A historical style of art that includes reminders of death, deserves attention from positive psychologists because it hints at a failure in positive psychology. In particular, both the rhetoric and research practices of early positive psychology suggest a narrow vision of the good life. This type of messaging may cause people to crowd out the pursuit of other ideals that research, Aristotelian philosophy, and even historical art suggest as visions of the good life. In contrast, a more complete positive psychology promotes a vision of the good life that includes a broader array of eudaimonic constructs. Even among proponents of a eudaimonic perspective in positive psychology, however, the importance of wisdom and virtue, although supported by research, and central to the historical concept of eudaimonia, are relatively neglected. Throughout his life, Paul Wong has been disseminating messages that could have helped correct such errors.
A number of current theoretical psychologists and philosophers have begun to consider the application of virtue ethics in psychotherapeutic practice. Emerging fields of study, such as positive psychology, and renewed interest in traditional fields of study, such as humanistic psychology, have resulted in a revival of interest and enthusiasm with regards to virtue ethics. Primarily based in Aristotelian (c. 330 BCE/1980) philosophy, virtue ethics in psychotherapy brings ancient philosophy into modern day practice. A systematic review of the extant literature was conducted, resulting in seven publications for review. Presented is a review and critique of the yielded literature. The work concludes with a discussion of virtue ethics in psychotherapeutic practice, which is demonstrated by way of two brief vignettes. Aristotle’s virtue ethics is demonstrated as being unquestionably worthy of our consideration and application in facing the existential givens presented for examination and exploration in psychotherapy.
The present study aimed to evaluate the impact of Strengths Gym (Proctor & Fox Eades, 2009; Proctor et al., 2011) – an intervention based on the Values in Action (VIA, Peterson & Seligman, 2004) framework of character strengths among Indian students. Participants in this classroom-based intervention were 121 students from Grades 7 and 8 (Age = 11-13 years, M Age = 11.22 years, SD = 1.61, 53% male) from two schools. Using quasi-experimental design, participating classrooms in each school were randomized into intervention or control conditions. Intervention group engaged in 24 sessions – one corresponding to each character strength, spread over 12 weeks. All participants completed a questionnaire comprising measures of well-being, life satisfaction, happiness, affect and self-esteem at pre- and post-test. Participants reported significant gains in happiness, life satisfaction, and positive affect at post-test. Findings suggest promising evidence for character strength interventions among Indian students, while also contributing to research evidence about cross cultural relevance and validity of an existing intervention. Fostering character strengths and well-being among Indian students emerges as an area of tremendous importance in the face of the stressors and challenges faced by this demographic group in the present times.
This study investigated Rogerian unconditional positive self-regard (UPSR) among young adults. Based on the findings of extant research in support of the Rogerian metatheoretcial model, variables were selected based on the fully functioning person to represent characteristics predictive of UPSR. Using hierarchical regression, UPSR was assessed with young adults aged 16 to 19 years ( = 16.87). Participants completed emotional self-assessments (block 1: depression, anxiety, and self-esteem), humanistic/positive psychology construct assessments (block 2: authenticity, life satisfaction, aspirations), and a measure of perceived parental conditional regard (block 3: domain-specific perceptions of parental conditional regard (PPCR)). Analyses revealed that each block of variables significantly accounted for the variance in UPSR. All scores (with the exception of PPCR – Sport) had significant zero-order correlations with UPSR, however when considered together this was no longer the case due to the significant inter-correlations of the predictor variables. Overall, the following significant predictors of unconditional positive self-regard among young adults emerged: self-esteem, authentic living, accepting external influence, life satisfaction, importance of intrinsic motivations, and perceived parental conditional regard on academic success. Implications are explored.
Two studies examined the characteristics of the Rogerian fully functioning person from the positive psychology perspective. Based on the findings of extant research in support of the Rogerian metatheoretical model, indicators were selected to represent characteristics constituting the fully functioning person. Using confirmatory factor analysis, a single factor structure of the fully functioning person was assessed with young adults aged 16 to 19 years ( = 16.86). Participants of both studies completed measures of life satisfaction, positive thoughts and feelings, authenticity, organismic valuing, aspirations, basic psychological needs, anxiety, and strengths use. Participants of Study 2 also completed a measure of character strengths endorsement. Analyses revealed that variables consistent with the Rogerian fully functioning person loaded positively on a single “fully functioning person” factor. Overall, results suggest that the fully functioning person is high in life satisfaction, has increased positive thoughts and feelings and decreased negative thoughts and feelings, low anxiety, and moves toward intrinsic values rather than extrinsic values. The fully functioning person component was positively correlated with the character strengths of enthusiasm, bravery, honesty, leadership, and spirituality and negatively correlated with modesty and fairness. Results supplement research indicating strong links between positive psychology and the person-centered theory of Carl Rogers.
A central construct within the positive psychology literature is life satisfaction. Whereas adult life satisfaction has been studied extensively, the life satisfaction of children and adolescents has only received attention more recently. This article provides a review of the extant research on youth life satisfaction. Empirical studies (n = 141) on life satis- faction among youth are reviewed. The review details how life satisfaction among youth relates to various other important emotional, social, and behavioural constructs. Evidenced by the review are the conditions that foster positive life satisfaction and the implications of positive life satisfaction among youth. Future directions in life satisfaction research among youth are briefly discussed.
