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Strengths Use and Life Satisfaction: A Moderated Mediation Approach

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This manuscript examined mediators and moderators that may explain the link between strengths use and life satisfaction with a sample of 224 undergraduate students. A mediation model was tested hypothesizing that self-esteem would partially mediate the strengths use-life satisfaction link. Additionally, a moderated mediation model was tested examining positive affect as a moderator within the hypothesized model. Results suggest that a partial reason strengths use related to life satisfaction was due to an increased level of self-esteem. However, this finding must be taken in light of our mediation analysis being conducted with cross-sectional data, a limitation discussed in further detail. Furthermore, positive affect moderated the self-esteem-life satisfaction link, such that the link was stronger for individuals with low and moderate levels of positive affect. This manuscript addresses a major gap in the positive psychology literature by attempting to examine why strengths use relates to increased life satisfaction. Implications for research are discussed.
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Strengths Use and Life Satisfaction: A Moderated Mediation Approach
Richard P. Douglass & Ryan D. Duffy
University of Florida
Citation: Douglass, R. P., & Duffy, R. D. (2015). Strengths Use and life satisfaction: A
moderated mediation approach. Journal of Happiness Studies, 16, 619-632.
*Author’s note. Correspondence regarding this paper should be directed to Richard P. Douglass,
Department of Psychology, University of Florida, PO Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611-2250;
This manuscript examined mediators and moderators that may explain the link between strengths
use and life satisfaction with a sample of 224 undergraduate students. A mediation model was
tested hypothesizing that self-esteem would partially mediate the strengths use-life satisfaction
link. Additionally, a moderated mediation model was tested examining positive affect as a
moderator within the hypothesized model. Results suggest that a partial reason strengths use
related to life satisfaction was due to an increased level of self-esteem. However, this finding
must be taken in light of our mediation analysis being conducted with cross-sectional data, a
limitation discussed in further detail. Furthermore, positive affect moderated the self-esteem-life
satisfaction link, such that the link was stronger for individuals with low and moderate levels of
positive affect. This manuscript addresses a major gap in the positive psychology literature by
attempting to examine why strengths use relates to increased life satisfaction. Implications for
research are discussed.
Keywords: strengths use, life satisfaction, self-esteem, positive affect
Strengths Use and Life Satisfaction: A Moderated Mediation Approach
Are people who use their strengths happier? The emergence of positive psychology has
sparked an interest in the relations between strengths use and subjective well-being. In his 2002
book Authentic Happiness, Martin Seligman asserts that identifying and implementing one’s
signature strengths is an important aspect of living a happier life. Although research has
consistently found positive relations between strengths use and well-being (Brdar & Kashdan,
2010; Littman-Ovadia & Steger, 2010; Gillham et al., 2011), there is a paucity of research on
why and for whom this relation exists. The present study seeks to examine the association
between strengths use and life satisfaction in an undergraduate sample by examining the
potential mediating effect of self-esteem and potential moderating effect of positive affect.
Character Strengths
In order to conceptualize strengths of character, Peterson and Seligman (2004) conducted
a cross-cultural examination of values and found six virtues that were almost universally
endorsed: courage, humanity, justice, temperance, transcendence, and wisdom. Based on their
findings, the Values-in-ActionClassification of Character Strengths was formed which
organized 24 character strengths (e.g., curiosity, hope, zest) under the six noted virtues.
Subsequently, the Values-In-ActionInventory of Strengths (VIA-IS; Peterson & Seligman,
2004) was developed in order to assess the presence of the strengths identified in the VIA-
Classification. The VIA-IS measures levels of the 24 characters strengths which all fulfill 12
criteria (e.g., ubiquitous, measurable, traitlike, distinctive) and are organized under the six
aforementioned virtues (Park, Peterson, & Seligman, 2004).
Character strengths have been linked to well-being among a variety of populations. For
example, Park (2004) conducted a literature review and found the presence of certain character
strengths within an individual were associated with positive youth development and noted that
there continues to be strong associations between having various strengths of character and life
satisfaction. Several studies utilizing interventions that include the use of strengths have revealed
lasting increases in well-being accompanied with lower levels of depression (Gander, Proyer,
Ruch, & Wyss, 2013; Mongrain & Anselmo-Matthews, 2012; Seligman, Steen, Park, &
Peterson, 2005). Additionally, one study demonstrated that students who participated in character
strengths-based exercises implemented into a school curriculum had higher life satisfaction than
students who did not participate (Proctor et al., 2011b). Other research has shown that higher
levels of strengths uniquely predict more life satisfaction across the lifespan (Isaacowitz et al.,
Strengths Use and Life Satisfaction
Although the mere presence of character strengths is correlated with elevated levels of
life satisfaction, Seligman (2002) asserted that using one’s signature strengths is essential for
living a satisfying and fulfilling life. Strengths use has been found to be a predictor of subjective
well-being in a sample of UK students (Proctor, Maltby, & Linley, 2011a). In the same study it
was found that the use of particular strengths positively predicted life satisfaction. Littman-
Ovadia and Steger (2010) found that individuals who used their strengths in their vocational
activities experienced greater levels of well-being, and the deployment of strengths amongst
volunteers was related to increased well-being. Harzer and Ruch (2012, 2013) have substantiated
findings that strengths use at work is beneficial; in two samples of employed adults, the use of
strengths at work was associated with positive experiences at work. Furthermore, individuals that
used between four to seven strengths at work had higher levels of a calling, which is another
construct associated with a wealth of positive outcomes (Harzer & Ruch, 2012; c.f., Duffy &
Dik, 2013 for a detailed review). Along with these studies, several others have found strengths
use to be potent predictors of life satisfaction and well-being (Emmons & McCullough, 2003;
Forest et al., 2012; Linley, Nielsen, Gillett, & Biswas-Diener, 2010; Otake, Shimai, Tanaka-
Matsumi, Otsui, & Frederickson, 2006; Seligman et al., 2005). In sum, these findings imply that
for individuals across the life span, the use of strengths relates to increased levels of life
satisfaction and subjective well-being. However, to date, little research has examined why using
one’s strengths relates to heightened happiness.
