Christopher Peterson's research while affiliated with University of Michigan and other places

Publications (159)

Chapter
The concept of perceived spiritual support (PSS) centers on an internalized resource derived from perception of an intimate relationship with a higher power, be it God, Jesus, a cosmic force, ancestral spirits, or a psychologically functional equivalent. The literature has indicated the increasing importance of spiritual support in crises and medic...
Chapter
Prayer is an important experience in the lives of many people. We introduce the Using Private Prayer for Coping (UPPC) scale, based on William James’s (1902/1958) concept of personal religious experiences as “a study of human nature” (p. 350) and prayer as an “inward communion or conversation with the power recognized as divine” (p. 352). The UPPC...
Article
How do I do it?In this daily reflection, you list three things that went well for you, and why they went well. How does it work?This brief exercise helps you reflect on the many things that happen every day. Over time, you begin to look for things in your day to add to your list!
Article
Download Now Gratitude Letter 10 minutes | Gratitude How do I do it? Write a letter to a person who has influenced you life in a positive way. This could be a teacher, relative, mentor, or coach. If you can, read your letter aloud to the person you chose. How does it work? Gratitude letters help you focus on the positive influence of another person...
Article
The prediction of election outcomes is of widespread interest. Election outcomes are influenced by a variety of factors, but largely unexamined in past research is how psychological characteristics of the electorate influence the results of actual elections. The present study investigated whether the optimism of an electorate predicted the outcomes...
Article
Full-text available
Positive psychology is the scientific study of a healthy and flourishing life. The goal of positive psychology is to complement and extend the traditional problem-focused psychology that has proliferated in recent decades. Positive psychology is concerned with positive psychological states (eg, happiness), positive psychological traits (eg, talents...
Article
Background: Accidents are one of the leading causes of death among U.S. active-duty Army soldiers. Evidence-based approaches to injury prevention could be strengthened by adding person level characteristics (e.g., demographics) to risk models tested on diverse soldier samples studied over time. Purpose: To identify person-level risk indicators of a...
Article
We have lived in an age of ever-increasing connection this past decade. Although technology and online social networking may not have increased psychological closeness, as some researchers suggest, it may have increased the perceived availability of other people in our social networks. The current study measures changes in comfort with closeness (a...
Article
Background: A recent study reported that the highest suicide rates in the US occurred in the happiest states. This is a counter-intuitive finding. The present research investigated whether the same result occurred when the unit of analysis was city. The association between happiness (of most) and suicide (by some) might differ in cities versus sta...
Article
Full-text available
The Values in Action Inventory of Strengths for Youth (VIA-Youth) is a self-report inventory assessing 24 character strengths among people 10–17 years of age. This paper describes the adaptation and initial validation of a German version of this measure utilizing several samples (in total N = 2,110 self-reports of participants aged 10–17 years, 56....
Article
Full-text available
Objective Identifying positive psychological factors that reduce health care use may lead to innovative efforts that help build a more sustainable and high-quality health care system. Prospective studies indicate that life satisfaction is associated with good health behaviors, enhanced health, and longer life, but little information about the assoc...
Article
Suicide is difficult to predict and prevent and remains a leading cause of death worldwide. Although soldiers historically have had a suicide rate well below that of the general population, the suicide rate among members of the U.S. Army has increased markedly over the past several years and now exceeds that of the general population. This paper re...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: To determine whether purpose in life is associated with reduced stroke incidence among older adults after adjusting for relevant sociodemographic, behavioral, biological, and psychosocial factors. Methods: We used prospective data from the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative panel study of American adults over the...
Article
Building and sustaining a good life are goals shared by all individuals and societies. The good life is happy, healthy, productive and meaningful, and it entails more than the mere absence of disease, disorder, and problems. Traditional approaches in psychology largely focus on identifying problems and reducing them. What is needed is a new kind of...
Article
Full-text available
Building and sustaining a good life are goals shared by all individuals and societies. The good life is happy, healthy, productive and meaningful, and it entails more than the mere absence of disease, disorder, and problems. Traditional approaches in psychology largely focus on identifying problems and reducing them. What is needed is a new kind of...
