Frequently Asked Questions

What are the definitions for the six virtues in the VIA Classification and which character strengths are included in each?

The virtues in the VIA Classification are:
• Wisdom: Not synonymous with IQ, it is knowledge hard fought and then used for good. Noble intelligence.  Includes the character strengths of creativity, curiosity, judgment (critical thinking), love of learning, and perspective.
• Courage: The capacity to overcome fear.  Three types: physical, moral, and psychological.  Not a single astonishing act. Composed of cognitions, emotions, motivations and decisions. The routes to courage are the character strengths of bravery, perseverance, honesty and zest.
• Humanity: Improving another’s welfare through interpersonal strengths, altruistic or pro-social behavior.  A willingness to engage in acts of generosity, kindness or benevolence that elevate those who witness them. Includes the character strengths of love, kindness and social intelligence.
• Justice: It is that which makes life fair. Translates to the notion of equity: rewards should be apportioned according to contribution. Considerations of equality or need are at play in this concept. It is impersonal in nature, done for fairness sake.  It implies impartiality. The character strengths in this virtue category are civic in nature: fairness, leadership, and teamwork.
• Temperance: “Everything in moderation.”  Control over excess.  Any form of auspicious self-restraint.  It is the practiced ability to monitor and manage one’s emotions, motivation and behavior in the absence of outside help, the failure of which can lead to personal and social problems.  It is a form of self-denial that is ultimately generous to the self or others. Character strengths in this virtue category are: forgiveness (mercy), humility (modesty), prudence, and self-regulation.
• Transcendence: A broad sense of connection to something higher in meaning and purpose than ourselves. It is the opposite of nihilism, the contention that life has no meaning. As Victor Frankl said, “Being human always points to something or someone other than oneself.” It reminds us that we are tiny, but lifts us out of complete insignificance. The character strengths of transcendence are:  appreciation of beauty and excellence, gratitude, hope, humor, and spirituality. 


Further questions?

Contact the VIA Institute: 

The VIA Institute on Character
312 Walnut Street, Suite 3600
Cincinnati, OH 45202
VIA's Communications Specialist Kelly Aluise: