SNSF – Positive interventions

SNSF-Project: Positive interventions: Empirical studies on enhancing satisfaction with life


Positive psychology is a new field in psychology, which aims to study (i.e., describing, assessing, explaining, predicting, and changing) positive traits (e.g., virtues, talents, character strengths) und to identify the determinants of the good life. An important topic within positive psychology is the development and study of so called positive interventions. These are training programs or intentional activities, which aim at enhancing well-being by cultivating positive emotions, positive behaviors, or positive cognitions (Sin & Lyubomirsky, 2009).

In the present project we are working with a classification of 24 strengths of character (e.g., curiosity, kindness, humor, love of learning; Peterson and Seligman’s Values-in-Action classification), and six universal virtues (wisdom and knowledge, courage, humanity, justice, temperance, and transcendence). The classification offers a framework for describing morally positively valued traits, and for studying their impact on important criteria (such as subjective or psychological well-being, life satisfaction, resilience).

Various studies have shown that interventions that were developed in this tradition are capable of enhancing well-being and ameliorating negative aspects, such as depression (see report).

So far, replications of these results are scarce. The goal of the present project is to fill this gap (i.e., replication and extension of findings) and to develop and test new positive interventions.

Aims of the project

The main aim of the project is to identify strategies that enable a sustainable benefit for people’s well-being. These strategies help to increase the well-being of people, who are not dissatisfied with their life, but still see some room for improvement in their well-being, and are interested in further cultivating their character strengths.

For this purpose, we conduct large-scale online-studies, as well as face-to-face interventions in small groups. Furthermore, we are planning to apply positive interventions for the first time to adolescents and elderly people, since this is an understudied topic in positive psychology (see report).

We expect that this project will contribute to basic research (e.g., further understanding the working mechanisms of positive interventions), as well as to applied research (e.g., giving information on how to design an intervention for having an optimal impact on participants’ well-being; development of further positive interventions).