Frequently Asked Questions

How do character strengths relate to happiness?

The use of character strengths exercises, such as using one signature strength in a new way each day, has been associated in several studies with higher, sustained levels of happiness (and lower, sustained levels of depression). Other studies (from several research teams around the world) have found that some character strengths have a stronger relationship to happiness; those with the strongest relationship with happiness are zest, hope, love, gratitude, and curiosity. 

Character strengths have also been strongly linked with the dominant theories in positive psychology. Authentic happiness theory states that there are three independent but related pathways to a true and lasting happiness – pleasure (the experience of positive subjective experiences), engagement (the absorption of oneself in work, play, relationships, etc.), and meaning (connecting with the larger purpose of an organization or the universe; contributing to the common good). This theory is discussed in the book Authentic Happiness and the character strengths are viewed as critical aspects of each pathway.

Another theory is PERMA, which notes that there are 5 distinct, measurable, uniquely beneficial pathways to human well-being. These are positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, and achievement (PERMA). The character strengths are described as the ingredients or mechanisms for each.

Most theories, concepts, and practices discussed in positive psychology have a link with the VIA character strengths in general or with one or more character strengths in particular, such as mindfulness, flow, savoring, self-determination, positive institutions, growth mindset, positive psychotherapy, positive education, and so on.



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: