Chapter

10 Personality Strengths

Personality and Social Psychology

I. PERSONALITY

  1. Laura A. King PhD1,
  2. Jason Trent MA2

Published Online: 26 SEP 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118133880.hop205010

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

How to Cite

King, L. A. and Trent, J. 2012. Personality Strengths. Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition. 5:I:10.

Author Information

  1. 1

    University of Missouri, Columbia, Department of Psychological Sciences, Columbia, Missouri, USA

  2. 2

    University of Missouri, Columbia, Department of Psychological Sciences, Columbia, Missouri, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 SEP 2012

Abstract

In this chapter, we grapple with the question in our title, whether it makes sense to think of personality characteristics as strengths. We begin by considering the differences between personality characteristics and the notion of “psychological strengths,” highlighting the various implications of the metaphor of muscular strength for personality characteristics. Drawing on Allport's definition of personality, we define personality strengths as situation specific assets associated with adjustment. We provide a brief overview of resilience and coping resources and then consider the possibility that traits and motive dispositions may serve as strengths. In examining motivational strengths, we consider goal pursuit and self-regulatory resources as strengths as well. Throughout the chapter, we highlight the role of the situation in determining whether personality characteristics will be strengths or weaknesses. We note the variety of research directions suggested by considering the question of whether personality characteristics may serve as situation-specific strengths. Finally, we consider the wisdom of thinking about personality from a strengths perspective. If personality represents the stable aspects of the person, it might make more sense to consider the situations that we might create to optimize these enduring characteristics.

Keywords:

  • personality;
  • psychological strengths;
  • positive psychology