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Thank you for your thoughtful revision
As you will see in the comments of reviewer #1 your revision has greatly improved the paper. However there is still a little work to be done. Reviewer #1 (and I agree with him) points out that your abstract is misleading, in that it causes the reader to believe that you have more than cross-sectional data, and therefore that your inferences are predictive rather than proving associations. You would do well to take his other major comment into consideration as well and expand the discussion to include the psycho-bio-social model of personality, as character, and in particular the character trait of self-directedness has been shown to have a central contribution to psychological and physical resilience.
Please make these minor revisions and resubmit - you are nearly done!
The writing is improved in this revision. It is clearly written and understandable with improved exposition of methods and what is measured.
The design is retrospective study of volunteers, so there are limitations about what can be inferred. This is properly acknowledged at the end of the discussion but is not clear in the abstract. The abstract should make the cross-sectional design and the associations among cross-sectional self-reports by volunteers more clear since the word post-traumatic growth tends to imply there is evidence of growth, which actually requires longitudinal data.
The conclusions are stated in terms of explained variance but it is not clear that these are merely associations among variables reported at one point in time. The abstract should be more clear.
Also the authors relies on measures of virtues that may confound components of temperament and character that are known to differ in their biological, emotional, and spiritual basis, as described by Eley et al's work on The relationship between resilience and personality traits (Peer J 1:e216; doi 10.7717/peerj.216). In fact, the virtues described by the authors correspond strongly to the three character traits of Cloninger's Temperament and Character Inventory (Self-directedness with vitality, Cooperativeness with relationship, and Self-transcendence with conscientiousness), but this is not discussed at all.
It would be helpful to expand the literature review of character and resilience more broadly than beyond the VIA particularly in view of the resemblance of your virtues with Cloninger's character traits that are known to predict well-being in longitudinal studies (Josefsson et al, Development and Psychopathology 2013; 25:713-727; Cloninger & Zohar,Journal of Affective Disorders 2011; 129:24-32).
Both reviewers and myself feel that this is a potentially interesting study of an understudied topic - i.e. resilience and PTG. Please address all comments of both reviewers, including adding the study questionnaires in English as appendices to the manuscript
The review of the literature is interesting and informative. The quality of the English language is not native, and the article could be improved by having a native English speaker edit numerous awkward usage: e.g., line 29, is refer should be is referred, line 37 should be "is appreciated", line 61 should add the before indirect, line 62, group should be groups, etc
The design is retrospective and depends on questionnaires for PTSD, growth, and virtues. Although such questionnaires can be reliable and informative, it is less clear that they are valid for what they purport to measure. Many PTSD researchers have doubts about what PTSD self-reports capture. In addition, for readers to understand what is measured by the virtues questionnaire, we would need a fuller description. The VIA has a very doubtful structure and content but less is known about the validity of the Chinese Virtues Questionnaire, so I would need to review copies of all the questionnaires in English before making a recommendation.
I suspect that the findings and conclusions are justified, but as I mentioned I would prefer to see the questionnaires before making further comments.
This is important work that should be continued. I just don't have confidence that I know what you have measured without seeing the questionnaires themselves. I cannot really make a specific recommendation yet without that.
- The introduction should address each virtue more specifically. In its current form, the introduction does not address the hypothesized importance of each virtue vis-a-vis PTG. This is only done in the discussion, and even there the theoretical discussion of each virtue is rather short.
- The text may benefit from additional language editing.
- The authors compare 3 groups. One group is curiously missing - those with indirect exposure and PTSD. If there is a reason why this group is omitted, this should be acknowledged and discussed.
- The division into study groups is presented only in the abstract, but not in the methods section.
- The authors note in the introduction that the factor structure of virtues is unstable and open to exploration. Therefore, I was wondering why they themselves did not conduct a factor analysis in their study.
- While it seems like this paper's findings regarding virtues and PTG may be important, the authors need to significantly expand their discussion of the theoretical meaning of these results. For example, why are certain virtues more predictive of PTG than others? what is the unique nature of each of these specific virtues? etc.
This paper deals with the important topic of PTG and its correlates. It has several strengths, most notably a large sample size and an interesting set of predicting variables (virtues). However, the main weakness of this paper is the very limited attention given to theoretical aspects of the selected variables, and the meaning of the study's results. In order for this paper to be published, I recommend that the authors conduct a major revision, in which they would significantly add to the theoretical scope of this paper. Also, the rationale behind the specific division into 3 study groups needs to be much better explained. What did the authors expect to find regarding the various combinations of PTSD and exposure, and why?
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