Enhancing psychological capital and personal growth initiative: Working on strengths or deficiencies

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29 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Personal growth initiative (PGI), defined as being proactive about one’s personal development, is critical to graduate students’ academic success. Prior research has shown that students’ PGI can be enhanced through interventions that focus on stimulating developmental activities. Within this study, we aimed to investigate whether an intervention that stimulates development in the area of one’s personal strengths (strengths intervention) has more beneficial effects on students’ PGI than an intervention that stimulates development in the area of individual deficiencies (deficiency intervention). We conducted 2 longitudinal field experiments to investigate the effects of the 2 interventions on students’ PGI (Experiment 1) and the potential mediating role of psychological capital (PsyCap) in this regard (Experiment 2). In Experiment 1, 105 (N = 105) university students participated in either a strengths intervention or a deficiency intervention. Results indicated that the strengths intervention increased the students’ PGI in the short but not in the long term, whereas the deficiency intervention did not affect PGI. Ninety students (N = 90) participated in Experiment 2, in which we slightly refined both interventions by putting a stronger emphasis on the ongoing development of strengths (strengths intervention) or correction of deficiencies (deficiency intervention) by adding posttraining assignments. Results suggested that participating in both interventions led to increases in PGI over a 3-month period, but that these increases were bigger for the strengths intervention group. Furthermore, the relationship between the strengths intervention and PGI was mediated by hope as one component of PsyCap.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-62
JournalJournal of Counseling Psychology
Volume62
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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