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The Effects of Covitality on Well-Being and Depression in Australian High School Adolescents

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

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