Q. What differentiates VIA Character Strengths from other strengths?
A. VIA’s work is about the core or essence of who we are as humans – our character strengths. These positive, core characteristics of our personality are different from strengths of talent (innate abilities), strengths of interest (what we like to do), strengths of skill (proficiencies we develop), and strengths of resources (external supports). While each of these areas of strength are important, it is character strengths that provide a pathway for developing each of these areas. E.g., We use perseverance and self-regulation to pursue a talent in music or sport, hope in developing a new skill for work, curiosity as we explore our interest areas, and gratitude and kindness when we are tapping our resources. Also, it is our strengths of character that we have to turn to when we lose resources, our talents and skills diminish, or we lose interest in something.
Q. What exactly is Positive Psychology?
A. Positive psychology has been given a variety of definitions over the years from being viewed as the science of well-being, the science of what is going right with people, the science behind what makes life worth living, and so forth. The original definition, as described by Martin Seligman during his Presidential year of the American Psychological Association in 1998, is that positive psychology is the scientific study of positive subjective experience (positive emotions), positive individual traits (positive character strengths), and positive institutions.
Q. What do you mean by Character Strengths?
A. VIA views character strengths as capacities humans have for thinking, feeling, and behaving. Specifically, they are the psychological ingredients for displaying virtues or human goodness. VIA views each person as having a capacity for expressing any of the 24 universal character strengths in the VIA Classification. Some strengths are easier and more natural for the individual to express (their signature strengths), other strengths arise in particular situations where they are needed (phasic strengths), and other strengths are expressed to a lesser degree or lesser frequency (lesser strengths).
Character strengths are viewed as stable over the lifespan, however, they can change over time. They are seen as plural, meaning that they interact and influence each other. Character strengths are expressed in situations and are often shaped by the context we are in.
Q. What are some ways VIA is being used around the world?
A. The VIA work is being used in many different ways by practitioners and non-practitioners.
Educators are infusing VIA strengths into school curricula, college/university professors are including it as a distinct course or as a core component of existing courses, psychologists are using it to take a different perspective on their clients, and coaches are using it as a way for clients to reach their goals more effectively. The business world has also taken up the VIA work by storm as CEOs, managers, consultants, and human resource professionals are readily infusing the VIA Inventory, VIA reports, and application approaches in their trainings, team development, employee assistance programs, and in ways to enhance employee engagement, productivity, and satisfaction. VIA is also popular among the everyday consumer looking to become happier, more successful, better their relationships, and/or improve themselves in some way. Ultimately, the range of application is vast and can be tailored to virtually any profession and any client issue.