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Strengths deployment as a mood-repair mechanism: Evidence from a diary study with a relationship exercise group

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Character strengths represent positive durable attributes of individuals, and their deployment is hypothesized to positively affect mood and well-being. Furthermore, strengths deployment may serve as a mood-repair strategy which promotes growth. Close relationships, being potential facilitators of personal growth, were hypothesized to amplify these two effects. These hypotheses were examined in a quasi-experimental diary study. Participants (N = 150) completed daily measures of strengths deployment and mood. They were randomly assigned to a relationship-exercise condition (writing a daily note to a loved one), or to one of two control conditions. Previous-day strengths deployment was associated with more positive daily mood, and previous-day adverse mood predicted increased strengths deployment. The first effect seemed to be somewhat stronger in the relationship-exercise condition. These results highlight positive daily effect of strengths deployment, demonstrate the use of strengths to combat adverse mood, and suggest that close relationships enhance the positive effects of strengths deployment.
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Strengths deployment as a mood-repair mechanism:
Evidence from a diary study with a relationship
exercise group
Shiri Lavya, Hadassah Littman-Ovadiab & Yariv Barelib
a Department of Leadership and Policy in Education, University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel
b Department of Behavioral Sciences, Ariel University, Ariel, Israel
Published online: 14 Jul 2014.
To cite this article: Shiri Lavy, Hadassah Littman-Ovadia & Yariv Bareli (2014) Strengths deployment as a mood-repair
mechanism: Evidence from a diary study with a relationship exercise group, The Journal of Positive Psychology: Dedicated to
furthering research and promoting good practice, 9:6, 547-558, DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2014.936963
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17439760.2014.936963
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Strengths deployment as a mood-repair mechanism: Evidence from a diary study with a
relationship exercise group
Shiri Lavy
a
*, Hadassah Littman-Ovadia
b
and Yariv Bareli
b
a
Department of Leadership and Policy in Education, University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel;
b
Department of Behavioral Sciences,
Ariel University, Ariel, Israel
(Received 19 June 2013; accepted 21 May 2014)
Character strengths represent positive durable attributes of individuals, and their deployment is hypothesized to positively
affect mood and well-being. Furthermore, strengths deployment may serve as a mood-repair strategy which promotes
growth. Close relationships, being potential facilitators of personal growth, were hypothesized to amplify these two
effects. These hypotheses were examined in a quasi-experimental diary study. Participants (N= 150) completed daily
measures of strengths deployment and mood. They were randomly assigned to a relationship-exercise condition (writing
a daily note to a loved one), or to one of two control conditions. Previous-day strengths deployment was associated with
more positive daily mood, and previous-day adverse mood predicted increased strengths deployment. The rst effect
seemed to be somewhat stronger in the relationship-exercise condition. These results highlight positive daily effect of
strengths deployment, demonstrate the use of strengths to combat adverse mood, and suggest that close relationships
enhance the positive effects of strengths deployment.
Keywords: character strengths; strengths deployment; mood; mood-repair; close relationships; intervention; strength;
personal growth
Most people generally desire to be satised and experi-
ence positive mood in their daily life (Diener, 2000).
Recent studies suggest that daily use of simple cognitive
and behavioral strategies may be one of the most bene-
cial paths to increase well-being (Sin & Lyubomirsky,
2009), while also enhancing positive emotions and a
positive mood (Diener, Sandvik, & Pavot, 1991; Urry
et al., 2004). Accordingly, the predominant body of
recent studies suggests that happiness may be largely
subjected to individualscontrol, through the activities
they choose and by the ways they construe and respond
to situations in their lives (Lyubomirsky, Sheldon, &
Schkade, 2005). Character strengths positive psycho-
logical attributes reecting various aspects of human ful-
llment (Peterson & Seligman, 2004)capture those
qualities that are best about people and capture their
potential to achieve well-being, including positive affect
(Peterson & Seligman, 2004). Thus, character-strengths
deployment can be regarded as a means of enabling ful-
llment and growth as well as promoting positive mood
(in the short term), and promoting life satisfaction (in the
long term). The positive effects of close relationships on
well-being (e.g. Ryan & Deci, 2001) and functioning
(Feeney & Collins, 2014; Wekerle, Waechter, & Chung,
2011) are hypothesized to be related to (and perhaps
result from) their enhancement of character-strengths
deployment.
In the present study, we focused on character-
strengths deployment as a mechanism for enhancing
positive daily mood, which can also be applied strategi-
cally to repair adverse moods. We further explored close
relationships as a factor which may enhance the positive
effect of strengths deployment on mood, and the use of
strengths deployment to repair adverse moods.
Character strengths
Character strengths have been extensively studied by
Peterson and Seligman (2004), who also developed a
classication of character strengths called values in
action, based on a comprehensive literature review and
professional consensus. This classication comprises 24
character strengths, each related to one of six broader
virtues: (a) creativity, curiosity, open-mindedness, love of
learning, and perspective all related to the virtue of
wisdom and knowledge; (b) bravery, integrity, persis-
tence, and zest related to the virtue of courage; (c)
kindness, love, and social intelligence related to the
virtue of humanity; (d) fairness, leadership, and team-
work related to justice; (e) forgiveness, modesty, pru-
dence, and self-regulation related to temperance; and
(f ) appreciation of beauty, gratitude, hope, humor, and
spirituality related to transcendence.
*Corresponding author. Email: shirilavy@gmail.com
© 2014 Taylor & Francis
The Journal of Positive Psychology, 2014
Vol. 9, No. 6, 547558, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17439760.2014.936963
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These character strengths were argued to be the basis
for individualsgreatest accomplishments, life satisfac-
tion, and positive affect (Seligman, 2012). Empirical
examination of this idea has shown that, indeed, the
endorsement of character strengths was associated with
life satisfaction for almost all strengths (with the excep-
tions of three of the 24 strengths: appreciation of beauty,
creativity, and modesty), and that the relationship
between strengths and life satisfaction was monotonic
(i.e. having extremely high scores for any given strength
did not diminish life satisfaction; Littman-Ovadia &
Lavy, 2012; Park, Peterson, & Seligman, 2004; Ruch
et al., 2010). In addition, peoples overall levels of char-
acter strengths were positively related to satisfaction with
the past (Peterson & Seligman, 2004), optimism about
the future (Duckworth, Steen, & Seligman, 2005), and
meaning in life (Littman-Ovadia & Steger, 2010).
Beyond the value for well-being of seeing oneself as
possessing character strengths, one of the central ideas in
character-strengths theory is their deployment in daily
situations (Littman-Ovadia & Steger, 2010). Peterson and
Seligman (2004) argued that character strengths can be
deployed in mundane ways on a daily basis in life, and
their deployment increases individualssense of well-
being and fulllment. This statement has received initial
empirical support in a study associating strengths deploy-
ment at work with employeesand volunteerslife satis-
faction and job satisfaction (Littman-Ovadia & Steger,
2010). Additional support has been gained from studies
demonstrating the positive effects of deploying specic
strengths. For example, keeping a daily record of grati-
tude-inducing experiences lead to increased well-being in
the short term and long term (Emmons & McCullough,
2003; see Wood, Froh, & Geraghty, 2010, for a review),
and exercising hope/optimism on a daily basis was asso-
ciated with decreased pessimism, negative affect, and
emotional exhaustion (Littman-Ovadia & Nir, 2014).
