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Character Strength of Growth Agency

The only constant in life is change.

Children, adolescents and adults living within modern societies are required to navigate a complex and experience rich world, with this occurring in the context of continuous change and fragmented relationships and support systems. Technology has revolutionised the ways humans communicate and engage with life, and have required all layers of society to adapt and evolve with this change process extremely rapidly. Looking forward in time, there are a number of distinct challenges that will require high levels of individual and collective adaptation. For instance:

  • The management and prioritisation of finite resources (including water, minerals, petroleum).
  • Standard of living pressures.
  • Globalisation where a common individualistic identity is becoming conditioned.
  • Responding to inter-cultural and/or ideological differences.
  • Pollution impacts on quality of life.
  • Technology changes with the workforce.
  • An ageing population.

Individuals that are in the best position to express resilience and wellbeing, as well as engage with life in a thriving and productive manner, are those that have the capacity to be agents of change, growth and adaptation. That is, humans that can work with others to acknowledge the change around them, become industrious or curious within the change process, and re-evaluate their goals and expectations in a dynamic manner (aligned to their values or what is important to them), with the view of taking committed action towards those goals.

At the heart of the Life Buoyancy model is the character strength of “growth agency“, which is expressed as children, young people and adults being agents of change, adaptation and growth in their own lives (and in the lives of others they support). This is defined as follows:

  • Individuals viewing problems, stressors and challenges as opportunities to learn and grow, clarify values and goals, become more resilient and positively assist in the life journey.
  • Individuals being willing to initiate personal change when presented with a stressor, challenge or problem impacting on themselves or another.
  • Growth and change being grounded upon an intrinsic value orientation (e.g., valuing of family, community, culture, spirituality or pro-social identity roles).

An assessment instrument titled the Behaviour Change Questionnaire (BCQ), based upon the Transtheoretical Model (Stages of Change), has been designed to operationalise and assess willingness to change in children and young people1. This instrument is currently being tested through a PhD program at Flinders University. For more information on the BCQ click here.

 

  1. Prochaska, J. O., Di Clemente, C. C., & Norcross, J. C. (1992). In search of how people change: Applications to addictive behaviors. American Psychologist, 47(9), 1102-1114.