Virtues in action - The new look of character traits

W. Bleidorn, J.J.A. Denissen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


The present study aimed to take fresh look at the nature and psychological meaning of consistency in character traits and virtuous behaviour as manifested in everyday life. To this end, a 10-day experience-sampling study was conducted. Using smartphone technology, a sample of 83 working mothers and fathers provided a total of 4,342 momentary behavioural reports while being in the role of the parent versus being in the job role. Consistent with recent research on personality traits, the findings of the present study showed that people express a wide range of virtue states in their everyday lives. Within-person changes in virtue states were not random but were contingent on people's current role context and also meaningfully related to their momentary affective experiences. At the same time, people's average level of virtue states, their degree of variation in virtue states, and their signature ways of reacting to role contexts turned out to be stable, trait-like individual difference characteristics. Discussion focuses on the implications for the conception of character traits in scientific psychology and beyond.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)700-723
JournalBritish Journal of Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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