A multi-method approach to studying the relationship between character strengths and vocational interests in adolescents

  • René T. ProyerEmail author
  • Nicole Sidler
  • Marco Weber
  • Willibald Ruch


The relationship between character strengths and vocational interests was tested. In an online study, 197 thirteen to eighteen year-olds completed a questionnaire measuring character strengths and a multi-method measure for interests (questionnaire, nonverbal test, and objective personality tests). The main findings were that intellectual strengths yielded primarily relations with investigative and artistic interests. Social interests demonstrated relations with strengths of transcendence and other-directed strengths and enterprising interests with leadership strengths. The implications of the findings for practice are highlighted.


Character strengths Vocational interests Objective personality test 


Une approche multi-méthode de l’étude de la relation entre les forces de caractère d’adolescents et les intérêts professionnels. La relation entre les forces de caractère et les intérêts professionnels a été testée. Dans une étude en ligne, 197 sujets âgés de treize à dix-huit ans ont complété un questionnaire mesurant les forces de caractère et une mesure multi-méthode des intérêts (questionnaire, test non-verbal, et tests de personnalité objectif). Les résultats principaux montrent que les forces intellectuelles sont surtout reliées avec des intérêts de type investigateur et artistique. Les intérêts de type social sont liés avec les forces de transcendance et d’autres forces et intérêts entrepreneurial dirigé vers les forces de leadership. Les implications pour la pratique sont mises en évidence.


Ein multimethodischer Ansatz zur Erforschung des Zusammenhangs zwischen Charakterstärken und beruflichen Interessen bei Jugendlichen. Es wurde der Zusammengang zwischen Charakterstärken und Berufsinteressen untersucht. In einer Onlinestudie haben 197 Jugendliche zwischen 13 und 17 Jahren einen Fragebogen zu Charakterstärken und eine multimethodische Testbatterie zur Erfassung von Interessen (ein Fragebogen, ein nonverbaler Test und sog. Objektive Persönlichkeitstests) bearbeitet. Hauptergebnisse waren, dass hauptsächlich intellektuelle Stärken mit intellektuell-forschenden und künstlerisch-sprachlichen Interessen zusammenhingen. Für soziale Interessen fanden sich Zusammenhänge mit Stärken der Transzendenz und solchen Stärken, die auf andere ausgerichtet sind. Unternehmerische Interessen gingen mit Stärken einher, die sich auf Führungsvermögen beziehen. Im Weiteren werden Implikationen der Ergebnisse für die Praxis vorgestellt.


Un acercamiento multi-métodico al estudio de la relación entre las fortalezas de carácter de los adolescentes y los intereses vocacionales. La relación entre fortalezas de carácter e intereses vocacionales fue probada. En un estudio en Internet, 197 participantes entre los 13 y los 18 años completaron un cuestionario que mide las fortalezas de carácter al igual que un multi-método que determina los intereses (cuestionario, test no verbal y tests de objetivos de personalidad). Los resultados principales indican que las fortalezas intelectuales se relacionan principalmente con intereses investigativos y artísticos. Intereses sociales demostraron un vínculo con fortalezas de transcendencia y otras fortalezas mas directas. Por otro lado, los intereses de empresa corresponden a fortalezas de liderazgo. Las implicaciones de estos resultados en la practica son resaltados.



The completion of this paper was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation with funding from the NCCR LIVES program (WR) and a program on research on positive interventions in different age groups (100014_132512/1; RTP and WR). The Schuhfried company supported this research by allowing the use of their test servers. The authors wish to thank Fabian Gander for his help with setting up the online survey and Katharina Klohe and Tracey Platt for proofreading the manuscript.