Data
Full-text available
The Values in Action Inventory of Strengths for Youth (VIA-Youth) is a self-report inventory assessing 24 character strengths among people 10-17 years of age. This paper describes the adaptation and initial validation of a German version of this measure utilizing several samples (in total N = 2,110 self-reports of participants aged 10-17 years, 56....
Article
"Most approaches to health over the centuries have focused on the absence of illness. In contrast, we are investigating Positive Health —well-being beyond the mere absence of disease. In this article, we describe our theoretical framework and empirical work to date on Positive Health. Positive Health empirically identifies health assets by determin...
Article
The Values in Action Classification of StrengthsAssessment of the Via StrengthsThe Via Inventory of StrengthsImplications for PracticeConclusion
Article
Full-text available
This study examined the effects of physical health and other psychosocial variables on psychological distress and depression following coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG), with a focus on gender differences. Information regarding psychological distress one year following surgery was obtained from a sample of 151 patients (112 males, 39 fema...
Article
Full-text available
This study examined whether purpose in life was associated with myocardial infarction among a sample of older adults with coronary heart disease after adjusting for relevant sociodemographic, behavioral, biological, and psychological factors. Prospective data from the Health and Retirement Study-a nationally representative panel study of American a...
Article
Epidemiological studies have shown psychological ill-being to be a strong and independent risk factor for both the development and worsening prognosis of coronary heart disease. Psychological intervention trials have attempted to decrease psychological ill-being in order to improve cardiovascular outcomes. Results from these studies, however, are m...
Article
Negative psychological states such as stress and depression are associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), but it is unclear whether some positive states are protective. We investigated satisfaction with specific life domains as predictors of incident CHD. Coronary risk factors and satisfaction within seven life domains (e.g. j...
Article
Positive psychology is the study of what is “right” about people—their positive attributes, psychological assets, and strengths. Its aim is to understand and foster the factors that allow individuals, communities, and societies to thrive. Cross-sectional, experimental, and longitudinal research demonstrates that positive emotions are associated wit...
Article
Research suggests that positive psychological well-being is associated with cardiovascular health. However, much of this research uses elderly samples and has not determined the pathways by which psychological well-being influences cardiovascular disease or whether effects are similar for men and women. This study investigates the association betwe...
Article
Studies have documented effects of positive and negative emotion on the risk of developing coronary heart disease (CHD), leading investigators to speculate about the importance of effective self-regulation for good health. Little work has directly assessed the role of self-regulation in risk of incident CHD. To examine whether self-regulation is as...
Article
Full-text available
Daniel B. Cnossen was born and raised in Topeka, growing up on a small farm. He spent his childhood reading, running, playing sports, and working on the farm. Cnossen enrolled in the United States Naval Academy in 1998. He had never before seen the ocean and did not know how to swim, but he asked his new friends at the academy to teach him; he woul...
Article
Full-text available
Psychology and the U.S. military have a long history of collaboration. The U.S. Army Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF) program aims to measure the psychosocial strengths and assets of soldiers as well as their problems, to identify those in need of basic training in a given domain as well as those who would benefit from advanced training, and the...
Article
Previous research indicates that several character strengths (e.g., gratitude, optimism, persistence, and self-regulation) correlate positively with measures of subjective well-being in adolescents. We examined whether character strengths predict future well-being. Adolescent high school students (N = 149) completed the Values in Action Inventory o...
Article
Psychology has neglected the study of variation across cities. An urban psychology is needed that takes seriously such variation and focuses on strengths and assets contributing to the good life as much as on problems of urbanization. To illustrate the value of an urban psychology, we describe studies of character strengths among residents in the 5...
Article
Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs is one of psychology's genuinely good ideas and has had a sustained impact in and out of psychology. The revision of the hierarchy by Kenrick, Griskevicius, Neuberg, and Schaller (2010, this issue) is overdue and makes an important contribution by grounding the hierarchy in modern evolutionary thought. However, w...
