Frequently Asked Questions

How does the VIA Classification of Character Strengths and Virtues (CSV) relate to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)?

• The DSM, sponsored by the American Psychiatric Association (1952, 1968, 1980, 1987, 1994, 2013, 2015) is a catalog of problems/psychological conditions. It made research into psychological disorders possible by providing a common vocabulary that lends itself to scientific measurement and treatment. The DSM classification is widely accepted by APA, NIMH, insurance companies, and the pharmaceutical industry and is written about in scores of journals and texts. 
• The VIA Classification in Character Strengths and Virtues (CSV) follows the DSM example using explicit criteria for character strengths and scientific assessment. It directs the attention of psychology and related disciplines to character strengths, talents and abilities, conditions that enable or disable the strengths, fulfillments that are associated with them, and outcomes that ensue from them. The CSV departs from the DSM in that the CSV describes and classifies what is best in humans (rather than what is wrong with them). In addition, the character strengths are viewed as dimensional (i.e., we all express the 24 character strengths to different degrees) whereas the DSM disorders are categorical (i.e., you either have the disorder or you don’t).   


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: