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Research Articles

  • This study examined the impact of strengths interventions on the thriving and performance of teachers, with a particular focus on older teachers (≥ 46 years old), based on the socioemotional selective theory. It found that such interventions notably enhanced the vitality and subsequently the performance of older teachers, whereas no significant effects were observed for younger teachers, underscoring the potential of tailored strengths-based approaches in the teaching profession (Tobias et al., 2023) Tobias, V. Y., van Woerkom, M., Meyers, M. C., Runhaar, P., & Bakker, A. B. (2023). Thriving on strengths: Effects of a strengths intervention for younger and older teachers. Journal of Happiness Studies, 24(3), 1121-1144.

  • Through a randomized controlled trial involving 263 children in China, this study shows that the "Humor A B C" program – designed for the positive development of left-behind children in China – can facilitate significant improvements in hope, life satisfaction, and reduced depression. Strength knowledge was identified as a partial mediator for these outcomes, demonstrating the program's short-term effectiveness and offering a novel, innovative approach for social workers to aid the positive development of left-behind children (Duan, Yu, & Tang, 2023). Duan, W., Yu, X., & Tang, X. (2023). “Humor ABC” program: Specific strength intervention in facilitating the positive development of left-behind children. Journal of Happiness Studies, 1-20.

  • This study, involving a sample of 484 high school students, explored how strength-based parenting and religious commitment in an Islamic context affect students' character strengths. Using path analysis, it was found that positive affect mediates the impact of practical aspects of strength-based parenting and religious activities on character strengths, suggesting that parents can enhance their children's character development by focusing on daily strength use and familial strength mapping (Ratnasari, 2023). Ratnasari, D. (2023). The effect of strength-based parenting, religious commitment, demographic factors mediated by positive affect on students' character strength. Tazkiya Journal of Psychology, 11(1).

  • This article investigates the relationship between multiculturalism, religiosity, and character strengths among students in Central Java, revealing that in a multicultural context, character strengths like self-control and humility are crucial, especially for students from lower socio-economic backgrounds. However, the findings also indicate that these traits and religiosity do not generalize across different student life experiences, suggesting a need for more nuanced instruments to measure these aspects longitudinally, especially considering the varied life experiences and educational levels of adult learners (Tukiyo, Sumekto, & Suryani, 2023). Tukiyo, T., Sumekto, D. R., & Suryani, Y. E. (2023). Identifying students’ religiosity and character strengths in a multiculturalism life consequence. AL-ISHLAH: Jurnal Pendidikan, 15(2), 2013-2024.

  • To explore how character strengths impact adolescents' participation in sports, this study administered the VIA Youth Survey to 3810 UK adolescents and found that teamwork, perseverance, leadership, spirituality, and zest were key predictors of sports participation. Results showed notable gender differences, indicating that females were less likely to participate in sports and tended to score higher on prudence and kindness, while males tended to score higher on creativity and zest, revealing important considerations for future research and practices in adolescent development (Walker, Gordu, & Nabizadehchianeh, 2023). Walker, D.I., Gordu, N., & Nabizadehchianeh, G. (2023). The role of character strengths on adolescents’ participation in sports. Journal of Psychology and Psychotherapy Research, 10. DOI: 10.12974/2313-1047.2023.10.03

  • Through two studies that examined the relationship between character strengths and school-related wellbeing, daily strengths-related behavior at school was found to predict well-being the following day. Furthermore, habitual strengths-related behavior at school accounted for unique variance in well-being at school as well as in achievement, and the desirability of certain strengths (e.g., perseverance, fairness, forgiveness, and humor) at the classroom level accounted for additional variance in students’ well-being (Wagner & Ruch, 2023). Wagner, L., & Ruch, W. (2023). Displaying character strengths in behavior is related to well-being and achievement at school: Evidence from between-and within-person analyses. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 18(3), 460-480.

  • This article found that certain character strengths, such as perseverance, humility, and honesty, play a significant role in the dynamics of peer bullying and victimization among high school students. Specifically, these strengths explained a notable portion of the variance in both being a victim and performing bullying, highlighting the importance of character development in addressing bullying behaviors and experiences in educational settings (Gülbahar & Sari, 2022). Gülbahar, E., & Sari, T. (2022). The relationship of character strengths with peer bullying and peer victimization among adolescents. International Journal of Psychology and Educational Studies, 9(3), 589–601.

