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Character Strengths and Spirituality
Summary of Research Findings
- Offers the creation of 24 character strengths blessings using the classic beatitudes structure of “Blessed are the--, for they shall--.” The primary focus is framed for enhancing the appreciation of others’ character strengths, and secondarily focused on appreciating one’s own character strengths. Rationale, scientific backbone, description, future research directions, and 10 grounded practical suggestions are offered (Niemiec, 2021).
Niemiec, R. M. (2021). Character strengths beatitudes: A secular application of ancient wisdom to appreciate strengths for spiritual happiness and spiritual growth. Religions, 12(11), 1000. DOI: 10.3390/rel12111000 PDF available here.
- Following an intervention with college students, improvements in well-being, relating to others, strengths, spiritual change, and appreciation of life were found (Liu & Yu, 2021).
Liu, Y., & Yu, Y. (2021). Effect of intervention based on character-strength on positive growth and emotion among college students. Hans. https://doi.org/10.12677/AP.2021.119228
- The GROW program is a 24-week resilience program focused on the 24 character strengths and Biblical oral storytelling. In a study of 28 classes across 643 youth in Zambia, there were observed impacts on academic performance, school attendance, and students’ character and behavior, as well as pre-post increases in resilience (Seale et al., 2021).
Seale, J. P., Seale, D., M., Pande, Y., Lewis, T. M., Manda, W., Kasanga, L., Gibson, E. B., Hadfield, K., Ogoh, T., McGrath, R. E., & Harris, S. K. (2021). GROW Zambia: A pilot cluster-randomized trial of a spiritually-based character strengths training curriculum to enhance resilience among Zambian youth. Journal of Positive Psychology, https://doi.org/10.1080/17439760.2021.1913640
- Argues that the VIA Classification represents “the decoding of the human spirit.” It outlines the six levels by which spirituality is already infused within the VIA Classification and offers wholeness as a superordinate virtue therein. Theorizes how the fields of spirituality and character strengths can mutually enhance one another, outlining the grounding path (ways in which character strengths ground and enhance spirituality) and the sanctification path (ways in which spirituality enhances character strengths through the sacred). Concludes with an exploration of five evidence-based practices for each pathway (Niemiec, Russo-Netzer, & Pargament, 2020).
Niemiec, R. M., Russo-Netzer, P., & Pargament, K. I. (2020). The decoding of the human spirit: A synergy of spirituality and character strengths toward wholeness. Frontiers in Psychology. http://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.02040
- Explores how character strengths can be viewed as pathways toward nonduality and that spirituality can be understood and practiced by using character strengths. Argues that the VIA Classification represents a classification of the positive human spirit. (Littman-Ovadia & David, 2020).
Littman-Ovadia, H., & David, A. (2020). Character strengths as manifestations of spiritual life: Realizing the non-dual from the dual. Frontiers in Psychology. http://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00960
- In a study of over 1,300 Israeli adolescents over 14 months, a factor called “spirituality” emerged in addition to factors of intrapersonal, interpersonal, and intellectual. Spirituality was stable over time and contributed to high prosociality and well-being across the study (Kor et al., 2019).
Kor, A., Pirutinsky, S., Mikulincer, M., Shoshani, A., & Miller, L. (2019). A longitudinal study of spirituality, character strengths, subjective well-being, and prosociality in middle school adolescents. Frontiers in Psychology, 10. http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00377
- Demonstrates the finding that spiritual experiences and character traits (gratitude, forgiveness, optimism/hope, perseverance/grit, meaning) among adolescents, young adults, and older adults go together as 83% of adolescents and emerging adults had spirituality and traits coincide (71% of older adults). A small subgroup showed high traits and low personal spirituality across cohorts (Barton & Miller, 2019).
Barton, Y. A., & Miller, L. (2019). Spirituality and positive psychology go hand in hand: An investigation of multiple empirically derived profiles and related protective benefits. Journal of Religion and Health. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10943-015-0045-2
- Discusses the connection between virtuous thoughts and spiritual emotions and the connection with body and brain to lead to virtuous behaviors, offered as an intersection of science and the Bahá’í faith (Diessner, 2016).
Diessner, R. (2016). The beauty of the human psyche: The patterns of the virtues. Journal of Bahá’í Studies, 26(4), 75-93
Updated January 2022