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Summary of Research Findings

For obvious reasons, studies that examine happiness, life satisfaction, and related concepts of well-being are some of the more popular areas of inquiry in positive psychology. Since the onset of positive psychology, researchers have been interested in those character strengths that correlate highest with happiness. As is clear below, strong patterns have emerged (e.g., zest, hope, gratitude, love, and curiosity frequently emerge with the highest correlations with life satisfaction).

Research Articles

  • This article synthesizes meta-analytic evidence on the effectiveness of a broad range of positive psychological interventions (PPIs), many of which have character strengths as a component, demonstrating a strong evidence base for the efficacy of PPIs and highlighting that longer, face-to-face PPI programs yield the most significant benefits. Through a review of 198 meta-analyses covering 501,335 participants, the article illustrates that PPIs have a small to medium positive effect on well-being, quality of life, and mental health outcomes, with mind-body interventions like yoga being particularly effective (Carr et al., 2023). Carr, A., Finneran, L., Boyd, C., Shirey, C., Canning, C., Stafford, O., ... & Burke, T. (2023). The evidence-base for positive psychology interventions: a mega-analysis of meta-analyses. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 1-15.

  • This two-part study investigated strategies for personalizing positive psychology interventions (PPIs) to enhance subjective well-being and found, through the first study, that participants showed a preference for self-selection over weakness-based, strength-based, or random PPI activity assignments, with weakness-based selections linked to negative affect and strength-based selections to positive affect. The second study found that weakness-based PPIs and self-selected strategies yielded better well-being and skills improvement than random assignment PPIs (Heintzelman, Kushlev, & Diener, 2023). Heintzelman, S. J., Kushlev, K., & Diener, E. (2023). Personalizing a positive psychology intervention improves well‐being. Applied Psychology: Health and Well‐Being.

  • A workplace study using a digital/online platform involving strengths feedback as an intervention. Findings included higher levels of strengths use, need satisfaction, well-being, and autonomous motivation compared to controls (Dubord et al., 2022). **
    Dubord, M. A. G., Forest, J., Balciunaite, L. M., Rouen, E., & Jungert, T. (2022). The power of strength-oriented feedback enlightened by self-determination theory: A positive technology-based intervention. Journal of Happiness Studies.

  • A randomized-controlled study in Pakistan found that focusing on all 24 character strengths in oneself and others was beneficial across all areas of well-being (e.g., the 5 domains of PERMA). In addition, it demonstrated benefit for the towing effect (Niemiec, 2019) in that higher/signature strengths could be used to develop lesser character strengths (Green, 2021).
    Green, Z. A. (2021). Character strengths intervention for nurturing well-being among Pakistan's university students: A mixed-method study. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 1–26.

  • Used a diary study to examine 17 functions (e.g., mastery, humanity, self-efficacy, understanding) across behavioral actions of the 24 character strengths. Each character strength showed a number of connections that aligned with its functions, e.g., for forgiveness it was justice, understanding, and self-efficacy, and for humor, it was pleasure, humanity, and optimism (Gander et al., 2021).
    Gander, F., Wagner, L., Amann, L., & Ruch, W. (2021). What are character strengths good for? A daily diary study on character strengths enactment. Journal of Positive Psychology. DOI:

  • A randomized study involving a 12-session character strengths intervention adapted to the Iranian culture found improvements in life satisfaction, negative emotions, and character strengths of wisdom, courage, humanity, and transcendence, in comparison with the control group (Hassaniraad, Khodayarifard, & Hejazi, 2021).
    Hassaniraad, M., Khodayarifard, M., Hejazi, E. (2021). Effectiveness of culture-based character strengths training on reinforcing character strengths and promoting students' mental well-being. Journal of Psychological Science, 19(96), 1533-1545.

  • Character strengths were linked with a variety of well-being components, such as emotional character strengths contributing to autonomy and intellectual strengths contributing to personal growth. In addition, strengths of restraint predicted less psychopathology using a global severity index (Azanedo et al., 2021).
    Azanedo, C. M., Artola, T., Llorente, S. S., & Alvarado, J. M. (2021). Character strengths predict subjective well-being, psychological well-being, and psychopathological symptoms, over and above functional social support. Frontiers in Psychology.

