Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 153–169 | Cite as

Strengths Use as a Predictor of Well-Being and Health-Related Quality of Life

  • Carmel ProctorEmail author
  • John Maltby
  • P. Alex Linley
Research Paper


There is a growing body of research devoted to the examination of character strengths as conceptualized by Values-In-Action (VIA) strengths classification system. However, there remains a dearth of research examining generic strengths use and its relationship with well-being, health-related quality of life (HRQOL), and VIA character strengths. In this crosssectional study, 135 undergraduate university students completed measures of strengths use, subjective well-being (SWB), self-esteem, self-efficacy, and HRQOL, and endorsed five top VIA strengths. Results revealed strengths use is a unique predictor of SWB, but not HRQOL. The VIA strengths of hope and zest were significant positive predictors of life satisfaction. The most commonly-endorsed VIA strengths were: love, humor, kindness, social intelligence, and open-mindedness. The least-endorsed VIA strengths were: leadership, perseverance, wisdom, spirituality, and self-control. Overall, results suggest an important link between generic strengths use and specific VIA strengths and their impact on SWB.


Strengths use Subjective well-being Life satisfaction Health-related quality of life 


  1. Aristotle. (c. 330 BCE/1925). The Nicomachean Ethics (D. Ross, Trans.). New York, NY: Oxford.Google Scholar
  2. Arrindell, W. A., Heesink, J., & Feij, J. A. (1999). The satisfaction with life scale (SWLS): Appraisal with 1700 healthy young adults in The Netherlands. Personality and Individual Differences, 26, 815–826.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York: Freeman.Google Scholar
  4. Biswas-Diener, R. (2006). From the equator to the North Pole: A study of character strengths. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7, 293–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bromley, E., Johnson, J. G., & Cohen, P. (2006). Personality strengths in adolescence and decreased risk of developing mental health problems in early adulthood. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 47, 315–324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cassell, J. (2002). Perturbing the system: “Hard science”, “soft science”, and social science, the anxiety and madness of method. Human Organization, 61, 177–185.Google Scholar
  7. Cattell, R. B. (1966). The scree test for number of factors. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 1, 245–276.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chen, G., Gully, S. M., & Eden, D. (2001). Validation of a new general self-efficacy scale. Organizational Research Methods, 4, 62–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chen, G., Gully, S. M., & Eden, D. (2004). General self-efficacy and self-esteem: Toward theoretical and empirical distinction between correlated self-evaluations. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 25, 375–395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Clifton, D. O., & Anderson, E. (2002). StrengthsQuest: Discover and develop your strengths, in academics, career, and beyond. Washington, DC: The Gallup Organization.Google Scholar
  11. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2002). Flow: The classic work on how to achieve happiness. London: Rider.Google Scholar
  12. Diener, E., & Diener, M. (1995). Cross-cultural correlates of life satisfaction and self-esteem. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 653–663.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The satisfaction with life scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49, 71–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 377–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fagin-Jones, S., & Midlarsky, E. (2007). Courageous altruism: Personal and situational correlates of rescue during the holocaust. Journal of Positive Psychology, 2, 136–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fleming, J. S., & Courtney, B. E. (1984). The dimensionality of self-esteem: II. Hierarchical facet model for revised measurement scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 46, 404–421.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fruyt, F., & Denollet, J. (2002). Type D personality: A five-factor model perspective. Psychology and Health, 17, 671–683.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Govindji, R., & Linley, P. A. (2007). Strengths use, self-concordance and well-being: Implication for strengths coaching and coaching psychologist. International Coaching Psychology Review, 2, 143–153.Google Scholar
  19. Jorgensen, I. S., & Nafstad, H. E. (2004). Positive psychology: Historical, philosophical, and epistemological perspectives. In P. A. Linley & S. Joseph (Eds.), Positive psychology in practice (pp. 15–34). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
  20. Lewinsohn, P. M., Redner, J. E., & Seeley, J. R. (1991). The relationship between life satisfaction and psychosocial variables: New perspectives. In F. Strack, M. Argyle, & N. Schwarz (Eds.), Subjective well-being: An interdisciplinary perspective (pp. 141–169). New York, NY: Pergamon Press.Google Scholar
  21. Linley, P. A. (2008). Average to A+: Realising strengths in yourself and others. Coventry: CAPP Press.Google Scholar
  22. Linley, P. A., & Harrington, S. (2006). Strengths coaching: A potential-guided approach to coaching psychology. International Coaching Psychology Review, 1, 37–46.Google Scholar
  23. Linley, P. A., Maltby, J., Wood, A., Joseph, S., Harrington, S., Peterson, C., et al. (2007). Character strengths in the United Kingdom: The VIA inventory of strengths. Personality and Individual Differences, 43, 341–351.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lucas, R. E., Diener, E., & Suh, E. M. (1996). Discriminant validity of well-being measures. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 71, 616–628.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lyubomirsky, S., King, L., & Diener, E. (2005). The benefits of frequent positive affect: Does happiness lead to success? Psychological Bulletin, 131, 803–855.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Motulsky, H. (1995). Inuitive biostatistics. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, Inc.Google Scholar
