Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) Capstone Projects


Patricia Snyder

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



This capstone was subsequently published in the Arizona Summit Law Review; that version will be available in lieu of the original capstone until January 5, 2019.

Suggested citation:

Snyder, P. (2015). Super women lawyers: A study of character strengths. Arizona Summit Law Review, 8(3), 261-316.


The legal profession has relatively high rates of depression and career dissatisfaction. It has been suggested that positive psychology, which correlates the greater use of individual character strengths with increased life satisfaction and success, may have the answers. In this study, 17 women lawyers named to a top lawyers list compiled by the Super Lawyers rating service, took the online Brief Strengths Test, a 24-question version of the 240-question online Values in Action – Inventory of Strengths (VIA-IS) and 16 participated in interviews probing the extent of their strengths use both personally and professionally. As predicted, the study found that these superachievers regularly used their character strengths to meet challenges. Though not predicted, they also exhibited a predominance of heart strengths as opposed to more analytical head strengths, with gratitude and kindness appearing most frequently. These successful women exercised heart strengths regularly and strategically in professional and personal settings, in conjunction with head strengths, such as bravery, prudence and self-control. The study suggests that the stereotypical “lawyer personality” in which thinking dominates feeling in every aspect of practice, may not apply to those who excel. Cultivation of heart strengths may be useful to increase success and well-being in the legal profession.


Character Strengths and Virtues


Empirical Study



Date Posted: 08 March 2013