Guidelines for Use and Interpretation

VIA Assessments Guidelines for Use:

As applied work continues, we would like to provide some guidelines for those interested in using the VIA Survey.

1. The VIA measures only assess strengths and make no attempt to assess weaknesses/deficits. Most people possess all of the strengths in various degrees, rather than having a simple set of discrete strengths.  Character strengths are understood as dimensions and not as nominal categories, and they are dynamic over time, meaning scores and rankings can shift over time and circumstances. 

2. The VIA measures have been determined to be reliable and valid, although relevant work is ongoing.

3. The most appropriate use of the measures is to gain insight into groups of people through aggregated data.  However, the VIA measures can be used with individuals to estimate the relative strength of expression of the 24 character strengths within an individual.  Individuals should not be compared with one another based on the scores they obtain on each scale since each individual may interpret and apply the rating scale differently as they determine their responses to each item.

4. Despite the accumulating evidence for the validity of the scales, we implore users of these measures not to treat the results as more “real” than the traits and habits that the scales attempt to measure.  Therefore, if someone scores relatively low on the VIA scale of kindness yet lives a life of obvious charity and benevolence, the scale does not trump the life. As with all psychological measures, the VIA measures have a degree of error associated with them, meaning they are not perfect readings of a person but, instead, are indicators. 

5. In constructing the VIA measures, no attempt has been made to detect deliberate faking or inaccuracies related to the demand characteristics of the context for administration.  As such, the VIA measures are best utilized in situations where respondents are inclined to answer honestly and there is no motivation to answer items to satisfy others’ expectations. Accordingly, the VIA measures are not recommended for use in personnel selection or placement decisions.

6. Occasionally, an individual’s results from the VIA Survey will include one or more ties (when the raw score on one scale is the same as another).  Ties are broken by the application of an algorithm developed by Dr. Robert McGrath, VIA Senior Scientist. As ties indicate there is no meaningful difference between the tied strengths, user judgment should be considered for any rank ordering of tied scores.