  27. Muscari-Tomaioli, G., Allegri, F., Miali, E., Pomposelli, R., Tubia, P., Targhetta, A., et al. (2001). Observational study of the quality of life in patients with headache, receiving homeopathic treatment. The British Homeopathic Journal, 90, 189–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Neto, F. (1993). The satisfaction with life scale: Psychometrics properties in an adolescent sample. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 22, 125–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Otake, K., Shimai, S., Tanaka-Matsumi, J., Otsui, K., & Frederickson, B. L. (2006). Happy people become happier through kindness: A counting kindnesses intervention. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7, 361–375.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2006). Character strengths and happiness among young children: Content analysis of parental descriptions. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7, 323–341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Park, N., Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Strengths of character and well-being. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 23, 603–619.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Park, N., Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2006). Character strengths in fifty-four nations and the fifty US states. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 1, 118–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Pavot, W., & Diener, E. (1993). Review of the satisfaction with life scale. Psychological Assessment, 5, 164–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Pavot, W., Diener, E., Colvin, C. R., & Sandvik, E. (1991). Further validation of the satisfaction with life scale: Evidence of cross-method convergence of well-being measures. Journal of Personality Assessment, 57, 149–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2003). Character strengths before and after September 11. Psychological Science, 14, 381–384.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A classification and handbook. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  37. Peterson, C., Park, N., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2006). Greater strengths of character and recovery from illness. Journal of Positive Psychology, 1, 17–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Peterson, C., Ruch, W., Beermann, U., Park, N., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2007). Strengths of character, orientation to happiness, and life satisfaction. Journal of Positive Psychology, 2, 149–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Proctor, C. L., Linley, P. A., & Maltby, J. (2009a). Youth life satisfaction measures: A review. Journal of Positive Psychology, 4, 128–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Proctor, C. L., Linley, P. A., & Maltby, J. (2009b). Youth life satisfaction: A review of the literature. Journal of Happiness Studies, 10, 583–630.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Reynolds, W. M. (1988). Measurement of academic self-concept in college students. Journal of Personality Assessment, 52, 223–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rosenberg, M. (1965). Society and the adolescent self-image. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Rosenberg, M. (1979). Conceiving the self. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  44. Sam, D. L. (2000). Psychological adaptation of adolescents with immigrant backgrounds. Journal of Social Psychology, 140, 5–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Scherbaum, C. A., Cohen-Charash, Y., & Kern, M. J. (2006). Measuring general self-efficacy: A comparison of three measures using item response theory. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 66, 1047–1063.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Seligman, M. E. P. (2002). Authentic happiness: Using the new possible psychology to realize your potential for lasting fulfillment. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  47. Seligman, M. E. P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 55, 5–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Seligman, M. E. P., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60, 410–421.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Sheldon, K. M., & Elliot, A. J. (1993). Goal striving, need satisfaction, and longitudinal well-being: The self-concordance model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76, 482–497.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Shimai, S., Otake, K., Park, N., Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2006). Convergence of character strengths in American and Japanese young adults. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7, 311–322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Shogren, K. A., Lopez, S. J., Wehmeyer, M. L., Little, T. D., & Pressgrove, C. (2006). The role of positive psychology constructs in predicting life satisfaction in adolescents with and without cognitive disabilities: An exploratory study. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 1, 37–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Siegel, D. J. (1999). The developing mind: How relationships and the brain interact to shape who we are. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  53. Snyder, C. R., Hoza, B., Pelham, W. E., Rapoff, M., Ware, L., Danovsky, M., et al. (1997). The development and validation of the children’s hope scale (CHS). Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 22, 399–421.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Steger, M. F., Hicks, B. M., Kashdan, T. B., Krueger, R. F., & Bouchard, T. J. (2007). Genetic and environmental influences on the positive traits of the values in action classification, and biometric covariance with normal personality. Journal of Research in Personality, 41, 524–539.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Tabachnick, B. G., & Fidell, L. S. (2001). Using multivariate statistics. MA: Allyn and Bacon.Google Scholar
  56. Turner-Bowker, D. M., Bayliss, M. S., Ware, J. E., & Kosinski, M. (2003). Usefulness of the SF-8™ health survey for comparing the impact of migraine and other conditions. Quality of Life Research, 12, 1003–1012.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Ware, J. E., Kosinski, M., Dewey, J. E., & Gandek, B. (2001). How to score and interpret single-item health status measures: A manual for users of the SF-8 Health Survey. Lincoln, RI: QualityMetric Incorporated.Google Scholar
  58. Watson, D., Clark, L., & Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and validation of brief measures of positive and negative affect: The PANAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 1063–1070.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Zullig, K. J., Valois, R. F., Huebner, E. S., & Drane, J. W. (2005). Adolescent health-related quality of life and perceived satisfaction with life. Quality of Life Research, 14, 1573–1584.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of LeicesterLeicesterUK
  2. 2.Centre of Applied Positive Psychology, The Venture CentreUniversity of Warwick Science ParkCoventryUK

Personalised recommendations