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N Casali, T Feraco, M Ghisi and C Meneghetti
Abstract
The Covid-19 pandemic obliged people around the world to stay home and self-isolate, with a number of negative psychological consequences. This study focuses on the protective role of character strengths in sustaining mental health and self-efficacy during lockdown. Data were collected from 944 Italian respondents (mean age = 37.24 years, SD = 14.50) by means of an online survey investigating character strengths, psychological distress and Covid-19-related self-efficacy one month after lockdown began. Using principal component analysis, four strengths factors were extracted, namely transcendence, interpersonal, openness and restraint. Regression models with second-order factors showed that transcendence strengths had a strong inverse association with psychological distress, and a positive association with self-efficacy. Regression models with single strengths identified hope, zest, prudence, love and forgiveness as the strengths most associated with distress, love and zest as the most related to self-efficacy and zest to general mental health. Openness factor and appreciation of beauty showed an unexpected direct relation with psychological distress. These results provide original evidence of the association of character strengths, and transcendence strengths in particular, with mental health and self-efficacy in a pandemic and are discussed within the field of positive psychology.
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