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Are only Emotional Strengths Emotional? Character Strengths and Disposition to Positive Emotions


Angelika Güsewell, Section on Personality and Assessment, Department of Psychology, University of Zurich, Binzmühlestrasse 14/7, 8050 Zurich, Switzerland. Email:


This study aimed to examine the relations between character strengths and dispositional positive emotions (i.e. joy, contentment, pride, love, compassion, amusement, and awe). A sample of 574 German-speaking adults filled in the Dispositional Positive Emotion Scales (DPES; Shiota, Keltner, & John, 2006), and the Values in Action Inventory of Strengths (VIA-IS; Peterson, Park, & Seligman, 2005). The factorial structure of the DPES was examined on item level. Joy and contentment could not be clearly separated; the items of the other five emotions loaded on separate factors. A confirmatory factor analysis assuming two latent factors (self-oriented and object/situation specific) was computed on scale level. Results confirmed the existence of these factors, but also indicated that the seven emotions did not split up into two clearly separable families. Correlations between dispositional positive emotions and character strengths were positive and generally low to moderate; a few theoretically meaningful strengths–emotions pairs yielded coefficients > .40. Finally, the link between five character strengths factors (i.e. emotional strengths, interpersonal strengths, strengths of restraint, intellectual strengths, and theological strengths) and the emotional dispositions was examined. Each of the factors displayed a distinctive “emotional pattern”; emotional strengths evidenced the most numerous and strongest links to emotional dispositions.