Self-Esteem as a Mediator
One key variable that may link strengths use to well-being is self-esteem. Minhas (2010)
found that people who actively developed their strengths experienced elevated levels of self-
esteem. A quasi-experimental treatment-control condition design to compare student outcomes
found participation in character strengths-based exercises resulted in slightly increased self-
esteem (Proctor et al., 2011a). Also, Proctor et al. (2011a) found that strengths use was positively
correlated with self-esteem and longitudinal research has demonstrated that strength use leads to
greater self-esteem over time (Wood, Linley, Maltby, Kashdan, & Hurling, 2011).
Govindji and Linley’s (2007) findings that strengths knowledge and strengths use were
significantly associated with self-esteem prompted the following question for future research:
“Do self-esteem and strengths use interact over time to predict higher levels of well-being?”
Concurrent with the theory that strengths use is energizing and authentic (Clifton & Anderson,
2002; Linley & Harrington, 2006; Peterson & Seligman, 2004), we believe that strengths use
contributes to individuals feeling good about themselves, which impacts levels of self-esteem
and in turn influences levels of life satisfaction. Another possibility is inspired by the findings of
Kernis (2003); perhaps, individuals with high levels of self-esteem are more likely to use their
strengths in goal pursuit, in turn improving satisfaction with life.
Positioning self-esteem as a mediator between strength use and life satisfaction implies a
link from self-esteem to life satisfaction. Diener and Diener (1995) conducted a study with a
sample of college students (N = 13,118) from 31 countries and revealed a correlation of .47
between self-esteem and life satisfaction (c.f., Lucas, Diener, & Suh, 1996; Zhang & Leung,
2002), and other studies have exhibited similar findings and demonstrated self-esteem to be one
of the strongest predictors of life satisfaction (Chen, Cheung, Bond, & Leung, 2006; Diener,
Emmons, Larsen, & Griffin, 1985; Joshanloo & Afshari, 2011; Pavot & Diener, 1993; Westaway
& Maluka, 2005; Westaway, Maritz, & Golele, 2003; Zhang, 2005). Our hypothesis that self-
esteem is a mediator of strengths-use and life satisfaction builds upon the studies of Yarcheski,
Mahon, and Yarcheski, (2001) and Furnham and Cheng, (2000) that have illustrated that self-
esteem has a positive effect as an intervening variable on the relation between variables with
conceptual content similar to general well-being, satisfaction with life, perceived happiness and
other variables.
Positive Affect as a Moderator
Another way in which strengths use may relate to life satisfaction is via positive affect.
Diener (1984) identified three components of subjective well-being: positive affect, negative
affect and life satisfaction. In many studies researchers have analyzed data by calculating a
composite score of subjective well-being using the three components noted above (Bettencourt &
Sheldon, 2001; Bostic & Ptacek, 2001; Elliot, Gable, & Mapes, 2005; Keyes, Shmotkin & Ryff,
2002; Proctor et al., 2011a; Roysamb, Harris, Magnus, Vitterso, & Tams, 2002). However,
according to Busseri, Sadava, and DeCourville (2007), this method wrongly assumes that
positive affect, negative affect and life satisfaction all contribute equally to the measure of
subjective well-being. With this methodology of creating a composite score, researchers cannot
be sure to which degree results reflect common variance shared among the three components, or
the unique variance that positive affect, negative affect and life satisfaction possess.
Lucas et al. (1996) demonstrated that positive affect, negative affect and life satisfaction
all have discriminant validity. Multiple studies have supported this finding by illustrating that
positive affect, negative affect and life satisfaction correlate differently with the same set of
variables (Chamberlain, 1988; Diener & Lucas, 1999; Diener, Smith, & Fujita, 1995). Watson,
Clark, and Tellegen (1988) also revealed that positive and negative affect are fairly independent
of each other. Thus, in the present study we will assess the life satisfaction and positive affect
components of subjective well-being separately, in line with recommendations of Diener and
colleagues (Diener 1984, 1994; Diener & Lucas, 1999; Diener, Oishi, & Lucas, 2003; Lucas et
al., 1996; Pavot & Diener, 1993). Given that this manuscript is concerned with strengths use,
which is a positively focused construct, negative affect will not be examined. Furthermore, there
is no theoretical rationale for including negative affect in the present study, so we felt the
inclusion of this construct would have been inappropriate.
Exploring the components of subjective well-being separately will allow us to examine
whether positive affect moderates the relation between self-esteem and life satisfaction.
Although positive affect has seldom been studied as a moderator in relation to life satisfaction,
the link between the two is logical. Positive affect represents how much positive emotion an
individual experiences which would influence a person’s satisfaction with life. Therefore, it is
possible that individuals with varying levels of positive affect will differ in how they experience
life satisfaction.
Positive affect has been found to be a moderator in a gratitude intervention study (Froh,
Kashdan, Ozimkowski, & Miller, 2009). In this study, the authors found that individuals low in
positive affect experienced higher gains in subjective well-being than those high in positive
affect. The noted study raises the following question pertinent to the current study: Does the
manner in which self-esteem mediates the relation between strengths use and life satisfaction
depend on one’s level of positive affect? The proposed question has not been examined in the
literature, thus, the present study seeks to answer this question. It may be that those with
differing levels of positive affect experience emotional gains from the presence of high self-
esteem in different ways.