Article
Full-text available
Many languages and cultures have labels for individuals who have achieved a superior state of functioning, sometimes referred to as enlightenment or wisdom. This conceptualization of optimal functioning as a distinct state is implicit to several well-known psychological models, as well. This study evaluated whether self-reported strengths of charac...
Chapter
Learned helplessness in people entails two stories: an account of the controversial attempts in the experimental laboratory to produce a phenomenon akin to that observed in dogs following uncontrollable shocks and an account of the enthusiastic extrapolations of the helplessness phenomenon to explain our failures to adapt. We find this pattern stri...
Article
Life meaning is important for psychological and physical health and well-being. Researchers have only recently looked at the presence of life meaning and the search for life meaning as separate constructs. In the current study, 731 adult respondents from the United States completed the Meaning in Life Questionnaire, which separately assesses the pr...
Article
Full-text available
Peterson, Park, and Seligman (2005) developed the Orientations to Happiness (OTH) questionnaire to measure three routes to happiness: life of pleasure (hedonism), life of engagement (flow) and life of meaning (eudemonia). The questionnaire was translated into German in several steps (independent translations by five experts, creation of the initial...
Article
Full-text available
The Values in Action Inventory of Strengths (VIA-IS; Peterson, Park, & Seligman, 2005a) is an English-language self-report questionnaire that measures 24 widely-valued character strengths. The present paper describes the creation and adaptation of the German version of the VIA-IS and its peer-rating form using a sample of 1,674 adults. The 24 subsc...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter describes a preliminary study of the Values in Action (VIA) strengths of character and their relationship to work satisfaction across a variety of occupations. Relying on a large Internet sample (N = 7348) of adults from the United States, we found that across occupations, character strengths of curiosity, zest, hope, gratitude, and sp...
Article
Full-text available
Adults from 27 different nations (total N = 24,836) completed on-line surveys in English measuring orientations to the seeking of happiness (through pleasure, through engagement, and through meaning) and life satisfaction. Nations differed in their orientations and clustered into three interpretable groups in terms of them. One cluster was defined...
Article
How can we live well? To answer this question, psychology must acknowledge and integrate its descriptive and prescriptive components. One of psychology's strengths has been its willingness to embrace different purposes, perspectives, and approaches, and this recommendation is in the spirit of the field's history. At present, psychology knows more a...
Article
Full-text available
Despite the growing evidence linking faith with health and well-being, national leaders noted the need to explore the mechanism underlying these linkages. The goal of this prospective study was to investigate the psychosocial mechanisms involved in the preoperative use of private prayer for coping and the effects of such act on short-term quality o...
Article
This study examines the role of legal and social context (the level of legal and social support offered by one's country of residence) and sexual orientation in the mental health of lesbian and heterosexual mothers. Participants were sampled from the United States and Canada because the two countries have many similarities (North American location,...
Article
Character strengths are the foundation of optimal life-long development and thriving. Good character is not a singular thing but rather plural–a family of positive traits shown in one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. This paper provides an overview of the Values in Action (VIA) project, which classifies and measures 24 widely-recognized and val...
Article
Zest is a positive trait reflecting a person's approach to life with anticipation, energy, and excitement. In the present study, 9803 currently employed adult respondents to an Internet site completed measures of dispositional zest, orientation to work as a calling, and satisfaction with work and life in general. Across all occupations, zest predic...
Article
An important aspect of general health is subjective well-being (SWB), which is defined as happiness and overall satisfaction with life. Herein we examined the reliability and validity of observation-based ratings of SWB in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Ten RA patients experiencing a disease flare (period of increased symptoms) completed...
Article
Full-text available
This study examined the contributions of orientations to happiness (pleasure, engagement and meaning) to subjective well-being. A sample of 12,622 adults from the United States completed on-line surveys measuring orientations to happiness, positive affect, negative affect, and life satisfaction. A sample of 332 adults from Australia also completed...