Along similar lines, performing acts of kindness boosted
participantsperceived autonomy or choice, which, in turn,
predicted increases in their happiness and decreases in
negative affect (Della Porta, Jacobs Bao, & Lyubomirsky,
2012), and practicing meditation of loving kindness
(Carson et al., 2005; Fredrickson, Cohn, Coffey, Pek, &
Finkel, 2008) was associated with increased well-being
and decreased levels of pain and distress.
The mechanisms which underlie the positive effect of
strengths deployment on well-being have not been fully
understood to date (e.g. see Emmons and Mishra (2011)
for suggestions related to a specic strength: gratitude).
However, the increase of positive affect (along with the
related antecedents of positive affect) which follows
strengths deployment, are one of the common hypothe-
sized reasons for the enhancement of well-being. For
example, Lyubomirsky, Dickerhoof, Boehm, and Sheldon
(2011) cited positive events that occur over the course of
strengths deployment, as well as the satisfaction of sig-
nicant human needs, as possible mediators underlying
gains in well-being, and Dickerhoof (2007) suggested
that strengths deployment increases satisfying
experiences.
These ndings, indicating that deployment of a spe-
cic strength can decrease adverse emotional states and
increase positive emotional states, set the ground for a
broader examination of the effects of deployment of multi-
ple strengths. The single-related study (Littman-Ovadia &
Steger, 2010), which explored general strengths deploy-
ment effects (i.e. deployment of all 24 strengths) in a
cross-sectional survey, indicated the association of deploy-
ment of multiple strengths with well-being and provided
initial support for the suggested positive effect.
Thus, the rst goal of the present study was to
empirically examine the effects of strengths deployment
as a general construct (without focusing on a specic
strength). We aimed to learn about the direct effect of
deployment of strengths as an aggregate of all that is
good about humans (Peterson & Seligman, 2004). In an
attempt to avoid cognitive bias related to individuals
generalization of their experiences, and to capture what
individuals actually experience in situ (Schwartz,
Kahneman, & Xu, 2009), we chose to focus on
strengths-deployment effects on general mood a simple
variable which can vary daily. Our rst hypothesis was:
H1: Deployment of character strengths on one day will
increase positive mood on the following day.
Moreover, if strengths deployment proves to have a posi-
tive effect on mood, it has the potential of serving as a
mechanism for combating negative mood a mood-repair
strategy. The motivation to avoid adverse mood and
enhance positive mood is considered universal (Larsen,
2000). Studies have demonstrated peoples use of various
strategies to repair their mood, with some strategies
known to be more effective than others, and some more
adaptive than others (Larsen, 2000; Larsen & Diener
1987; Morris & Reilly, 1987; Zelenski & Larsen, 1999).
If our rst hypothesis is supported, it will suggest that
strengths deployment can be an effective mood-repair
strategy, because it promotes a more positive mood. And
since character strengths represent positive attributes hav-
ing the potential to contribute to individuals and their
environment (Peterson & Seligman, 2004), strengths
deployment can also be considered an adaptive mood-
repair strategy, as it facilitates individualspersonal
growth, for their own benet and for the benet of others
in their environment (Peterson & Seligman, 2004).
The use of strengths for the aim of mood repair has
not been assessed previously. Thus, the second goal of
this study was to examine the use of strengths deploy-
ment as a mood-repair strategy. Specically, if strengths
548 S. Lavy et al.
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deployment functions as a mood-repair strategy, people
will tend to apply their strengths more when experienc-
ing a more adverse mood. Hence, we hypothesized that:
H2: Experiencing an adverse mood (low mood) on a cer-
tain day will increase deployment of character strengths
on the following day.
Close relationships a potential moderator
The effects of positive activities (Lyubomirsky et al.,
2011) such as strengths deployment, as well as the use
of more effective and adaptive mood-repair strategies
(Josephson, Singer, & Salovey, 1996), are inuenced by
various factors in individualsenvironment. Among these
factors, close relationships are among the most inuential
in various life domains. In this section, we argue that
close relationships can enhance the positive effects of
strengths deployment and increase the use of strengths
deployment as a strategy for mood-repair.
Close relationships which can be broadly dened
as the perceived or actual closeness or support one
receives from at least one other individual have been
associated with better health (Loving & Slatcher, 2013),
well-being (Ryan & Deci, 2001), and functioning
(Wekerle et al., 2011). Individuals involved in relation-
ships demonstrated a greater capacity to cope with dif-
culties and overcome physical and psychological hurdles
than individuals who were not in relationships (e.g.
Younger, Aron, Parke, Chatterjee, & Mackey, 2010).
These positive effects were most often examined in con-
texts of romantic relationships (e.g. Loving & Slatcher,
2013), but several studies cite positive effects of other
close relationships, such as nonromantic friendships (e.g.
Demir, Orthel, & Andelin, 2013) and close sibling
relationships (Bank, Patterson, & Reid, 1996), on well-
being, happiness, and growth.
However, despite the robustness and consistency of
the positive effects of close relationships, empirical evi-
dence regarding the mechanisms underlying these effects
is existent, but still lacking. One line of evidence, focus-
ing on the positive association between close relation-
ships and well-being, shows that relationships and
relationship-related phenomena moderate (or buffer) pro-
cesses which decrease well-being. For example, social
support was identied as a moderator of the negative
effects of stress on well-being and on various health
indicators (e.g. Cobb, 1976), and partner support moder-
ated the negative effects of a disease on self-image and
experienced pain (Kudel, Edwards, Raja, Haythornthwa-
ite, & Heinberg, 2008). Saphire-Bernstein and Taylors
(2013) review also highlight the role of social support
and its salutary effects on mental and physical health,
but add the human need to belong, and the importance
of intimacy.
Along similar lines, several studies demonstrate the
role of a secure relationship with a signicant other in
moderating negative effects of stress (e.g. Davidovitz,
Mikulincer, Shaver, Izsak, & Popper, 2007; see Mikulincer
& Shaver, 2007 for a review) and of conict (Feeney &
Cassidy, 2003), and the role of internal representations of
such secure relationships in facilitating individualsability
to develop adaptive emotion regulation strategies. In this
regard, relational regulation theory (RRT; Lakey &
Orehek, 2011) poses even more specic suggestions about
the mechanism underlying the positive effects of relation-
ships on mental health, and proposes that people regulate
their affect, thought, and action through ordinary yet affec-
tively consequential conversations and shared activities
with others (Lakey & Orehek, 2011). However, research-
ers assume that there are additional mechanisms, which
have not been broadly studied, which underlie the associa-
tion between relationships and happiness, and have yet to
be explored (Saphire-Bernstein & Taylor, 2013).
But as stated above, relationships are hypothesized to
facilitate well-being not only by buffering negative
affect, but also by promoting personal growth and
enhancing other desirable outcomes. The role of relation-
ships and relationship-related phenomena in enhancing
such outcomes has been increasingly studied in the last
few decades. For example, spouse secure-base behavior
(availability, encouragement, and non-intrusiveness) has
been shown to facilitate exploration behavior and goal
strivings (Feeney, 2004; Feeney & Thrush, 2010). In this
context, Mikulincer and Shaver (2013) convincingly
argue that even insecure adults who have a secure rela-
tionship partner, in either marriage or psychotherapy, can
become more secure, and improve their well-being.
