The VIA Institute on Character:

Bridging the science and practice of character strengths
to build a better world.


Our Mission

The VIA Institute on Character is a non-profit organization, based in Cincinnati, Ohio, dedicated to bringing the science of character strengths to the world through supporting research, creating and validating surveys of character, and developing practical tools for individuals and practitioners.

In this video, VIA's founder, Dr. Neal Mayerson, explains why this work around character strengths is so important to us as individuals and also as a community of people living and working together:

VIA By the Numbers:


People have taken the VIA Survey



The VIA Survey has been taken in every country across the globe

Our Work

VIA Survey

The VIA Survey is a psychometrically validated personality test that measures an individual’s character strengths. Character strengths are viewed as our positive personality in that they are our core capacities for thinking, feeling, and behaving in ways that can bring benefit to us and others.

Tools & Resources

VIA offers a variety of services to help you integrate the latest positive psychology tools and applications into your work. By creating your VIA Pro site you will receive immediate access to your client's VIA Survey results and in-depth reports after they complete the VIA Survey. Additionally, our in-depth online courses and 1-on-1 coaching options will take your strengths knowledge and experience to the next level.

Character Strengths & Virtues: A Handbook and Classification

The Character Strengths and Virtues is regarded as the backbone of the science of positive psychology and remains one of the most substantive efforts generated by the field of Character. In turn, it draws interest from a wide range of professions and disciplines – education, management, consulting, psychology, coaching, and many others.


VIA collaborates with, and in some cases provides funding to, researchers across the globe to provide free access to the VIA Survey and raw data for use in research studies. Our on-going relationships with scientists and thinkers at the forefront of character science ensure that we remain at the epicenter of the global movement to advance the science and practice of character strengths.

Peterson and Seligman's endeavor to focus on human strengths and virtues is one of the most important initiatives in psychology of the past half century."

- Howard Gardner, Hobbs Professor of Education and Cognition, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Character may occupy the most central role in the field of positive psychology. Pleasure, flow, and other positive experiences are enabled by good character."

(Park & Peterson, 2009a; Peterson, Ruch, Beerman, Park, & Seligman, 2007).

What’s in a name?

The "VIA" [vee-uh] in our organization's name is a reference to the role the Institute plays in connecting research and practice. Offering effective applications of character strengths by way of supporting the foundational research required to inform their development. While VIA is most well-known for providing the tools that resulted from original, scientific ground-breaking research, the effort to catalyze new research into key issues related to character strengths – how to best utilize them, what benefits they create, and how they relate to each other - continues to be an active and integral part of our work. Your support of VIA allows us to expand the knowledge-base on character strengths and how they help us all flourish. 

History of the VIA Institute

In 1998 Dr. Neal Mayerson, President of the Manuel D. and Rhoda Mayerson Foundation and a clinical psychologist, connected with Dr. Martin Seligman, renowned researcher, scholar, and author to explore the newly forming field of Positive Psychology.  As they  used social science to explore what is best about human beings, they discovered that a key construct in the science of Positive Psychology is character; specifically, the characteristics that define what's best about people.

In 2001, the VIA Institute on Character was established as a non-profit organization to advance the science and practice of character and to fill the world with greater virtue (more wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance and transcendence). Through the support of the Mayerson Foundation and the leadership of Dr. Seligman and Dr. Chris Peterson, the VIA Classification of Character Strengths, as well as the landmark publication Character Strengths and Virtues (VIA's handbook), were written. Upon its publication it was hailed as the "backbone of Positive Psychology". 

Once the VIA Classification was complete, a new ground breaking personal strengths test, the VIA Survey, was designed specifically to measure these 24 character strengths in individuals. Since its inception, the VIA Survey has been, and is still is offered, for free by the VIA Institute so that every individual in the world can "know their 24" and use this information to lead happier, thriving lives.

Organizations using VIA:

VIA is Proud to be a Member of:


  • International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA)
  • European Positive Psychology Association
  • Canadian Positive Psychology Association
  • International Coach Federation (ICF)
  • Institute of Coaching, Harvard Medical School
  • New Zealand Association of Positive Psychology
  • Polish Positive Psychology Association



Discover the Good in You

Take the Free VIA Survey