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PeerJ. 2017 May 30;5:e3396. doi: 10.7717/peerj.3396. eCollection 2017.

Character strengths, social anxiety, and physiological stress reactivity.

Li T#1, Duan W#2, Guo P3.

Author information

School of Public Administration and Humanities, Dalian Maritime University, Dalian, Liaoning, P.R. China.
Department of Sociology, Wuhan University, Wuhan, Hubei, P.R. China.
Hospital (T.C.M.) Affiliated to Southwest Medical University, Luzhou, Sichuan, P.R. China.
Contributed equally


In this paper, the effects of character strengths on the physiological reactivity to social anxiety induced by the Trier Social Stress Task were reported. On the basis of their scores in the Chinese Virtues Questionnaire, 30 college students were assigned to either high- (n = 15) or low-character-strength (n = 15) groups. Their psychological stress and physiological data across three laboratory stages (namely, baseline, stress exposure, and post-stress) were collected. Results indicated that individuals with high character strengths exhibited rapid cardiovascular recovery from baseline to post-stress even if high- and low-character-strength groups showed similar patterns of cardiovascular arousal in response to the stress at baseline and stress exposure. These results prove that character strengths are stress-defense factors that allow for psychological and physiological adaptation to stress.


Character strengths; Physiological recovery; Positive psychology; Social anxiety; Stress

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare there are no competing interests.

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