VIA Classification of Character Strengths

The VIA Classification of Character Strengths[i] ©Copyright 2004-2015, VIA Institute on Character. Used with permission. All rights reserved. www.viacharacter.org

 

Wisdom and Knowledge: Cognitive strengths that entail the acquisition and use of knowledge

 

  • Creativity [originality, ingenuity]: Thinking of novel and productive ways to conceptualize and do things;  includes artistic achievement but is not limited to it

  • Curiosity [interest, novelty - seeking, openness to experience]: Taking an interest in ongoing experience for its own sake; finding subjects and topics fascinating; exploring and discovering

  • Judgment [critical thinking]: Thinking things through and examining them from all sides; not jumping to conclusions; being able to change one’s mind in light of evidence; weighing all evidence fairly

  • Love of Learning: Mastering new skills, topics, and bodies of knowledge, whether on one’s own or formally; obviously related to the strength of curiosity but goes beyond it to describe the tendency to add systematically to what one knows

  • Perspective [wisdom]: Being able to provide wise counsel to others; having ways of looking at the world that make sense to oneself and to other people

 

Courage: Emotional strengths that involve the exercise of will to accomplish goals in the face of opposition, external or internal

 

  • Bravery [valor]: Not shrinking from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain; speaking up for what is right even if there is opposition; acting on convictions even if unpopular; includes physical bravery but is not limited to it

  • Perseverance [persistence, industriousness]: Finishing what one starts; persisting in a course of action in spite of obstacles; “getting it out the door”; taking pleasure in completing tasks

  • Honesty [authenticity, integrity]: 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

  • Zest [vitality, enthusiasm, vigor, energy]: Approaching life with excitement and energy; not doing things halfway or halfheartedly; living life as an adventure; feeling alive and activated

 

Humanity: Interpersonal strengths that involve tending and befriending others

 

  • Love: Valuing close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing and caring are reciprocated; being close to people

  • Kindness [generosity, nurturance, care, compassion, altruistic love, “niceness”]: Doing favors and good deeds for others; helping them; taking care of them

  • Social Intelligence [emotional intelligence, personal intelligence]: Being aware of the motives and feelings of other people and oneself; knowing what to do to fit into different social situations; knowing what makes other people tick

 

Justice: Civic strengths that underlie healthy community life

 

  • Teamwork [citizenship, social responsibility, loyalty]: Working well as a member of a group or team; being loyal to the group; doing one’s share

  • Fairness: Treating all people the same according to notions of fairness and justice; not letting personal feelings bias decisions about others; giving everyone a fair chance.

  • Leadership: Encouraging a group of which one is a member to get things done and at the same time maintain good relations within the group; organizing group activities and seeing that they happen.

 

Temperance: Strengths that protect against excess

 

  • Forgiveness: Forgiving those who have done wrong; accepting the shortcomings of others; giving people a second chance; not being vengeful

  • Humility:  Letting one’s accomplishments speak for themselves; not regarding oneself as more special than one is

  • Prudence: Being careful about one’s choices; not taking undue risks; not saying or doing things that might later be regretted

  • Self-Regulation [self-control]: Regulating what one feels and does; being disciplined; controlling one’s appetites and emotions

 

Transcendence: Strengths that forge connections to the larger universe and provide meaning

 

  • Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence [awe, wonder, elevation]: Noticing and appreciating beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in various domains of life, from nature to art to mathematics to science to everyday experience

  • Gratitude: Being aware of and thankful for the good things that happen; taking time to express thanks

  • Hope [optimism, future-mindedness, future orientation]: Expecting the best in the future and working to achieve it; believing that a good future is something that can be brought about

  • Humor [playfulness]: Liking to laugh and tease; bringing smiles to other people; seeing the light side; making (not necessarily telling) jokes

  • Spirituality [faith, purpose]: Having coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe; knowing where one fits within the larger scheme; having beliefs about the meaning of life that shape conduct and provide comfort

 

 

 

[i] Peterson, C., & Park, N. (2009). Classifying and measuring strengths of character. In S. J. Lopez & C. R. Snyder (Eds.), Oxford handbook of positive psychology, 2nd edition (pp. 25-33). New York: Oxford University Press.

Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. New York: Oxford University Press and Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. www.viacharacter.org