“The Sum Is Greater Than the Parts?”: The role of student covitality in flourishing

Esther Yuet Ying LAU, Xingzhou ZHANG, Rong-Wei SUN, Chi Kin John LEE

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review


Existing studies have revealed associations of positive psychological traits with human thriving and flourishing. However, how these traits co-occur—known as covitality—and how it relates to flourishing remain relatively unexplored. This study aimed to investigate how student covitality as a second-order construct of four school experience-grounded positive psychological traits, namely gratitude, optimism, zest and persistence, predicts flourishing among primary school students. Participants were fourth to sixth graders (N = 1,107, 36.2% Grade 4, 32.8% Grade 5, and 31.0% Grade 6; 50.4% female) from 34 primary schools in Hong Kong (7.1% Hong Kong Island, 36.4% Kowloon, and 56.5% New Territories). In this study, structural equation modelling showed that student covitality as a second-order construct predicted flourishing directly (β =.594), and also indirectly through resilience (β =.111) and prosocial behaviour (β =.062). The findings suggest that student covitality as a latent construct better captures the mechanisms that drive student flourishing than the four individual first-order constructs of positive psychological traits. This study sheds light on future efforts in the field of children’s flourishing to consider school-related covitality as a critical variable in research and to develop school-based strategies that promote covitality in practice. Copyright © 2024 The Author(s). 

Original languageEnglish
Article number48
JournalJournal of Happiness Studies
Early online dateMay 2024
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2024


Lau, E. Y. Y., Zhang, X., Sun, R.-W., & Lee, J. C.-K. (2024). “The Sum Is Greater Than the Parts?”: The role of student covitality in flourishing. Journal of Happiness Studies, 25, Article 48. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-024-00759-2


  • Positive traits
  • Flourishing
  • Resilience
  • Prosocial behaviour
  • Children
  • PG student publication


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