The Present Study
In the current study we seek to explore the relations between strengths use and life
satisfaction with a sample of undergraduate students. Based on the existing research on strengths
use as well as related constructs, we have two hypotheses for the current study: 1) we
hypothesize that strengths use will be associated with elevated levels of life satisfaction, and 2)
self-esteem will partially mediate the relation between strengths use and life satisfaction.
Additionally, we will examine the degree to which positive affect moderates the link of strengths
use and self-esteem and the link of self-esteem and life satisfaction.
The sample consisted of 224 undergraduate students from across the United States.
Participants reported a mean age of 19.4 years (SD = 1.8 years). Subjects self-identified as male
(34.4%), female (64.7%), transgender (0.4%), and other (0.4%). The sample was comprised of
mainly Caucasian students (68.8%), but also included Hispanic American (15.2%), African
American (5.4%), Asian American (4.0%), Asian Indian (1.8%), Middle Eastern (0.9%), Pacific
Islander (0.4%), and Other (3.6%).
Life satisfaction. The Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS: Diener et al., 1985) was used
to measure global life satisfaction. Participants were asked to respond to each of the five items
on a 7-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). Example items
include “The conditions of my life are excellent,” and “So far I have gotten the important things I
want in life.” In the instrument development study, the authors found the scales to have a strong
internal consistency (α =.87) and good test-retest reliability (r = .82). Since its publication, the
scale has been used in thousands of studies, finding the scale to be reliable and to correlate in the
expected directions with a myriad well-being variables such as positive affect and self-esteem
(Arrindell et al., 1999). In the current study the estimated internal consistency reliability was .87.
Positive affect. The 10-item Positive Affect (PA) subscale of The Positive and Negative
Affect Scale (PANAS: Watson et al., 1988) was administered to measure the degree to which
participants experience positive affect. Participants were instructed to indicate to what extent
they have felt each way during the past week and responded to items such as “strong,”
“determined,” and “inspired” on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (very slightly or not at all)
to 5 (very much). In regards to validity, the PANAS has been shown to correlate in the expected
directions with measures of related constructs (Watson et al., 1988). In the original study the
PANAS scale was unaffected by the time instructions used, and the internal consistency
reliabilities ranged from .86 to .90 for PA (Watson et al., 1988). For the current study, the
estimated internal consistency reliability of the PA subscale was α = .86.
Strengths use. Developed by Govindji and Linley (2007), the Strengths Use Scale (SUS)
is a 14-item self-report scale that measures individual strengths use. Example items include: “I
always play to my strengths” and “Using my strengths comes naturally to me”. Participants
answered items on a 7-point Likert scale ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree. In the
instrument development study, the authors reported an alpha of .95 (Govindji & Linley, 2007).
Also, the SUS has been shown to correlate with appropriate criterion measures, such as the
Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (r = .56) and the New General Self-Efficacy Scale (r = .63), and
with other constructs, such as psychological well-being (r = .56) and subjective well-being (r =
.51) (Govindji & Linley, 2007). Wood et al. (2011) found the internal consistency of the SUS to
range from .94 to .97 and found a test-retest reliability of r = .84. Wood et al. (2011) also found
the measure to have good criterion validity with well-being, positively correlating with self-
esteem at r = .50, and positive affect at r = .52. In the current study, the estimated internal
consistency reliability was α = .95.
Self-esteem. The Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSE: Rosenberg, 1965) was used to
measure participants’ self-esteem. The RSE contains 10 items and requires participants to
respond to each item (e.g., “I certainly feel useless at times”) using a 4-point Likert scale ranging
from strongly disagree to strongly agree. The internal consistency reliabilities have been
reported to range from .80 to .92, and the test-retest correlation has been reported at .82, and
several studies have established the validity of the scale by demonstrating correlations in the
expected direction with overlapping variables. (Fleming & Courtney, 1984; Reynolds, 1988;
Rosenberg, 1979; Sam, 2000). In the current study, the estimated internal consistency reliability
was α = .74.
In order to collect data from a diverse, undergraduate sample, we recruited participants in
two ways. First, a link to the survey was posted on social networking and online classified
websites, specifically recruiting undergraduate students. In this case, people volunteered to
complete the survey. Other individuals participated in the study via the University of Florida’s
Psychology research participation pool. Students taking the survey through the research pool
were awarded course credit upon completion of the study. A consent form was provided for all
participants stating that their responses would be kept private and confidential. Individuals that
were not undergraduate students were screened out of the survey after completing the
demographic questionnaire.
Preliminary Analyses
To ensure the quality and reliability of the data, we conducted several preliminary
analyses. First, we assessed the data for outliers. Upon inspection of the box plots for each
variable, strengths use and self-esteem appeared to have several outliers. We removed scores that
exceeded 3.5 standard deviations above or below the means for these variables. We removed
three cases in total. Next, we assessed each variable for normality. The skew for any variable did
not approach one, and the visually inspected histograms appeared normally distributed. Our
analysis plan included three steps. In Step 1, we examined correlations. In step 2, we explored
whether or not self-esteem mediated the strengths use and life satisfaction relation. Finally, in
Step 3, we tested if the mediation found in Step 2 was moderated by positive affect.
Step 1: Correlations
Correlations among study variables are displayed in Table 1. As expected, satisfaction
with life, positive affect, strengths use, and self-esteem all had moderate to strong correlations
with one another.