  • A study of college students found positive connections between character strengths, well-being, and social group participation (Koch et al., 2020).
    Koch, J. M., Murrell, L., Knutson, D., & Federici, D. (2020). Promoting students’ strengths to cultivate mental well-being: Relationships between college students’ character strengths, well-being, and social group participation. Journal of College and University Student Housing, 47(1), 86-102.

  • A study of mental well-being in India found that all 24 character strengths were significantly related to positive mental health, with the strongest predictors (in order) being hope, curiosity, prudence, zest, forgiveness, and gratitude (Kumar, Bakhshi, & Singh, 2020).
    Kumar, R., Bakhshi, A., & Singh, D. (2020). Exploring the role of character strengths in positive mental health of college students. Studies in Indian Place Names, 40(3).

  • Randomized intervention study in which a new character strengths activity was tested. The intervention involved participants learning about a different character strength each day for 24 days – why the strength was important, a motto for thinking about it, and behavioral strategies to boost it (all material from The Power of Character Strengths by Niemiec & McGrath, 2019). This led to greater happiness scores that sustained at 1-month follow-up (Cherif, Wood, & Watier, 2020).
    Cherif, L., Wood, V. M., & Watier, C. (2020). Testing the effectiveness of a strengths-based intervention targeting all 24 strengths: Results from a randomized controlled trial. Psychological Reports.
    Niemiec, R. M., & McGrath, R. E. (2019). The power of character strengths: Appreciate and ignite your positive personality. Cincinnati, OH: VIA Institute on Character.

  • In a study of the main domains of flourishing among 2,370 employees, the importance of character strengths showed the highest correlations with the experience of all flourishing domains (Lee et al., 2020).
    Lee, M. T., Bialowolski, P., Weziak-Bialowolska, D., Mooney, K. D., Lerner, P. J., McNeely, E., & VanderWeele, T. J. (2020). Self-assessed importance of domains of flourishing: Demographics and correlations with well-being. Journal of Positive Psychology.

  • In a study of self-compassion, the character strengths of hope and forgiveness showed the strongest associations with self-compassion across multiple studies and populations, in comparison with other strengths studied such as curiosity, perseverance, and gratitude (Booker & Perlin, 2020), although not all 24 strengths were examined.
    Booker, J. A., & Perlin, J. D. (2020). Using multiple character strengths to inform young adults’ self-compassion: The potential of hope and forgiveness. Journal of Positive Psychology.

  • This study of college students found that those who focused on and practiced with character strengths and other positive psychology concepts had highly substantial boosts to life meaning, as well as decreases in loneliness, among other benefits (Smith et al., 2020).
    Smith, B. W., Ford, C. G., Erickson, K., & Guzman, A. (2020). The effects of a character strength focused positive psychology course on undergraduate happiness and well-being. Journal of Happiness Studies. Advance online publication.

  • Explores a number of findings of character strengths in older adults. Character strengths scores were higher for those employed than retired and for those living with a partner than those alone, while fewer relationships with being widowed (vs. married) were found. The character strengths link with life satisfaction slightly decreased with age but increased for some strengths such as humility and prudence (Baumann et al., 2019).
    Baumann, D., Ruch, W., Margelisch, K., Gander, F., & Wagner, L. (2019). Character strengths and life satisfaction in later life: An analysis of different living conditions. Applied Research in Quality of Life.

  • Examined the stability and malleability of character strengths using two samples and different instruments longitudinally. The results showed character strengths are stable over long periods of time, that the strongest relationships between changes in strengths and well-being parallel reports in cross-sectional studies, and the strongest relationships were zest, hope, curiosity, and love. The strengths that seemed most malleable were humor, spirituality, and prudence (Gander et al., 2019).
    Gander, F., Hofmann, J., Proyer, R. T., & Ruch, W. (2019). Character strengths – Stability, change, and relationships with well-being changes. Applied Research in Quality of Life.

  • Using self-repots and informant-reports, the 24 character strengths were examined across the five dimensions of well-being (PERMA). While many significant associations were discovered, the top two strengths for each are shared here: positive emotions (zest, hope), engagement (creativity, curiosity), positive relationships (love, kindness), meaning (curiosity, perspective), and accomplishment (perspective, perseverance) (Wagner et al., 2019).
    Wagner, L., Gander, F., Proyer, R. T., & Ruch, W. (2019). Character strengths and PERMA: Investigating the relationships of character strengths with a multidimensional framework of well-being. Applied Research in Quality of Life.

