The VIA Classification of Character Strengths

1. Wisdom and Knowledge – Cognitive strengths that entail the acquisition and use of knowledge

• Creativity [originality, ingenuity]: Thinking of novel and productive ways to conceptualize and do things;
includes artistic achievement but is not limited to it
• Curiosity [interest, novelty-seeking, openness to experience]: Taking an interest in ongoing experience for
its own sake; finding subjects and topics fascinating; exploring and discovering
• Judgment [critical thinking]: Thinking things through and examining them from all sides; not jumping to
conclusions; being able to change one’s mind in light of evidence; weighing all evidence fairly
• Love of Learning: Mastering new skills, topics, and bodies of knowledge, whether on one’s own or formally;
obviously related to the strength of curiosity but goes beyond it to describe the tendency to add systematically
to what one knows
• Perspective [wisdom]: Being able to provide wise counsel to others; having ways of looking at the world that
make sense to oneself and to other people

2. Courage – Emotional strengths that involve the exercise of will to accomplish goals in the face of opposition,
external or internal

• Bravery [valor]: Not shrinking from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain; speaking up for what is right even
if there is opposition; acting on convictions even if unpopular; includes physical bravery but is not limited to it
• Perseverance [persistence, industriousness]: Finishing what one starts; persisting in a course of action in
spite of obstacles; “getting it out the door”; taking pleasure in completing tasks
• Honesty [authenticity, integrity]: Speaking the truth but more broadly presenting oneself in a genuine way
and acting in a sincere way; being without pretense; taking responsibility for one’s feelings and actions
• Zest [vitality, enthusiasm, vigor, energy]: Approaching life with excitement and energy; not doing things
halfway or halfheartedly; living life as an adventure; feeling alive and activated

3. Humanity - Interpersonal strengths that involve tending and befriending others
• Love: Valuing close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing and caring are reciprocated;
being close to people
• Kindness [generosity, nurturance, care, compassion, altruistic love, “niceness”]: Doing favors and good
deeds for others; helping them; taking care of them
• Social Intelligence [emotional intelligence, personal intelligence]: Being aware of the motives and feelings
of other people and oneself; knowing what to do to fit into different social situations; knowing what makes
other people tick

4. Justice - Civic strengths that underlie healthy community life
• Teamwork [citizenship, social responsibility, loyalty]: Working well as a member of a group or team; being
loyal to the group; doing one’s share
• Fairness: Treating all people the same according to notions of fairness and justice; not letting personal
feelings bias decisions about others; giving everyone a fair chance.
• Leadership: Encouraging a group of which one is a member to get things done and at the time maintain time
good relations within the group; organizing group activities and seeing that they happen.

5. Temperance – Strengths that protect against excess
• Forgiveness: Forgiving those who have done wrong; accepting the shortcomings of others; giving people a
second chance; not being vengeful
• Humility: Letting one’s accomplishments speak for themselves; not regarding oneself as more special than
one is
• Prudence: Being careful about one’s choices; not taking undue risks; not saying or doing things that might
later be regretted
• Self-Regulation [self-control]: Regulating what one feels and does; being disciplined; controlling one’s
appetites and emotions

6. Transcendence - Strengths that forge connections to the larger universe and provide meaning
• Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence [awe, wonder, elevation]: Noticing and appreciating beauty,
excellence, and/or skilled performance in various domains of life, from nature to art to mathematics to
science to everyday experience
• Gratitude: Being aware of and thankful for the good things that happen; taking time to express thanks
• Hope [optimism, future-mindedness, future orientation]: Expecting the best in the future and working to
achieve it; believing that a good future is something that can be brought about
• Humor [playfulness]: Liking to laugh and tease; bringing smiles to other people; seeing the light side; making
(not necessarily telling) jokes
• Spirituality [faith, purpose]: Having coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe;
knowing where one fits within the larger scheme; having beliefs about the meaning of life that shape conduct
and provide comfort 

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