We understand how important it is for you to find tools you can trust in your work with others. When navigating your options, here are five key facts to know about VIA and our tools:

  • Free survey for all: The VIA Survey of Character Strengths is free of charge worldwide, because we believe everyone should be able to harness the power of their most positive traits. As someone takes the VIA Survey every 15 seconds of every minute each day, the VIA Survey has become the world’s go-to survey for personal understanding, growth and wellbeing.
  • Rooted in positive psychology: Unlike typical psychology training programs, the VIA Classification is rooted in the science of wellbeing, also referred to as positive psychology. A strengths perspective helps professionals to “see” more of the person they are treating, guiding, or mentoring. This more complete picture energizes practitioners and clients in providing a different lens for seeing problems, rather than a primary focus on problems and what is “wrong” with the client. We help people move from what’s wrong to what’s strong!
  • Universal across cultures and situations: The 24 VIA Character Strengths are present in all of us to varying degrees. These positive personality traits can be found across countries, cultures and situations. They are present throughout our daily lives, at home, school, work, in our relationships and our social lives. There is no situation or moment of your day where you cannot turn to one or more of your character strengths.
  • Scientifically-validated and non-proprietary: All VIA tools are founded upon the only scientifically-validated survey of character strengths in the world, the VIA Survey. While most strength assessments keep psychometric information and data private to limit others’ ability to properly evaluate their tool/measure, we openly share the VIA Survey’s psychometric data and research information. All researchers and students are welcome to use the VIA Survey for free in their research. Hundreds of researchers already have!
  • Driven by a nonprofit mission: Established as a non-profit organization in 2000, we set out—and continue—to advance both the science and practice of character. Whether we are supporting new scientists, offering practitioners a new research-backed tool, promoting an inspiring strengths video, offering a motivating workshop or sharing a new research finding or intervention in an article, we always have this mission in mind. All that we do comes back to this purpose of advancing the science and practice of these universal strengths of character.

How is the VIA Survey Different from Other Strengths Assessments?

Gallup’s CliftonStrengths (formerly known as StrengthsFinder 2.0). Gallup identifies qualities that make individuals more or less successful in a Western workplace. To Gallup, strengths are defined as talents plus skills gained from practice. This approach is steeply limited in being a highly proprietary system. In addition, it is not peer-review research, which means that if you search in any library or electronic database of research papers, you’ll find very little published on this work.

The approach with the VIA Classification and VIA Survey is that character strengths are the basic elements of our positive personality found in all people, across all the domains of our life functioning. The VIA character strengths are found to be essential ingredients of “the good life,” a life of fulfillment, satisfaction, and flourishing. There is substantial research to support these and other well-being findings for these character strengths. In contrast to Gallup and other proprietary strengths tests, VIA’s work is peer-reviewed; a simple search in a scientific database will pull up hundreds of articles on these 24 character strengths and the VIA Survey. In addition, VIA freely allows for the study and use of any of its 15 assessment measures by researchers, students, or others interested in examining the character strengths of their particular group.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. The MBTI measures traits/preferences and how people perceive their world, then uses that data to categorize an individual’s personal type (4 letters). MBTI traits are morally neutral and there is limited encouragement to act to change an individual’s personal type. Beloved in pop psychology, MBTI has minimal scientific support and has been criticized in scholarly journals.

In contrast, the VIA Classification’s character strengths veer toward being morally positive, north of neutral. In other words, it’s generally good thing for people to be fair, kind, forgiving, loving, and honest. Some strengths have a higher moral potency than others and no strength is steadily moral all the time. Each of the character strengths can be viewed as representing a capacity for being good and spreading goodness. Across professional disciplines, there is significant discussion on how individuals can improve character strengths (e.g., apply their signature strengths, develop lesser strengths, etc.).