Chapter
Wisdom has long occupied the attention of psychologists, philosophers, educators, and theologians concerned with the good life and how to lead it.Wisdom is variously defined as erudition, especially in regard to philosophy or science; as the ability to judge correctly in matters relating to life and conduct; and/or as the understanding of what is t...
Article
Psychology would be improved if researchers stopped using complicated designs, procedures, and statistical analyses for the sole reason that they are able to do so. The present article reviews some of the classic studies in psychology, all of which are breathtakingly simple. The notion of minimally sufficient research is suggested as an ideal worth...
Article
The basic premise of positive psychology is that the happiness and fulfillment of children and youth entail more than the identification and treatment of their problems. This article provides an overview of positive psychology and the Values in Action (VIA) project that classifies and measures 24 widely recognized character strengths. Good characte...
Article
Until recently, it was widely held that happiness fluctuates around set points, so that neither individuals nor societies can lastingly increase their happiness. Even though recent research showed that some individuals move enduringly above or below their set points, this does not refute the idea that the happiness levels of entire societies remain...
Article
What makes life most worth living? The simplest summary of findings from the new field of positive psychology is that other people matter. It is within groups that we live, work, love, and play, and groups should therefore be a primary focus of researchers interested in health and well-being. In the present article, we propose morale as an importan...
Article
How are strengths of character related to growth following trauma? A retrospective Web-based study of 1,739 adults found small, but positive associations among the number of potentially traumatic events experienced and a number of cognitive and interpersonal character strengths. It was concluded that growth following trauma may entail the strengthe...
Article
This study investigated the reliability and validity of the Values in Action Inventory for Youth (VIA-Youth) of Park and Peterson (2006) in a total multi-cultural group of South African learners aged 13 to 17 years (N=1691: male = 703, female = 988). Descriptive statistics, reliability coefficients and correlations were calculated, and confirmatory...
Article
Full-text available
To address the inconsistent findings and based on Hegel's dialectic contradictive principle, this study tested a parallel mediation model that may underlie the association of using prayer for coping with cardiac surgery outcomes. Three sequential interviews were conducted with 310 patients who underwent open-heart surgery. A structural equation mod...
Article
Full-text available
Why are certain character strengths more associated with life satisfaction than others? A sample of U.S. adults (N = 12,439) completed on-line surveys in English measuring character strengths, orientations to happiness (engagement, pleasure, and meaning), and life satisfaction, and a sample of Swiss adults (N = 445) completed paper-and-pencil versi...
Article
The development of a classification of strengths, the Values in Action Inventory of Strengths, has done much to advance research into strengths of character. Using an Internet sample of 17,056 UK respondents, we present data on the character strengths of a large UK sample. Women typically scored higher on strengths than did men. However, four of th...
Article
Full-text available
The importance of intellectual talent to achievement in all professional domains is well established, but less is known about other individual differences that predict success. The authors tested the importance of 1 noncognitive trait: grit. Defined as perseverance and passion for long-term goals, grit accounted for an average of 4% of the variance...
Article
Moral competence among adolescents can be approached in terms of good character. Character is a multidimensional construct comprised of a family of positive traits manifest in an individual's thoughts, emotions and behaviours. The Values in Action Inventory for Youth (VIA-Youth) is a self-report questionnaire suitable for adolescents that measures...
Article
Character refers to qualities within individuals that lead them to desire and to pursue the good. We propose that strengths of character are a neglected but critically important resource for organizations. Character matters because it leads people to do the right thing, and the right thing can be productive and profitable. Copyright © 2006 John Wil...
Article
Positive psychology is a newly-christened field concerned with what makes life most worth living. At first glance, it would seem to have little to say about the post-9/11 world, but its central concerns�positive emotions, good character, and enabling institutions�are all pertinent to how people rise to the occasion of challenge and threat. What is...
Article
In a web-based study of 117,676 adults from 54 nations and all 50 US states, we investigated the relative prevalence of 24 different strengths of character. The most commonly-endorsed strengths in the USA were kindness, fairness, honesty, gratitude, and judgment, and the lesser strengths included prudence, modesty, and self-regulation. The profile...