Step 2: Mediation
Next, we tested whether self-esteem mediated the relation between strengths use and life
satisfaction. Using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) mediation macro
developed by Preacher and Hayes (2008), we performed a mediation analyses based on 5,000
bootstrapped samples using bias corrected and accelerated 95% confidence intervals (CIs). This
analysis allowed us to calculate the direct paths between our variables, in the form of regression
weights, and the significance of the indirect path, which is the reduction of the relation between
strengths use and life satisfaction when self-esteem is included in the model. The indirect path is
significant when the 95% CI does not include 0. For the analysis, we z-transformed all the
variables so variable effect sizes could be compared. Strengths use had significant, direct paths to
self-esteem (β = .49, SE = .06, p < .00001) and life satisfaction (β = .55, SE = .06, p < .00001).
Self-esteem also had a significant direct path to life satisfaction (β = .37, SE = .06, p < .00001).
When self-esteem was included in the model, strengths use had a reduced relation with life
satisfaction (β = .37, SE = .06, p < .00001), and the reduction in this relation was significant (SE
= .07, CI = [.07, .32]). The indirect effect was .18. Therefore, self-esteem partially mediated
strengths use and life satisfaction. The total model was significant, F(2, 218) = 70.13, p <
.00001, and explained 39% of the variance in life satisfaction.
Step 3: Testing the Moderated, Mediator Model
The next step in our analysis was to test whether positive affect moderated the mediation
found in Step 2. To test moderated mediation (MODMED), we used the MODMED macro
developed by Preacher, Rucker, and Hayes (2007). This macro allowed us to assess whether a
particular mediation effect is contingent upon the level of a moderating variable by providing
coefficients for both the mediator and the dependent variable models and allowing us to probe
whether or not the mediation exists at specified levels of the moderator.
Table 2 shows the relevant parts of the MODMED output for positive affect. We z-
transformed all variables before entering them into the model in order to compare effect sizes
and reduce multicollinearity. First, there are two multiple regression models: the mediator
variable model predicting self-esteem and the dependent variable model predicting life
satisfaction. The significant interaction between self-esteem and positive affect in the dependent
variable model suggests the indirect effect from self-esteem to life satisfaction is moderated by
positive affect (See Figure 1). The negative sign implies that the indirect effect is larger for those
higher in positive affect. The significant interaction gives us precedent to probe the indirect
effect at different levels of the moderator. The default output of MODMED provides normal
theory tests of the conditional indirect effects at ± 1 SD from the mean. As Table 2 shows, the
mediation is significant 1 SD below the mean, at the mean, and 1 SD above the mean. Preacher
et al. (2007) recommend verifying these results with bootstrapped standard errors used to create
95% CIs. Therefore, we probed the conditional indirect effects at the mean and 1 SD below and
above the mean using 95% bias accelerated and corrected CIs with 5,000 bootstrapped
resamples. The indirect effect at 1 SD below the mean [.10, .37] and at the mean [.05, .21] were
significant, but the indirect effect at 1 SD above the mean [-.01, .15] was not (See Figure 2).
The present study had three goals: 1) to test an established link relating strengths use to
elevated levels of life satisfaction, and 2) to examine self-esteem as a partial mediator in the
relation between strengths use and life satisfaction. Additionally, 3) we investigated the degree to
which positive affect serves as a moderator of the link between strengths use and self-esteem and
the link of self-esteem and life satisfaction. Although several studies in the extant literature have
examined the correlational link between strengths use and life satisfaction, the present study is
one of the first studies to date to begin unpacking some of the nuances of this relation.
Regarding our first formal hypothesis, strengths use was indeed associated with elevated
levels of life satisfaction; measures of strengths use and life satisfaction exhibited a strong,
positive correlation. This is consistent with past research that has demonstrated strengths use
positively relates to life satisfaction (e.g., Emmons & McCullough, 2003; Forest et al., 2012;
Linley et al., 2010; Proctor et al., 2011a). The link between these two constructs has been clearly
established across a host of studies. A concern that this manuscript addresses is why and for
whom this relation exists.
To address our second hypothesis, initial mediation results supported our hypothesis that
self-esteem partially mediates the relation between strengths use and life satisfaction. These
findings corroborate results from other studies that strengths use is positively related to self-
esteem and leads to greater self-esteem over time (Govindji & Linley, 2007; Minhas, 2010;
Proctor et al., 2011a; Wood et al., 2011). Our results also echo the well-established notion that
self-esteem has a strong, positive association with life satisfaction (Chen et al., 2006; Diener &
Diener, 1995; Diener et al., 1985; Joshanloo & Afshari, 2011; Lucas et al., 1996; Zhang, 2005;
Zhang & Leung, 2002). A potential reason for the mediation found in the present study is that
strengths use may facilitate individuals feeling good about themselves, which contributes to
increased levels of self-esteem and in turn results in one being more satisfied with life. However,
this mediation effect must be taken in light of our mediation analysis being run on cross-
sectional data, a matter discussed in more detail in our limitations section.
Another goal of the current study was to explore positive affect as a moderator of the
strengths use-self-esteem and self-esteem-life satisfaction links. In order to examine this
potential moderating effect, we examined the life satisfaction and positive affect components of
subjective well-being separately; this methodology is in line with recommendations of several
scholars (e.g., Diener et al., 2003; Lucas et al., 1996; Pavot & Diener, 1993). Our MODMED
analysis revealed that positive affect moderated the self-esteem-life satisfaction link; this link
was significant only for individuals with low to moderate levels of positive affect. This finding
mirrors results from a previous gratitude intervention study in which individuals low in positive
affect experienced higher gains in subjective well-being than individuals with high positive
affect (Froh et al., 2009). A possible explanation for our moderation effect is that those with high
positive affect are less likely to experience emotional gains from the presence of high self-
esteem, but for those with moderate to little positive affect, self-esteem will have a larger impact.
