About the VIA Institute on Character

Based in Cincinnati, Ohio, the VIA Institute on Character is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing the science of character strengths to the world. We do so by creating and validating surveys of character, supporting researchers, and developing practical strengths-based tools for individuals and professionals, such as therapists, managers and educators. In this spirit, the VIA Survey is offered free of charge worldwide in many languages.

Our Mission

The VIA Institute on Character helps people change their lives by tapping into the power of their own greatest strengths.

What Is the VIA Survey?

The VIA Survey is at the core of the VIA Institute. It is a psychometrically validated personality test that measures an individual’s character strengths. When you discover your greatest strengths, you can use them to face life’s challenges, work toward goals, and feel more fulfilled both personally and professionally. In turn, researchers and professionals can access years worth of survey results data to advance the science and practice of strengths. Take the free survey now.

VIA By the Numbers

7,686,742
People have taken the VIA Survey

What Does “VIA” Mean?

While it once stood for "Values in Action Inventory," our original psychological assessment, the "VIA" [vee-uh] in our organization's name today describes the way that our institute connects research and practice. Not only do we advance the field every day through research, we also help individuals and professionals practice the science of character strengths every day to better their lives.


Our People

VIA is led by a tight-knit team of distinguished psychologists and researchers. Get to know Neal H. Mayerson, Ph. D., Martin E. P. Seligman, Ph.D., Donna Mayerson, Ph.D., Ryan M. Niemiec, Psy.D, and the rest of the team. Learn more.


Our History

In the early 2000s, the VIA Institute supported pivotal work on the nature of positive character. A 3-year, 55-scientist study led by Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman culminated in the landmark text Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification. The project also involved the creation of two valid and free measurement tools—the VIA Inventory of Strengths (colloquially known as the VIA Survey) for adults, and the VIA Youth Survey.


Organizations using VIA:

VIA Partners

Learn More about VIA Partners


  • "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).

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

Recommended For You