  • Study of 225 students at a Chinese university finding that all 24 character strengths were significantly related to strengths use and the most robust correlations with well-being were hope, curiosity, zest, perseverance, and love. The study is the first to examine and show the strong connection between strengths use and future self-continuity (referring to the perceived connectedness between one’s present and future self) (Zhang & Chen, 2018).
    Zhang, Y., & Chen, M. (2018). Character strengths, strengths use, future self-continuity and subjective well-being among Chinese university students. Frontiers in Psychology, 29.

  • Analysis confirmed previous findings that strengths of the heart (affective) were more predictive of life satisfaction than strengths of the mind (cognitive) (Blasco-Belled et al., 2018).
    Blasco-Belled, A., Alsinet, C., Torrelles-Nadal, C., & Ros-Morente, A. (2018). The study of character strengths and life satisfaction: A comparison between affective-component and cognitive-component traits. Anuario de Psicología, 48(3), 75-80.

  • In the Hong Kong education context examining 726 grade 4-6 (ages 8-13) students, the PERMA-H model (positive emotions, engagement, positive relationships, meaning, achievement, health) predicted character strengths use. In addition, character strengths use, explained the relationship between engagement and general school satisfaction (Lai et al., 2018).
    Lai, M. K., Leung, C., Kwok, S. Y. C., Hui, A. N. N., Lo, H. H. M., Leung, J. T. Y., & Tam, C. H. L. (2018). A multidimensional PERMA-H positive education model, general satisfaction of school life, and character strengths use in Hong Kong senior primary school students: Confirmatory factor analysis and path analysis using the APASO-II. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 1090.

  • Study of 517 adults comparing character strengths with measures of PERMA and subjective well-being. Significant connections were found between character strengths and these well-being measures but PERMA was not found to be distinct from the original model of subjective well-being put forth in 1984 by Ed Diener across the 24 strengths (Goodman et al., 2017).
    Goodman, F. R., Disabato, D. J., Kashdan, T. B., & Kauffman, S. B. (2017). Measuring well-being: A comparison of subjective well-being and PERMA. Journal of Positive Psychology.

  • Examines predictors of life satisfaction among Mexican American college students and finds important predictors in gratitude, hope, and perseverance (grit) (Vela et al., 2017).
    Vela, J. C., Sparrow, G. S., Ikonomopoulos, J., Gonzalez, S. L., & Rodriguez, B. (2017). The role of character strengths and family importance on Mexican American college students’ life satisfaction. Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, 16(3), 273-285.

  • Comprehensive review of the research showing the systematic link between character strengths and different aspects of well-being. Across the literature, here are a few examples of the patterns of significant correlations found and discussed in the chapter: positive affect (curiosity, zest, hope), negative affect (honesty, forgiveness, humility), environmental mastery (zest, hope), personal growth (love of learning, curiosity), purpose in life (self-regulation, perseverance, curiosity, zest, hope), autonomy (honesty, bravery, perspective), self-acceptance (zest, hope), and positive relationships (love, social intelligence) (Harzer, 2016).
    Harzer, C. (2016). The eudaimonics of human strengths: The relations between character strengths and well-being. In J. Vitterso (Ed.), Handbook of Eudaimonic Well-Being (pp. 307-322). Switzerland: Springer.

  • Among university students in the United Arab Emirates, the character strengths of transcendence, along with being younger, were associated with higher levels of happiness and better mental health. The strengths of temperance were associated with less happiness (Petkari & Ortiz-Tallo, 2016).
    Petkari, E., & Ortiz-Tallo, M. (2016). Towards youth happiness and mental health in the united arab emirates: The path of character strengths in a multicultural population. Journal of Happiness Studies. Advance online publication.

  • Among Brazilian students, those who live a more satisfying life had higher scores in the character strengths of hope, zest, gratitude, love, curiosity, perseverance, and social intelligence (Porto Noronha & da Fonseca Martins, 2016). 
    Porto Noronha, A. P., & da Fonseca Martins, D. (2016). Associations between character strengths and life satisfaction: A study with college students. Acta Colombiana de Psicología, 19(2), 97-103.

