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Positive Psychology

What is Positive Psychology?

As defined by the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, "Positive Psychology is the scientific study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive. The field is founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play." 

VIA Character Strengths Are "The Backbone Of Positive Psychology"

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. 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), was 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.

Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification

Positive psychology and character strengths

Christopher Peterson, Martin Seligman

This handbook of character strengths and virtues is the first progress report from a prestigious group of researchers who have, for the first time ever in such depth, undertaken the systematic classification and measurement of widely valued positive traits.They approach character in terms of separate strengths - authenticity, persistence, kindness, gratitude, hope, humor, and so on - each of which exists in degrees. Read more about Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification.

Purchasing a copy from this Amazon.com link supports the VIA Institute's mission: Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification.

Discover What Works Well In You

Dr. Seligman theorizes that the 24 VIA character strengths are the pathways to each of the 5 areas of well-being (PERMA). They underpin  each element - deploying your highest strengths leads to:

  • More positive emotion;
  • More engagement;
  • Better relationships
  • More meaning; and
  • More accomplishments
By completing the free VIA Survey, you will join the global positive psychology movement, which aims to fill the world with greater goodness. Support us in our mission to advance this science by taking 15 minutes to take the VIA Survey and discover your best qualities.