Permissions and Guidelines for Use and Interpretation
The VIA Institute wants to support anyone interested in our character strengths work and research. We encourage practitioners, individuals, and researchers to utilize all of our tools and resources in their lives and work. With that said, the VIA Survey, VIA Classification, VIA Reports, and VIA’s work product (e.g., powerpoint presentations, handouts, the Character Strengths and Virtues text) are copyrighted material and it is important to use these tools according to VIA guidelines and properly acknowledge or request permission when needed. The VIA Institute strives to maintain quality and excellence and we appreciate your cooperation with this request.
You do not need direct approval from the VIA Institute to do the following, but please always include proper citation (listed below):
Provide a link to our website www.viacharacter.org on your website or blog.
Blog or post to Facebook, Linked In, *Twitter about your experience with any of the VIA tools. (*Due to character limitations in tweets, Twitter users may use the following link as proper citation: www.viacharacter.org)
Refer a friend, colleague and/or student to our website to complete the VIA Survey.
Cite the VIA Inventory of Strengths (VIA Survey), VIA Youth Survey, or the VIA Classification in a book, article, publication, etc. See here for proper citation.
Cite a few sentences or less of text from the book, Character Strengths and Virtues (Peterson & Seligman, 2004). Proper citation must be used along with adherence to APA citation guidelines (e.g., indented paragraph and page number).
Duplicate and distribute the VIA Classification for individual use.
Use a VIA video as part of a nonprofit activity (e.g., classroom exercise or teaching).
Please contact the VIA Institute for approval to do the following (note some of the following are widely approved and others are rarely, if ever, approved):
Reprint the VIA Classification of character strengths and virtues for any publication.
Cite more than a few sentences of text from the book, Character Strengths and Virtues (Peterson & Seligman, 2004).
Use VIA’s copyrighted work products (e.g., duplicating powerpoint slides or powerpoint images, VIA videos, VIA handouts, etc.) from an online or face-to-face VIA course.
Create any products using the VIA Classification (e.g., strengths cards, strengths smart-phone apps, etc.).
Create an assessment – abridged or otherwise – of the VIA character strengths and virtues.
Present an altered form of the VIA Classification (such as additional or removed strengths)
Use the VIA logo on a website or other materials.
Duplicate and disseminate VIA Reports
Use the word “VIA” in the presentation of materials (websites, presentations, powerpoints, etc.) that in any way could give the impression that the work is that of the VIA Institute. For example, it is acceptable to refer to VIA as an organization, classification and/or survey within presentations but using “VIA” in the title of a presentation could, depending on the wording, cause a participant to mistakenly believe that the presentation itself is being offered by VIA.
If you are unclear in any way as to whether or not your intended use requires specific permission, please contact us. We welcome the opportunity to discuss your specific situation.
VIA Assessments Guidelines for Use
As applied work continues, we would like to provide some guidelines for those interested in using the VIA Survey.
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.
The VIA measures have been determined to be reliable and valid, although relevant work is ongoing.
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.
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.
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.
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.