Identify Your Strengths – Positive Psychology
Positive Psychology’s Emphasis on Strengths

People tend to be happier and more satisfied in their lives when using their “strengths” on a regular basis. The ‘Positive Psychology‘ movement, started by Professor Martin Seligman, Ph.D., emphasizes things like abilities, potential and values, in contrast to the traditional medical model’s tendency to pathologize.  So, if you’re looking to make some changes in your life, you may want to start here, by identifying and reflecting on your core strengths as a person.

Led by Martin Seligman and Neal Mayerson, Ph.D., the VIA Institute on Character (VIA = values in action) identifies 24 character strengths that all people have, with the recognition that some of these are more pronounced or developed in some vs. others.  These “virtues” were identified by a team of over 50 social scientists from different backgrounds including psychology, religion and philosophy.


The 24 Character Strengths from Positive Psychology

The character strengths are classified into 6 categories:

1.) Wisdom & Knowledge: creativity, curiosity, judgment, love of learning, perspective

2.) Courage: bravery, perseverance, honesty, zest

3.) Humanity: love, kindness, social intelligence

4.) Justice: teamwork, fairness, leadership

5.) Temperance: forgiveness, humility, prudence, self-regulation

6.) Transcendance: appreciation of beauty & excellence; gratitude; hope; humor; spirituality

For more in-depth information on character strengths, visit the VIA Institute’s page here:

Take a Survey to Identify your Strengths

Not sure what your greatest strengths are?  Take the free test here that has been used by over 2.5 million people!

How to Apply your Strengths

This page, written by Tayyab Rashid, Ph.D, features a plethora of creative ways to apply each of the 24 signature strengths.  In addition to “suggested actions,” it also lists movies related to each strength.  How fun!


Peterson, C., & Park, N. (2009). Classifying and measuring strengths of character. In S. J. Lopez & C. R. Snyder (Eds.), Oxford handbook of positive psychology, 2nd edition (pp. 25-33). New York: Oxford University Press.

Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. New York: Oxford University Press and Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

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  1. I just did the Via Character survey as listed above.

    I recommend taking the initial 120 item one. 😉
    It is a very positive survey – anybody know how it was made?

    My #1 strength is: “Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence.”

    If personality surveys interest you, check out the Myers Briggs for another nice strengths-based personality inventory.

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