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Testing Strengths-Based Interventions: A Preliminary Study on the Effectiveness of a Program Targeting Curiosity, Gratitude, Hope, Humor, and Zest for Enhancing Life Satisfaction


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.

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  1. We focus on life satisfaction as the cognitive component of subjective well-being only and aim at studying the contribution of strength-based interventions on the individual’s fulfillment.

  2. It is acknowledged that labeling this group as “control group” may technically not be fully correct but we wanted to express that is a control group for the effects of the intervention in the highly correlated strengths group.


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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.

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Correspondence to René T. Proyer.

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Proyer, R.T., Ruch, W. & Buschor, C. Testing Strengths-Based Interventions: A Preliminary Study on the Effectiveness of a Program Targeting Curiosity, Gratitude, Hope, Humor, and Zest for Enhancing Life Satisfaction. J Happiness Stud 14, 275–292 (2013).

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