Another example is Gable and colleagueswork on capi-
talization support (Gable, Reis, Impett, & Asher, 2004)
which demonstrates the potential benets of sharing
positive events in ordinary social interactions with
friends. When the close other responds in an active and
constructive manner to the positive shared information,
the discloser experiences increased subjective well-being,
and self-esteem, and decreased loneliness (Gable &
Reis, 2010).
The present study attempts to advance the under-
standing of relationshipsrole in enhancing personal
desirable outcomes, and to provide initial insight into a
specic mechanism through which relationships may
promote personal growth and fulllment. We investigated
the impact of a two-week relationship-exercise interven-
tion on the association of daily deployment of strengths
with participantsmood on the following day: We asked
individuals in the experimental group to write a daily
note to someone that they love, regarding their apprecia-
tion of the relationship. This intervention was intended
to evoke daily reminders of a meaningful close
relationship, and of the love they feel and receive. Daily
The Journal of Positive Psychology 549
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reminders of close relationships may amplify the positive
effects of character strengths deployment on mood (gen-
erating positive mood), by highlighting the positive
aspects of this deployment for individualsgrowth and
engagement in life opportunities. Thus, we hypothesized
that a daily relationship exercise would amplify the posi-
tive feelings following strengths deployment by high-
lighting individualspositive, competent self, as reected
in their loved onesperspective (see also Rusbult, Finkel,
& Kumashiro, 2009).
H3: The positive association between previous-day
strengths deployment and daily mood will be amplied
among participants who complete a daily relationship
exercise.
Moreover, if close relationships amplify the positive
effects of daily strengths deployment on mood, individu-
als who enjoy such relationships may be prompted to
increase their daily strengths deployment as a mood-
repair strategy. Thus, close relationships may promote
individualspersonal growth and ourishing by enhanc-
ing their strengths deployment (in order to combat a neg-
ative mood and perhaps in other cases as well).
These ideas correspond with the literature linking
relationships to growth and fulllment (e.g. Feeney &
Collins, 2014; Levenson, Carstensen, & Gottman, 1993),
and may provide insight into a specic path through
which relationships strengthen the tendency to deploy
strengths as a mechanism for improving mood. We aimed
to investigate the contribution of relationships to individu-
alsuse of their personal strengths to repair their mood,
while coping with daily adversity (manifested in negative
daily affect; see Feeney & Collins, 2014 for an elaboration
on this idea). Based on several studies that demonstrated
relationshipscontribution to adopting effective, construc-
tive affect-regulation strategies (see Mikulincer & Shaver,
2007, for a review), and on Bowlbys(1969/1982)
descriptions of relationshipsrole in launching exploration
and development, we suggest that daily reminders of a
relationship with a specic loved one can lead individuals
to increase their daily deployment of character strength,
especially upon encountering adversity.
Another theoretical and empirical base for the role of
relationship in enhancing strengths deployment, as a path
for personal growth, is the Michelangelo phenomenon,
one of the most prominent interpersonal models of how
close partners promote individualspursuit of ideal-self
goals (Drigotas, Rusbult, Wieselquist, & Whitton, 1999).
The idea behind this phenomenon is that the ideal self
comprises the skills, traits, and resources that an individ-
ual ideally endeavors to acquire, providing direction to
personal-growth strivings (Higgins, 1987; Markus &
Nurius, 1986), and the acquisition of new skills, traits,
and resources is shaped by interpersonal experience.
Hence, partner perceptual and behavioral afrmation of
the individuals ideal self helps the individual to move
closer to his or her ideals, and enjoy enhanced personal
well-being (e.g. Drigotas et al., 1999; Rusbult et al.,
2009).
Following Feeney and Collins(2014) theoretical
model for understanding the importance of relationships
in the promotion of thriving through adversity, corre-
sponding to the protective function theoretically attributed
to character strengths (Park, 2004), and based on the
Michelangelo phenomenon, our fourth hypothesis was:
H4: The association between previous-day adverse mood
and increased strengths deployment will be amplied
among participants who complete a daily relationship
exercise.
Finally, to gain a broader understanding of the effects
of our daily relationship intervention, we wanted to
explore the kinds of responses that participants generate
when asked to write a daily note to someone they love.
Therefore, we conducted a content analysis of the items
listed in the intervention condition to identify the various
themes. The aim of the content analysis was twofold.
First, to serve as a manipulation check for the interven-
tion condition; and second, to learn more about the
underlying psychological processes by revealing the
types of themes people elicit upon contemplating a
meaningful relationship with a close other. To the best of
our knowledge, this is the rst study that addresses this
aim in a daily context, in regard to a relationship inter-
vention. Note that Rash, Matsuba, and Prkachin (2011)
did so in the context of a gratitude intervention, and
Littman-Ovadia and Nir (2014) in the context of an
optimism intervention.
Method
Participants
The study included 150 Behavioral Science students
(133 women, 17 men), aged 1834 (M= 22.84, SD =
2.19), who received course credit for their participation.
About half (79) reported being involved in a meaningful
romantic relationship during the study. The time span of
these relationships ranged from 1 to 40 months (Mean =
32 months, Med = 35 months, SD = 25.66).
Measures
Daily strengths deployment was assessed using a 24-item
Hebrew questionnaire (Littman-Ovadia & Steger, 2010),
based on Peterson and Seligmans(
2004) list of character
strengths. The names of the 24 character strengths from
the inventory of strengths were presented (Creativity,
Fairness,Perspective,Leadership) and participants
were requested to indicate the extent to which they
550 S. Lavy et al.
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deployed each of the 24 strengths during the day (e.g. to
what extent have you used the strength creativity
today?). Items were rated on a seven-point scale, ranging
from 1 (very little) to 7 (very much). Daily strengths
deployment was computed for each day by summing all
item scores for that day. (Daily scores ranged from 24 to
168).
Daily mood was assessed using a single question:
How would you describe your mood today? Participants
responded on a scale from 1 (very bad)to7(very good).
Procedure
Students were contacted in class and via an online exper-
iment system, and were invited to participate in the study
for course credit. Those expressing an interest were pro-
vided a detailed explanation of the study, including the
requirement to complete daily online questionnaires over
the course of 14 days. Upon providing their consent,
students were randomly assigned to one of three experi-
mental conditions: participants (N= 50) in the relation-
ship-exercise condition (the experimental condition) were
asked to think about a person that they love, specify
their relationship with that person, and then write a brief
letter to this person, in which you tell him/her that you
love them. You can try to link your love to something
that happened today (not mandatory). (The message was
not forwarded to the relationship-partner).Participants
(N= 50) in the placebo control condition were asked to
write about the daily weather: Think about the weather
today. Try to write a brief description of what the
weather was like today. Participants (N= 50) in the con-
trol condition were not assigned any additional tasks
beyond completing the daily questionnaire. There were
no signicant differences among participants in the three
conditions in gender (χ
2
(2) = 2.12, p= 0.35) or in
romantic relationship status (χ
2
(2) = 0.21, p= 0.90). All
150 participants completed questionnaires assessing daily
strengths deployment and mood.
In the experimental condition, nearly all participants
wrote meaningful notes to their loved ones every day
(only one participant failed to write a note on one day ).
