The VIA Institute on Character
The science of strengths. The practice of wellbeing.
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.
What We Believe
We believe that the rigorous, scientific pursuit to understand the range and dimensions of human goodness (e.g., character strengths) is the key to generating discoveries and strategies for improving the human experience that will enable and encourage the development and use of tools, practices, and methodologies which will fundamentally shift the trajectory of humankind toward the better.
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
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.
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.
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.
Our Work on Character Strengths Research
Watch a presentation by Dr. Neal Mayerson on the importance of understanding and applying character strengths to improve ourselves and our world: A Character Strengths Revolution.
Read an article on the growing research on character strengths and how more research is needed to continue this work studying the core aspects of human goodness: The Character Strengths Response: An Urgent Call to Action.
Our Commitment to Racial Equity
The VIA Institute began with the question: "what is best in people?" and a belief in the universality of character strengths across cultures, religions, beliefs and races. We stand for justice and humanity, and join the collective voice condemning racism and oppression. We are actively listening and learning to see how we can better support the Black community, as well as all other marginalized individuals. As a non-profit, we are exploring how we can best use our resources and relationships to support this ongoing mission. We must work together to uproot prejudice in ourselves, our families, our communities and our world.
Organizations using VIA:
"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."
Character may occupy the most central role in the field of positive psychology. Pleasure, flow, and other positive experiences are enabled by good character.
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