SUCCESS Materials – English

Character Strengths – Theoretical Background – Introduction

Character Strengths

As was previously discussed, the main focus of positive psychology is on what makes our lives most worth living (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000).  Positive psychology focuses on: (a) positive subjective experiences (e.g., happiness or satisfaction); (b) positive individual traits (e.g., character strengths or talents); and (c) positive institutions (e.g., families or workplaces) (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000).

Strengths of character (also known as character strengths) and individuals’ positive experiences such as a satisfied life are among the central concerns of positive psychology. Character strengths can be defined as positive traits which are reflected in thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. They exist in degrees and can be measured as individual differences (Park, Peterson & Seligman, 2004).

Peterson and Seligman (2004), produced a list of character strengths, and developed assessment tools to identify them in individuals. They have introduced the Values in Action (VIA) classification of strengths, to describe the good character as an important instance of optimal human functioning. Character strengths represent the components and ingredients of good character, as measurable positive individual differences that exist on a continuum as opposed to in categorical form.

VIA focuses on what is right about people and, more specifically, about the strengths of character which can contribute to the optimal development of an individual across the lifespan (Park & Peterson, 2006; Peterson & Seligman, 2004).  Character strengths are those aspects of personality that are morally valued.