People with high positive affect already tend to feel good about themselves, so the effect of
increased self-esteem may be negligible. However, for individuals who experience low or
moderate levels of positive emotions, good feelings that accompany increased self-esteem
(perhaps as a function of strength use) may more substantially increase satisfaction with life.
This is the first study to date to find positive affect to function in such a manner and is a finding
that should be further explored by future researchers.
In general, findings of this study indicate that individuals who use their strengths
experience greater levels of life satisfaction. Furthermore, this relation is mediated by self-
esteem, and the path between self-esteem and life satisfaction is moderated by low and moderate
levels of positive affect. These results add to the existing literature on strengths use; to date this
is the first study to explore the role of self-esteem as a mediator and positive affect as a
moderator in relation to strengths use and life satisfaction. The present study addresses a major
gap in the current positive psychology literature; whereas the correlational link between strengths
use and life satisfaction has been well-established, this is one of the first studies to examine some
of the intricacies of this relation.
Limitations and Future Directions
The present study had several limitations that are noteworthy. First, this study was cross-
sectional, and thus, causal relations could not be determined from our data. Relatedly, a second
limitation concerns the methodology utilized, as scholars have become increasingly concerned
with mediation analysis conducted on cross-sectional data due to the fact that mediation effects
revealed in cross-sectional studies may be non-significant with longitudinal data (Maxwell &
Cole, 2007; Maxwell, Cole, & Mitchell, 2011). Thus, it is possible that the mediation found in
the present study is a biased estimate. However, Wood et al., (2011) utilized longitudinal
research methodology and demonstrated that strengths use leads to greater self-esteem over time.
Furthermore, temporal precedence for the arrangement of self-esteem and life satisfaction has
been established by past longitudinal studies that have demonstrated the predictive ability of self-
esteem on life satisfaction (Liu, Shen, Xu, & Gao, 2013; Ye, Yu, & Li, 2012). Despite these
findings buttressing the arrangement of the constructs in our model, conclusions from this study
should be considered tentative until replicated with longitudinal data.
A third limitation was the small sample size that was largely female and comprised solely
of undergraduate students from the United States. Studies focusing on racial/ethnic differences
and varying socioeconomic statuses would be helpful in establishing the generalizability of these
findings. Fourth, our study employed a self-report measure of strengths use. Individuals may not
always accurately report their use of strengths. Efforts should be made to use other measures
coupled with self-report measures to obtain more accurate data. Lastly, further research is needed
to confirm the psychometric properties of the Strengths Use Scale (SUS) to provide support for
the findings of this study and those of Govindji and Linley (2007). Although Proctor et al.
(2011a) and Wood et al. (2011) have found the SUS to have strong internal consistency, test-
retest reliability, and good criterion validity, the scale is still relatively new and is in need of
more confirmation of the psychometric properties.
The results of the current study open several avenues of potential research. First, we
tested one potential mediator of strengths use and life satisfaction, but it is likely that there are
several other theoretically grounded mediators that may also account for these relations. Some
possible mediators may include (but are not limited to) job satisfaction, relationship satisfaction,
perceptions of meaning in life, and flow experiences. A useful study would employ a multiple
mediator approach that explored the relation of strengths use to life satisfaction as mediated by
the noted variables. Such a study would provide evidence on why one should utilize their
strengths in all domains of life.
Another unique finding of the present study was that positive affect moderated the self-
esteem-life satisfaction link in our model, such that individuals with low to moderate levels of
positive affected experienced stronger relations. Future studies testing additional mediators
should also examine positive affect as a potential moderator, as the construct is of clear
importance. By examining the positive affect and life satisfaction components of subjective well-
being independently, we were able to assess the unique contribution of each variable. We suggest
that scholars employ a similar approach and assess the components of subjective well-being
separately when examining constructs similar to those in the present study.
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Table 1
Descriptive Statistics and Correlations (N =224)
1. Satisfaction with life
2. Positive affect
3. Strengths use
4. Self-esteem
Standard Deviation
Note. All correlations are significant at the .01 level.
Table 2
Moderated mediation analysis for positive affect moderating self-esteem’s mediation of strengths
use and life satisfaction
Strengths use
Positive affect
Strengths use X Positive
Dependent variable model
Positive affect
Self-esteem X Positive affect
Positive affect score
(a1 +a3W)b1
Note. SD = standard deviation; SE = standard error. The conditional indirect effect is calculated
(a1 +a3W)b1 where a1 the path from strengths use to self-esteem, a3 is the path from the
interaction of life satisfaction and positive affect to self-esteem, W is positive affect, and b1 is the
path from self-esteem to life satisfaction.
Figure 1. Moderated mediation model examining the moderating effect of positive affect on the
mediation of strengths use and life satisfaction by self-esteem.
Figure 2. The interaction of Self-Esteem and Positive Affect on Life Satisfaction
... As a result, strengths as a singular variable may not be associated with life satisfaction, as hypothesised in this study. In addition, research indicates that additional factors, such as self-esteem (Douglass & Duffy, 2015) and self-image (Yoo & Lee, 2022), influence the relationship between strengths use and life satisfaction, especially within the unique context of students. ...
