Cross-sectional research indicated that the application of signature strengths at work seemed to be crucial for perceiving a job as a calling. The present study aimed at testing this assumed causality in a random-assignment, placebo-controlled web-based intervention study. The intervention group (n = 83) was instructed to use their four highest character strengths more often at work for 4 weeks. Meanwhile the control group (n = 69) reflected about four situations (independent from the current workplace) where they excelled. For the evaluation of the effects of the two conditions, participants completed measures on calling and global life satisfaction before (Pretest), directly after the four-week training period (Posttest 1), and 3 (Posttest 2) and 6 months (Posttest 3) later. Calling significantly increased in the intervention group but not in the control group from Pretest to Posttest 1, and remained constant until Posttest 3. Global life satisfaction significantly increased in the intervention group but not in the control group from Pretest to Posttest 2 and from Posttest 1 to Posttest 3. That indicated that the changes on global life satisfaction were less steep than the changes in calling and lagged, but significant long lasting changes were observed likewise. Results supported the assumption that the application of strengths at work impacts calling and life satisfaction. Limitations as well as implications for research and practice are discussed.
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Intervention group was instructed to use the individually four highest character strengths more often and in new ways at work. As most jobs require the interaction with others, this intervention is very likely to alter the nature of interactions at work; this is one of the job crafting practices presented by Wrzesniewski and Dutton (2001). However, job crafting practices may also include changes in the design of the job (e.g., alter type and number of job tasks; Wrzesniewski and Dutton 2001), and that was not part of the strengths intervention.
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The preparation of this paper has been facilitated by a research grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF; PBZHP1_147249) awarded to Claudia Harzer. The authors are thankful to Mareike Gehlhar and Isabelle Hauser for collecting parts of the data.
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Harzer, C., Ruch, W. Your Strengths are Calling: Preliminary Results of a Web-Based Strengths Intervention to Increase Calling. J Happiness Stud 17, 2237–2256 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-015-9692-y
- Positive intervention
- Character strengths
- Signature strengths
- Global life satisfaction