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Strength spotted: using positive reflective storytelling as a tool to identify the strengths of people living with an intellectual disability

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posted on 2022-10-25, 03:19 authored by William Bruce

Throughout history people living with an intellectual disability have been marginalised in the workforce, reporting some of the highest unemployment levels. While improvements in this area have been made, individuals living with intellectual disabilities continue to experience employment-related underachievement. A potential solution to this unfairness is empowering people living with an intellectual disability's ability to job craft. It is difficult for an individual to effectively job craft without a sound understanding of their own inherent strengths and skills. Psychometric testing typically focuses on analysing what people living with an intellectual disability can't do or through a deficit lens. This is where positive psychology and positive reflective storytelling can play a beneficial role. A pilot study was established, alongside an industry partner, to research this area in greater detail. This paper assesses the viability of using positive reflective storytelling as a strength spotting tool for people living with an intellectual disability. Stories were collected via an adapted version of the Reflected Best Self Exercise (RBSE), a well-established strength-spotting process. The researchers, alongside their industry partner, adapted the RBSE to improve its accessibility and, unlike the typical RBSE process where an individual collects their own stories, disability support workers played a key role in story collection. Our analysis found that this methodological approach so far, has had mixed success. Out of a possible ten participants the researchers were able to collect a meaningful data set for one participant. The inherent strengths of this participant were clearly identifiable, and they were perseverance, creativity, leadership, and kindness. The RBSE methodology is complex and time-consuming, and these are both clear limitations of its use. However, many potential future research opportunities exist in this space. Most notably conducting a group analysis to examine whether there is a set of inherent group strengths, shared by all people living with an intellectual disability.


Table of Contents

Introduction -- Methodology -- Results -- Discussion -- Future directions -- Conclusion -- Reference list -- Appendix 1 - The 24 character strengths

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


Thesis (MRes), Macquarie University, Macquarie Business School, 2021

Department, Centre or School

Department of Management

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Rebecca Mitchell


Copyright: William Bruce Copyright disclaimer:




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