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Orientation: This study investigated the presence and significance of the relationships between proactive behaviour towards strengths use (PBSU) and proactive behaviour towards deficit improvement (PBDI) and study demands, study resources and important student outcomes.Research purpose: To determine how students’ PBSU and PBDI relate to study demands, study resources, and student outcomes.Motivation for the study: This study aims to provide universities with insights into how study demands and resources affect students’ proactive behaviour to use their strengths and deficits, as well as the impact of these behaviours on student outcomes.Research approach/design and method: This study used a cross-sectional quantitative research approach with 511 participants from three campuses in a South African university. Correlation coefficients were calculated, and structural equation modelling was used to examine regression weights in the structural model.Main findings: PBSU and PBDI showed significant relationships with most study-related demands, resources, and outcomes. Overall, strengths use was stronger related to pace and amount of work, cognitive demands and family support, whereas deficit improvement had a stronger relationship with lecturer support, life satisfaction, satisfaction with studies and intention to drop out.Practical/managerial implications: Knowledge of the relationship between PBSU and PBDI and important student variables may aid HEIs in incorporating these behaviours into student support initiatives as a strategic imperative to enhance student success and graduate employability.Contribution/value-add: This study contributes to limited research on PBSU and PBDI among first-year students in South African universities and the Human Resource Management field in general.
... It appears that those with high self-esteem are more likely to be able to follow their OVP and to have greater knowledge of their strengths and more con dence in using them [30]. For example, Judge and Hurst [37]found that individuals with higher levels of CSE are particularly adept at capitalizing on their own advantages to achieve economic success; two dimensions of CSE, namely, self-e cacy and selfesteem, have been shown to positively relate to strength use [41,58 ]. However, the variable was strengths knowledge rather than strength use, and the respondents were adolescents rather than employees, which are two innovations of this study. ...
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Design The current study focuses on the chain mediating roles of core self-evaluations (CSE) and strengths knowledge in the relationship between family functioning and positive coping styles (PCS) and the moderating role of strengths knowledge in the relationship between family functioning and negative coping styles (NCS). Methods A total of 2746 (560 boys, 2186 girls) Chinese adolescents participated in this research. These participants completed the Family Functioning Assessment Scale, CSE scale, Strengths knowledge Scale and Simple Coping Scale. Models 1 and 6 of Process were used in SPSS 25 to investigate moderation and mediation roles. Results According to the results of the study, on the positive dimension, family functioning positively predicted PCS, with CSE and strengths knowledge formed a chain mediation. CSE and strengths knowledge were partial mediators. On the negative dimension, the direct effect of family functioning on NCS was not significant, but it was indirectly influenced through chain mediation of CSE and strengths knowledge. So CSE and strengths knowledge were full mediators. Moreover, there was a moderating role of strengths knowledge between family functioning and NCS. Simply put: family functioning effectively reduced application of NCS as increase of strengths knowledge. In addition, a new model was constructed, excluding family functioning, and it was found that strengths knowledge had a "masking effect" in mediating between CSE and NCS. Conclusions Family functioning and CSE as well as strengths knowledge are protective factors for adolescents’ coping styles. Family is an important source of support for adolescents. Family members, especially parents, must be suitable strength coaches for children. Based on intrinsic aspirations, a good attachment relationship can promote individuals’ CSE and strengths knowledge. But we should pay attention to "Things will develop in the opposite direction when they become extreme." Strengths knowledge is not the higher the better, too much strengths knowledge can lead to too much NCS. By family members optimizing the ecological system and functioning of family, adolescents can optimize their coping styles.
... A growing body of research has emphasized the importance of well-being and life satisfaction in positive psychology (e.g., Douglass & Duffy, 2015;Pocinho et al., 2022). Life satisfaction refers to how a person feels about his/her life experiences in general (Diener et al., 1985), which is recognized as one of the most important factors that determine how physically and mentally healthy adolescents are (Proctor et al., 2009). ...
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Research has documented a bidirectional relationship between forgiveness and self-control, influencing adolescent satisfaction with life. However, the potential psycho-social mechanisms underpinning this association remain nebulous. In that study, two hypothetical models were compared to disentangle the unique role of forgiveness and self-control independently on life satisfaction. Four hundred and forty-eight adolescents completed a multisection questionnaire. After controlling for age and gender, results showed: (a) Forgiveness, rumination, and self-control are significantly associated with life satisfaction among Chinese adolescents; (b) Rumination and self-control played serial mediating roles in the association between forgiveness and life satisfaction in Model A; (c) Rumination and forgiveness serially mediated the relationship between self-control and life satisfaction in Model B; (d) Furthermore, the total effect of self-control on life satisfaction was stronger than that of forgiveness on life satisfaction. This study provides a new entry point for the unique mechanisms between self-control/ forgiveness and life satisfaction, which has important practical implications for developing effective interventions to improve life satisfaction among adolescents.
... Previous research related to positive psychology has indicated that SU is linked positively with life satisfaction (Douglass & Duffy, 2015;Mandapuram, 2016;Allan & Duffy, 2014), life quality (Proctor et al., 2011), self-esteem (Wood et al., 2011) and psychological well-being (Govindji & Linley, 2007). Nevertheless, studies have yet to be conducted in a working context. ...
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Proactive behavior helps an individual in improving the work setting. Based on the JD-R theory and Borden and build approach, this research proposes and tests a serial mediation relating the strengths used with proactive behavior sequentially through work authenticity and self-resilience. A sample of 256 employees of hospitals in Bangladesh was approached in three-time lags. The Process Marco of Preacher and Hayes was applied to investigate the proposed hypotheses. The indirect effects of the proposed hypotheses were measured by applying the bootstrap procedure. The results showed that work authenticity mediated the relation among strengths use and self-resilience, self-resilience mediated the association between work-authenticity and proactive behavior, and work-authenticity and self-resilience sequentially judged the connection between forces use and assertive behavior. Through an investigation of self-resilience, the outcomes provide proof supporting combining the JD-R and Borden and building theories in the research stream. Future research should add potential moderators that can impact the paths and apply longitudinal design to permit solid causal relationships. Considering the role of work authenticity and self-resilience in positive psychology, organizations must stimulate employees to become more authentic and self-resilient on the job. This increases proactive behavior and leads to the success of an organization.