The notes were written in a variety of relational contexts:
most notes were written to a close friend (33% of the
notes: 25% to a same-sex friend, 8% to a friend from the
other sex), to a romantic partner (29% of the notes), or
to a close family member (i.e. mother, 12%; father, 6%;
brother, 7%; or sister, 7%). But some notes were also
addressed to other family members (e.g. grandmother/
grandfather, 2%; aunt/uncle, sister-in-law, or niece,
< 1%), or to a supervisor (< 1%), among others. The
different relational context of the notes did not result in
differences in mood or strengths deployment on the
following day.
1
Participation was monitored online on a daily basis,
and reminders were sent to participants who failed to
complete the survey on a particular day. Participants who
missed a day or two completed an extra day at the end
(to ensure the effect). Participants who missed more than
two days (N= 4) were dismissed from the study.
Results
The variablesmeans and standard deviations for each
experimental group are presented in Table 1. To examine
the research hypotheses, we conducted two-level HLM
analyses, with Level 1 representing the day level (infor-
mation from the daily measures) and Level 2 representing
the participant level. The variables were entered to the
equation uncentered (to maintain scale consistency across
the independent and dependent variables). The HLM
unstandardized coefcients are presented in Tables 2
and 3.
Predicting daily mood
We explored the effects of previous-day strengths
deployment, the experimental condition, and interaction
between previous-day strengths deployment and the
experimental condition, on participantsdaily mood
(hypotheses 1 and 3). Preliminary analyses indicated the
need for HLM analysis in this case, as the interclass cor-
relation coefcient (ICC) of daily strengths deployment
was 0.33 (p< 0.001).
Level 1 predictors included previous-day strengths
deployment, which was entered as an independent
(explanatory) variable, and previous-day mood, which
was entered as a control variable. At Level 2, the experi-
mental condition was entered as an independent factor
(the variable was dummy coded, and the reference group
was the experimental group). The cross-level interaction
between previous-day strengths deployment and the
experimental condition was also entered as a predicting
factor. The following equation summarizes the examined
model:
Mood on the following dayðÞ
¼b0jþb1jStrengths Deploymentij þb2jMoodij
þeij0
b0j¼a0þa1Group þu0j0
b1j¼c0þc1Group
Results (presented in Table 2) supported H1. Type
III tests of xed effects showed that more previous-day
strengths deployment predicted a more positive daily
mood (F(Num, Den) = F(1, 856) = 23.10, p< 0.001).
The effect of the experimental group was also signicant
The Journal of Positive Psychology 551
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(F(2, 619) = 4.15, p< 0.05),
2
as was the cross-level
interaction between previous-day strengths deployment
and the experimental condition (F(2, 839) = 3.62,
p< 0.05), indicating that the effect of previous-day
strengths deployment was qualied by the experimental
condition. The specic equations for the three experi-
mental groups (based on the results presented in Table 2)
were as follows:
(a) The equation for the relationship-exercise con-
dition group:
Mood on the following dayðÞ
¼3:54 þ0:29 Strengths Deployment þ0:07
Mood
Table 1. Means and standard errors of the study variables.
Daily strengths deployment Daily mood
Experimental group Placebo control Empty control Experimental group Placebo control Empty control
Mean 4.38 4.24 4.54 5.22 5.05 5.38
SD 0.09 0.09 0.09 0.10 0.10 0.10
Table 2. HLM coefcients predicting mood on the following day from strengths deployment and experimental group.
Parameter estimates (B) SE df tFValues
Intercept 3.54*** 0.28 787 12.61
Level 1
Strengths deployment 0.29*** 0.06 1035 4.85 23.10***
Mood 0.07** 0.02 1964 4.85 9.52**
Level 2
Condition 4.15*
Condition (Exp. vs. Placebo) 0.35 0.38 619 0.94
Condition (Exp. vs. Empty) 1.15** 0.40 666 2.83
Cross-level interaction
Condition 3.62*
Strengths deployment X 0.11 0.08 857 1.35
Condition (Exp. vs. Placebo)
Strengths deployment X 0.23** 0.08 906 2.69
Condition (Exp. vs. Empty)
Note: Exp = Experimental; Model t indices: AIC = 6149.76, Generalized χ
2
= 2234.80, Generalized χ
2
/df = 1.13.
*p< 0.05; **p< 0.01; ***p< 0.001.
Table 3. HLM coefcients predicting strength deployment on the following day from mood and experimental group.
Parameter estimates (B)SE df tFValues
Intercept 3.31*** 0.16 705 20.23
Level 1
Strengths Deployment 0.33*** 0.02 1831 14.08 198.33***
Mood 0.07*** 0.02 1914 3.30 8.76***
Level 2
Condition 3.22*
Condition (Exp. vs. Placebo) 0.47* 0.21 549 2.29
Condition (Exp. vs. Empty) 0.04 0.21 590 0.19
Cross-level interaction
Condition 1.90
Strengths deployment X 0.06 0.03 1919 1.91
Condition (Exp. vs. Placebo)
Strengths deployment X 0.04 0.03 1912 1.30
Condition (Exp. vs. Empty)
Note: Exp = Experimental; Model t indices: AIC = 3931.53, Generalized χ
2
= 668.52, Generalized χ
2
/df = 0.34.
*p< 0.05; **p< 0.01; ***p< 0.001.
552 S. Lavy et al.
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(b) The equation for the placebo-control condition
group:
Mood on the following dayðÞ
¼3:89 þ0:18 Strengths Deployment þ0:07
Mood
(c) The equation for the empty-control condition
group:
Mood on the following dayðÞ
¼4:69 þ0:06 Strengths Deployment þ0:07
Mood
These equations suggest that the there is a difference
between the experimental groups in the strength of the
positive effects of previous-day strengths deployment on
mood, and that these effects are strongest in the relation-
ship-exercise group (but are also evident in the placebo
control group).
The covariance parameter estimates were signicant
(z= 6.05, p< 0.001 for the intercept, and z= 30.01,
p< 0.001 for the residual), suggesting that the model
was appropriate (ICC = 0.24). The models AIC was
6149.76, and the generalized χ
2
/df was 1.13 (Table 2).
Predicting daily deployment of strengths
We explored the effects of previous-day mood, the
experimental condition, and interactions between previ-
ous-day mood and the experimental condition, on daily
strengths deployment (hypotheses 2 and 4). Preliminary
analyses indicated the need for HLM analysis in this
case, as the ICC of daily strengths deployment was 0.72
(p< 0.001).
Level 1 predictors composed of previous-day mood,
which was entered as an explanatory variable, and previ-
ous-day strengths deployment, which was entered as a
control variable. At level 2, the experimental condition
was entered as an independent factor (the variable was
dummy coded, and the reference group was the experi-
mental group). The cross-level interaction between previ-
ous-day mood and the experimental condition was also
entered as a predicting factor. The examined model is
presented in the following equation:
Strength deployment on the following dayðÞ
¼b0jþb1jStrengths Deploymentij þb2jMoodij
þeij0
b0j¼a0þa1Group þu0j0
b2j¼c0þc1Group
Results (presented in Table 3) supported H2. Type III
tests of xed effects showed that previous-day negative
mood predicted more daily strength deployment (F(Num,
Den) = F(1, 1918) = 8.76, p< 0.01). The effect of the
experimental group was also signicant (F(2, 569) = 3.22,
p< 0.05);
3
however, the cross-level interaction between
previous-day mood and the experimental condition was
not signicant (F(2, 1916) = 1.90, p= 0.15). The specic
equations for the three experimental groups ( based on the
coefcients presented in Table 3) were as follows:
(a) The equation for the relationship-exercise con-
dition group:
Strength deployment on the following dayðÞ
¼3:31 0:07 Mood þ0:33
Strengths Deployment
(b) The equation for the placebo-control condition
group:
Strength deployment on the following dayðÞ
¼2:84 0:01 Mood þ0:33
Strengths Deployment
(c) The equation for the empty-control condition
group:
Strength deployment on the following dayðÞ
¼3:27 0:03 Mood þ0:33
Strengths Deployment
These results suggest that there were no signicant
group differences in the use of strengths deployment as a
mood-repair strategy, although participants in the rela-
tionship-exercise group seemed to use strengths deploy-
ment as a mood-repair strategy somewhat more than the
participants in the control groups.
