Fairness | Character Strength | VIA Institute

Become Aware Of Your Strength

Understand what fairness is all about so you can begin recognizing it in yourself and others.
What is Fairness?

Fairness is treating people justly, not letting your personal feelings bias your decisions about others. You want to give everyone a fair chance, and believe there should be equal opportunity for all, though you also realize that what is fair for one person might not be fair for another.

Fairness is a cognitive judgment capacity that involves reasoning and making judgments. It involves 2 types of reasoning:

  • Justice reasoning which emphasizes logic and weighing principles to determine moral rights and responsibilities.
  • Care reasoning which includes empathy and compassion; the ability to put yourself in somebody else's shoes.
Which virtue is this strength?
Fairness is a strength within the virtue category of justice, one of six virtues that subcategorize the 24 strengths. Justice describes strengths that help you connect in community or group-based situations. The other strengths in Justice are fairness , leadership , and teamwork .
What the Science Says

Research findings on the benefits of the strength of fairness found that fair-minded individuals are more likely to engage in positive, prosocial behaviors and less likely to engage in illegal and immoral behavior. They tend to focus on whether their behavior will have a direct negative impact on others. Also, research found that Fairness is enhanced by the ability to take the perspective of others. The ability to deliberate logically over issues of right and wrong is less central but can also be important.

Explore Your Strength

Reflect on how you’ve used fairness in the past, in everyday life and during special or critical times.

Questions to Help You Understand Your Strength Better
  • How is your strength of fairness expressed at work, at home, and in the community?
  • In what situations have you received feedback that you have acted unfairly? How did you handle the situation?
  • How do you reconcile your sense of fairness with the reality that “life is not fair”?
Examples of this Strength in Action

Wondering about times that you may be using this strength? Here are a few examples of fairness at work in the world.

  • Supporting others in exploring their beliefs and perceptions about people from diverse backgrounds.
  • Taking the step to make your workplace more inclusive, encouraging, or supportive of others.
  • Serving on the board of an organization that offers under-privileged people a level playing field.

Apply Your Strength

How can you make the most of fairness in your everyday life? In the moments that matter most? Here are some ideas.
  • Self-monitor to see whether you think about or treat people of other ethnicities and cultures stereotypically.
  • The next time you make a mistake, self-monitor to see whether you admit it.
  • Involve others in decisions that affect them and allow them to disagree with your ideas and assumptions. Invite their ideas for other ways to approach the decision.