18. May 2023

Willibald Ruch

Willibald Ruch

Character Strengths in Zurich: A Retrospective and Future Outlook


A quarter of a century ago, researchers began to enumerate personal characteristics that are conducive to the various fulfillments that make up the roots of a good life. Five years later, the character strengths and virtues handbook and classification was published (Peterson and Seligman, 2004), followed by assessment tools, initial studies of construct and criterion validity, and the effects of strength use. Subsequently, character strengths became the most important pillar of positive psychology research and applications, with Zurich-based studies standing at the top (Wang, Guo & Yang, 2023). This talk will provide a review of recent Zurich-based studies and outline future research plans. Emphasis is given to the strengths-virtue relationship, alternative measurements, the prediction of fulfillment in life, and the question whether strengths are better seen as prothetic or metathetic continua.

About Willibald Ruch

Willibald Ruch works as an emeritus Professor in the Department of Psychology of the University of Zurich, Switzerland. Willibald received his PhD from the University of Graz, Austria in 1980 and later worked at different universities in Germany, the UK and Switzerland. Earlier in his career he worked on topics such as humor, amusement and laughter, as well as cheerfulness as a state and trait. After attending a positive psychology (PP) think tank in Akumal and the first PP summits in Washington he broadened his research to study PP topics such as character strengths and virtues, well-being and fulfilment in life, positive interventions and trainings of character strengths, including humor together with his collaborators at the University of Zurich. Willibald is co-editing or on the editorial board of several journals (including Journal of Research in Personality, Journal of Positive Psychology), and co-editor of two book series. Recently he published the Hogrefe Handbook of Positive Psychology Assessment together with Arnold Bakker, Louis Tay and Fabian Gander. He is the founder of the Swiss Positive Psychology Association, an IPPA Fellow and senior scientist at the VIA Institute of character and he runs a post graduate course on positive psychology at the University of Zurich. He studied classical guitar and hopes to find more time to cultivate these skills again during retirement.