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In this study, the use of human character strengths was evaluated as a component of mental and physical health. The majority of previous character strengths research has been limited to monotonic use of character strengths. This study evaluated subjective outcomes based on a new measure of how much adults reported underusing, optimally using, and overusing their character strengths. This exploratory study was theoretically grounded in the upward spiral model of lifestyle change. The underuse, optimal use, and overuse of character strengths were evaluated as predictors of physical and mental health status, health behaviors, and emotions. Using a convenience sample of 100 participants and a correlational design with regression analyses, as well as mediation with bootstrapping methods, the study determined that the optimal use of character strengths was predictive of better physical health, better mental health, more frequent health behaviors, and more frequent positive emotions. The underuse of character strengths was predictive of worse physical health, worse mental health, less frequent health behaviors, and more frequent negative emotions. Additionally, the overuse of character strengths was predictive of worse physical health, less frequent health behaviors, and more frequent negative emotions. Overuse of character strengths was not found to be predictive of worse mental health. Positive emotions mediated 53% of the relationship between optimal use of character strengths and health behaviors. Motivating individuals to engage in healthier lifestyles, although critical, can be challenging at times. This study is socially significant because it may offer increased knowledge on promoting positive emotions, the upward spiral of healthy behavioral choices, and better physical and mental health.
Bergen, Angela Beth, "Adult Character Strength Use and Its Relationship to Physical and Mental Health" (2019). Walden Dissertations and Doctoral Studies. 6971.