Authenticity / Honesty / Integrity

Compositive Model

Authenticity / Honesty / Integrity

Psychologists Martin Seligman and Christopher Peterson define authenticity as “speaking the truth but more broadly presenting oneself in a genuine way and acting in a sincere way; being without pretense; taking responsibility for one’s feelings and actions.” Authenticity is predictive of positive outcomes (e.g., higher levels of academic achievement) and fewer social-emotional problems among youth.

Key research findings include

  • One study found several positive benefits from authenticity, honesty and integrity:
    • Honesty predicts higher GPAs among students
    • Authenticity is associated with conscientiousness among middle school students, as well as social skills that promote cooperation
    • Honesty leads to fewer externalizing problems among youth

Promising practices

  • Connect with Kids is an intervention program for older elementary school students, middle school, and high school students that teaches students character values through a variety of activities. It has been found to improve behavior among middle school and high school students, but not elementary school students.
  • Lessons in character is an intervention comprised of 24 lessons that are designed to improve elementary and middle school students’ knowledge about character and values and their relationship to success. It improves academic achievement, but there is limited evidence of improvements in behavior.
  • Positive Action is a K-12 intervention program that is designed to promote character development, academic achievement, and social-emotional skills. Research has found that the program significantly improves behavior (e.g., decreases in alcohol and drug use) and academic achievement (e.g., decreases in grade retention and improvements on standardized tests of achievement).
  • Too Good for Violence is a program designed to promote character values, social-emotional skills, and healthy beliefs among elementary and middle school students. Research has found that it significantly improves behavior and knowledge, attitudes, and values.

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