Does Mindfulness Matter in the Development of Character Strengths?

A RCT Study Comparing Mindfulness-Based Strengths Coaching and Character Strengths-Based Coaching

Dr Qing Wang and Qinyue Zhu

Character strengths are positive traits that promote individuals’ well-being and psychological capitals to create a better life. Variations exist in character strengths-based coaching, and research has integrated different active ingredients into interventions. This study aimed to investigate the role of mindfulness in strengths development, directly comparing the effects of mindfulness-based strengths practice (MBSP) and an existing coaching form of character strengths-based intervention (CSBI) without mindfulness. Ninety-five participants were randomly assigned to MBSP, CSBI, and blank control groups (CG).

Participants’ mindfulness, character strengths, strengths knowledge, strengths use, psychological well-being (PWB), and subjective well-being (SWB) were assessed before and after the coaching, and one month later. The results showed that MBSP and CSBI were almost equivalent in their effectiveness in enhancing character strengths, strengths knowledge, and strengths use compared to CG. Moreover, MBSP was more effective in promoting mindfulness, PWB, and overall character strength than CSBI, while CSBI was more effective in enhancing participants’ SWB than MBSP. Further examination indicated that the development of strengths knowledge and strengths use served as serial mediators of the increase in character strengths, and the development of mindfulness served as the mediator of the increase in psychological well-being. These findings suggest that CSBI works effectively for individuals’ awareness and use of strengths as well as SWB, with or without the element of mindfulness; however, people may benefit more in terms of increasing overall character strengths and PWB via a heightened level of mindfulness.

Reference: Zhu, Q., Wang, Q., & Yang, S. (2023). Does Mindfulness Matter in the Development of Character Strengths? A RCT Study Comparing Mindfulness-Based Strengths Practice and Character Strengths-Based Intervention. The Journal of Positive Psychology, online,

Dr. Qing Wang is an educational psychologist, chartered psychologist, accredited coaching psychologist and a passionate lifelong learner. She completed PhD from University of Bristol and currently works as Associate Professor in Educational and Coaching Psychology at the School of Psychology and Cognitive Science, East China Normal University (ECNU). She established Educational Coaching Research Group (ECRG) at ECNU focusing on coaching psychology research and practice in the field of education. She is Fellow of International Society for Coaching Psychology (ISCP), Associate Fellow and Chartered Psychologist of British Psychological Society (BPS) and Chartered Member of International Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP). With a genuine interest in coaching psychology for learning, she explores, designs, delivers and evaluates coaching models and approaches with teachers and students in secondary schools, medical schools, vocational schools, universities and in parents’ education.