The positive effects of character strengths on the well-being of medical students over time

  • M. Hausler
  • C. Strecker
  • A. Huber
  • M. Brenner
  • T. Höge
  • S. Höfer


Background: Character strengths are positively related to well-being. However, no detailed longitudinal analyses of the relations between different well-being aspects and character strengths exist until now. This study is the first analyzing a broad range of well-being aspects in relation to specific character strengths in a sample of medical students over time. Methods: According to the existing literature we hypothesized that (1) hope, zest, gratitude, curiosity and love were the strengths the most correlated with well-being and (2) character strengths in general are more strongly related to psychological well-being (PWB) than to subjective well-being (SWB). Furthermore (3), we took an exploratory look on the relations between the 24 character strengths and six aspects of PWB (engagement, relationships, meaning, mastery, optimism, autonomy). 117 medical students were investigated twice in their first and third year of studies using the Values In Action Inventory of Strengths and the Comprehensive Inventory of Thriving. Findings: Results showed that (1) hope, zest, gratitude, curiosity and love (amongst others) were relevant the most for SWB and PWB. (2) Correlations between character strengths and PWB were significantly stronger than with SWB. (3) The six aspects of PWB were differently correlated with the 24 character strengths. Discussion: The results showed the importance to distinguish between the different well-being aspects in future research. Specific interventions for definite character strengths can be chosen to foster these aspects purposefully. This may allow for a more focused application of character strengths interventions in the setting of medical education.
Oral presentations