  • This study assessed how student-teacher relationships and peer relationships within a school setting impacted the development of character strengths among fourth and fifth grade Brazilian students (N = 1881). Findings suggest that stronger peer relationships and student-teacher relationships are associated with higher baseline scores of fairness, hope, bravery, teamwork, and self-regulation, as well as larger improvements in these strengths over time (Thomas, da Cunha, & Santo, 2022a) Thomas, K. J., da Cunha, J., & Santo, J. B. (2022a). Changes in character virtues are driven by classroom relationships: A longitudinal study of elementary school children. School Mental Health, 14(2), 266-277.

  • This longitudinal study examined how the justice related beliefs espoused by 60 different Brazilian schools affected the development of character strengths among fourth and fifth grade students (N = 1865) within each school. Findings indicate that justice beliefs play a mediating role between authoritative school climate and the character strengths of bravery, fairness, and leadership, suggesting that the “contextual justice” of children’s environments impact their development of strengths (Thomas, Cunha, & Santo, 2022b). Thomas, K. J., Cunha, J. M. D., & Santo, J. B. (2022b). Just environments foster character: A longitudinal assessment of school climate. Journal of Moral Education, 1-18.

  • This cross-sectional, descriptive study sought to understand the association between character strengths and mental health problems among children in early adolescence from low-income families in South Korea, and found evidence that for this population of children, character strengths lower the likelihood of developing hyperactivity–inattention and emotional symptoms. Additionally, adverse life events were not significantly correlated with character strengths in the study, although such events were associated with increased mental health problems (Na et al., 2022). Na, H., Lee, G., Si, E., Jun, W. H., & Park, C. (2022). Character strength and mental health problems among children from low-income families in South Korea. Children, 9(10), 1599.

  • This study aimed to verify the reliability and validity of an Arabic version of the VIA Inventory of Strengths (VIA-IS), using a sample of university students from different states in Algeria. Results suggest that the most notable strengths in this population are fairness, integrity, kindness, humility, and spirituality, and higher scores in character strengths were positively associated with personal well-being, satisfaction with university life, as well as excellence in academic performance (Berrazouane, 2022). Berrazouane, H. (2022). Character strengths and human virtues among university youth. Psychological & Educational Studies Review, 32(15).

  • This study is the first randomized controlled trial to examine the impact of an Intellectual Virtue Curriculum (IVC), on undergraduate university students, specifically in relation to inculcating critical and reflective thinking dispositions. Results suggest that the delivery of a course-embedded IVC can enhance the virtues of curiosity, humility, integrity, and tenacity among undergraduate students, thus promoting intellectual virtue development and critical thinking (Orona et al., 2022). Orona, G. A., Pritchard, D., Arum, R., Eccles, J., Dang, Q.-V., Copp, D., Herrmann, D. A., & Rushing, B. (2022). What’s Virtue Got to Do with It? Experimental Evidence for Increasing Intellectual Character in Higher Education. PsychArchives.

  • Using a brief character strengths program that was integrated into online accounts accessed by parents of kindergarten students, this study examined how online resources can be used as an accessible way to engage students' families in school initiatives to bolster character strengths. Results suggest that parents prefer highly applicable content that is relevant to noticing and developing character strengths in their child, and also revealed that single parents, fathers, and parents of racial minority children were less likely to engage with the program, which could be attributed to the additional barriers faced by these socio-demographic groups (O’Byrne et al., 2022). O’Byrne, R., Thompson, R., Friedmann, J. S., & Lumley, M. N. (2022). Parent engagement with an online, school-based, character strengths promotion program. International Journal of Applied Positive Psychology, 7(3), 355-377.

  • This quasi-experimental study investigated changes in anxiety symptoms and quality of life (QoL) among adolescents participating in the online Strength-informed Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (SACT) intervention during COVID-19. Findings show that right after the intervention, participants reported a significant reduction in anxiety, and three months after participating in SACT, they reported both reduced anxiety symptoms and improved QoL in relation to what they had reported prior to the intervention (Duan et al., 2022). Duan, W., Kong, Y., Bu, H., Guan, Q., Chen, Z., Luo, Q., & Zhang, J. (2022). The online strength-informed acceptance and commitment therapy among covid-19-affected adolescents. Research on Social Work Practice, 32(4), 465-474.

