Positive psychology is an area of increasing interest in psychological research, with studies generally focusing an individual’s strengths rather than their psychopathology. Within positive psychology, co-vitality is a new area of study that relates to the co-occurrence of human strengths. This study examined the construct of co-vitality, using the Social- Emotional Health Scale-Secondary (SEHS-S), in a population of Australian adolescents examining relationships between its four underpinning constructs (Belief-in-Self, Belief-in- Others, Emotional Competence, and Engaged Living), psychological well-being, and depression. Three hundred and sixty-one adolescents completed the SEHS-S with results demonstrating high correlations between all constructs examined. The results demonstrated that covitality predicted both well-being and depression. However, the combined effect of these constructs, co-vitality, was found to be a stronger predictor of psychological wellbeing and depression than the unique variance of any of the SEHS-S individual constructs. This suggests that building only one psychological strength, such as belief-in-self, might not be enough to strengthen wellbeing, or lessen depressive tendencies, in adolescents. In conclusion, it is considered that a broad range of constructs, such as those that underpin the SEHS-S, should be considered in high school intervention programs with adolescents.
Peter Boman, Amanda Mergler and Claire Pennell