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J Posit Psychol. 2012 Nov;7(6):481-492. Epub 2012 Sep 10.

Self-perceived strengths among people who are homeless.

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Department of Psychology, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Surrey, BC, Canada.


This study examined self-perceived strengths among 116 people who were homeless. Those who had experienced a longer period of current homelessness tended to report fewer personal strengths (r = -0.23). Nonetheless, in spite of their marginalized position in society, the vast majority of participants (114 out of 116) perceived personal strengths. A prior diagnosis with mental illness was not associated with the number of strengths reported, but self-perception of strengths was associated with altruistic orientation. The Values in Action (VIA) taxonomy of character strengths captured many of the responses generated by this population. The most frequently mentioned character categories included social intelligence, kindness, persistence, authenticity and humour. The most frequently mentioned other strengths included personal skills (e.g. music, sports), job skills, intelligence and education. The results have relevance for efforts to build self-perceptions that facilitate escape from homelessness.

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