Research Topic

Character, Responsibility, and Well-Being: Influences on Mental Health and Constructive Behavior Patterns

About this Research Topic

Character can be defined as self-aware knowledge that helps the individual to set goals, values and ethical principles (Cloninger, 2004). This meta-cognitive dimension of human personality involves ‘Theory of Mind’, and is positively related to measures of well-being, mental health, and constructive behavior ...

Character can be defined as self-aware knowledge that helps the individual to set goals, values and ethical principles (Cloninger, 2004). This meta-cognitive dimension of human personality involves ‘Theory of Mind’, and is positively related to measures of well-being, mental health, and constructive behavior patterns. Research from at least three different fields, cultural (Shweder, Much, Mahapatra & Park, 1997), personality (Cloninger, 2004), and social psychology (Abele & Wojcizke, 2007) suggest that character can be organized along three broad principles: agency, which is related to the autonomy and the fulfillment and enhancement of the self; communion, which is related to engagement in the protection and relations to others such as families, companies or nations; and spirituality, which is related to the human ability to transcend the self and find and interconnection with all life and appreciation of the whole world around us (Haidt, 2006; Cloninger, 2013).

Using the Temperament and Character Inventory (Cloninger, Svrakic & Przybeck, 1993) researchers have found that agentic (i.e., Self-directedness) and communal (i.e., Cooperativeness) values are associated to high levels of happiness, psychological well-being, and less violent behavior. Moreover, low Self-directedness and Cooperativeness is recurrent among individuals with all types of mental health problems, such as, depression, schizophrenia, anxiety disorder, autism spectrum disorders, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and etcetera. Spirituality, in coherence with agency and communion, guides the individual to seek self-realization in harmony with others and nature in the changing world (Cloninger, 2013). Seeing character as self-awareness of the self in three dimensions has also been associated to human responsibility and empowerment.

This research topic will focus on all article types that put forward findings regarding:

• Character as a protective factor against mental illness.
• Character’s association to conduct disorders and violent behavior.
• Character as a promoter of happiness, life satisfaction, and well-being.
• The etiology of character.
• Longitudinal studies on character.
• Agency, communion, and spirituality as broad dimensions for the conceptualization of positive measures of mental health.
• Innovative methods to measure or conceptualize character.
• Non-linear effects of character on mental health.
• Character as a measure/conceptualization of responsibility.
• Character in school and work place settings.
• Character in relation to empowerment.


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