Graduation Year


Document Type

Ed. Specalist



Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Linda Raffaele Mendez, Ph.D.


Values in action classification, Positive psychology, Child development, International adoption, Preschool age, School age


Shifting from traditional deficit-based psychological research, the current study aimed to broaden the understanding of post-adoption development through a strength-based approach and further explore the recently developed Values in Action (VIA) Classification of Character Strengths among a particularly resilient population of young children-internationally adopted Chinese children. Archival longitudinal data of parents' descriptions about their adopted Chinese children's positive characteristics were analyzed from two time points two years apart. Data on 179 children ages 4 - 5 years old (M = 59.67 months SD = 6.60 months) in Time 1 from 172 families were analyzed with content analysis coding procedures.

Overall, the profile of character strengths among young Chinese adoptees was very comparable to that of a general sample of young children assessed in a previous research study: Both samples had 11 of the 24 character strengths from the VIA Classification represented among 10% or more of the children, while the remaining character strengths were rarely represented in the children's data. The five most prevalent character strengths for Chinese adoptees were Love, Kindness, Humor, Zest, and Social Intelligence. The biggest difference between adopted Chinese children from this study and non-adopted children was that Zest and Social Intelligence were represented at much higher rates. There were no significant changes over time in all but one of the prevalence rates for character strengths (i.e., Love decreased from Time 1 to Time 2) and for the more broadly categorized virtues (i.e., Courage increased from Time 1 to Time 2).

The two most prevalent virtues, Humanity and Courage, were associated with lower levels of externalizing and internalizing problems, respectively, which may point to the positive traits particularly related to this population's marked resilience. Results serve to provide a broader understanding of post-adoption development and offer the first longitudinal data on character strengths among young children.