  • To consolidate empirical evidence related to the role of positive traits in the pre-career stage, this study mapped the peer-reviewed literature on the relationships between character strengths, moral motivation and vocational identity in adolescents and young adult students. The study reports that between 1980 and 2020, the most investigated character strengths in this domain were prudence (27.9%) curiosity (20.6%), hope (20.6%) and love (19.9%), and four-character strengths were the most studied in association with vocational identity, all of which coincided with some skills and competencies promoted in career counselling (Villacis et al., 2022). Villacís, J. L., Naval, C., & De la Fuente, J. (2022). Character strengths, moral motivation and vocational identity in adolescents and young adults: a scoping review. Current Psychology, 1-16.

  • This mixed-methods study in Iran looked at the connection between character strengths and “willingness to communicate” among 300 learners (ages in young 20s). Multiple connections were discovered and numerous examples for the role each character strength can have in communication are outlined (Amirsheibani & Ghonsooly, 2022).
    Amirsheibani, M., & Ghonsooly, B. (2022). EFL learners' VIA character strengths and willingness to communicate: A mixed-methods study. Tob Regul Sci., 8(1), 134-148.

  • A study of 521 young adolescents (average age 11) in China found that character strengths were a protective factor against behavior problems; five different types of behavioral problems were examined (Qin et al., 2022). Qin, C., Cheng, X., Huang, Y., et al., Chen, J. (2022). Character strengths as protective factors against behavior problems in early adolescents. Psicologia: Reflexao e Critica, 35(1).

  • A study of 1881 4th/5th grade children across 288 classrooms and 60 schools in Brazil examined character strengths and a number of variables including social-emotional learning (SEL). Higher quality relationships between students-teachers was associated with larger character strengths increases in boys, and teachers’ use of SEL strategies was a predictor of character strengths change over time (Thomas, da Cunha, & Santo, 2022).
    Thomas, K. J., da Cunha, J. & Santo, J.B. (2022). Changes in character virtues are driven by classroom relationships: A longitudinal study of elementary school children. School Mental Health.

  • This study assessed child-parent attachment using the Friends and Family Interview and VIA Youth Survey, and found that secure attachment in children to mothers and fathers was strongly linked with character strengths that are in categories of interpersonal, temperance, and transcendence and did not predict intellectual/wisdom strengths (Kerns et al., 2022).
    Kerns, K. A., Obeldobel, C. A., Kochendorfer, L. B., & Gastelle, M. (2022). Attachment security and character strengths in early adolescence. Journal of Child and Family Studies.

  • A large meta-analysis involving 214 studies of character education programs revealed a small, significant positive effect, with above average effects for three programs - Cognitive Problem-Solving, Kohlberg’s Moral Dilemma Discussion, and Strong Kids. Despite selection bias in the character education literature, the small positive effects remained significant after correction (Brown et al., 2022). Brown, M., McGrath, R. E., Bier, M. C., Johnson, K., & Berkowitz, M. W. (2022). A comprehensive meta-analysis of character education programs. Journal of Moral Education.

  • This study evaluated two school-based interventions focusing on strengths recognition and utilization among junior high students and found that while both interventions enhanced life satisfaction, the second intervention also reduced depressive symptoms both post-intervention and at 1-month follow-up. These findings highlight key components for effective school-based strengths interventions by illustrating the value of strengths use in reducing depressive symptoms and the effectiveness of cultivating strengths knowledge and focusing on others' strengths for improving life satisfaction (Abe, Kohei, & Ishikawa, 2021). Abe, N., Kohei, K., & Ishikawa, S. (2021). Effects of school-based strengths interventions on the mental health of Japanese adolescents. Japanese Journal of Educational Psychology, 69(1), 64-78.

  • Theory, research, and practice align in this chapter that describes the rationale, importance, models, and practices for the integration of character strengths in schools/systems. Emphasis is placed on the merging of character strengths with social-emotional learning for grades K-12, as represented in the activity-based/curricula-based program - Thriving Learning Communities. Case examples from a range of school contexts are provided (Coppley & Niemiec, 2021). Access the chapter

  • This study examined the relationship between the Five-Factor Model of personality and character strengths in Brazilian high school students, and found associations between conscientiousness and the character strengths of persistence, love of learning, leadership, prudence and self-regulation, agreeableness and the strengths of kindness and forgiveness, openness and the strengths of curiosity, creativity and beauty, as well as neuroticism and self-regulation. However, results also indicate that the 24-character strengths are discriminable from personality traits, and are therefore not merely factors of personality (Dametto & Noronha, 2021).
    Dametto, D. M., & Noronha, A. P. P. (2021). Study between personality traits and character strengths in adolescents. Current Psychology, 40, 2067-2072.