The covariance parameter estimates were signicant
(z= 6.80, p< 0.001 for the intercept, and z= 29.86,
p< 0.001 for the residual), suggesting that the model
was appropriate (ICC = 0.54). The models AIC was
3931.53, and the generalized χ
2
/df was 0.34 (Table 3).
The experimental condition: descriptive information
and qualitative analysis
In the experimental condition, most notes reected on
the relationship or on a specic behavior and acknowl-
edged its meaningfulness and contribution, but there
were also other themes, with varying levels of complex-
ity. A qualitative analysis conducted in three steps helped
shed light on the major themes comprising participants
The Journal of Positive Psychology 553
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responses. In the rst step of the analysis, participants
daily notes (673) to a loved one were divided into mini-
mal content units. This resulted in 2751 content units (an
average of 4.09 items per note). In the second step, com-
mon themes were identied by openly coding partici-
pantsdescriptions; 17 categories were generated based
on these themes. In the third step, two judges (graduate
psychology students) independently sorted the content
units into the various content categories, achieving good
inter-rater reliability (κ= 0.90). Differences were resolved
through discussion. Next, categories occurring in a mar-
ginal 5% or less of the responses (six categories) were
incorporated into related categories. This resulted in a
nal set of 11 categories which included all the content
units, across the different daily responses of all the par-
ticipants in the experimental condition.
Almost all the responses (92.6%) included expres-
sions of love toward the target person (e.g. I love you so
much; you are one of the most precious people in my
life), and most of them (66%) also included a salutation
to the relationship partner (e.g. honey;my dear love;
dear Mom). These reminders of love and of a specic
loved one are the most dominant component of the vast
majority of the daily responses in the experimental
condition.
Several responses (50.4%) also included expressions
of gratitude toward the loved one (e.g. thank you for
everything that you have done for me), positive feelings
of happiness and enjoyment related to the relationship
(31.9%, e.g. you are the most fun person to be with;I
was so happy to see you), and descriptions of the targets
positive attributes (22.4%; e.g. you are a charming sis-
ter;you have a huge heart, sensitivity and modesty).
Participants also wrote about the relationship itself, high-
lighting its uniqueness and strength (25.1%; e.g. Our
relationship exceeds other relationships that I know, and
it feels right for me to be with you), discussing the hope
for its continuity (18.9%; e.g. I hope our relationship
will continue to be this way forever), but sometimes also
mentioning negative or undesirable aspects of the rela-
tionship (18.9%) and of the relationship partner (10.8%;
e.g. although sometimes you are inconsiderate ). Some
responses included expressions of longing for the rela-
tionship partner when apart (18.7%; You are not here
yet, but Im waiting for you breathlessly, I miss you so
much), wishes for the relationship partner (18.4%; e.g. I
hope you have a wonderful week), and descriptions of
support (or wishing to support) the relationship partner
(14.9%; e.g. I am here for you whenever you need me,
even when things get tough ).
Taken together, these themes (the vast majority of
which were positive) reect attributes of the relationship
and its meaning for the participants. They provide insight
concerning the ways in which relationship prompts can
remind individuals of the resources they have. Some of
these resources are provided by the relationship partners
(as can be seen in expressions of gratitude, positive attri-
butes of the relationship partner, etc.) or the relationship
itself (e.g. in expressions of its uniqueness and strength),
and some of them are reminders of the participants
strengths, as the relationship provides fertile soil to dem-
onstrate them (e.g. expressions of love and descriptions
of help and support to the relationship partner).
Discussion
Human well-being and ourishing are core interests of
positive psychologists and of people in general
(Seligman, 2012). The present 14-day diary study
attempted to advance our understanding of these issues,
by examining the daily dynamics of strengths deploy-
ment and mood, and the role of a certain aspect of close
relationships in qualifying these dynamics.
The studysndings link strengths deployment on a
certain day with elevated mood on the following day.
This nding suggests that daily use of strengths posi-
tively effects individualsmood, and thus strongly sup-
ports Peterson and Seligmans(
2004) theoretical claim
that character strengths can be a tool to promote positive
affect. Specically, demonstrating this effect in a longitu-
dinal, daily-diary study supports the hypothesized causal
effect of strengths deployment, suggesting that strengths
deployment and mood are not merely correlated, but that
an increase in daily strengths deployment (on a certain
day) can produce an enhancement in daily mood (on the
following day). As far as we know, this effect has not
been demonstrated in previous studies of the 24
strengths, although a causal positive effect of a specic
strength has been suggested (e.g. see the review of Wood
et al. (2010) regarding the effects of gratitude).
Furthermore, if deployment of character strengths is
taken as an example of fullling ones potential (Peterson
& Seligman, 2004), this nding demonstrates a mecha-
nism underlying the positive effect of fulllment on well-
being, while examining it at the daily level (and gaining
information from daily uctuations in fulllment-related
and mood measures). Positive psychology would benet
from the further examination of daily effects of strengths
deployment on individuals (e.g. on their daily sense of
efcacy and health) and on others in their environment.
The studys results also linked decreased mood on a
certain day with increased strengths deployment on the
following day, thus supporting the hypothesis that
strengths deployment serves as a mood-repair strategy.
This nding highlights the role of character-strengths
deployment in reducing negative affect. Furthermore, it
draws attention to a new mood-repair strategy that
appears to be effective at the daily level, and potentially
encompasses long-term benets for the individual (and
perhaps also for others, if indeed character strengths
554 S. Lavy et al.
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deployment reects individualsfulllment of their
potential for their own benet as well as that of those
around them; Peterson & Seligman, 2004). Future studies
should examine the effectiveness of strengths deploy-
ment as a mood-repair strategy for specic moods in dif-
ferent situations (e.g. in relationships or at work ), as
well as the long-term consequences of using this mood-
repair strategy with respect to a sense of self-fulllment,
self-esteem, well-being, personal functioning, and rela-
tionship maintenance.
