Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Training character strengths makes you happy

Anyone who trains character strengths increases their sense of wellbeing, a large-scale study conducted by a team of psychologists from the University of Zurich has concluded.
It proved for the first time that this kind of training works. The largest impact was evident in training the strengths “curiosity”, “gratitude”, “optimism”, “humor” and “enthusiasm”.

Character strengths can be defined as traits that are rated as morally positive. That they are positively linked to life satisfaction has already been shown in many studies. That they have a causal effect on life satisfaction and that practicing them triggers an increase in the sense of wellbeing, however, has now been proved by Willibald Ruch, René T. Proyer and Claudia Buschor from the Department of Personality and Assessment at the University of Zurich for the first time.

Practice pays off

For their current study, the team of researchers randomly divided a sample of 178 adults into three groups: While one group trained the strengths “curiosity”, “gratitude”, “optimism”, “humor” and “enthusiasm” for a period of ten weeks, the second group worked with the strengths “appreciation of beauty”, “creativity”, “kindness”, “love of learning” and “foresight”. The third group served as a control and did not do any exercises. The authors of the study recorded three main results: There was particularly a significant increase in life satisfaction compared to the control group in the group that trained curiosity, gratitude, optimism, humor and enthusiasm. Compared to before they began the exercises, however, both groups benefited from the strength training. “Anyone who trained one or more strengths reported an increase in their sense of wellbeing,” concludes Willibald Ruch, a professor of personality psychology and diagnostics. “This manifested itself in the fact that these participants were more cheerful or more often in a good mood, for instance.” The third finding was that people who learned to control their actions and feelings more effectively during the training period and developed more enthusiasm benefited most from the training.

The exercises consisted of activities that the test subjects could easily incorporate into their daily routine. For example, they practiced gratitude by writing a thank-you letter to someone who had played an important role in their lives and trained their appreciation of beauty by paying attention to moments and situations in which they felt admiration for something beautiful. This could be anything from people and things they liked to special abilities and talents of fellow human beings or moving gestures and actions.
Positive psychology and character strengths

Character strengths and their connection with wellbeing is an important research field in positive psychology. In recent years, a new direction has established itself under this umbrella that mainly focuses on researching positive traits and is aimed at discovering what makes life most worth living – what constitutes life satisfaction, in other words. Positive psychology therefore focuses on topics that have long been neglected by psychology.
Further reading:

René T. Proyer, Willibald Ruch and Claudia Buschor. Testing strengths-based interventions: A preliminary study on the effectiveness of a program targeting curiosity, gratitude, hope, humor, and zest for enhancing life satisfaction. Journal of Happiness Studies (in press). doi:10.1007/s10902-012-9331-9


Prof. Dr. Willibald Ruch
Personality and Assessment
Department of Psychology
University of Zurich
Tel.: +41 (0)44 635 75 20
Dr. René Proyer
Personality and Assessment
Department of Psychology
University of Zurich
Tel.: +41 (0)44 635 75 24

Participants sought for follow-up study

While the study just completed had a broader focus, the individual strengths are to be explored in a follow-up project. A new training program is scheduled to start shortly, for which participants are still needed.

The participants need to set about 10 to 15 minutes per evening aside for a week and be willing to complete some regular online questionnaires to enable changes in their sense of wellbeing to be observed.

Those who complete the full program will receive individual feedback on his or her character strengths and possible changes during the study.

Those who complete the full program will receive individual feedback on his or her character strengths and possible changes during the study. Participation in the program takes place at home via an online program and is free.

Information, contact and registration:

Beat Müller | Universität Zürich
Further information:

Further reports about: character strengths enthusiasm life satisfaction personality

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht New population data provide insight on aging, migration
31.08.2016 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht PRB projects world population rising 33 percent by 2050 to nearly 10 billion
25.08.2016 | Population Reference Bureau

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Oasis of life in the ice-covered central Arctic

24.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

‘Farming’ bacteria to boost growth in the oceans

24.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

24.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>