  • A study of 95 teachers in Finland involving interventions to promote character strengths, compassion, and supportive organizational culture, and found a significant increase in identification and use of strengths and also in creating a supportive culture (Vuorinen, Pessi, & Uusitalo-Malmivaara, 2021).
    Vuorinen, K., Pessi, A. B., & Uusitalo-Malmivaara, L. (2021). Nourishing compassion in Finnish kindergarten head teachers: How character strength training influences teachers’ other-oriented behavior. Early Childhood Education Journal, 49(2), 1-14.

  • Randomized study of the character strengths program, Strengths Gym, in 7th and 8th grade classrooms in India. The intervention group, which involved 24 sessions over 12 weeks, reported significant benefits to life satisfaction, happiness, and positive affect (Khanna, Singh, & Proctor, 2021).
    Khanna, P., Singh, K., & Proctor, C. (2021). Exploring the impact of a character strengths intervention on well-being in Indian classrooms. School Mental Health: A Multidisciplinary Research and Practice Journal, 13(4), 819–831.

  • Study of 618 adolescents to advance character theory and finding general patience and life hardship patience had differential links with sadness regulation and inhibitory self-control (Shubert et al., 2021).
    Shubert, J., Ratchford, J. L., Houlberg, B. J., & Schnitker, S. A. (2021). Disentangling character strengths from developmental competencies: The virtue of patience and self-regulatory competencies. Journal of Positive Psychology, 17(2), 203-209.

  • Discusses schools taking the next step beyond the addition of well-being and academic achievements to target eudaimonic well-being and the role of character strengths development as central in that aim (Lavy, 2021).
    Lavy, S. (2021). Beyond well-being: Character strengths development in 21st century schools. Educational Psychology/Psicologia dell’Educazione.

  • This mixed-methods study examined the connection between character strengths and the 5 C’s of positive youth development (competence, confidence, character, caring, and connection), and found that 12 of the 24 character strengths linked to the 5 C’s. This paper suggests that the character strengths can serve as pathways to these domains of positive youth development (Gradisek, 2021).
    Gradisek, P. (2021). Character strengths of first-year student teachers and the 5 Cs of the positive youth development framework: A mixed-methods study. In (Ed.), Positive youth development in contexts (pp. 127-150). Coppley, J., & Niemiec, R. M. (2021). Character strengths interventions in education systems. In M. L. Kern & M. L. Wehmeyer (Eds.), The palgrave handbook of positive education (pp. 395-420). Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • A qualitative study of early childhood educators found that the most common workplace challenges were children’s behavioral needs and challenges working with coworkers. Educators used the following character strengths most frequently to deal with the challenges: kindness, leadership, fairness, hope, love, self-regulation, perseverance, forgiveness, and humility (Haslip & Donaldson, 2021).
    Haslip, M. J., & Donaldson, L. (2021). What character strengths do early childhood educators use to address workplace challenges? Positive psychology in teacher professional development. International Journal of Early Years Education.

  • A character strengths-based intervention study among adolescents found that the group intervention has a significant effect on reducing anxiety and increasing self-efficacy. Self-efficacy mediated the relationship between the intervention and anxiety (Zhao et al., 2021).
    Zhao, R., Ding, X., Lin, X., Si, S., Zhang, Q., Li, C., & Cui, L. (2021). The efficacy of character strengths-based group intervention on reducing anxiety among adolescents and mediating role of self-efficacy. Current Psychology.

  • A study of Japanese high school students found that while psychological distress is generally higher in this population, the most significant factor (among many) affecting flourishing levels was strengths use (Matsuguma et al., 2021).
    Matsuguma, S., Kawashima, M., Tsubota, K., & Mimura, M. (2021). Flourish despite distress: Association between strengths use and psychological well-being among adolescents in a Japanese correspondence high school. Journal of Child and Adolescent Behavior, 9(4).

  • Italian study of 5th grade students examining an educational model and its impact on character strengths awareness, emotional literacy, and cohesion (Maulini, et al., 2021).
    Maulini, C., Kuvacic, G., Savani, W., Zanelli, V., Padovan, A. M., Bocciolesi, E., & De Giorgio, A. (2021). The IARA model proved effective in emotional literacy, character strengths awareness, and cohesion among Italian children. Education Sciences, 11(11).