  • Examined the links between character strengths and various areas of well-being in 687 adults in Argentina finding that according to laypersons, character strengths are important elements of life fulfillment. Across the five areas, the links included: love, honesty, and zest (personal well-being), perseverance and self-regulation (achieving goals), honesty and gratitude (personal relationships), teamwork and fairness (work relationships), and honesty and fairness (contributing to a better country) (Castro Solano & Cosentino, 2016).
    Castro Solano, A., & Cosentino, A. C. (2016). The relationships between character strengths and life fulfillment in the view of lay-people in Argentina. Interdisciplinaria Revista de Psicología y Ciencias Afines, 33(1), 65-80.  

  • A fascinating study that examined character strengths and the “fully functioning” person (Carl Rogers’ theory) within young people (aged 16-19). The results included findings that the fully functioning person is high in life satisfaction and positive thoughts/feelings, low in anxiety and negative thoughts/feelings, and is positively correlated with the character strengths of zest, bravery, honesty, leadership, and spirituality and negatively correlated with humility and fairness (Proctor, Tweed, & Morris, 2016).
    Proctor, C., Tweed, R., & Morris, D. (2016). The Rogerian fully functioning person: A positive psychology perspective. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 56(5), 503-529. DOI:  

  • Intervention study focusing on the character strength of humor in 632 adults and found that all five interventions boosted happiness for 3 to 6 months, and all lowered depression only in the short-run (immediately after the intervention). The 3 most successful interventions were: writing about three funny things and why they happened at the end of each day; applying humor; and counting funny things (Wellenzohn, Proyer, & Ruch, 2016).
    Wellenzohn, S., Proyer, R. T., & Ruch, W. (2016). Humor-based online positive psychology interventions: A randomized placebo-controlled long-term trial. Journal of Positive Psychology.  

  • Among a multicultural population of young adults in the United Arab Emirates the character strengths of transcendence were associated with greater levels of happiness and better mental health, while the character strengths of temperance/restraint were associated with less happiness (Petkari & Ortiz-Tallo, 2016).
    Petkari, E., & Ortiz-Tallo, M. (2016). Towards youth happiness and mental health in the united arab emirates: The path of character strengths in a multicultural population. Journal of Happiness Studies. Np. doi:  

  • This study found that self-esteem partially explained the connection between life satisfaction and strengths use and this effect was stronger for students with low to moderate levels of positive affect (Douglass & Duffy, 2015).
    Douglass, R., & Duffy, R. (2015). Strengths use and life satisfaction: A moderated mediation approach. . Journal of Happiness Studies  

  • Several character strengths (e.g., gratitude, curiosity, perseverance, meaning) were examined from an international community sample of 755 individuals to examine their predictive value in goal attainment and changes in well-being. Curiosity and perseverance predicted the strongest increase in goal attainment over time, but it was only curiosity that boosted the effects of goal attainment on life satisfaction two times across a 6-month period (Sheldon et al., 2015).
    Sheldon, K.M., Jose, P.E., Kashdan, T.B., & Jarden, A. (2015). Personality, effective goal-striving, and enhanced well-being: Comparing 10 candidate personality strengths.  Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.  

  • Study found that 23 character strengths (with the only exception being humility) were significantly correlated with well-being, wherein the top 3 character strengths were hope, gratitude, and love and the lowest (still significant) were prudence, judgment, and self-regulation. Since character strengths relate to one another, the researchers examined which strengths stood alone as predictors of well-being after accounting for the other strengths and found gratitude and love of learning to be highest with love, hope, honesty, and humor not far behind. A savvy character strengths researcher might wonder why zest was not in the top list of well-being correlates (as it seems to be in most other well-being studies) and part of the reason might be this sample was part of a study to create a scale for introverts and if the sample skewed mostly toward introverts perhaps this tell us something about how introverts might find a different, less energetic/zestful pathway to well-being? (Kaufman, 2015).
    Kaufman, S. B., Greenberg, S., & Cain, S. (2015, August 2). Which character strengths are most predictive of well-being. Scientific American. Article found here.  

  • Among university students in Seoul, Korea, the intellectual character strengths predicted greater subjective well-being in regard to various emotion, social, and psychological measures (Lim, 2015).
    Lim, Y. J. (2015). Relations between virtues and positive mental health in a Korean population: A multiple indicators multiple causes (MIMIC) model approach. International Journal of Psychology, 50(4), 272-278. DOI:  

  • In a representative sample of nearly 1,000 German-speaking adults in Switzerland, character strengths were examined across different stages of life, including age groups of 27-36, 37-46, and 47-57. Across age groups, hope, zest, and humor showed the most consistently high correlations with well-being (Martinez-Marti & Ruch, 2014).
    Martinez-Marti, M. L., & Ruch, W. (2014). Character strengths and well-being across the life span: data from a representative sample of German-speaking adults living in Switzerland. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 1253.

