The Effects of Time-Perspective and Character-Strengths on the Success, Psychological Health and Subjective Well-Being of Undergraduate Students
The student experience is a unique journey of challenge and opportunity, for which their success, subjective well-being (SWB) and psychological health are key elements. In three related investigations, this mixed-methods research programme examined the effects of Time-Perspective (TP: An individual’s psychological relationship with time) and Character-Strengths (CS: 24-positive traits associated with good character) on these outcomes. Investigation 1 involved developing a Likert-type scale to measure students’ success in areas they felt were important to the construct. Qualitative content analysis identified that HE students and staff collectively defined success as a multifaceted construct, consisting of numerous academic, non-academic and social aspects. These informed the development of a reliable and valid questionnaire for measuring success perceptions in seven of these areas. This was used in the following investigation to assess a range of outcome variables pertaining to student success. Investigation 2 was a longitudinal study assessing the effects of TP and CS on the success, good/poor psychological health and SWB of Year-1 HE students. In line with previous research, excessive or insufficient use of certain TP orientations was associated with, and could predict multiple positive and negative outcomes. For example, Future and Past-Positive orientations were predictive of academic success, perceived student success and SWB. Student psychological problems were associated with a bias towards Past-Negative and Present-Fatalist orientations. Additionally, a new formula for calculating a continuous Balanced Time Perspective (BTP) variable was devised and tested. High levels of BTP were associated with many positive aspects of the HE experience. Strengths were mainly associated with SWB and perceptions of success. However, Hope and Self-Regulation were inversely related with depression, anxiety, stress and negative-affect. Investigation 3 was a follow-up interview study with six student participants, who presented interesting profiles in Investigation 2. They talked about their experiences of psychological ill-health/well-being and student success in relation to TP and CS. Five super-ordinate themes were identified, including ‘Living with negative past experiences’, ‘A balancing act’ and ‘Using my strengths’. Psychological difficulties represent an escalating problem in HE, and student success and SWB are important outcomes. Both TP and CS offer additional understandings of these areas, adding value in academic, practical and theoretical contexts. This research has indicated that interventions focused on TP modification (i.e. developing a BTP) and strength development, may potentially offer preventative mental-illness strategies for susceptible students and enhance their success and SWB.
Research Institute : Institute of Health, Health Policy and Social Care
- PhD