  1. Bubany, S. T., & Hansen, J.-I. C. (2011). Birth cohort change in the vocational interests of female and male college students. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 78, 59–67. doi: 10.1016/j.jvb.2010.08.002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Cattell, R. B. (1950). The objective measurement of dynamic traits. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 10, 223–247. doi: 10.1177/001316445001000204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cattell, R. B. (1968). The measurement of interest. In R. B. Cattell (Ed.), Personality and social psychology—Collected papers of Raymond B. Cattell (pp. 171–183). San Diego, CA: R. R. Knapp.Google Scholar
  4. Cattell, R. B., & Warburton, F. W. (1967). Objective personality and motivation test—A theoretical introduction and practical compendium. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  5. Fredrickson, B. L. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. American Psychologist, 56, 218–226. doi: 10.1037//0003-066X.56.3.218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Fryer, D. (1931). The measurement of interests in relation to human adjustment. New York: Henry Holt.Google Scholar
  7. Gander, F., Proyer, R. T., Ruch, W., & Wyss, T. (in press). The good character at work: An initial study on the contribution of character strengths in identifying healthy and unhealthy work-related behavior and experience patterns. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, doi: 10.1007/s00420-012-0736-x.
  8. Gillham, J., Adams-Deutsch, Z., Werner, J., Reivich, K., Coulter-Heindl, V., Linkins, M., et al. (2011). Character strengths predict subjective well-being during adolescence. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 6, 31–44. doi: 10.1080/17439760.2010.536773.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Harter, J. K., & Blacksmith, N. (2010). Employee engagement and the psychology of joining, staying in, and leaving organizations. In A. P. Linley, S. Harrington, & N. Garcea (Eds.), Oxford handbook of positive psychology and work (pp. 121–130). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Holland, J. L. (1997). Making vocational choices (3rd ed.). Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.Google Scholar
  11. Lounsbury, J. W., Fisher, L. A., Levy, J. J., & Welsh, D. P. (2009). An investigation of character strengths in relation to the academic success of college students. Individual Differences Research, 19, 411–418. doi: 10.1016/j.lindif.2009.03.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2006). Moral competence and character strengths among adolescents: The development and validation of the Values in Action Inventory of Strengths for Youth. Journal of Adolescence, 29, 891–909. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2006.04.011.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Peterson, C., Park, N., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2005). Assessment of character strengths. In G. P. Koocher, J. C. Norcross, & S. S. Hill III (Eds.), Psychologists’ desk reference (2nd ed., pp. 93–98). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  15. Preacher, K. J., & Hayes, A. F. (2004). SPSS and SAS procedures for estimating indirect effects in simple mediation models. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, and Computers, 36, 717–731.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Proyer, R. T. (2006). The relationship between vocational interests and intelligence: Do findings generalize across different assessment methods? Psychology Science, 48, 463–476.Google Scholar
  17. Proyer, R. T. (2007). Convergence of conventional and behavior-based measures: Towards a multimethod approach in the assessment of vocational interests. Psychology Science, 49, 168–183.Google Scholar
  18. Proyer, R. T., & Häusler, J. (2007a). Assessing behavior in standardized settings: The role of objective personality tests. International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology, 7, 537–546.Google Scholar
  19. Proyer, R. T., & Häusler, J. (2007b). Gender differences in vocational interests and their stability in different assessment methods. Swiss Journal of Psychology, 66, 243–247. doi: 10.1024/1421-0185.66.4.243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Proyer, R. T., & Häusler, J. (2008). Multimethodische Objektive Interessentestbatterie (MOI) [Multi-method Objective Interest Test-battery]. Mödling, Austria: Schuhfried.Google Scholar
  21. Proyer, R. T., Ruch, W., & Buschor, C. (in press). Testing strengths-based interventions: A preliminary study on the effectiveness of a program targeting curiosity, gratitude, hope, humor, and zest for enhancing life satisfaction. Journal of Happiness Studies, doi: 10.1007/s10902-012-9331-9.
  22. Ruch, W., Weber, M., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (in press). Adaptation and validation of the German Values in Action Inventory of Strengths for Youth (German VIA-Youth). European Journal of Psychological Assessment.Google Scholar
  23. Seligman, M. E. P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 55, 5–14. doi: 10.1037//0003-066X.55.1.5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Seligman, M. E. P., Steen, T., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60, 410–421. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.60.5.410.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Snyder, C. R., Ritschel, L. A., Rand, K. L., & Berg, C. J. (2006). Balancing psychological assessments: Including strengths and hope in clients. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 62, 33–46. doi: 10.1002/jclp.20198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Super, D. E., & Roper, S. A. (1941). An objective technique for testing vocational interests. Journal of Applied Psychology, 25, 487–498. doi: 10.1037/h0062004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Weber, M., & Ruch, W. (in press). The role of a good character in 12-year-old school children: Do character strengths matter in the classroom? Child Indicators Research, doi: 10.1007/s12187-011-9128-0.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • René T. Proyer
    • 1
    Email author
  • Nicole Sidler
    • 1
    • 2
  • Marco Weber
    • 1
  • Willibald Ruch
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Bureau of Career Counseling of the CantonSt. GallenSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations