The Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol. 47 No. 1 - 23

Promoting Students' Strengths

encourage and support efforts to collaborate
with student organizations for programming
in residence halls.

Social Group Participation and Character
Strengths
Many of the interventions created to cultivate
the use of character strengths (particularly relating to love, hope, zest, and curiosity) involve
aspects of social connectedness. Some examples include writing letters of gratitude to
others, engaging in athletic teams, or reaching
out to old friends. The field of positive psychology identifies relationships and engagement
as important components of well-being (Seligman, 2011). It comes as no surprise, then, that
love, zest, and curiosity all related to social
group participation. Our findings support the
assertions of character strength theory about
social connections (Peterson & Seligman,
2004). Surprisingly, hope was not significantly
correlated with social group participation. One
explanation for this result may be offered in
the quality of life literature. Veenhoven (1999)
suggests that Western societies place larger
value on individualism: becoming aware of
one's own preferences and working to fulfill
those preferences individually. Therefore, a
person's desire to achieve the best out of life
by attending college (i.e., one possible manifestation of the character strength hope) may
be more independently driven toward factors
such as career and financial stability and less
geared toward building community and lasting
relationships.

IMPLICATIONS	
The use of character strengths-specifically
the four key strengths of love, hope, zest, and

curiosity-has been found to be correlated to
increased well-being. These findings imply
exciting possibilities for residence life professionals interested in supporting students'
mental and emotional well-being. Rather
than offering one type of intervention that
may be accessed to improve outcomes among
college students, we have offered three interrelated options. While professional staff and
student leaders may wish to focus on character
strengths, cultivation of group participation,
or well-being in general, there may be added
benefit to designing programs that prioritize
all three. College and university campuses and
particularly residence halls may provide ideal
environments to cultivate health through comprehensive attention to students' ability to participate and engage in social groups, cultivate
character strengths, and manage well-being.
For example, residential life staff and student
leaders might wish to invite the collaboration
of various departments and student organizations when developing programming that
aims to cultivate character strengths. Also,
departments and organizations may broaden
their reach and effectiveness by establishing an
integrated presence at these events (e.g., counseling center staff engaging in outreach during
first-year student move-in day).
We found that higher levels of subjective
well-being are correlated with higher levels of
social group participation. This finding reveals
the importance of connecting with others
and is particularly salient for college students
whose self-concept and identity are in the key
stages of development formation (Blimling,
2013). Based on these findings, establishing
stronger connections between student affairs
professionals and paraprofessionals may allow

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