Many Christians are seeking to develop Christ-like character (love, humility, forgiveness and so on) but may not know how to do so. The psychology of strengths and virtues offers evidence-based approaches for developing positive qualities of character. When presented within a theological framework, Christians find these psychological insights welcome and useful in character development.
This project will answer the following questions:
a) Can the Psychology of Character Strengths and Virtues be presented to Christians in a way that is acceptable in theology and accessible in format?
b) Will training in Character Strengths and Virtues improve the psychological wellbeing of Christians?
c) How do Christians in the UK conceptualise psychological strengths?
A multimedia course (The Character Course) will be developed and disseminated online to church-based small groups in the UK. The course consists of eight weekly sessions of approximately 90 minutes each, comprised of a short film, a group discussion and homework exercises. The eight sessions will each present an integration of psychological science and biblical theology on a selected strength. The eight weekly themes are: learning, hope, love, forgiveness, gratitude, humour, persistence and curiosity.
The Character Course will be hosted online and rolled out to church-based groups in three phases. A local pilot of two groups, a national pilot of potentially 100+ groups and general release to the public. Participants in phase two will be allocated to intervention and control groups, and will complete psychometric measures before, after and at three-month follow-up. Results will be analysed for changes in psychological wellbeing over the duration of the course (question b), and factors represented in the character measure administrated (question c). The results will be communicated in academic and popular, publications and presentations, and disseminated globally via the participating faith-based networks.