Assessment | character strengths, via survey


to the VIA Survey

This afternoon, I took a break from filling out business forms and reviewing supplier diversity certification processes. This afternoon I completed a free, on-line character strengths assessment – the VIA Survey. The VIA Survey is from the VIA® Institute on Character (where VIA stands for Values in Action).

After nearly 30-minutes of self-identifying how I relate to various statements (see VIA Survey Sample(.pdf)), not only are my top five character strengths provided but also the ranking of the full 24 character strengths, which are part of six classifications or virtues:

  1. Wisdom and Knowledge – Cognitive strengths that entail the acquisition and use of knowledge
  2. Courage – Emotional strengths that involve the exercise of will to accomplish goals in the face of opposition, external or internal
  3. Humanity – Interpersonal strengths that involve tending and befriending others
  4. Justice – Civic strengths that underlie healthy community life
  5. Temperance – Strengths that protect against excess
  6. Transcendence – Strengths that forge connections to the larger universe and provide meaning

Results of VIA Survey, My Character Strengths

After taking the survey, a .pdf of the rank order of the 24 character strengths is reported. Of my top five strengths, four are part of the virtue of Wisdom and Knowledge (i.e., creativity, love of learning, curiosity, perspective) and the fifth is part of the virtue of Courage (i.e., honesty).

top5 charac strengths

More description about each strength  – Creativity, Love of Learning, Honesty, Curiosity, Perspective – is included at the site, along with key concepts and suggested exercises for how to boost a given strength.

Assessments Shmassessments

While I have a love/hate relationship with different types of assessments, I have had my share of them (e.g., Myers-Briggs, DISC, etc.), especially when I worked in a traditional workspace. Earlier in the year, I completed StrengthFinders 2.0.

Out of curiosity, I found a Psychology Today blog post that compared VIA Survey and StrengthFinders, with the following as a main difference (in my opinion) –

“The VIA Surveys and character strengths interventions are peer-reviewed, whereas StrengthsFinder is not. This means the VIA work has withstood the criticisms and challenges of science and has benefitted from the observations of many researchers around the world. The StrengthsFinder work is only studied by Gallup-employed scientists. As StrengthsFinder is promoted by a for-profit organization, Gallup does not reveal trade secrets and various scientific data. The VIA Survey publishes its data, research, and emerging practices on its site, and researchers studying the VIA Survey publish their findings in scientific journals.”

Interesting. Very interesting.

As I quickly poked around the site, this caught my eye in the drop down section “What is Character?” 

In the early 2000s, scientists began to bring character to the laboratory to study it. A 3-year project involving 55 distinguished scientists devoted to studying character traits throughout time was launched. This resulted in the VIA Classification of character strengths and virtues (Peterson & Seligman, 2004), a classification of positive traits in human beings. Since then, hundreds of peer-reviewed articles have been published across many cultures. One of the key findings about character is that each human being has a constellation of character traits (character strengths) that make him or her distinct or unique. Character strengths cannot be boiled down to one trait or a handful of traits; in addition character strengths are idiosyncratic and expressed in degrees and combinations based on the context one is in. Said in another way: character is plural.

journal paperRead a newly published article, Through the Lens of Strength: A Framework For Educating the Heart, describing a practical “descriptive” approach (involving exploration) to working with character strengths that offers a paradigm shift to the popular, prescriptive approach (involving instilling specific traits) mentioned earlier.

If you took the VIA Survey, what were your top five character strengths and the associated virtue categories? In reviewing the remaining 21 characteristics, do you agree with the results, for the most part? If not, why not?


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