The Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol. 47 No. 1 - 21

Promoting Students' Strengths

insights into which types of social activity
improve life satisfaction. Incorporating a more
diverse sample, particularly relating to race
and ethnicity, would improve generalizability
to a larger scope of college-age students and
allow the researcher to investigate whether
group differences exist. Finally, research that
is able to establish causational relationships,
rather than the correlational ones in this study,
between character strengths, social group participation, and subjective well-being would
provide useful insight into how residence hall
programming can be deployed to maximize
benefits.

RESULTS
Character Strengths and Well-Being
Previous researchers have identified a relationship between subjective well-being and the
character strengths of love, hope, zest, and curiosity (Park et al., 2004; Rashid et al., 2013).
These correlations were confirmed in our
study. Individuals who endorsed love (giving
and receiving love and care), hope (optimism),
curiosity (seeking new experiences), and zest
(vitality and enthusiasm; Peterson & Seligman, 2004) also tended to subjectively indicate higher levels of well-being and satisfaction
with life. While this may make intuitive sense,
these relationships had yet to be confirmed in a
study using a college student sample that also
included a measure of social group participation. The significant positive relationship we
found between character strengths (love, hope,
zest, curiosity) and subjective well-being reinforces the results of previous research on adult
populations and highlights multiple points at
which college counseling centers may more effectively intervene with college students. The

number of students seeking university counseling services continues to rise (Gallagher,
2012a), and, given the surplus of students and
the limited availability of resources, many students may turn to trusted peer leaders such as
resident assistants for support and information. Students facing increased psychological
distress could continue to benefit from the
formal interventions that counseling centers
offer. Additionally, they may find that the less
formal programming and social interactions
typical in a residence hall capitalize on their
individual signature strengths. The correlation
between psychological well-being and character strengths suggests that the bolstering
and development of existing strengths might
benefit treatment if and when students receive
counseling services.
Many interventions that are appropriate
for use in higher education and mental health
contexts have already been found to increase
well-being. Activities such as journaling or
making art that emphasize an individual's
awareness of and appreciation for their character strengths can provide a means to reflect
upon and bolster these strengths (Darewych &
Riedel Bowers, 2018); expressive writing and
reflective journaling, for example, have been
found to promote hope (Connolly Baker &
Mazza, 2004; Pennebaker, 1990; Seligman et
al., 2005). Improvements in sleep hygiene and
energy have been associated with increases
in the character strength of zest (Niemiec et
al., 2012), and cultivating relationships may
increase love (Peterson & Seligman, 2004).
Given the link between character strengths,
college satisfaction, and academic achievement, the benefits of targeting character
strengths through activities and intentional

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

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