  • In a controlled study in Finland, positive increases in strengths, resources, and student guidance were found for the intervention group (Katajisto, Hyvarinen, & Uusiautti, 2021).
    Katajisto, M., Hyvärinen, S., & Uusiautti, S. (2021). Changes in Finnish ninth graders’ positive psychological capital (PsyCap) in a strength-based student guidance intervention. International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, 26(1), 321-339.

  • Studied the connection between values and character strengths and examined gratitude as a self-transcendence value which was found to be connected with prosocial behavior and peer acceptance in two samples of adolescents (Lavy & Benish-Weisman, 2021).
    Lavy, S., & Benish-Weisman, M. (2021). Character strengths as “values in action”: Linking character strengths with values theory – an exploratory study of the case of gratitude and self-transcendence. Frontiers in Psychology.

  • An interview study of early childhood teachers found that the character strengths teachers noted as most important in children were also the strengths most frequently observed (e.g., curiosity, love, love of learning, and creativity) (Sop & Bişkin, 2021).
    Sop, A., & Bişkin, S. O. (2021). Character strengths in early years: Teachers’ awareness and practices. Journal of Teacher Education and Educators, 10(2), 222-246.

  • In a study of the mental well-being of adolescents, positive mental health was most connected with self-esteem, hope, and kindness (Ahrnberg et al., 2021).
    Ahrnberg, H., Appelqvist-Schmidlechner, K., Mustonen, P., Fröjd, S., & Aktan-Collan, K. (2021). Determinants of positive mental health in adolescents: A cross-sectional study on relationships between positive mental health, self-esteem, character strengths and social inclusion. Internaional Journal for Mental Health Promotion, 23 (3), 361-374.

  • A study of Iranian youth validated the VIA Youth Survey (96 items), supporting its reliability and construct and convergent validity (Jabbari et al., 2021).
    Jabbari, M., Shahidi, S., Panaghi, L., Mazaheri, M. A., & Oberle, E. (2021). Examining the link between character strengths and positive and negative mental health indicators in Iranian adolescents. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment.

  • Used the VIA Youth and 24 character strengths (and factor groupings) as a lens for examining a central text in Chinese moral education referred to as The Code for Primary and Secondary Schools (Huo et al., 2021).
    Huo, Y., Xie, J., Moller, F., & Kristjánsson, K. (2021). Character strengths and virtues in Chinese moral education: evidence from ‘the Code’ and from primary and secondary schools. Journal of Positive Psychology.

  • A controlled intervention study with middle school students found a character strengths intervention to have a significant impact on overall academic performance and on performance in specific subjects of English and math (Mamatha & Chowhan, 2020).
    Mamatha, K., & Chowhan, S. (2020). Effectiveness of character strengths intervention model on overall academic performance and performance in English and maths among middle school children. Journal of Advances in Education and Philosophy.

  • In a bullying study of 2,799 students between ages 12-19 in Ireland who took the VIA Youth Survey, the character strength of prudence was discovered as the key strength predicting school bullying for both perpetrators and victims and in traditional bullying and cyberbullying situations (Burke & McGuckin, in press).
    Burke, J., & McGuckin, C. (in press). Bullying and character development: An examination of character strengths associated with bullying and cyberbullying in post-primary schools in Ireland. Journal of Character Education.

  • In a study of the character strengths of forgiveness and gratitude with regard to prosocial bystander behavior in bullying (individuals who actively intervene in bullying to support the victim), the character strengths and prosocial bystander behavior had a reciprocal positive relationship (García-Vázquez et al., 2020).
    García-Vázquez, F. I., Valdés-Cuervo, A. A., Martínez-Ferrer, B., & Parra-Pérez, L. G. (2020). Forgiveness, gratitude, happiness, and prosocial bystander behavior in bullying. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, Article 2827.

  • In a study of nearly 13,000 youth taking the VIA Youth Survey, older adolescents tended to generate lower scores on many character strengths than younger adolescents. Girls scored higher on most strengths on average, but more consistently had lower scores across ages (Brown, Blanchard, & McGrath, 2020).
    Brown, M., Blanchard, T., & McGrath, R. E. (2020). Differences in self-reported character strengths across adolescence. Journal of Adolescence, 79, 1-10.