... Theoretically, this is possible among young adults who utilise their strengths . Studies quoted by Minhas, Proctor, Maltby and Linley in a research conducted by Douglass and Duffy suggested that employees who can utilise their strengths are found to report higher levels of self-esteem (Douglass & Duffy, 2015). Research has further revealed that self-esteem serves as an important predictor of an employee's career adaptability (Cai et al., 2015). ...
... Although research on strengths knowledge and use is still in its childhood, the number of studies examining its association with related outcomes in different settings (i.e., life, education, and work) is increasing (Niemiec, 2018;Duan et al., 2019). From a general 'life' perspective, the identification and use of character strengths can lead, among others, to higher levels of psychological well-being (Niemiec, 2019), life satisfaction (Douglass and Duffy, 2015), and mental health (Duan, 2016). The strengthsbased approach is also emerging in the organizational context. ...
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Introduction Research in the field of work and organizational psychology increasingly highlights the role of meaningful work as a protector of well-being at work. This study tests the role of strengths knowledge and use as new pathways through which meaningful work may have a positive effect on work engagement and mental health. Methods Study 1 and Study 2 report the validation of the Spanish Strengths Use and Knowledge Scales respectively, with samples of N = 617 (Study 1) and N = 365 (Study 2) employees. Study 3 tests the mediating effects of strengths use and knowledge in a model with different work-related constructs in another sample of N = 798 employees. Results Findings from Studies 1 and 2 indicate that the instruments offer adequate evidence of reliability and validity. Results from Study 3 revealed that strengths knowledge is a mediator in the relationship between meaningful work and strengths use. Findings also confirmed the mediating roles of strengths use in the relationship between meaningful work and work engagement, and between meaningful work and mental health. Discussion This study highlights the ability to be aware of and apply signature strengths as effective and novel pathways to foster well-being at work through the cultivation of meaningful work.
... Therefore, OC is positively related to performance and can improve employee performance (Saad & Abbas, 2018). OC is able to increase employee engagement in the organization so that they feel satisfied to be in it (Douglas & Duffy, 2015 ...
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Purpose: The objective of this study was to re-examined the relationship of job satisfaction, organizational culture and employee performance. Theoretical framework: There were several studies that examine the relationship between organizational culture, job satisfaction, and employee performance. The employee performance is a consequence of organizational culture and employee job satisfaction. The relationship between the three variables is not surprising, especially the relationship between the two types of performance measures, in-role performance (IRP) and extra-role performance (ERP). Design/methodology/approach: This study aims to re-examine the relationship and influence job satisfaction (JS), organizational culture (OC), in-role performance (IRP), and extra-role performance (ERP) using 376 employees who work in several micro, small and medium scale manufacturing companies in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The factor analysis was used to test the validity, and Cronbach’ Alpha for reliability of the instrument. The structural equation modeling was used to test the relationship model. Findings: The results of this study revealed that JS is a variable that is not related to the other three variables and does not influence either IRP or ERP. This study found that JS is related to and influenced by the organizational culture (OC) adopted. This study strengthened the findings of previous studies that OC is one of the important factors to improve employee performance. Research, Practical & Social implications: Small Medium Enterprises must strengthen organizational culture in order to increase job satisfaction and employee performance, both IRP and ERP. The use of longitudinal data needs to be used to test the mediation of the model. Other raters also need to be used to assess employee performance and eliminate common method variances. Originality/value: Job satisfaction is not always an independent variable as in many studies but can be a consequence of individual internal and external factors.
Counseling and guidance in the university context have been focused on understanding the educational–professional trajectories in the admission, permanence, and abandonment of students. Research in this context has shown a growing interest in exploring the relationships between elements of affectivity and learning. Therefore, this chapter contemplates three objectives: (1) characterize the research published in the international literature on character strengths and their link with well-being and psychoeducational variables in universities, (2) analyze the good practices implemented by universities in Latin America to develop a healthy character, and (3) propose guidelines based on character strengths for the improvement of well-being and promotion of learning in university. To meet the objectives, a systematic review of the scientific literature was carried out under the PRISMA guidelines, and 44 investigations were identified on character strengths linked to well-being and psychoeducational variables. It describes the good practices implemented by the TecMilenio University and the Universidad del Siglo XX1, as well as other experiences carried out in Latin America. Based on the evidence presented, guidelines are proposed to promote the identification, empowerment, and implementation of character strengths as a variable that promotes multidimensional well-being in the university context and improves the academic and professional experience.KeywordsStrengths of characterWell-beingPsychological orientationUniversity students
Purpose: This study aimed to investigate the relationship between adolescents' character strengths and quality of life during the COVID-19 lockdown and to further explore the role of strengths use and perceived threats. Method: A total of 804 adolescents from Wuhan, China were recruited to complete an online survey. The data collection was conducted between April and May 2020, during the lockdown of Wuhan due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in the suspension of school attendance for adolescents and the transition to online teaching. Mini Quality of Life Enjoyment and Satisfaction Questionnaire (Mini-Q-LES-Q) was used to measure adolescents' quality of life, while their character strengths, strengths use, and perceived threats were measured using the Three-Dimensional Inventory of Character Strengths (TICS), the Chinese version Strengths Use Scale (SUS) and Perceived threats of COVID-19 questionnaire. Results: The results of the study indicated that adolescents' character strengths could positively affect their quality of life, and strengths use played a partially mediating role, while the moderating effect of perceived threats was not significant. Discussion and conclusions: In the face of persistent pandemic effects or other similar stressful events in the future, the development of adolescents' character strengths and strengths use can effectively improve adolescents' quality of life, which provides a theoretical reference for future social work intervention.