  • Character strengths were shown to have the biggest impact on well-being in a study examining contact with nature, the big 5, and character strengths (Korotkov & Godbout, 2014).
    Korotkov, D., & Godbout, A. (2014). Perosnality, motivation, nature, and well-being. Personality and Individual Differences, 60, S65.  

  • Several of the character strengths that have shown repeatedly to correlate highly with life satisfaction were put to the test. Participants were assigned to an experimental group targeting those strengths (e.g., zest, hope, gratitude, curiosity, and humor), another group targeting strengths with lower correlations with life satisfaction (e.g., appreciation of beauty/excellence, creativity, kindness, love of learning, perspective), or a wait-list control. The first group showed the strongest improvements in life satisfaction, however, participants in both intervention groups subjectively reported higher gains in well-being than the control group (Proyer, Ruch, & Buschor, 2012).
    Proyer, R. T., Ruch, W., & Buschor, C. (2012). Testing strengths-based interventions: A preliminary study on the effectiveness of a program targeting curiosity, gratitude, hope, humor, and zest for enhancing life satisfaction. Journal of Happiness Studies.  

  • In a sample of 334 Swiss adults and 634 peer (informant) ratings, the results converged suggesting that hope, zest, and curiosity (and gratitude and love) have key roles in the connection between character strengths and life satisfaction. Informant reports also related positively to the endorsement of pleasure, engagement, and meaning (Buschor, Proyer, & Ruch, 2013).
    Buschor, C., Proyer, R. T., & Ruch, W. (2013). Self- and peer-rated character strengths: How do they relate to satisfaction with life and orientations to happiness? Journal of Positive Psychology, 8 (2), 116-127.  

  • In a study examining strength factors, the transcendence strengths were the strongest predictor of life satisfaction and positive affect, while all the strength factors related to self-efficacy in which the leadership factor was the strongest predictor. This research highlights how different strengths are relevant for different positive outcomes (Weber et al., 2013).
    Weber, M., Ruch, W., Littman-Ovadia, H., Lavy, S., & Gai, O. (2013). Relationships among higher-order strengths factors, subjective well-being, and general self-efficacy – The case of Israeli adolescents. Personality and Individual Differences, 55, 322-327.

  • This study found that gender influences which character strengths most significantly predict life satisfaction. While zest, hope, and gratitude were found to have the strongest links to life satisfaction overall, life satisfaction for women was predicted by zest, gratitude, hope, appreciation of beauty, and love, but for men it was predicted by creativity, perspective, fairness and humor (Brdar, Anić, & Rijavec, 2011). **Brdar, I., Anić, P., & Rijavec, M. (2011). Character strengths and well-being: Are there gender differences? The human pursuit of well-being: **

  • In addition to replication of the connection between hope, gratitude, love, zest, and curiosity with life satisfaction, the strengths that were the best predictors of future life satisfaction were hope and spirituality (Proyer et al., 2011).
    Proyer, R. T., Gander, F., Wyss, T., & Ruch, W. (2011). The relation of character strengths to past, present, and future life satisfaction among German-speaking women. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 3 (3), 370-384.  

  • Three groups emerged in a study of 27 nations and routes to happiness: nations high in pleasure & engagement; those high in engagement & meaning; and those low in pleasure, engagement, & meaning. Nations highest in each route were: South Africa (pleasure), Switzerland (engagement), and South Korea (meaning). All pathways predicted life satisfaction, wherein meaning & engagement are most robust (replication; Park, Peterson, & Ruch, 2009).
    Park, N., Peterson, C., & Ruch, W. (2009). Orientations to happiness and life satisfaction in twenty-seven nations. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 4 (4), 273-279.  

  • Pleasure, engagement, and meaning predicted life satisfaction in both Australian and US samples, and replicated the finding that there are stronger relationships with the latter two (Vella-Brodrick, Park, & Peterson, 2009).
    Vella-Brodrick, D. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2009). Three ways to be happy: Pleasure, engagement, and meaning. Findings from Australian and US samples. Social Indicators Research, 90, 165-179.

