Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 71–93 | Cite as

Psychological Strengths and Cognitive Vulnerabilities: Are They Two Ends of the Same Continuum or Do They Have Independent Relationships with Well-being and Ill-being?

  • Veronika HutaEmail author
  • Lance Hawley
Research Paper


Research programs examining psychological strengths and vulnerabilities have remained largely separate, making it difficult to determine the relative contributions of strengths and vulnerabilities to well-being. Two studies (241 normals, 54 depressed outpatients) compared certain psychological strengths (Transcendence subscales, Values In Action Inventory of Strengths) and cognitive vulnerabilities (Dysfunctional Attitudes Scale). In multiple regression, strengths usually related more to positive well-being—life satisfaction, positive affect, vitality, meaning, elevating experience—though vulnerabilities also related to the first three variables; vulnerabilities related more to illbeing—negative affect, depression—though hope, humor, enthusiasm, and forgiveness sometimes also showed relationships. Pre-treatment strengths (hope, spirituality, appreciation of beauty and excellence) predicted post-treatment recovery from depression; cognitive vulnerabilities did not. Strengths and vulnerabilities sometimes interacted, with strengths weakening the relationship between vulnerabilities and well-being. Our findings indicate that strengths and vulnerabilities are not mere opposites (correlating at most moderately) and deserve study as distinct contributors to well-being.


Strength of character Dysfunctional attitude Predisposition Well-being Major depression Recovery 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Clarke DivisionCentre for Addiction and Mental HealthTorontoCanada

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