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Journal of Wellness

Abstract

Introduction: Character strengths and virtues are greatly revered in military leadership. However, there is no empirical work assessing the relationship of resilience and expressive flexibility, two essential psychological constructs crucial in nurturing mentally healthy individuals, also for successful officer development and military leadership.

Methods: Employing a cross-sectional design, this study recruited 107 participants (ages 18 to 22) from a private U.S. Military university. McGrath, Rashid, Park, and Peterson’s and Peterson and Seligman’s taxonomies of character strengths and virtues were measured. Self-reported resilience and expressive flexibility were additionally assessed.

Results: Results revealed McGrath et al.’s virtue of self-control and Peterson and Seligman’s virtues of temperance, wisdom and knowledge, and humanity as the top ranked virtues for an effective military leader. In terms of character strengths, judgment ranked the highest, with perspective and fairness, second and third. Additional results showed a model suggesting that resilience and expressive flexibility explained 45.9% of variance suggesting that resilience and expressive flexibility significantly (p < .001) predicted leadership. Regression models that included honesty, social intelligence, and hope also offered significant predictive outcomes on leadership (p < .001). Furthermore, results revealed that expressive flexibility predicted the character strengths of creativity (p = .001), bravery (p = .045), love (p = .044), hope (p = .016), teamwork (p = .013), appreciation of beauty (p = .016), curiosity (p = .044), prudence (p = .034), love of learning (p = .020), zest (p = .017), humor (p = .018), and perspective (p = .003).

Conclusions: Understanding the relationships amongst these constructs will help in better cultivating protective mechanisms that safeguard from adversity, in encouraging wellness and health, and in supporting healthy human performance and development.

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