  • Viewing one’s work as a “calling” in which one’s work is viewed as a source of fulfillment that is socially useful and personal meaningful, rather than as financial reward or career advancement, is predicted by the character strength of zest (Peterson et al., 2009).
    Peterson, C., Park, N., Hall, N., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2009). Zest and work. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 30, 161-172.

  • Among youth, the character strengths most related to life satisfaction are love, gratitude, hope, and zest; very young children (ages 3-9) described by their parents as happy are also noted as showing love, hope, and zest (Park & Peterson, 2009b).
    Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2009b). Strengths of character in schools. In R. Gilman, E. S. Huebner, & M. J. Furlong (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology in schools (pp. 65-76). New York: Routledge.

  • In a survey of the VIA classification with 839 Croatians, only curiosity and zest were consistently part of the top 5 strengths linked to attaining pleasure, engagement, and meaning (Brdar & Kashdan, 2010).
    Brdar, I., & Kashdan, T.B. (2010). Character strengths and well-being in Croatia: An empirical investigation of structure and correlates. Journal of Research in Personality, 44, 151-154.

  • Replication study finding similarly strong (e.g., hope, zest) and weak (e.g., modesty, appreciation of beauty & excellence) correlations with life satisfaction in a sample of Swiss, Germans, and Austrians; life satisfaction was highest among the Swiss. Total score on the VIA-IS (all 24 character strengths) correlated positively with life satisfaction (.44) indicating that strong character is associated with happiness and the good life. Life satisfaction increased with degree of virtuousness (development of character strengths) but was more apparent of an increase for the less virtuous.
    Ruch, W., Huber, A., Beermann, U., & Proyer, R. T. (2007). Character strengths as predictors of the "good life" in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. In Romanian Academy, "George Barit" Institute of History, Department of Social Research (Ed.), Studies and researches in social sciences (Vol. 16). Cluj-Napoca, Romania: Argonaut Press, 123-131.

  • The character strengths most associated with the meaning route to happiness are religiousness, gratitude, hope, zest, and curiosity (Peterson et al., 2007).
    Peterson, C., Ruch, W., Beerman, U., Park, N., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2007). Strengths of character, orientations to happiness, and life satisfaction. Journal of Positive Psychology, 2, 149-156.

  • The character strengths most associated with the engagement route to happiness are zest, curiosity, hope, perseverance, and perspective (Peterson et al., 2007).
    Peterson, C., Ruch, W., Beerman, U., Park, N., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2007). Strengths of character, orientations to happiness, and life satisfaction. Journal of Positive Psychology, 2, 149-156.

  • The character strengths most associated with the pleasure route to happiness are humor, zest, hope, social intelligence, and love (Peterson et al., 2007).
    Peterson, C., Ruch, W., Beerman, U., Park, N., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2007). Strengths of character, orientations to happiness, and life satisfaction. Journal of Positive Psychology, 2, 149-156.

  • Among young adults from the US and Japan, happiness was associated with zest, hope, curiosity, and gratitude (Shimai et al., 2006).
    Shimai, S., Otake, K., Park, N., Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2006). Convergence of character strengths in American and Japanese young adults. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7, 311-322.

  • Parent’s strength of self-regulation was strongly associated with his or her child’s life satisfaction, but not their own (Park & Peterson, 2006a).
    Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2006a). Character strengths and happiness among young children: Content analysis of parental descriptions. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7, 323-341.

  • The pursuit of meaning and engagement are much more predictive of life satisfaction than the pursuit of pleasure (Peterson, Park, & Seligman, 2005).
    Peterson, C., Park, N., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2005). Orientations to happiness and life satisfaction: The full life versus the empty life. Journal of Happiness Studies, 6, 25-41.

  • The 5 character strengths most highly related to life satisfaction are hope (r = .53), zest (r = .52), gratitude (r = .43), curiosity (r = .39), and love (r = .35). These strengths consistently and repeatedly show a robust, consistent relationship with life satisfaction (Park, Peterson, & Seligman, 2004). The correlations given were from a sample of 3907 individuals; see article for data on two additional samples.
    Park, N., Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Strengths of character and well-being. Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology, 23, 603–619.

  • The character strengths least related to life satisfaction (weak association) are modesty/humility, creativity, appreciation of beauty & excellence, judgment/open-mindedness, and love of learning (Park, Peterson, & Seligman, 2004).
    Park, N., Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Strengths of character and well-being. Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology, 23, 603–619.  

Updated May 2024