Character strengths predict subjective well-being during adolescence

The Journal of Positive Psychology

Dedicated to furthering research and promoting good practice

Volume 6, 2011 – Issue 1: Special Issue on Positive Youth Psychology


Previous research indicates that several character strengths (e.g., gratitude, optimism, persistence, and self-regulation) correlate positively with measures of subjective well-being in adolescents. We examined whether character strengths predict future well-being. Adolescent high school students (N = 149) completed the Values in Action Inventory of Strengths for Youth and measures of subjective well-being (depression, happiness, life satisfaction) at several assessments from the fall of 9th grade through the spring of their 10th grade year. In analyses controlling for the effects of other strengths, other-directed strengths (e.g., kindness, teamwork) predicted fewer symptoms of depression. Transcendence strengths (e.g., meaning, love) predicted greater life satisfaction. Social support partially mediated the relationship between strengths and depression, but did not mediate the relationship between strengths and life satisfaction. These findings indicate that strengths that build connections to people and purposes larger than the self predict future well-being.