Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 965–983 | Cite as

The Application of Signature Character Strengths and Positive Experiences at Work

  • Claudia HarzerEmail author
  • Willibald Ruch
Research Paper


We hypothesized that the amount of positive experiences at work (job satisfaction, pleasure, engagement, meaning) is a function of the extent to which the situational circumstances at the workplace allow for the application of an individual’s signature character strengths. For the description of the individual a reliable and valid instrument already exists, but not for the environment. Hence, the newly developed Applicability of Character Strengths Rating Scales (ACS-RS) with information on its reliability and validity were also presented. A sample of 1,111 adults filled in the ACS-RS and measures for possession of character strengths and positive experiences at work. The ACS-RS was reliable by means of internal consistency and inter-rater reliability. It proved to be valid in several ways being sensitive to: (a) the differences in the applicability of trait-relevant behavior in formal versus informal situations by showing higher applicability of the character strengths in the latter; (b) the differences between traits regarding their applicability across situations; (c) people’s disposition to choose situations fitting their dispositions by showing positive relationships between the degree of possession and applicability. Moreover, correlations between applicability of strengths and positive experiences increased with the individual centrality of the strengths. The more signature strengths were applied at the workplace, the higher the positive experiences at work. This study showed that character strengths matter in vocational environments irrespective of their content. Strengths-congruent activities at the workplace are important for positive experiences at work like job satisfaction and experiencing pleasure, engagement, and meaning fostered by one’s job.


Character strengths Signature strengths Job satisfaction Positive experiences 



The authors like to thank Yves Weibel who helped with the data collection and the compilation of the ACS-RS.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Section on Personality and Assessment, Department of PsychologyUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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