This study explored common measures of well-being to assess whether the naturally emerging relationships are best explained by a “Big Two” (hedonic vs. eudaimonic) or another, yet to be discovered framework. A sample of young adult participants (n = 355) completed measures of life satisfaction, flourishing, positive and negative experience, meaning in life, basic psychological needs, and subjective happiness. Goldberg’s (2006) Bass-Ackward procedure of component analysis was used to determine the relationship between the variables. Results indicated that life satisfaction and flourishing loaded on both hedonic and eudaimonic variables at several levels of the analysis, suggesting that these constructs may be outcomes of both hedonia and eudaimonia. Results further indicated that searching for meaning was distinct from hedonia, but was not an effective indicator of eudaimonic well-being. Overall, the results justify the distinction between hedonia and eudaimonia; however, they also suggest that further distinctions between different measures of well-being are required. Moreover, life satisfaction may be a superordinate category that reflects outcomes of both hedonic and eudaimonic well-being. Thus, the “Big Three” of positive psychology (i.e., positive affect, negative affect, and life satisfaction) is neither purely hedonic, nor purely eudaimonic, nor a balanced combination of the two, and thus is deficient as an indicator of either type of well-being. Furthermore, the results suggests that further understanding the place of life satisfaction within hedonic and eudaimonic conceptualizations of happiness is important in enhancing our overall understanding of well-being.
This preliminary research study examined the impact of Strengths Gym, a character strengths-based positive psychological intervention program, on adolescent life satisfaction. Using a quasi-experimental treatment-control condition design, the study compared student outcomes for life satisfaction, positive and negative affect, and self-esteem for 319 adolescent students aged 12-14 (M = 12.98); 218 adolescent students who participated in character strengths-based exercises in the school curriculum, and 101 adolescent students who did not participate in character strengths-based exercises in the school curriculum. Results revealed that adolescents who participated in character strengths-based exercises experienced significantly increased life satisfaction compared to adolescents who did not participate in character strengths-based exercises. Overall, results provide encouraging preliminary support for the application of character strengths-based exercises in the school curriculum as a means of increasing life satisfaction and well-being among youths.
There is a growing body of research devoted to the examination of character strengths as conceptualized by Values-In-Action (VIA) strengths classification system. However, there remains a dearth of research examining generic strengths use and its relationship with well-being, health-related quality of life (HRQOL), and VIA character strengths. In this cross-sectional study, 135 undergraduate university students completed measures of strengths use, subjective well-being (SWB), self-esteem, self-efficacy, and HRQOL, and endorsed five top VIA strengths. Results revealed strengths use is a unique predictor of SWB, but not HRQOL. The VIA strengths of hope and zest were significant positive predictors of life satisfaction. The most commonly-endorsed VIA strengths were: love, humor, kindness, social intelligence, and open-mindedness. The least-endorsed VIA strengths were: leadership, perseverance, wisdom, spirituality, and self-control. Overall, results suggest an important link between generic strengths use and specific VIA strengths and their impact on SWB.
A 3-year longitudinal study explored whether the two-dimensional model of trait hope predicted degree scores after considering intelligence, personality, and previous academic achievement. A sample of 129 respondents (52 males, 77 females) completed measures of trait hope, general intelligence, the five factor model of personality, divergent thinking, as well as objective measures of their academic performance before university (‘A’ level grades) and final degree scores. The findings suggest that hope uniquely predicts objective academic achievement above intelligence, personality, and previous academic achievement. The findings are discussed within the context of how it may be fruitful for researchers to explore how hope is related to everyday academic practice.
This study investigated the characteristics of adolescents reporting very high levels of life satisfaction. Participants (N = 410) were divided into three life satisfaction groups: very high (top 10%), average (middle 25%), and very low (lowest 10%). Results revealed that very happy youths had significantly higher mean scores on all included school, interpersonal, and intrapersonal variables, and significantly lower mean scores on depression, negative affect, and social stress than youths with average and very low levels of life satisfaction. Life meaning, gratitude, self-esteem, and positive affect were found to have a significantly more positive influence on global life satisfaction for the very unhappy than the very happy. Findings suggest that very unhappy youths would benefit most from focused interventions aimed at boosting those variables having the most influence on their level of life satisfaction. Results are discussed in light of previous findings and suggestions for future directions are briefly discussed.
This study examined the acquisition of intrinsic and extrinsic values among children. Participants (N = 218) completed measures of intrinsic and extrinsic values, happiness, life satisfaction, and anxiety, and rated their hero’s perceived values and the importance placed on each of these values by their caregiver. Results revealed that children’s intrinsic values were associated with greater life satisfaction and happiness, whereas extrinsic values were associated with lower behaviour ratings made by classroom teachers. Children’s intrinsic values were significantly predicted from the intrinsic values internalized from their caregivers and their hero’s perceived intrinsic values, whereas extrinsic values were significantly predicted from the extrinsic values internalized from their caregivers, their hero’s perceived extrinsic values, and their best friend’s extrinsic values. Internalized values for caregivers and hero’s perceived values significantly predicted children’s intrinsic and extrinsic values.
The burgeoning field of positive psychology has highlighted the need to discover what makes life worth living. Within this framework is the exploration of how youths perceive their lives and achieve happiness. Recent research demonstrates that perception of life satisfaction among youths has important implications for their psychological, social, and educational functioning. An important part of understanding how youths perceive their lives is the incorporation of measurement of life satisfaction, and this article provides a review of the extant measures of youth life satisfaction. Following systematic literature searches, empirical studies (n = 47) of youth LS measures are reviewed. The review provides an overview of each instrument outlining its normative samples, reliability, and validity. Recommended future research directions are briefly discussed.
A central construct within the positive psychology literature is life satisfaction. Whereas adult life satisfaction has been studied extensively, the life satisfaction of children and adolescents has only received attention more recently. This article provides a review of the extant research on youth life satisfaction. Empirical studies (n = 141) on life satisfaction among youth are reviewed. The review details how life satisfaction among youth relates to various other important emotional, social, and behavioural constructs. Evidenced by the review are the conditions that foster positive life satisfaction and the implications of positive life satisfaction among youth. Future directions in life satisfaction research among youth are briefly discussed.