Testing Strengths-Based Interventions: A Preliminary Study on the Effectiveness of a Program Targeting Curiosity, Gratitude, Hope, Humor, and Zest for Enhancing Life Satisfaction
- 3.7k Downloads
The study compares the impact of character strengths-based positive interventions in a sample of 178 adults. An experimental group that trained strengths of the Values-in-Action classification that typically correlate highly with life satisfaction (curiosity, gratitude, hope, humor, and zest) was compared in its gain in life satisfaction with a group that trained strengths that usually demonstrate low correlations with life satisfaction (appreciation of beauty and excellence, creativity, kindness, love of learning, and perspective) and a wait-list control group. If pre and post measures in life satisfaction were compared, the group with the strengths most correlated with life satisfaction improved significantly (statistically) in their satisfaction in comparison to a control group. This could be interpreted as support for the idea that primarily those strengths that correlate highly with life satisfaction should be addressed in strengths-based interventions. When asked for subjective ratings of well-being after the interventions concluded, participants in both intervention groups indicated gains above that of a wait-listed control group. Further analyses underscore the special role of self-regulation in facilitating success in the interventions. Overall, the data underline the potential of strength-based interventions for improving human well-being.
KeywordsCharacter strengths Positive psychology Positive interventions Strengths based intervention VIA-IS
Data collection was supported by a research grant from the University of Zurich (FK 56231101) and the Suzanne and Hans Biäsch Foundation for Applied Psychology. The authors are grateful to Fabian Gander, Peter Hilpert-Anand, Serra Koyuncu, Iwana Städeli, Maria Ture, and Tobias Wyss who helped conducting the study. A special thanks goes to Sandra Rusch, Heidi Stolz, and Reto Zeller for their assistance in the trainings for humor and creativity, respectively.
- Beermann, U., & Ruch, W. (2009). How virtuous is humor? What we can learn from current instruments. The Journal of Positive Psychology, doi: 10.1080/17439760903262859.
- Diener, E. (1994). Assessing subjective well-being: Progress and opportunities. Social Indicators Research. doi: 10.1007/BF01207052.
- Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The satisfaction with life scale. Journal of Personality Assessment. doi: 10.1207/s15327752jpa4901_13.
- Diessner, R., Rust, T., Solom, R. C., Forst, N., & Parsons, L. (2006). Beauty and hope: A moral beauty intervention. Journal of Moral Education. doi: 10.1080/03057240600874430.
- Emmons, R. A., & Crumpler, C. A. (2000). Gratitude as a human strength: Appraising the evidence. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. doi: 10.1521/jscp.2000.19.1.56.
- Fredrickson, B. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. American Psychologist. doi: 10.1037//0003-066X.56.3.218.
- 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.
- Khumalo, I. P., Wissing, M. P., & Themane, Q. M. (2008). Exploring the validity of the values-in-action inventory of strengths (VIA-IS) in an African context. Journal of Psychology in Africa, 18, 133–144.Google Scholar
- Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K. M., & Schkade, D. (2005). Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change. Review of General Psychology. doi: 10.1037/1089-2622.214.171.124.
- Magyar-Moe, J. L. (2009). Therapist’s guide to positive psychological interventions. Burlington, MA: Elsevier.Google Scholar
- McGhee, P. E. (2010). Humor as survival training for a stressed-out world: The 7 humor habits program. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse.Google Scholar
- Mitchell, J., Stanimirovic, R., Klein, B., & Vella-Brodrick, D. (2009). A randomised controlled trial of a self-guided internet intervention promoting well-being. Computers in Human Behavior. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2009.02.003.
- Müller, L., & Ruch, W. (2011). Humor and strengths of character. The Journal of Positive Psychology. doi: 10.1080/17439760.2011.592508.
- Otake, K., Shimai, S., Tanaka-Matsumi, J., Otsui, K., & Fredrickson, B. (2006). Happy people become happier through kindness: A counting kindness intervention. Journal of Happiness Studies. doi: 10.1007/s10902-005-3650-z.
- Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2006a). Character strengths and happiness among young children: Content analysis of parental descriptions. Journal of Happiness Studies. doi: 10.1007/s10902-005-3648-6.
- Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2006b). Moral competence and character strengths among adolescents: The development and validation of the values in action inventory of strengths for youth. Journal of Adolescence. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2006.04.011.
- Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2008). The cultivation of character strengths. In M. Ferrari & G. Potworowski (Eds.), Teaching for wisdom: Cross-cultural perspectives on fostering wisdom (pp. 59–77). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
- Park, N., Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Strengths of character and well-being. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. doi: 10.1521/jscp.23.5.603.50748.
- 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. doi: 10.1080/17439760600619567.
- Peterson, C. (2006). A primer in positive psychology. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- 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
- Peterson, C., Ruch, W., Beermann, U., Park, N., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2007). Strengths of character, orientation to happiness, and life satisfaction. The Journal of Positive Psychology. doi: 10.1080/17439760701228938.
- Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
- Proctor, C., Maltby, J., & Linley, A. P. (2011). Strengths use as a predictor of well-being and health related quality of life. Journal of Happiness Studies. doi: 10.1007/s10902-009-9181-2.
- Proyer, R. T., Gander, W., Wyss, T., & Ruch, W. (2011). The relation of character strengths to past, present, and future life satisfaction among German-speaking women. Applied Psychology: Health and Well Being. doi: 10.1111/j.1758-0854.2011.01060.x.
- Proyer, R. T., & Ruch, W. (2009). How virtuous are gelotophobes? Self- and peer-reported character strengths among those who fear being laughed at. Humor: International Journal of Humor Research. doi: 10.1515/HUMR.2009.007.
- Ruch, W., Harzer, C., Proyer, R. T., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2010a). Ways to happiness in German-speaking countries: The adaptation of the German version of the orientations to happiness questionnaire in paper-pencil and internet samples. European Journal of Psychological Assessment. doi: 10.1027/1015-5759/a000030.
- Ruch, W., Proyer, R. T., Harzer, C, Park, N., Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2010b). Adaptation and validation of the German version of the values in action inventory of strengths (VIA-IS) and the development of a peer-rating form. Journal of Individual Differences. doi: 10.1027/1614-0001/a000022.
- Ruch, W., Proyer, R. T., & Weber, M. (2010c). Humor as character strength among the elderly: Empirical findings on age-related changes and its contribution to satisfaction with life. Zeitschrift für Gerontologie und Geriatrie. doi: 10.1007/s00391-009-0090-0.
- Ruch, W., Proyer, R. T., & Weber, M. (2010d). Humor as character strength among the elderly: Theoretical considerations. Zeitschrift für Gerontologie und Geriatrie. doi: 10.1007/s00391-009-0080-2.
- Ruch, W., Rodden, F. A., & Proyer, R. T. (2011). Humor and other positive interventions in medical and therapeutic settings. In B. Kirkcaldy (Ed.), The art and science of health care: Psychology and human factors for practitioners (pp. 277–294). Göttingen: Hogrefe.Google Scholar
- Ruch, W., Rusch, S. R., & Stolz, H. (in prep). An evaluation of the 8-step program for the improvement of the sense of humor. Manuscript in preparation.Google Scholar
- Seligman, M. E. P. (2011). Flourish: A visionary new understanding of happiness and well-being. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
- Seligman, M. E. P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist. doi: 10.1037//0003-066X.55.1.5.
- Seligman, M. E. P., Steen, T., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.60.5.410.
- Sheldon, K. M., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2006). How to increase and sustain positive emotion: The effects of expressing gratitude and visualizing best possible selves. The Journal of Positive Psychology. doi: 10.1080/17439760500510676.
- Sin, N. L., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2009). Enhancing well-being and alleviating depressive symptoms with positive psychology interventions: A practice-friendly meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Psychology. doi: 10.1002/jclp.20593.
- Torrance, E. P. (1974). Torrance test of creative thinking: Norms and technical manual. Bensenville, IL: Scholastic Testing Service.Google Scholar