The present study also explored the qualifying effects
of a daily relationship-activation exercise (writing a letter
to a loved one) on the daily dynamics of strengths
deployment and mood. It showed differences between
the experimental groups, which suggest that the positive
effect of daily strengths deployment on mood (on the
following day) is strongest for people in the relationship-
exercise group (although it was also notable for people
in the placebo-control group). This nding suggests that
acknowledging the value of a close relationship may
increase the benets of using strengths (and perhaps sim-
ilar benets related to promoting the fulllment of our
personal potential). This may point to one of the mecha-
nisms underlying the positive effects of close relation-
ships and the hypothesized related growth-promoting
processes (e.g. Feeney & Collins, 2014): by amplifying
the positive affect following the fulllment of ones per-
sonal potential, close partners may promote performance
of behaviors which advance this kind of personal fulll-
ment. However, more research is needed to show the
replicability and robustness of the unique effects of rela-
tionships on facilitating this kind of positive-affect effect
(as noted above, in the present study the differences
between the relationship-exercise group and the placebo-
control group were not very large).
Our fourth hypothesis, that a daily relationship-
exercise would enhance the use of strengths deployment
as a mood-repair strategy, was not supported. Although
participants in the relationship-activation exercise group
used this strategy somewhat more than participants in
the control groups, this difference was not signicant.
This nding may be related to methodological limitations
of the study (discussed below), but it may also suggest
that using strengths deployment as a mood-repair mecha-
nism is not related to relationships. For example, it may
be a mechanism related to other environmental factors
(such as the daily work surrounding), to self-agency
mechanisms, or it may be a general mechanism, applica-
ble to most individuals. This last option supports the idea
that human beings naturally aspire to fulll their poten-
tial (Rogers, 1980).
In this study, we used a new intervention writing a
daily brief letter to a loved one. This intervention proved
effective in amplifying the positive effect of strengths
deployment on mood. This simple intervention may be a
useful contribution to the toolkit of positive psycholo-
gists (researchers and practitioners), and it opens a way
to experimentally examine relationship-related phenom-
ena. The analysis of the letterscontent revealed several
themes, which may comprise the building blocks of daily
positive relationship-related cognitions. These responses,
as reected in the components of the content analysis
(and of the letter-writing exercise in general) may play a
role in a relationship-afrmation process, reminding indi-
viduals of their close relationships and their value. Fur-
ther research on the positive components relating to
daily relationship cognitions and their effects on various
aspects of well-being would be valuable in advancing
our understanding of the contribution of relationships to
positive psychological processes and growth (such
research has already begun, e.g. Gordon, Arnette, &
Smith, 2011). Moreover, since participants in the rela-
tionship exercise condition wrote notes to their partners
in different kinds of relationships, it would be interesting
to see a whether the ndings could be replicated when
focusing on specic relationships. Although most close
relationships share similar features, their roles and func-
tions differ depending on age and relationship status.
Examining this intervention in specic relationship con-
texts and in relationships with different characteristics
(i.e. different relationship length) may shed light on the
role of different types and characteristics of relationships
in promoting individualsourishing. In a similar vein, it
may be useful to examine individual differences in the
effects revealed in this study, especially individuals dif-
ferences related to the study variables (e.g. relationship-
related characteristics, motivation and effort; see
Lyubomirsky & Layous, 2013).
This was the rst daily experimental eld study of
the dynamics associating strengths deployment and
mood, using a new relationship-related intervention. As
such, it suffered from some methodological limitations.
First, it examined short-term associations between mood
and strengths deployment, which are subjected to self-
reporting bias. However, we believe that the longitudinal
design of the study (i.e. the repeated assessment over 14
days) increases the likelihood that the ndings reect
valid effects. Another methodological limitation is the
nonrepresentative student sample used in this study
which was dominated by females, and warrants replica-
tion in more heterogeneous populations (in terms of gen-
der, age, and occupation, among other variables). In
addition, the experimental intervention in the present
study focused on internal representations of a variety of
relationships. The ndings should be replicated using
other methodologies to increase their validity, and the
cumulative effects of the intervention should also be
examined by comparing mood and strengths deployment
of individuals in the intervention and control groups
before the study to their mood and strengths deployment
The Journal of Positive Psychology 555
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reports after the study. This would provide clearer
insights about the effects of relationship-related interven-
tions (in the short and long term).
The study only examined the deployment of the 24
strengths as a cluster, and did not examine antecedents
or effects of deploying specic strengths. The positive
effects of strengths deployment demonstrated in the
present study highlight the need for profound research
of the antecedents and effects of specic strengths
(which may be generating the effects reported here).
Similarly, it would also be valuable to compare the
effects of a daily relationship exercise to those of other
positive interventions (such as counting the blessings or
looking forward to tomorrow; Emmons & McCullough,
2003; Littman-Ovadia & Nir, 2014) in order to gain a
deeper understanding of the unique mechanisms related
to close relationships, and differentiate them from
mechanisms related to other aspects of positive
psychology.
This is the rst study to examine the daily deploy-
ment of the 24 strengths and reveal its positive effect on
mood, and the role of a relationship exercise in amplify-
ing this effect. The study also uncovers the use of
strengths deployment as an effective mood-repair mecha-
nism. We hope that its ndings will inspire more
research of outcomes and antecedents of strengths
deployment along with other growth-related mechanisms.
Such research could incorporate a broader exploration of
the effects revealed in the current study over a longer
time period, using several additional measures (e.g.
external and physical evaluations of well-being and per-
formance appraisals), and examining other relationship-
related interventions (for example, interventions focusing
on the self-in-relation) and their effects on relevant
behavioral strategies.
Notes
1. ANOVAs conducted to examine differences in daily reports
of mood and strengths deployment after writing to different
relationship partners showed no signicant effects. Rela-
tionship contexts which appeared in less than 3% of the
notes were not included in this analysis, for statistical rea-
sons.
2. When the analysis was conducted without the interaction
factor as a predictor (only previous-day strengths deploy-
ment, previous-day mood and group were entered as inde-
pendent variables), the positive effect of previous-day
strengths deployment was maintained, but the group effect
was not signicant. These results were taken into account
when interpreting the ndings.
3. When the analysis was conducted without the interaction
factor as a predictor (only previous-day strengths deploy-
ment, previous-day mood and group were entered as inde-
pendent variables), the positive effect of previous-day
mood was maintained, but the group effect was not signi-
cant. These results were taken into account when interpret-
ing the ndings.
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... Research has consistently shown that character strengths are associated with a host of desirable outcomes related to increased well-being and functioning in life and at work (Dubreuil et al., 2014;Harzer & Ruch, 2012Forest et al., 2012;Smith, 2011), among which are elevated levels of self-esteem (e.g., Minhas 2010), relationship satisfaction (Lavy et al., 2014(Lavy et al., , 2016, improved learning outcomes (e.g., , and personal growth (e.g., Lavy et al., 2016;Park, 2004: Minhas 2010Niemiec, 2013;. Furthermore, although character strengths are generally stable across time and situations (e.g., Gander et al., 2020), researchers have argued that they can be developed with practice, and that they are strongly affected by the environment and by individuals' personal experiences (e.g., Niemiec 2017; Park & Peterson, 2006b, 2009. ...
... Studies have also linked social support with increased use of strengths in different contexts: supervisor support was associated with increased daily strengths use at work , and couple relationship satisfaction was associated with more use of strengths (Lavy et al., 2016). Furthermore, research specifically supported the idea that positive social contacts may advance the use of strengths as a strategy of overcoming difficulty: In a longitudinal intervention study, participants who wrote a note to their loved ones every day, seemed to use their strengths more as a strategy to overcome daily negative mood (Lavy et al., 2014). Based on these findings, we propose that social support may also foster character strengths development during COVID-19 crisis. ...