  • Prototype analysis that identified 30 features of character education from the perspective of character education experts, gathered which elements were most central, and offered practical advice for future character education programs and research (McGrath et al., 2020).
    McGrath, R. E., Han, H., Brown, M., & Meindl, P. (2020). What does character education mean to character education experts? A prototype analysis of expert opinions. Journal of Moral Education. DOI:

  • In a study of primary school students in Hong Kong, Kwok and Fang (2020) found that strengths use explained the connection between positive emotions and study engagement, and also positive emotions predicted strengths use and positive meaning over time.
    Kwok, S. Y. C. L., & Fang, S. (2020). Cross lagged panel study examining the reciprocal relationships between positive emotions, meaning, strengths use and study engagement in primary school students. Journal of Happiness Studies. DOI:

  • A study of adolescents found that prosocial behavior and character strengths protected against depressive symptoms (Padilla-Walker, Millett, & Memmott-Elison, 2020).
    Padilla-Walker, L. M., Millett, M. A., & Memmott-Elison, M. K. (2020). Can helping others strengthen teens? Character strengths as mediators between prosocial behavior and adolescents’ internalizing symptoms. Journal of Adolescence, 79, 70–80.

  • In a study of playmates of over 1500 children (4th – 9th grades) in China, children’s strengths of humanity and justice were associated with their reciprocal playmates’ strengths of humanity and justice, regardless of grade, gender, or sibling status (Liu et al., 2020).
    Liu, L., Xu, L., Xiao, X., Liu, L., & Li, Y. (2020). Positive influence of peers' interpersonal character on children's interpersonal character: The moderating role of children's and peers' social status. Journal of Adolescence, 79, 157–172.

  • Makes the argument for strengths-based approaches for children in schools for not only well-being benefits but also for facing, preventing, and overcoming adversities (Maata & Uusiautti, 2020).
    Maata, K., & Uusiautti, S. (2020). Nine contradictory observations about girls’ and boys’ upbringing and education: The strength-based approach as the way to eliminate the gender gap. Frontiers in Education.

  • Several character strengths applications were woven into the work with youth programming including taking the VIA Youth Survey, creating a wall with character strengths words/images, strengths-spotting discussions, callouts to character strengths, and character strengths alignment with tasks (Florin et al., 2020).
    Florin, M., Schrimmer, L., McCargo, S., Bohn, T., & Caton, C. (2020). Fostering hope and enhancing resilience through character strengths interventions. ScholarlyCommons: University of Pennsylvania. Available here

  • In this cross-cultural study of adolescents, honesty, courage, and responsibility were examined and evidence for developmental growth in applying character strengths concepts in dilemma-based situations was found. Adolescents more easily identified action choices reflecting these strengths compared to justifying possible actions (Thoma et al., 2019). Note that this study did not use the VIA Classification or VIA Survey, but the results are likely highly applicable.
    Thoma, S., Walker, D. I., Fritzhand, A., Chen, Y. H., & Kristjansson, K. (2019). Adolescents' application of the virtues across five cultural contexts. Developmental Psychology 55(10).

  • Systematic review of character strengths-based school interventions and notes they offer promising positive outcomes in well-being and positive emotions (Kumar & Mohideen, 2019).
    Kumar P, A., & Mohideen, F. (2019). Strengths-based positive schooling interventions: A scoping review. Contemporary School Psychology. Advance online publication.

  • Explores mechanisms for developing character strengths in schools and examines the connections between character strengths and 21st century competencies, which are cognitive, interpersonal, and intrapersonal competencies identified by the American National Research Council (Lavy, 2019).
    Lavy, S. (2019). A review of character strengths interventions in twenty-first-century schools: Their importance and how they can be fostered. Applied Research in Quality of Life.

  • Study of the VIA Classification and its use among residential care directors and other caregivers for orphans and vulnerable children across 5 global locations. The most important strengths prioritized for caregiving included love, honesty, forgiveness, and kindness (Kinghorn et al., 2019).
    Kinghorn, W. A., Keyes, C. L. M., Parnell, H. E., Eagle, D. E., Biru, B. M., Amanya, C., . . . Proeschold-Bell, R. J. (2019). Putting virtues in context: Engaging the via classification of character strengths in caregiving for orphans and vulnerable children across cultures. Journal of Positive Psychology. Advance online publication.

  • A systematic review of the key factors that enable a positive transition to secondary school found character strengths to be among the most significant aspects in the transition literature (Bharara, 2019).
    Bharara, G. (2019). Factors facilitating a positive transition to secondary school: A systematic literature review. International Journal of School & Educational Psychology. Advance online publication.

