Quality of Life Research

, Volume 26, Issue 9, pp 2519–2531 | Cite as

Development and initial validation of a short three-dimensional inventory of character strengths

  • Wenjie DuanEmail author
  • He Bu



Character strength is described as a positive and organized pattern of emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. It serves as a schema that organizes categories of information toward the self, others, and the world, and provides the self-aware knowledge that facilitates the pursuit of goals, values, and ethical principles. Recent research has suggested that three reliable factors emerge from the measures of character strengths: caring, inquisitiveness, and self-control. The goal of this paper is to develop a psychometrically sound short measure of character strength.


The questions were addressed in two studies using two independent samples: a cross-cultural (i.e., 518 Asians and 556 Westerners) sample, and a cross-population (i.e., 175 community participants and 171 inpatients) sample in China.


Findings from the exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis suggested a cross-cultural three-factor model of character strength that could be measured by the Three-dimensional Inventory of Character Strengths (TICS). A multigroup confirmatory factor analysis further indicated that the number of factors and factor loadings was invariant in the medical and community samples. This result indicated that the brief inventory could be applied to a medical context. Internal reliability, content validity, and predictive validity were good, although the predictive validity of the three character strengths for psychological symptoms in the medical sample was more modest than that in the community sample.


TICS is expected to be used for screening populations at risk, and a tool to aid mental health professionals in group-based treatment/intervention planning. It also should be noted that this short inventory should be used with caution for individual decision making.


Strength assessment Psychometrics Cross-culture Positive psychiatry Positive psychology Wellbeing 



The authors thank their participants for their generous contributions to this research. We thank Pengfei Guo in Hospital (T. M. C.) Afflicted Southwest Medical University, Pei Gan in The First Affiliated Hospital of Chongqing Medical University, and Deqiang Ning in School of Electronic and Optical Engineering, Nanjing University of Science and Technology for their help in data collection. We also appreciate Professor Robert McGrath in Fairleigh Dicinson University for his comments on the early manuscript.


The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Wuhan University Humanities and Social Sciences Academic Development Program for Young Scholars “Sociology of Happiness and Positive Education” (Grant No: Whu2016019).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The author, Wenjie Duan, declares no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyWuhan UniversityWuhanPeople’s Republic of China

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