When Theory and Research Collide: Examining Correlates of Signature Strengths Use at Work

Hadassah Littman-Ovadia, Shiri Lavy, Maayan Boiman-Meshita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Signature strengths are individuals’ highest-ranked strengths, those that they own, celebrate, and frequently exercise. Their use has been theorized to elicit positive affect, and contribute significantly to individuals’ functioning and well-being. The present study examined two elements of these ideas in the work arena: (a) Associations of strengths use at work with work outcomes (work meaningfulness, engagement, job satisfaction, performance, organizational citizenship behavior, and counterproductive work behaviors), focusing on differences in the associations of signature-strengths use, lowest-strengths use, and happiness strengths-use at work; (b) The role of positive affect in mediating these associations. The results, based on self-reports of an international sample of 1031 working individuals, generally indicated that the use of all kinds of strengths had positive correlates. As expected, using signature strengths had the highest, robust unique contribution to behavioral outcomes (performance, organizational citizenship behavior, and lower counterproductive work behavior). But unexpectedly, using happiness strengths (and not signature strengths) had the highest, robust unique contribution to psycho-emotional work-related outcomes (work meaningfulness, engagement, and job satisfaction). Positive affect mediated the association between strengths use and all work-related outcomes for the three kinds of strengths, when each was examined separately. However, when uses of the three kinds of strengths were examined together, positive affect mediated the effects of lowest strengths use and those of happiness strengths use, but not the effects of signature strengths use. These findings highlight the differential benefits of using different kinds of strengths, and suggest that additional (and different) mechanisms may underlie these effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527-548
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Happiness Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


  • Character strengths
  • Happiness strengths
  • Lowest strengths
  • Signature strengths
  • Strengths use
  • Work-related outcomes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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