Character Strength Research


What the Positive Psychology research shows:


The VIA Institute on Character, a non-profit organization supporting scholarship and practice in Positive Psychology, includes the following research on their web site:

  • Using signature strengths in a new way increased happiness and decreased depression for 6 months (Gander, Proyer, Ruch & Wyss, 2012).
  • Using signature strengths in a new way increased happiness for 6 months and decreased depression for 3 months (Mongrain & Anselmo-Matthews, 2012).
  • 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).
  • 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).
  • In a longitudinal study, strengths use was found to be an important predictor of wellbeing 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).
  • There is a strong connection between wellbeing 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).
  • Individuals who use their character strengths experienced greater wellbeing, which was related to both physical and mental health. Strengths use was a unique predictor of subjective wellbeing after self-esteem and self-efficacy were controlled for (Proctor, Maltby & Linley, 2009).
  • Using 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).

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