... Furthermore, when social support was entered to the equation as a between-subject factor, the main effect of time became non-significant, suggesting that perceived social support may account for a notable portion of the increase in character strengths during the pandemic. Previous findings have suggested that receiving social support not only fosters strengths use (Clifton & Harter, 2003;Harter & Schmidt, 2002;Lavy et al., 2014), but it may be one of the factors facilitating growth during and following trauma (Calhoun et al., 2010;Joseph & Linley, 2005;Park, 2010;Tedeschi & Calhoun, 2004). Thus, we expected even stronger effects of perceived social support on the development of character strengths during COVID-19. ...
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The COVID-19 had negative effects on individuals and nations worldwide. However, based on literature suggesting that crises can trigger growth, we propose that it may have also triggered individuals' character strengths development, especially among those having experienced moderate levels of difficulty during the pandemic and having received social support. The participants' (N = 1700) 24 character strengths were assessed twice: before and during COVID-19. At the second assessment, participants also reported the level of impact COVID-19 had on their lives, and their perceived social support. MANOVA analysis revealed a general increase in character strengths, with significant - but mainly negligible or small - increases in 17 strengths: appreciation of beauty and excellence, bravery, prudence, creativity, curiosity, fairness, gratitude, honesty, hope, judgment, kindness, leadership, perspective, self-regulation, social intelligence, spirituality, and zest. Across the 24 strengths, the reported level of COVID-19's impact (i.e., low, moderate, or high) was not associated with different changes during the pandemic. Univariate analyses showed that such changes were significant only in curiosity, forgiveness and kindness. The multivariate effect of social support on changes in character strengths was significant. Specifically, it enhanced the increase in love, prudence, curiosity, forgiveness, gratitude, honesty, hope, judgment, leadership, humility and zest during COVID-19, although the interactions effect sizes were small. The results suggest that, in the time frame examined in this study, character development processes triggered by COVID-19 were evident, yet specific changes in strengths were relatively mild. Some of these processes may have been enhanced by social support. Supplementary information: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s10902-022-00575-6.
... General strengths use, which is not assessed in relation to specific strengths, was found to predict work engagement and pro-active behavior on a week-to-week-basis (van Woerkom et al., 2016). Another study (Lavy et al., 2014) measured daily strengths-related behavior in relation to all 24 character strengths of the VIA classification, but only used the label of the strength for assessment and a sum score across all 24 strengths for analysis. ...
... Overall strengths-related behavior on the previous day was positively related with a one-item rating of current mood on the following day. Lavy et al. (2014) also suggested studying daily strengths-related behavior for specific strengths in future studies. ...
... This assumption was based on the idea that the expression of character strengths is fulfilling (Peterson & Seligman, 2004). Nonetheless, there might also be effects from well-being to strengths-related behavior, as suggested for instance by Lavy et al. (2014) and in the theoretical model by Bakker and van Woerkom (2018). Unfortunately, our design was not well-suited to test such paths because we only assessed strengths-related behavior in the afternoon. ...
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In two studies, we establish the association between different assessments of character strengths (i.e., traits, habitual and daily behavior at school) with school-related well-being and achievement. Study 1 (N = 414, mean age = 14.14 years) demonstrated that habitual strengths-related behavior at school accounted for unique variance in well-being at school and in achievement beyond the influence of the respective character strength trait. Further, the desirability of certain strengths (e.g., perseverance, fairness, forgiveness, and humor) at the classroom level accounted for additional variance in students’ well-being. Study 2 (N = 186, mean age = 14.27 years) used a diary design across five days to replicate the between-person associations and study within-person associations. Results revealed that daily strengths-related behavior predicted well-being on the following day. Overall, the results underline the importance of strengths-related behavior at school and suggest that all 24 character strengths are relevant for well-being at school.
... Since their theorization, character strengths' associations with several desirable outcomes have been studied (see Niemiec, 2013;Stahlmann & Ruch, 2020), ranging from positive functioning at work (Dubreuil et al., 2014;Harzer & Ruch, 2012, 2013, to flourishing interpersonal relationships (Goodman et al., 2018;Lavy et al., 2014), academic learning and satisfaction (Lounsbury et al., 2009), and personal growth (Casali, Feraco, & Meneghetti, 2021;Lavy & Littman-Ovadia, 2017;Peterson et al., 2008). Particular focus has been devoted to subjective well-being, and especially life satisfaction (Bruna et al., 2019) which has been used as the gold standard for external validity in almost every validation study of character strengths measures (e.g., VIA-IS measures)and there is a growing interest in their protective role against depressive symptoms and mental health issues (e.g., Casali et al., 2021;Gander & Wagner, 2020;Petkari & Ortiz-Tallo, 2018;Tehranchi et al., 2018). ...
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Character strengths have been found to consistently predict many positive psychological outcomes, such as well-being, life satisfaction, and mental health, but research on the topic is still at its infancy and some methodological limitations must be overcome to better understand what character strengths are and what is their role. Two main issues concern the structure of character strengths and the widespread use of sum scores, which may undermine the credibility and replicability of previous findings. Using two different samples (with 14364 and 944 participants), we confirm that character strengths can be well described by a bifactor model reflecting the simultaneous existence of a general factor of ‘good character’ and the 24 specific character strengths. In addition, we newly show that the specific character strengths (with a few exceptions) have no predictive power when a general factor is included in the analysis. In fact, only the general factor consistently related to participants’ life satisfaction, mental health, and distress symptoms. These results highlight the need to better understand what this general factor really represents to finally capture the mechanisms linking character strengths between each other and with external outcomes. Implications for the measurement and interpretation of character strengths and for strength-based interventions are discussed.
... Strengths-related behavior in the context of close personal relationships has been shown to relate to mood regulation: in their quasi-experimental diary study, Lavy et al. (2014) found that unfavorable mood enhanced strengths-related behavior on the following day. Conversely, strengths-related behavior was related to higher levels of positive daily mood on the following day, and this effect was stronger in the experimental group, in which participants were instructed to write a note to a loved person every day. ...
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A growing body of research demonstrates the relevance of character strengths for flourishing in general, but also for important outcomes across different life domains (e.g., work performance and relationship satisfaction). Studies have also shown that there are differences in the extent to which character strengths are applied, that is, perceived as relevant and shown in behavior in a given context, between work and private life, but they have not considered other life domains. This study aims to close this gap by examining the life domains of work, education, leisure, close personal relationships, and romantic relationships. The present study investigates whether (a) strengths-related behavior across different life domains explains additional variance in flourishing beyond the trait level of each respective character strength and studies (b) differences in the relevance of character strengths and strengths-related behavior across different life domains, and examines (c) their relationships with flourishing. A sample of 203 German-speaking adults (78.8% females; mean age = 29.4 years) completed self-reports assessing flourishing and character strengths. They also indicated which of the five life domains were personally relevant to them (i.e., on average 4.23 life domains) and reported the character strengths' perceived relevance and the frequency of displaying strengths-related behavior for each of these life domains separately. The results demonstrate that (a) strengths-related behavior averaged across all relevant life domains explained unique variance in flourishing above the trait-level of character strengths in some cases (e.g., creativity, kindness, and fairness), (b) different life domains were characterized by specific profiles of character strength—regarding both their relevance and strength-related behavior. Moreover, (c) character strengths and strengths-related behavior in different life domains both showed substantial correlations with flourishing. In some cases, these associations were domain-specific (e.g., displaying love of learning in the context of education was related to higher levels of flourishing). In conclusion, we suggest that examining strengths-related behavior across different life domains represents a worthwhile addition to research on character strengths.