  • Deployed a strengths-spotting intervention examining written behavioral examples of teacher and child use of love, forgiveness, and kindness. Some of the findings included teacher and child love being associated with empathy and spontaneous affection; kindness with helpfulness and friendship; and forgiveness with giving second chances, letting go, responding with kindness, and speaking positively (Haslip, Allen-Handy, & Donaldson, 2019).
    Haslip, M. J., Allen-Handy, A., & Donaldson, L. (2019). How do children and teachers demonstrate love, kindness and forgiveness? Findings from an early childhood strength-spotting intervention. Early Childhood Education Journal. Advance online publication.

  • Israeli study of two large samples of parents of children between the ages of 3-6 and explains the development and validation of a measure of character strengths for young children (Shoshani, 2019).
    This measure is available for researchers in Hebrew and English on the VIA site, as an informant/parent-report for ages 3-6, courtesy of the developer, Anat Shoshani.
    Shoshani, A. (2019). Young children’s character strengths and emotional well-being: Development of the character strengths inventory for early childhood (CSI-EC). Journal of Positive Psychology, 14(1), 86-102.

  • This review paper synthesizes the outcomes of character strengths in education, focusing on their impact on students and teacher professionalism, across 21 studies conducted between 2013 and 2018, and noting character strengths differences in educational contexts between Western and Asian countries. Findings indicate that a teacher's character strengths are closely linked to their professional effectiveness and that these strengths significantly influence student well-being, academic success, and personal development, including variables like life satisfaction and interpersonal relationships (Yin & Majid, 2018). Yin, L. C., & Majid, R. A. (2018). The goodness of character strengths in education. International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, 8(6), 1237–1251.

  • Croatian study that explored through structured interviews how preschool children define and understand different character strengths such as hope, gratitude, justice, and wisdom as well as happiness. Happiness had the most comprehensive definitions while justice the least; boys and older children gave significantly more answers for many of these (Vorkapić & Babić Šikić, 2018).
    Vorkapić, S. T., & Babić Šikić, A. (2018). What pre-school children think about happiness, hope, gratitude, wisdom, justice, and optimism? The positive conceptual thinking development study. Journal of Positive Psychology and Wellbeing, 3(1), 1-25

  • Israeli study shares the development and validation of a character strengths measure for elementary school-aged children (Shoshani & Shwartz, 2018). This measure is available for researchers in Hebrew and English on the VIA site, as a self-report for ages 7-12, courtesy of the developer, Anat Shoshani.
    Shoshani, A., & Shwartz, L. (2018). From character strengths to children’s well-being: Development and validation of the character strengths inventory for elementary school children. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, Article ID 2123.

  • Strengths-spotting study of teachers and their classrooms finding that the strengths intervention was connected with improved student outcomes. Changes in teacher strengths-spotting explained the outcomes of classroom engagement, positive affect, and needs satisfaction (Quinlan et al., 2018).
    Quinlan, D., Vella-Brodrick, D. A., Gray, A., & Swain, N. (2018). Teachers matter: Student outcomes following a strengths intervention are mediated by teacher strengths spotting. Journal of Happiness Studies, 1-17. DOI:

  • Generally speaking, character education programs continue to be unclear and ill-defined. This paper uses recent literature to offer a prototype of seven features by which character education programs might be evaluated and discussed (McGrath, 2018).
    McGrath, R. E. (2018). What is character education? Development of a prototype. Journal of Character Education.

  • In a study of character strengths and adolescent peer relationships, the strengths deemed most desirable/important in a friend were honesty, humor, kindness, and fairness, and those most connected with higher peer acceptance were perspective, love, kindness, social intelligence, teamwork, leadership, and humor (Wagner, 2018).
    Wagner, L. (2018). Good character is what we look for in a friend: Character strengths are positively related to peer acceptance and friendship quality in early adolescents. Journal of Early Adolescence.

  • A program to boost character strengths, positive emotions, and optimal experiences was tested on 9th grade adolescents. Elevations in self-esteem and life satisfaction, with stronger effects for girls, all relative to a comparison group, were found (Freire et al., 2018). 
    Freire, T., Lima, I., Teixeira, A., Araújo, M. R., & Machado, A. (2018). Challenge: To be+. A group intervention program to promote the positive development of adolescents. Children and Youth Services Review, 87, 173-185.

  • Among a diverse sample of thousands of youth between ages 9-19, researchers found character structure becomes more differentiated as youth develop into adolescence (Shubert et al., 2018).
    Shubert, J., Wray‐Lake, L., Syvertsen, A. K., & Metzger, A. (2018). Examining character structure and function across childhood and adolescence. Child Development. Advance online publication.

