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

Abstract

Purpose

Positive psychological functioning has been related to various positive work-related outcome variables, such as job satisfaction or work engagement. The aim of the present study was to examine the relations between morally positively valued traits (i.e., strengths of character) and work-related behaviors.

Method

A sample of 887 adult women completed the Values in Action Inventory of Strengths (VIA-IS) and the Work-related Behavior and Experience Patterns Questionnaire (AVEM) in an online survey.

Results

Those assigned to healthy work-related behavior and experience patterns differed in their strengths profiles from those that demonstrated unhealthy patterns (i.e., burnout type) in a predictable way. Especially the strengths of zest, persistence, hope, and curiosity seemed to play a key role in healthy and ambitious work behavior.

Conclusions

The study underlines the relevance of character strengths in work settings and suggests that interventions based on character strengths could substantiate interventions already existing at the workplace in order to enhance positive work outcomes further (e.g., work satisfaction, engagement).

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The authors of the AVEM also suggest a lower threshold of 80% for a “pronounced” assignment to one of the types, which would allow for the assignment of N = 487 participants (G: n = 61; S: n = 153; A: n = 59; B: n = 214). At an even lower threshold of 50% (reflecting a tendency to one of the types), almost all participants could be assigned to one of the four types (N = 830; G: n = 115; S: n = 247; A: n = 144; B: n = 324). If the data were analyzed using any of these thresholds, the outcomes were highly similar indicating a stability of the findings even at lower levels of assignment.

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Acknowledgments

The authors are grateful to Katharina Klohe for proofreading the manuscript. Data collection was supported by a grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation (No. 132512) and the Suzanne and Hans Biäsch Foundation for Applied Psychology.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to F. Gander.

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Gander, F., Proyer, R.T., Ruch, W. et al. 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. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 85, 895–904 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00420-012-0736-x

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Keywords

  • Burnout
  • Character strengths
  • Positive psychology
  • Work-related behavior and experience