VIA Inventory of Strengths (VIA-IS)
The original VIA assessment consisting of 240 questions, all positively keyed, was developed and tested by Dr. Christopher Peterson. A good amount of reliability and validity data has been published (see below for details).
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VIA Inventory of Strengths (VIA-IS) Psychometrics
|Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence||0.86|
|Love of Learning||0.85|
VIA-IS Published Reliability and Validity Data
- All scales have satisfactory alphas (>.70).
- Scores are skewed to the right but still show variation.
- One may not want to make much of these findings, but the highest mean scores are consistently found for the humanity strengths of kindness and love, whereas the lowest are found for the temperance strengths of forgiveness, prudence, humility and self-regulation.
- Test-retest correlations for all scales over a 4-month period are substantial (>.70) and in almost all cases approach their internal consistencies.
- Demographic correlations are modest but sensible. For example, women score higher than men on all of the humanity strengths. Younger adults score higher than older adults on the score for playfulness. Married individuals are more forgiving than those who are divorced.
- Self-nominations of strengths correlate substantially (rs = .5) with the matching scale scores for all 24 strengths.
- Marlowe-Crowne social desirability scores do not significantly correlate with scale scores, with the exception of prudence (r=.44) and spirituality (r=.30).
- In a series of three large-sample studies (ns > 600), correlations between the scales and rewarding aspects of work, love and play were explored. The correlates found were modest but congruent with the meanings of the strengths. For example, individuals scoring high on the strength of kindness particularly enjoyed jobs in which they can mentor others, those high in curiosity preferred sexually experienced romantic partners, those high on love of learning appreciated gardening, and so on.
- The most prevalent character strengths in human beings in descending order are kindness, fairness, honesty, gratitude, judgment. The least prevalent character strengths in human beings are prudence, modesty, and self-regulation.
- The most prevalent character strengths in a UK sample were open-mindedness, fairness, curiosity, love of learning, and kindness.
- The greatest strengths among 2 military samples (US and Norway) were honesty, hope, bravery, perseverance, and teamwork, and the two samples correlated higher with one another than with a civilian sample.
- Young adults (ages 18-24) from the US and Japan showed similar distributions of VIA strengths – higher strengths of kindness, humor, and love and lower strengths in prudence, modesty, and self-regulation; in addition females reported more kindness and love while males reported more bravery and creativity.
- The most prevalent character strengths in very young children are love, kindness, creativity, curiosity, and humor.
- When compared with U.S. adults, youth from the U.S. are higher on the character strengths of hope, teamwork, and zest and adults are higher on appreciation of beauty & excellence, honesty, leadership, open-mindedness.
- Convergence of strengths between parents and child are modest except for spirituality where it is substantial.
- Character strengths with a developmental trajectory (least common in youth and increase over time through cognitive maturation) are appreciation of beauty & excellence, forgiveness, modesty, open-mindedness.
- Character strengths are moderately heritable. Twin studies show that love, humor, modesty, and teamwork are most influenced by environmental factors.
- There have been over 7 published factor analyses on the VIA Classification. The trend is toward a four factor solution, although some studies have found five factors.
In summary, the VIA Survey-240 has acceptable internal consistency and test-retest reliability. It also has moderate and growing levels of psychometric validity, meaning it correlates reasonably well with constructs that it would be expected to be related to and does not correlate with constructs it should not be related to, such as social desirability. Further, in terms of predictive validity, the studies reported demonstrate moderate and acceptable levels. Further validity studies are ongoing.
For more on the reliability and validity of the VIA Inventory of Strengths, please Chapter 28 of Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook andClassification.
Linley, P. A., Maltby, J., Wood, A. M., Joseph, S., Harrington, S., Peterson, C., Park, N., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2007). Character strengths in the United Kingdom: The VIA inventory of strengths. Personality and Individual Differences, 43, 341-351.
Matthews, M. D., Eid, J., Kelly, D., Bailey, J. K. S., & Peterson, C. (2006). Character strengths and virtues of developing military leaders: An international comparison. Military Psychology, 18(Suppl.), S57–S68.
Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2006). Methodological issues in positive psychology and the assessment of character strengths. In A. D. Ong & M. van Dulmen (Eds.), Handbook of methods in positive psychology (pp. 292-305). New York: Oxford University Press.
Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2006). Moral competence and character strengths among adolescents: The development and validation of the Values in Action Inventory of Strengths for Youth. Journal of Adolescence, 29, 891-905.
Park, N., Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Strengths of character and well-being. Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology, 23, 603–619.
Park, N., Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2006). Character strengths in fifty-four nations and the fifty US states. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 1(3), 118-129.
Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. New York: Oxford University Press/Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Peterson, C., Park, N., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2005). Assessment of character strengths. In G. P. Koocher, J. C. Norcross, & S. S. Hill, III (Eds.), Psychologists’ desk reference, 2nd ed. (pp. 93-98). New York: Oxford University Press.
Peterson, C., Park, N., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2006). Greater strengths of character and recovery from illness. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 1(1), 17–26.
Peterson, C., Park, N., Pole, N., D’Andrea, W., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2008). Strengths of character and posttraumatic growth. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 21,214-217.
Peterson, C., & Park, N. (2009). Classifying and measuring strengths of character. In S. J. Lopez & C. R. Snyder (Eds.), Oxford handbook of positive psychology, 2nd edition (pp. 25-33). New York: Oxford University Press.
Peterson, C., Park, N., Hall, N., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2009). Zest and work. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 30, 161-172.
Shimai, S., Otake, K., Park, N., Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2006). Convergence of character strengths in American and Japanese young adults. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7, 311-322.
Steger, M. F., Hicks, B., Kashdan, T. B., Krueger, R. F., & Bouchard, T. J., Jr. (2007). Genetic and environmental influences on the positive traits of the Values in Action classification, and biometric covariance with normal personality. Journal of Research in Personality, 41, 524-539.
Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. New York: Oxford University Press and Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
The original VIA-IS (240-question version) has been translated into the following languages. The languages marked with an asterisk are still considered "in development" because not enough survey takers have completed it to determine if the translation is reliable. Languages without an asterisk have been reviewed and are considered reliable. Researchers should use caution when using a survey translation that has not been reviewed for reliability.
- Arabic (Saudi Arabia)*
- Chinese (Simplified)
- Chinese (Traditional)
- Chinese (Traditional-Taiwan)
- English (above)
- Farsi (Persian)
- Portuguese (Brazil)
- Portuguese (Portugal)