  • Argues for the importance of elements of character (i.e., inquisitiveness and self-control character strengths) as indicators of “character” even when they are not used to support moral ends (as long as they don’t support immoral ends). Emphasizes that character education programs should account for how character strengths can lead to nonmoral decision-making when environmental factors are encouraging poor choices (McGrath, 2017).
    McGrath, R. E. (2017). The essentials and complexities of character: Reflections on Nucci’s multi-faceted model. Journal of Character Education, 13(1), 27-32.

  • In the school context, a tripartite structure for character was noted (intellectual, interpersonal, and intrapersonal character strengths), resembling what has been found among adults who take the VIA Survey. Interpersonal strengths predicted positive peer relations and intrapersonal strengths predicted report card grades, while intellectual strengths predicted class participation (Park et al., 2017).
    Park, D., Tsukayama, E., Goodwin, G. P., Patrick, S., & Duckworth, A. L. (2017). A tripartite taxonomy of character: Evidence for intrapersonal, interpersonal, and intellectual competencies in children. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 48, 16-27.

  • Discusses practical applications of the Happy Classrooms Program which integrates character strengths, mindfulness, and other areas of positive psychology (Alzina & Paniello, 2017).
    Alzina, R. B., & Paniello, S. H. (2017). Psicología positiva, educación emocional y el Programa Aulas Felices [Positive psychology, emotional education and the Happy Classrooms Program]. Papeles del Psicólogo, 38(1), 58-65.

  • Using data from four studies evaluating youth character strengths in different settings, researchers examined youth from ages 7 to 26, with particular emphasis on the strength of hope (Callina et al., 2017).
    Callina, K. S., Johnson, S. K., Tirrell, J. M., Batanova, M., Weiner, M. B., & Lerner, R. M. (2017). Modeling pathways of character development across the first three decades of life: An application of integrative data analysis techniques to understanding the development of hopeful future expectations. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 46(6), 1216-1237.

  • Presents the process and adaptation of the VIA Youth Survey for adolescents in Argentina, including reliability, construct validity, and exploratory factor analyses (Raimundi et al., 2017).
    Raimundi, M. J., Molina, M. F., Hernández-Mendo, A., & Schmidt, V. (2017). Adaptación Argentina del Inventario de Fortalezas en Adolescentes (VIA-Youth): Propiedades Psicométricas y Alternativas para su Factorización [Argentinean adaptation of the Values in Action Inventory of Strengths for Youth (VIA-Youth): Psychometric properties and alternatives for its factoring]. Revista Iberoamericana de Diagnóstico y Evaluación Psicologica, 45(3), 159-174.

  • Reviews the literature on character development in schools, finding 42 evidence-based practices. They categorized these into 6 overarching categories: prioritization, relationships, intrinsic motivation, role models, pedagogy of empowerment, and developmental pedagogy (Berkowitz, Bier, & McCauley, 2017).
    Berkowitz, M. W., Bier, M. C., & McCauley, B. (2017). Toward a science of character education: Frameworks for identifying and implementing effective practices. Journal of Character Education, 13(1), 33-51.

  • In addition to discussing the adaptation and application of mindfulness and character strengths for parents and teachers helping children, a study conducted by Children Inc. is reported here that replicated data of Park and Peterson (2006) on the top character strengths in very young children, as discovered through analyses of parent interviews. Those top strengths include (in descending order): love, kindness, curiosity, humor, perseverance, creativity, love of learning, social intelligence, and bravery (Lottman, Zawaly, & Niemiec, 2017).
    Lottman, T., Zawaly, S., & Niemiec, R. M. (2017). Well-being and well-doing: Bringing mindfulness and character strengths to the early childhood classroom and home. In C. Proctor (Ed.), Positive psychology interventions in practice (pp. 83-105). Cham, Switzerland: Springer.

  • This study examined the combined effect of gratitude, optimism, zest, and persistence by grouping these positive character traits together as a higher order variable termed covitality, which is predicated on the notion that combined groups of traits potentiate the effects of one another to a greater magnitude than the individual relative contribution of each factor. Findings indicate that among a sample of 112 Australian primary school students, the combined effect of these four traits predicted higher levels of school engagement and pro-social behavior (Wilkins et al, 2015). Wilkins, B., Boman, P., & Mergler, A. (2015). Positive psychological strengths and school engagement in primary school children. Cogent Education, 2(1), 1095680.

Updated December 2023