Buckingham, M., & Clifton, D. O. (2001). Now, discover your strengths. New York: The Free Press.

Drawn from a large scale study hosted by the Gallup Organisation, Buckingham and Clifton present the 34 talents (themes) that comprise the StrengthsFinder tool, on a bid to assist the reader in finding their own talents or strengths and how to excel in their careers like those in the Gallup study. The study took place over 25 years. After presenting the 34 themes, readers are advised how to apply their strengths as an individual to find environments they can flourish within, as a manager to help facilitate strengths use in employees, and within an organisation to remove obstacles for strengths use. Free resources from the book include a CD that enables access to the StrengthsFinder tool and profile.

 

Govindji, R., & Linley, P. A. (2007). Strengths use, self-concordance and well-being: Implications for strengths coaching and coaching psychologists. International Coaching Psychology Review, 2(2), 143-153.

This study examined the shared focus of strengths and well-being held by positive and coaching psychology, through the association of strengths use, strengths knowledge, and organismic valuing with three indicators of well-being; Subjective well-being, psychological well-being, and vitality. Organismic valuing refers to an inner voice that guides us in the directions that are right and satisfying for us, a concept supported by findings that an individual who changes their goals over time would be more likely to change them in directions that are self-concordant. Strengths use, strengths knowledge, and organismic valuing were all significantly associated with each other and subjective well-being, psychological well-being, and vitality.

Further discussion looks at the findings specifically in relation to strengths coaching and the further implications for coaching psychology as a whole and the applications within it.

Keywords:

·       strengths

·       well-being

·       vitality

·       strengths coaching.

 

Linley, P. A. (2008). Average to A+. Coventry: CAPP Press.

Linley, in his seminal text presents his insights into how to recognise and understand strengths in ourselves and others. Strengths are frame as those skills, traits, and abilities that we are naturally drawn to use and energise us. Aimed at promoting a realisation of strengths in ourselves and the community, Linley draws on the Realise2 strengths identification and development tool. Featured within this work are the 60 Realise2 strengths that form the 5 families of strengths; Strengths of Being, Communicating, Motivating, Relating, and Thinking. An overarching theme within the work is how to use our strengths as a community in order to create positive social change.

 

Niemiec, R. M. (2013). Mindfulness and character strengths: A practical guide to flourishing. Hogrefe.

At the core of this hands-on resource for psychologists and other practitioners, including educators, coaches, and consultants is Mindfulness-Based Strengths Practice (MBSP). This is the first structured program to combine mindfulness with the character strengths, drawing upon the VIA  classification developed through the works of Seligman and Peterson, amongst others. This 8-session program systematically boosts awareness and application of character strengths—and so helps people flourish and lead more fulfilling lives. The third section leads readers, step-by-step, through each of the 8 MBSP sessions, including details of session structure and content, suggested homework, 30 practical handouts, as well as inspiring quotes, stories, and useful practitioner tips. An additional chapter discusses the adaption of MBSP to different settings and populations (e.g., business, education, individuals, couples). The mindfulness and character strengths meditations on the accompanying CD support growth and development.

 

Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. New York: Oxford University Press.

Seligman and Peterson present, in-depth, the positive individual traits of character that were categorised within the Values in Action – Inventory of Strengths, detailing the ethos behind a focal shift towards strengths. In total, 6 groupings of 24 character strengths were developed and labelled as human virtues; wisdom and knowledge, courage, humanity, justice, temperance, and transcendence. In identifying these virtues, Seligman, Peterson, and their colleagues attended not just to scientific texts, but those classified as cultural, classical, or religious texts, as well as recordings of philosophical traditions. Within this text the reader is offered a manner in which to identify with their own strengths and engage with the strengths of those around them, adopting a stance to human character that is at the core of positive psychology.

 

Peterson, C., Ruch, W., Beermann, U., Park, N., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2007). Strengths of character, orientations to happiness, and life satisfaction. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 2(3), 149-156. doi:  10.1080/17439760701228938.

