VIA's Senior Scientists, Willibald Ruch and Robert McGrath, and VIA's Education Director, Ryan Niemiec, will be giving presentations at IPPA. Please join us for the following sessions:



Character strengths predict academic achievement, positive experiences, and positive relationships at school above intelligence and Big Five personality traits (#103)

Lisa Wagner, Willibald Ruch

In this study, we establish the associations of the 24 character strengths of the VIA classification (Peterson & Seligman, 2004) with flow experiences and positive relationships at school (with classmates and teachers). We extend previous findings by demonstrating the incremental predictive validity of character strengths beyond the most powerful cognitive and non-cognitive predictors of academic achievement, general mental ability, and Big Five personality traits.

Secondary school students (N = 190; 46% male; mean age = 14.5 years) completed self-reports of character strengths and Big Five personality traits, as well as school satisfaction, flow at school, and positive relationships with classmates and teachers (twice, three months apart). They also completed a test of general mental ability at baseline.

Results indicate that most of the 24 character strengths showed meaningful associations with at least one of the outcomes, while many character strengths predicted the outcomes even above the influences of general mental ability and the Big Five. Overall, love of learning, perseverance, and fairness showed the most consistent relationships across the outcomes.

Overall, these results suggest that character strengths are relevant constructs when studying the link between individual differences and achievement, positive experiences, and relationships at school. Learn More here.

Five New Findings You Should Know about Character and Virtue (#307)

Robert E. McGrath

As a Senior Scientist for the VIA Institute on Character, the presenter has authored a number of quantitative and conceptual articles on the nature and functioning of character strengths and virtues. Many of these articles were written for technical audiences, and it can be easy to miss the findings that are useful for answering questions relevant to practice in applied settings. Questions to be addressed in this presentation include:

What are my options for measuring character strengths and virtues? What role do character strengths play in depression? What is practical wisdom? What does it mean to be a person of character? Is there such a thing as a person of character?

Learn more here.

Character strengths: past, presence, and future (#205)

Willibald Ruch

Strengths research has started at the 1999 Cayman taxonomy meeting ("The Roots of A Positive Life") where 17 characteristics were discussed that should enable a “good life” and three categories of positive outcome (“fulfilments”) measures were proposed. In subsequent meetings, the notions of strengths and core virtues were introduced leading to a model. In 2004 Peterson and Seligman then presented their influential “Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification” and subsequently presented the first wave of instruments for their assessment. In the meantime, many studies were published using the instruments and validating strengths in a variety of settings and in different cultures. Also, applications are blossoming in different fields. Yet several assumptions are unresolved or remained untested, and others have not been addressed yet. How do the strengths relate to the perception of a good character? What is the relation between strengths and core virtues? What is the scientific status of signature strengths? Do strengths indeed contribute to various (e.g., subjective, objective and societal) fulfillments that constitute the good life, for oneself and for others? How does character relate to personality? The talk will address these and similar questions and address the issues that need further scientific scrutiny. Learn more here.

The 6 functions of character strengths for thriving at times of adversity and opportunity (#399)

Ryan M. Niemiec

Life is a collection of moments, some light and pleasant, some dark and unpleasant, some neutral. Character strengths contribute to the full range of human experiences, influencing and creating positive opportunities while also helping us to endure the mundane and embrace and navigate the struggles. Some researchers have argued that thriving constitutes strong well-being and performance at times of both adversity and opportunity (Brown et al., 2017). With this and the many findings in the science of character in mind, six character strengths functions are theorized and then applied across time orientations, making the case for the integral role of character strengths across the vicissitudes of life. Three opportunity functions are offered, including priming in which character strengths prompt and prepare for strengths awareness and use; mindfulness in which character strengths serve in synergy with mindful awareness of the present reality; and appreciation in which character strengths use expresses value for what has occurred. The three adversity functions include: buffering – character strengths use prevents problems; reappraisal – character strengths explain or reinterpret problems; and resilience – character strengths support the bounce-back from life setbacks. Research and applications for each of these six functions will be explored. Learn more here.