Child Indicators Research

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 317-334

First online:

The Role of a Good Character in 12-Year-Old School Children: Do Character Strengths Matter in the Classroom?

  • Marco WeberAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of ZurichSection on Personality and Assessment, Department of Psychology, University of Zurich Email author 
  • , Willibald RuchAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Zurich

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The present study investigated the role of the good character at school, specifically, its associations with satisfaction with school experiences, academic self-efficacy, positive classroom behavior, and objective school success (i.e., school grades). A sample of 247 students (mean age = 12 years) completed the Values in Action Inventory of Strengths for Youth, and measures on school-related satisfaction and academic self-efficacy. Teacher-ratings on positive classroom behavior, and grades from students’ school reports were also collected. Love of learning, zest, gratitude, perseverance, and curiosity were positively associated with school-related satisfaction. Hope, love of learning, perseverance, prudence, and others were positively associated with academic self-efficacy. Character strengths of the mind (e.g., self-regulation, perseverance, love of learning) were predictive for school success. The good character explained about one fourth of the variance in positive classroom behavior, with the specific strengths of perseverance, love of learning, and prudence showing the most substantial positive correlations. A model that postulated the predictive power of classroom-relevant character strengths on school success, mediated through positive classroom behavior, was supported. Character strengths (e.g., perspective, gratitude, hope, self-regulation, teamwork) distinguished between students who demonstrated improved vs. decreased grades during the school year. This study shows that the good character clearly matters in different contexts at school, and it seems to be relevant for subjective (e.g., satisfaction) as well as objective (e.g., grades) outcomes, and for positive behavior in classrooms.


Character strengths Positive classroom behavior School success Satisfaction with school experiences Academic self-efficacy Children