Research news

#everythingisgonnabealright; character, psychological distress and self-efficacy during Covid-19 lockdown

Which personal characteristics have helped people coping with lockdown? Character strengths are positive individual traits that have been associated to a host of mental health indicators, qualifying as protective factors against mental disorders. In the present research, we studied the association between these characteristics, psychological distress and Covid-19-related self-efficacy at both second-order and single level, one month into the nationwide lockdown. Results indicate that individuals endowed with transcendence strengths, such as hope, zest and love, display lower general distress, better mental health and higher self-efficacy during lockdown. These findings offer insights on which personal aspects are particularly relevant in the ability to manage an exceptional situation such as the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nicole Casali, Tommaso Feraco, Marta Ghisi e Chiara Meneghetti

Link: Journal of Happiness Studies,



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.