Click here for a printable version of the VIA Classification of Character Strengths.
How does the VIA Classification compare to other lists of strengths?
The VIA Classification is the product of a multi-year research project with the goal of identifying what's best about human beings and how we use those best characteristics to build our best lives for ourselves and others. What are the human traits that are valued in all cultures, religions and across time? The Classification reflects the world's major religious writings, including the Bible, the Koran, and the Bhagavad Gita, as well as studies of major philosophies. The search was conducted by 55 top social scientists over a period of three years beginning in 2001. The classification has been studied by many scientists with research published in peer-reviewed journals.
The resulting classification of 6 virtues and the 24 character strengths within them form a language of common ground. People - in remote villages in Greenland, or the Ukraine, or in urban Australia - agree upon the goodness of these strengths and virtues. A notable characteristic of the character strengths is that they do not diminish another. For example: all people value wisdom in themselves and others - yet knowing a wise person does not diminish one's self-concept -- rather it elevates it.
The VIA Inventory of Strengths Survey identifies traits of character (consistent traits people universally express across all areas of their life -- home, family, social life, work). Other instruments identify people's talents, skills, aptitudes and personality styles or preferences (such as being an introvert or extrovert) and frequently focus on a specific part of life, such as the workplace.