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A Scientific Study of Strengths and Virtues A contribution to the field of Positive Psychology

Markatselis, S. (2008). A Scientific Study of Strengths and Virtues A contribution to the field of Positive Psychology. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


Objectives: Positive psychology philosophy underpinned the rationale of the current study. The aim of the research was to examine factors that are considered to cultivate human strength. It was hypothesised that hope and perceived social support will be associated with and will predict participants’ subjective life satisfaction. Secondary objectives were to investigate how well the data obtained supported the theoretical models upon which the questionnaires were based.

Method: This quantitative study utilised a cross-sectional design. One hundred and fourteen participants from the community aged between 21 to 65 years, completed questionnaires regarding perceived social support (Medical Outcomes Study Social Support Survey), hope (Adult State Hope and the Adult Trait Hope Scales), and subjective life satisfaction (The Satisfaction With Life Scale). Participants were approached in shopping areas in London and Surrey. Internet methods of recruiting participants provided supplementary data.

Results: The main hypotheses were partly supported by the results. All dimensions of hope and social support were found to relate significantly with subjective life satisfaction. Agency, which refers to the individual’s perceived capacity to initiate and sustain actions towards desired goals, emerged as the most significant predictor of subjective life satisfaction. Global Perceived social support was found to be a stronger predictor of subjective life satisfaction than global hope. The co-habiting and married groups perceived that they have significantly more tangible and affectionate support when they needed it than singles. Cohabitees’ reported significantly more overall support than singles. Principal Components Analyses of the Medical Outcomes Study Social Support Survey which was used to assess perceived social support and the dispositional and situational hope measures supported the theoretical frameworks the questionnaires were based on.

Conclusions: The study confirms existing results and supports the idea that a person could increase subjective life satisfaction when is motivated to initiate and sustain movement toward goals. Results also points out to the direction of researching family life and social relationships in understanding subjective life satisfaction. Data provided evidence that hope and social support are multidimensional concepts. The implications of these findings for theory, measurement and clinical practice are discussed.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
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