Article
This analysis investigated the effect of faith-based coping used by cardiac patients undergoing surgery on physical and mental fatigue, symptoms which have significant prognostic implications for mortality. Particularly, we explored whether this faith effect is independent or explained by positive mediators. Two weeks preoperatively, 481 patients (...
Article
This special issue examines strengths of moral character and their relationship to happiness. Six papers are included that address this topic using a variety of samples and methods. The value of positive psychology in encouraging the juxtaposition of typically separate lines of research is underscored.
Article
This prospective study examined how preoperative depression and faith-based coping, assessed preoperatively and postoperatively, affected short-term postoperative global functioning (SPGF) following a major cardiac surgery. We recruited 481 patients (male, 58%; mean age=62 years, range=35-89) 2 weeks before surgery for three sequential psychosocial...
Article
Full-text available
We investigated cultural influences on the distribution of character strengths, gender differences in character strengths, and the relationship of happiness to character strengths. Young adults from the United States (n=1099) and Japan (n=308) completed the English or Japanese versions of the Values in Action Inventory of Strengths. American and Ja...
Article
Parents’ written descriptions (average length = 211 words) of children between the ages of 3 and 9 years were collected on a password-protected website (n = 680). The presence of the 24 character strengths in the VIA Classification and the level of child’s happiness were coded with content analysis. Descriptions were rich in character language (ave...
Article
How are character strengths related to recovery? A retrospective web-based study of 2087 adults found small but reliable associations between a history of physical illness and the character strengths of appreciation of beauty, bravery, curiosity, fairness, forgiveness, gratitude, humor, kindness, love of learning, and spirituality. A history of psy...
Article
Full-text available
Positive character strengths, virtues, and values are touted in military doctrine as critical for effective leadership, yet little evidence exists describing such traits in military samples. This study compared West Point cadets (N = 103), Norwegian Naval Academy cadets (N = 141), and U.S. civilians aged 18 to 21 (N = 838) with respect to 24 charac...
Chapter
Like many of the social sciences, the field of organizational studies has long had a negative tilt (Cameron/Caza 2004). Topics like absenteeism, alienation, attrition, employee theft, workplace violence and discrimination are investigated frequently by organizational researchers. Indeed, people in general have little trust in big business (Harris P...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose of this study was to develop the Japanese version of the Values In Action Inventory of Strengths (VIA-IS). Japanese VIA-IS was back-translated, and their items were checked by the developers of the original VIA-IS. Participants in our standardization study were 778 undergraduate students who answered a battery of self-report questionnaires....
Article
The complex relationships between faith factors and health locus of control were explored. Different from general expectancy, internal control was conceptualized as event-specific self-efficacy. Both control and faith are multidimensional phenomena and affect an individual's health and wellbeing. Yet, how faith and secular factors (e.g., demographi...
Article
This study explored the relationships between faith factors and internal health locus of control (IHLC) beliefs. Based on a review of different relationships of perceived control, spiritual surrender and faith factors in the liberation, we assumed a multivariate association among them. Using data from two sequential interviews and the Society of Th...
Article
We comment on the article by C.R. Snyder and T.R. Elliott, "Twenty-First Century Graduate Education in Clinical Psychology: A Four Level Matrix Model" (this issue, pp. 1033-1054). We agree with many of the specific sentiments expressed by these authors but not with their dismissal of the Boulder model. We conclude that the Boulder model is as valua...
Article
Full-text available
Positive psychology needs an agreed-upon way of classifying positive traits as a backbone for research, diagnosis, and intervention. As a 1st step toward classification, the authors examined philosophical and religious traditions in China (Confucianism and Taoism), South Asia (Buddhism and Hinduism), and the West (Athenian philosophy, Judaism, Chri...
Article
This study was designed to help fill gaps in faith-related and positive psychology research. Psychologists have called for precise assessment of effective faith factors inherent within spiritual experiences that may explain their beneficial effects. Positive psychologists suggest the need to examine social and faith-related origins of optimism. Bas...