... Lastly, although we analyzed the impact of daily strengths use on learning satisfaction, it is also plausible that those who are more satisfied after class to begin with are more likely to use their strengths. Future research may test the reciprocal relationships between strengths use and learning satisfaction and identify the strongest direction in these relationships, although previous theory and experimental research suggests that strengths use has positive effects on well-being and performance (e.g., Lavy et al., 2014;Proyer et al., 2014). This suggests that there is a directionality from strengths use to satisfaction. ...
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The benefits of paired learning, rather than individual learning, have been pointed by several studies. Although Chevruta, which has been essential in Jewish education for centuries, is arguably the original form of long-term paired learning, little empirical research has focused on exploring its components and consequences. In the current study, Chevruta learning is conceptualized as a combination of (a) structure: the proportion of time/space spent learning together, out of the total learning time on a given day, and (b) practices: the extent of using specific personal character strengths (CS), which resemble Chevruta practices in a positive manner. Their effects are examined on learning satisfaction. Methodologically, this is a dyadic (30 dyads) and longitudinal study with 20 daily measurement points for each participant. An average daily effect of structure on learning satisfaction was found—but no specific effect. This means that merely being together contributes to learning satisfaction over time, but not on the level of daily fluctuations. CS use, however, contributes both on average and on specific time points, and both in terms of the actor’s and the partner’s effects. One’s own CS use contributes to one’s own satisfaction both over time and daily. One’s partner’s Chevruta CS use fluctuation on specific days affects one’s own learning satisfaction that same evening, but this effect does not hold on average. These results indicate that actively engaging, as conceptualized by duration of learning together and strengths use, in this cooperative Jewish learning strategy, provides a substantial mutual benefit to its members.
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Military personnel, police officers, firefighters, and other first responders must prepare for and respond to life-threatening crises on a daily basis. This lifestyle places stress on personnel, and particularly so on military personnel who may be isolated from support systems and other resources. The authors conducted a systematic review of studies of interventions designed to prevent, identify, and manage acute occupational stress among military, law enforcement, and first responders. The body of evidence consisted of 38 controlled trials, 35 cohort comparisons, and 42 case studies with no comparison group, reported in 136 publications. Interventions consisted of resilience training, stress inoculation with biofeedback, mindfulness, psychological first aid, front-line mental health centers, two- to seven-day restoration programs, debriefing (including critical incident stress debriefing), third-location decompression, postdeployment mental health screening, reintegration programs, and family-centered programs. Study limitations (risk of bias), directness, consistency, precision, and publication bias were considered in rating the quality of evidence for each outcome area. Overall, interventions had positive effects on return to duty, absenteeism, and distress. However, there was no significant impact on symptoms of psychological disorders such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety. Because of study limitations, inconsistency of results, indirectness, and possible publication bias, there was insufficient evidence to form conclusions about the effects of most specific intervention types, components, settings, or specific populations.
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The two studies presented here examine the effects of teachers’ enhanced sense of meaning at work (SOM) on their burnout and engagement. In the first study, 41 teachers in two Arab schools were randomly assigned to a meaning-induction group—in which they were prompted daily to acknowledge meaningful incidents at work for 2 weeks or to a control group. Qualitative analyses focused on teachers’ daily experiences of meaningful incidents, reflecting their contribution to others. In addition, one-way repeated measures analyses of variance indicated that teachers that acknowledged these incidents reported decreased burnout and increased engagement. In Study 2, the sample comprised 60 Arab and Jewish teachers who completed daily surveys for 12 workdays. Hierarchical linear modeling analyses showed that teachers’ daily SOM was associated with increased engagement on the following day and somewhat increased stress. Thus, the studies highlight teachers’ SOM as a resource that contributes to engagement and can be enhanced intentionally.
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Boletín Informativo de la FEPD nº29 Diciembre 2021 December 2021 Publisher: Federación Española de Psicología del DeporteISBN: ISSN 2253-637X
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Military personnel, police officers, firefighters, and other first responders must prepare for and respond to life-threatening crises on a daily basis. This lifestyle places stress on personnel, and particularly so on military personnel who may be isolated from support systems and other resources. The authors conducted a systematic review of studies of interventions designed to prevent, identify, and manage acute occupational stress among military, law enforcement, and first responders. The body of evidence consisted of 38 controlled trials, 35 cohort comparisons, and 42 case studies with no comparison group, reported in 136 publications. Interventions consisted of resilience training, stress inoculation with biofeedback, mindfulness, psychological first aid, front-line mental health centers, two- to seven-day restoration programs, debriefing (including critical incident stress debriefing), third-location decompression, postdeployment mental health screening, reintegration programs, and family-centered programs. Study limitations (risk of bias), directness, consistency, precision, and publication bias were considered in rating the quality of evidence for each outcome area. Overall, interventions had positive effects on return to duty, absenteeism, and distress. However, there was no significant impact on symptoms of psychological disorders such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety. Because of study limitations, inconsistency of results, indirectness, and possible publication bias, there was insufficient evidence to form conclusions about the effects of most specific intervention types, components, settings, or specific populations.
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A theoretical framework is proposed for examining the interpersonal processes involved in the support of a relationship partner's goal strivings, personal growth, and exploratory behavior, and for examining consequences of receiving either responsive or unresponsive support in this domain. These processes were examined using both observational and experimental methods. In Phase 1, couples were videotaped as they discussed personal goals for the future. In Phase 2, support behavior was experimentally manipulated to examine immediate effects on the recipient. Results indicated that responsive (nonintrusive) support of a relationship partner's goal strivings and explorations have important implications for the recipient's happiness, self-esteem, and perceived likelihood of achieving specific goals. The importance of research examining this type of support is discussed.
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This research demonstrates the effectiveness of a brief daily self-applied optimism intervention in an adult normal population. Participants completed Life Orientation Test-Revised, Positive and Negative Affect Scale, Satisfaction with Life Scale, and Burnout Measure scales before, immediately after, and one month after the intervention. At baseline, optimism intervention group (N=36) and control group (N=41) were statistically similar on the variables of interest. At post-test, and also one month later, the intervention group demonstrated reduced pessimism, negative affect, and emotional exhaustion, although optimism, positive affect, and life satisfaction did not increase. Higher initial optimism increased the intervention effect for the optimism group, but not for the control group, by diminishing negative affect and emotional exhaustion, and increasing optimism. Sixty-one percent of the activities mentioned by the control group participants focused on duties and work, compared to 28% in the optimism condition. No correlations were found between initial optimism or pessimism, and the type of activities mentioned.
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Theory and research suggest that people can increase their happiness through simple intentional positive activities, such as expressing gratitude or practicing kindness. Investigators have recently begun to study the optimal conditions under which positive activities increase happiness and the mechanisms by which these effects work. According to our positive-activity model, features of positive activities (e.g., their dosage and variety), features of persons (e.g., their motivation and effort), and person-activity fit moderate the effect of positive activities on well-being. Furthermore, the model posits four mediating variables: positive emotions, positive thoughts, positive behaviors, and need satisfaction. Empirical evidence supporting the model and future directions are discussed.
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