Objectives: To test whether contagious depressive symptoms mediate the association between spousal depressive symptoms (spousal-DS) and the other spouse's cognitive function, and test the moderated mediation of social activities engagement and sleep quality. Study design: A total of 3,230 adults aged ≥60 and one of his/her close relatives were interviewed in 2016 in Xiamen, China. Methods: Cognitive function and depressive symptoms were measured by MoCA and GDS-15/CES-D-10, respectively. Social activities engagement and sleep quality were self-reported. Mediation and moderated mediation were tested by PROCESS macro with 5000 bootstrapping re-samples. Result: Among all, 1,193 pairs were husband-wife with complete information and were included. The mean ages of older adults and their spouses were 68.35 ± 6.53 and 66.53 ± 7.91 years, respectively. The mean MoCA and GDS-15 scores for older adults were 22.21 ± 5.45 and 1.73 ± 2.17, respectively. The average score of CES-D-10 for spouses was 14.18 ± 4.77. Spousal-DS were associated with cognitive functions of older adults via the contagious depressive symptoms (indirect effect: -0.048, 95% confidence interval (CI): (-0.075, -0.028)). Such mediation can be buffered by attending social activities (interaction: -0.062, 95% CI: (-0.111, -0.013)) and improving sleep quality (interaction: -0.034, 95% CI: (-0.057, -0.012)). Conclusion: Cognitive function of older adults was associated with his/her spouse's depressive symptoms, and the association was mediated by contagious depressive symptoms and moderated by social activities as well as sleep quality.
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This paper reviews literature on the structure of subjective well-being, and examines the support for a number of proposed well-being dimensions. It is considered that a distinction between cognitive and affective dimensions is conceptually useful, but poorly researched. Clear support, however, is available for a distinction between positive and negative affective dimensions, as well as for a general second-order dimension of subjective well-being. Proposals for a distinction between inner and outer dimensions of well-being are considered promising but speculative at present. Although the intensity and frequency of affective experience are clearly distinct, it is considered that affect intensity should not be regarded as a dimension of well-being. Three issues related to the dimensionality of well-being, the time focus of assessment, attempts at cross-classification of dimensions, and research on the stability of well-being structure, are also discussed. Although considerable research into subjective well-being exists, the structure of well-being is not yet well established or researched.
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Objective: In recent years there has been a growing interest in research related to the use of strengths. Although results from past research have consistently suggested that the use of strengths is associated with higher performance and greater well-being there is, as yet, no clear theory describing how using strengths might contribute to greater well-being or goal progress. The objective of the current research was to test a model of how strengths use may support performance and well-being through an extension of the self-concordance model of healthy goal attainment. Design: We test a repeated measures cross-sectional model in which using signature strengths is associated with goal progress, which is in turn associated with the fulfilment of psychological needs, and in turn well-being. Method: Participants were 240 college students who completed measures of psychological strengths, need satisfaction, well-being, goal progress and goal attainment at three time points over a three-month period. Results: Our results demonstrate that strengths use is associated with better goal progress, which is in turn associated with psychological need fulfilment and enhanced well-being. Conclusions: Strengths use provides a key support in the attainment of goals, and leads to greater need satisfaction and well-being, providing an extension of the self-concordance model of healthy goal attainment. Implications for practice and future research are discussed.
The effect of a grateful outlook on psychological and physical well-being was examined. In Studies 1 and 2, participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 experimental conditions (hassles, gratitude listing, and either neutral life events or social comparison); they then kept weekly (Study 1) or daily (Study 2) records of their moods, coping behaviors, health behaviors, physical symptoms, and overall life appraisals. In a 3rd study, persons with neuromuscular disease were randomly assigned to either the gratitude condition or to a control condition. The gratitude-outlook groups exhibited heightened well-being across several, though not all, of the outcome measures across the 3 studies, relative to the comparison groups. The effect on positive affect appeared to be the most robust finding. Results suggest that a conscious focus on blessings may have emotional and interpersonal benefits.
The present study examined three fundamental components contributing to life satisfaction among Chinese college students - who you are, how you conceive of yourself, and how you understand the world in which you function. To account for life satisfaction beyond self-esteem, we used two comprehensive measures of personality and social beliefs that have recently established their cross-cultural applicability: the Cross-Cultural Personality Assessment Inventory and the Social Axioms Survey. It was found that the personality variables tapping interpersonal relationship and social axioms tapping perceptions of social contexts were significantly related to life satisfaction over and above its relationship to self-esteem. These and other constructs were discussed as emic and possibly pancultural contributors to subjective well-being.
The literature on subjective well-being (SWB), including happiness, life satisfaction, and positive affect, is reviewed in three areas: measurement, causal factors, and theory. Psychometric data on single-item and multi-item subjective well-being scales are presented, and the measures are compared. Measuring various components of subjective well-being is discussed. In terms of causal influences, research findings on the demographic correlates of SWB are evaluated, as well as the findings on other influences such as health, social contact, activity, and personality. A number of theoretical approaches to happiness are presented and discussed: telic theories, associationistic models, activity theories, judgment approaches, and top-down versus bottom-up conceptions.