strengths in a new way.” Using strict inclusion criteria for the best studies, the results found that the signature strengths intervention had a positive impact on happiness, depression, and life satisfaction. Other significant findings included a positive impact on flourishing and strengths use. No impact was found for negative affect (Schutte & Malouff, 2018).
    Schutte, N. S., & Malouff, J. M. (2018). The impact of signature character strengths interventions: A meta-analysis. Journal of Happiness Studies. Advance online publication.
  • A single-session signature strengths intervention showed significant increases in thriving and decreases in negative emotional symptoms in the short-term but not after one year. Strengths use partially explained why the intervention was effective (Duan et al., 2018).
    Duan, W., Bu, H., Zhao, J., & Guo, X. (2018).  Examining the mediating roles of strengths knowledge and strengths use in a 1 year single session character strength based cognitive intervention. Journal of Happiness Studies.
  • Explores the science of signature strengths and other character strengths findings in the context of the coaching relationship (McQuaid, Niemiec, & Doman, 2018).
    McQuaid, M., Niemiec, R. M., & Doman, F. (2018). Character strengths-based approaches in positive psychology coaching. In S. Green and S. Palmer (Eds.), Positive psychology coaching in practice (pp. 71-84). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge
  • Reviews connections between the 24 character strengths and a range of work-related outcomes and found that the highest strengths differed based on the facet of job satisfaction, the age of the participants, and the particular occupation. The highest overall work satisfaction strengths as well as the highest strengths among clinical psychologists, social workers, nurses, physicians, supervisors, office workers, teachers, and economists are shown (Heintz & Ruch, 2018). 
    Heintz, S., & Ruch, W. (2018). Character strengths and job satisfaction: Differential relationships across occupational groups and adulthood
  • In studying a new model of 7 team roles, most roles contributed to job satisfaction and work calling, and only a few relationships were found for ideal roles (Gander et al., 2018).
    Gander, F., Ruch, W., Platt, T., Hofmann, J., & Elmer, T. (2018). Current and ideal team roles: Relationships to job satisfaction and calling. Translational Issues in Psychological Science, 4(3), 277-289.
  • Examines the impactful role of character strengths in the workplace as well as offers a critique of character strengths and an emphasis on the crucial role of humility in leadership, following recent research literatures (Bretherton & Niemiec, 2018).
    Bretherton, R., & Niemiec, R. M. (2018). Character strengths as critique: The power of positive psychology to humanise the workplace. In N. J. L. Brown, T. Lomas, & F. J. Eiroa-Orosa (Eds.), Routledge international handbooks. The Routledge international handbook of critical positive psychology (pp. 315-336). New York, NY, US: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group
  • In a study of ethical leadership among U.S. Air Force officers and subordinates, leader character strengths were a mechanism for triggering positive outcomes when they reported high self-regulation. This strength put other strengths of ethical leadership into action such as honesty/humility, empathy, and courage (Sosik et al., 2018).
    Sosik, J. J., Chun, J. U., Ete, Z., Arenas, F. J., & Scherer, J. A. (2018). Self-control puts character into action: Examining how leader character strengths and ethical leadership relate to leader outcomes. Journal of Business Ethics. Advance online publication.
  • A positive association was found between the character strengths of wisdom and creative work performance among over 700 employees from 200 organizations in Pakistan (Kalyar & Kalyar, 2018). 
    Kalyar, M. N., & Kalyar, H. (2018). Provocateurs of creative performance: Examining the roles of wisdom character strengths and stress. Personnel Review, 47(2), 334-352.
  • Outlines an integrative model for the optimal school system that fosters character strengths use and development and as positively affecting students (through positive relationships and curricula), teachers (through training and supervision), and entire schools (through evaluation processes and resource allocation). Offers the relationship of character strengths to 21st century competencies as identified by the American National Research Council for thriving in life and work (Lavy, 2018).
    Lavy, S. (2018). A review of character strengths interventions in 21st-century schools: Their importance and how they can be fostered. Applied Research in Quality of Life
  • In a study of character strengths and adolescent peer relationships, the strengths deemed most desirable/important in a friend were honesty, humor, kindness, and fairness, and those most connected with higher peer acceptance were perspective, love, kindness, social intelligence, teamwork, leadership, and humor (Wagner, 2018).
    Wagner, L. (2018). Good character is what we look for in a friend: Character strengths are positively related to peer acceptance and friendship quality in early adolescents. Journal of Early Adolescence. DOI: 10.1177/0272431618791286
  • A program to boost character strengths, positive emotions, and optimal experiences was tested on 9th grade adolescents. Elevations in self-esteem and life satisfaction, with stronger effects for girls, all relative to a comparison group, were found (Freire et al., 2018). 
    Freire, T., Lima, I., Teixeira, A., Araújo, M. R., & Machado, A. (2018). Challenge: To be+. A group intervention program to promote the positive development of adolescents. Children and Youth Services Review, 87, 173-185.
  • Among a diverse sample of thousands of youth between ages 9-19, researchers found character structure becomes more differentiated as youth develop into adolescence (Shubert et al., 2018).
    Shubert, J., Wray‐Lake, L., Syvertsen, A. K., & Metzger, A. (2018). Examining character structure and function across childhood and adolescence. Child Development. Advance online publication.
  • Offers a review of character strengths studies relating to physical health. Focuses on general health findings with character strengths, studies of specific character strengths, and multi-step programs, as well as physicians and the patient-provider relationship (Niemiec & Yarova, 2018).
    Niemiec, R. M., & Yarova, A. (2018). Character strengths and health: Research summary (part 1). Chronicle of Advances in Positive Health and Well-being, 1(1). Available at: