The VIA Classification is comprised of 24 character strengths that fall under six broad virtues—wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance and transcendence—and encompass our capacities for helping ourselves and others. They are morally and universally valued and produce positive effects when we express them in our relationships with ourselves and others. Understanding your unique constellation of character strengths is the first step towards living a happier, more authentic life. Discover your personalized Character Strengths Profile by taking the our free personality test, the VIA Survey.
The VIA Classification of Character Strengths and Virtues was developed under the supervision and guidance of Dr. Martin Seligman and Dr. Christopher Peterson. They led a team of 55 leading social scientists and researched the basis of character strengths and virtues over time and across cultures. After 3 years of extensive and exhaustive work, the VIA Classification was presented in 2004 in the landmark publication: Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification.
Download the VIA Classification
The VIA Classification is available in many forms. Choose which one best suits your needs from the selection below:
The VIA Classification of Character Strengths & Virtues
1. 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
2. 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
3. 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
4. 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 maintaining good relations within the group; organizing group activities and seeing that they happen.
5. 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
- 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
© 2004-2014 VIA® Institute on Character; All Rights Reserved
®VIA and the VIA logo are registered trademarks of the VIA Institute on Character.
View VIA Citation