The Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol. 47 No. 1 - 13

Promoting Students' Strengths

involvement by identifying relationships and
engagement as two of the five goals of well-being theory (Seligman, 2011). These constructs
are often emphasized by programs and learning outcomes that support student adjustment
and success, particularly those of residential
life departments, living-learning communities, diversity offices, and others (Ardaiolo et
al., 2011; Herdlein & Zurner, 2015; Reynolds &
Chris, 2008).

Character Strengths
Seligman and colleagues (2005) offer six overarching virtues that are cross-culturally endorsed: wisdom, courage, humanity, justice,
temperance, and transcendence. Organized
under these broad virtues are 24 character strengths (Karris & Craighead, 2012). In
general, the relationship between character
strengths and well-being has been heavily researched in the positive psychology field (Peterson, 2006). Some of these strengths include
love (giving and receiving love and care), hope
(optimism), curiosity (seeking new experiences), and zest (vitality and enthusiasm; Karris
& Craighead, 2012; Peterson & Seligman,
2004). Researchers have found that these four

Individuals who endorsed love
(giving and receiving love and care),
hope (optimism), curiosity (seeking
new experiences), and zest (vitality
and enthusiasm) also tended to
subjectively indicate higher levels of
well-being and satisfaction with life.

positive character strengths correlate the most
highly with general measures of well-being
(Park et al., 2004).
According to the small amount of scholarship related to character strengths in college
students, those students who made more use of
their self-identified strengths reported higher
levels of subjective and psychological well-being, confidence, self-esteem, and psychological
vitality (Govindji & Linley, 2007). Additional
studies indicate that a particular array of character traits can predict college satisfaction and
even academic performance (Lounsbury et al.,
2009; Park & Peterson, 2009). Seligman and
colleagues (2006) found that psychotherapy
utilizing this framework was effective in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety
in both children and adults. Others have found
that the increased presence of some character strengths such as hope, spirituality, zest,
leadership, and gratitude correlate with lower
levels of depression and/or anxiety (Park & Peterson, 2008). Because developing and changing understandings of self can be an integral
part of college students' experiences, further
exploration of links between their character
strengths and well-being may yield important
insights and provide tools for individuals who
work with this population.

Subjective Well-Being
Another area of study that shows promise for
use with college students is subjective wellbeing, understood as " a person's cognitive and
affective evaluations of his or her life " (Diener
et al., 2002, p. 63). The general concept of wellbeing refers to optimal psychological functioning and may include both cognitive and
affective components (Diener, 2009). Well-being theory was constructed from five measurV O L U M E 4 7 , NO. 1 * 2 0 2 0

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