This work builds on that of Peterson, Park, & Seligman who present three orientations or pursuits of happiness, collating and expanding on contrasting ideas surrounding what makes us happy and how we achieve happiness. These orientations (pleasure, meaning, engagement) were examined alongside the VIA classification of strengths, and life satisfaction in a sample of 12,439 US adults and 445 Swiss adults. Strengths of character that were most highly associated with life satisfaction were also significantly associated with all three orientations. Higher ratings on all strengths of character were significantly positively associated with higher ratings for life satisfaction, engagement, meaning, and pleasure, excluding prudence and modesty that were weakly negatively associated. These findings were largely reflecting in the Swiss sample, providing cross cultural evidence for the relationship between strengths and satisfaction with life or orientation to happiness.

Keywords:

·       Character strengths

·       engagement

·       pleasure

·       meaning

·       life satisfaction

·       happiness

 

Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. New York: Oxford University Press.

The classification of strengths presented in this book is intended to reclaim the study of character and virtue as legitimate topics of psychological inquiry and informed societal discourse. By providing ways of talking about character strengths and measuring them across the life span, this classification will start to make possible a science of human strengths that goes beyond armchair philosophy and political rhetoric. The authors believe that good character can be cultivated, but to do so, conceptual and empirical tools to craft and evaluate interventions are needed. This handbook focuses on what is right about people and specifically about the strengths of character that make the good life possible. The authors follow the example of the DSM and ICD and their collateral creations by proposing a classification scheme and by devising assessment strategies for each of its entries. The crucial difference is that the domain of concern is not psychological illness but psychological health. In short, the authors’ goal is “a manual of the sanities” (Easterbrook, 2001, p. 23). The authors write from the perspective of positive psychology, which means that they are as focused on strength as on weakness, as interested in building the best things in life as in repairing the worst, and as concerned with fulfilling the lives of normal people as with healing the wounds of the distressed (Seligman, 2002)

 

Peterson, C., Ruch, W., Beermann, U., Park, N., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2007). Strengths of character, orientations to happiness, and life satisfaction. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 2(3), 149-156. doi:  10.1080/17439760701228938.

Why are certain character strengths more associated with life satisfaction than others? A sample of US adults (N  = 12,439) completed online 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 versions of the same surveys in German. In both samples, the character strengths most highly linked to life satisfaction included love, hope, curiosity, and zest. Gratitude was among the most robust predictors of life satisfaction in the US sample, whereas perseverance was among the most robust predictors in the Swiss sample. In both samples, the strengths of character most associated with life satisfaction were associated with orientations to pleasure, to engagement, and to meaning, implying that the most fulfilling character strengths are those that make possible a full life.

Keywords:

·       Character strengths

·       engagement

·       pleasure

·       meaning

·       life satisfaction

·       happiness

 

Proctor, C., Maltby, J., & Linley, P. A. (2011). Strengths use as a predictor of well-being and health-related quality of life. Journal of Happiness Studies, 12(1), 153-169.

Proctor, Maltby, and Linley sought to examine Strengths use and its relationship with Health-related quality of life, an individual’s top VIA strengths, and well-being. 135 University of Leicester undergraduate psychology students completed measures of health related quality of life, satisfaction with life, positive and negative affect, strengths use, self-esteem, and self-efficacy. All participants self-selected what they felt their top 5 VIA strengths were. All measures showed good internal consistency. Strengths use was positively correlated with subjective well-being, health-related quality of life, self-esteem, and self-efficacy. Strengths use was also shown to be a unique predictor of subjective well-being, but not of health-related quality of life when both self-efficacy and self-esteem were accounted for.

 

Wood, A. M., Linley, P. A., Maltby, J., Kashdan, T. B., & Hurling, R. (2011). Using personal and psychological strengths leads to increases in well-being over time: A longitudinal study and the development of the strengths use questionnaire. Personality and Individual Differences, 50(1), 15-19. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2010.08.004.

This study sought to validate the Strengths Use Scale, and in doing so, to test the long held assertion that strengths use is beneficial for well-being. 207 participants completed measures of strengths use, positive and negative affect, self-esteem, perceived stress, and vitality. These measures were completed again a further 3 and 6 months later, resulting in three sets of tests being administered. Those participants who rated themselves as using their strengths to a greater extent in their lives developed greater levels of well-being over time. Moreover, the Strengths Use Scale was shown to hold excellent internal consistency, good stability between the three times and to contain a single factor structure.

Keywords:

·       Positive psychology;

·       Strengths;

·       Longitudinal;

·       Psychometrics;

·       Well-being;

·       Affect