If someone asked you what your character strengths are – how long would it take you to respond? Would you be able to list your greatest virtues off the top of your head? Or would it take you a minute to find the words? Have you ever given it a thought? Would you feel stuck, trying to find the right words?
If you are anything like me, you will be struggling to find the words any time anyone asks you such a question. About one-third of the population never gives any thought to the positive aspects of their personality. But the good news is that in the last few years, psychology has shifted its focus from mental illness to positive psychology, the different aspects of human behavior, and the importance of social intelligence. There is a lot of research now that can tell us what makes us tick, what the pillars of our personality are, and what are the areas we can work on.
There is enough evidence that tells us that knowing what our character strengths are can help us feel more confident and happier. Not only that, but it can also help you identify what areas of work are more suited for you, thus influencing your professional life tremendously. The latest tool that can help you go about this is the VIA character survey.
What are VIA Character Strengths?
The survey is focused on 24 strengths that are grouped under six main values. It has 96 questions and can be completed within 10-15 minutes.
The 10-minute survey of character strengths stands for Values in Action. It has been developed by social scientists who traveled the world to identify, research, and develop qualities that determine the ‘good’ in people. At the helm of the project are Martin Seligman and Chris Peterson, who have conducted most of the research on the subject.
By answering its 96 questions, the survey results help people determine which ones of the six values and positive traits are most dominant in their personality, and which ones of them impact their well-being the most. The six values are further subdivided into 24 character strengths as follows:
- Wisdom (strength of head):
Creativity, Curiosity, Judgment, Love of Learning & Perspective
2. Courage (strength of heart):
Bravery, Perseverance, Honesty & Zest
3. Humanity (strength of others):
Love, Kindness & Social Intelligence
4. Citizenship (strength of community):
Teamwork, Leadership & Fairness
5. Temperance (strength of self):
Forgiveness, Humility, Prudence & Self-Regulation
6. Transcendence (strength of spirit):
Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence, Gratitude, Hope, Humor & Spirituality
How was VIA Survey developed?
The VIA survey was developed by Seligman and Peterson based on values that are ubiquitous in all cultures and religions.
In his book Authentic Happiness, Seligman has talked about how he and Peterson identified these values that transcend time, space, and cultures. They also analyzed texts from various religious books like the Bible, the Koran, and manuscripts on Buddhism. The duo also read many philosophical books, including those by Plato, Confucius, and Aristotle.
Seligman and Peterson found many overlaps between character strengths across many cultures. They realized that many of the strengths-based values they researched are fundamental to people belonging to completely different parts of the world with virtually no contact with each other over centuries. These values are ingrained in the stories, parables, and tales of these cultures, philosophies, and institutions. This further proves that these values have their roots in fundamental human nature and are indeed innate to us, as well as our social lives.
How to take the VIA Character Survey?
The survey can be taken on VIA official website, and it is of two types. There are three types of reports, and one of them is free. The paid reports offer an in-depth look into the results of the survey.
The VIA survey can be taken on its official website. There are two forms of the survey, depending on your age. The adult questionnaire is applicable for people above the age of 17 years, and the youth survey is applicable for young adults and teenagers between the ages of 10 and 17 years. Both the studies feature 96 questions and take less than 15 minutes to complete.
After you answer the questions, VIA will give you three options on how you want to receive the survey results:
1. VIA Survey Results
This is the free version of the report. It lists the 24 strengths in a ranked manner. For example, if curiosity and kindness are your prominent virtues, they will appear at the top, while the least prominent ones will appear at the bottom.
The survey results should be carefully studied in order to find out whether you are overusing or underusing your signature strengths.
2. VIA ME! Report
This comprehensive report helps you understand your character strengths in a more detailed manner. It focused on an in-depth review of your signature strengths, as well as gives you an overview of the middle and lesser strengths. You’ll also find many activities, quotes, and statements that will help you make the most out of your signature strengths.
The VIA report can be used by managers, consultants, coaches, and educators to recognize the strengths of their employees or students and motivate them to bring out their best. It is a useful tool that can help bosses tap into their employees’ maximum potential and ultimately build a foundation for profit organization.
3. The VIA Pro Report
This is the most detailed form of the report. It comes with graphs, research materials, and comprehensive analysis of your strengths. The report also comes with a free Practitioner’s Guide, which will help you move from the ‘what’ of the report to the implementation of its findings.
The Practitioner’s Guide can guide you on how to apply the knowledge you have gained from the VIA survey. It lists the key areas to focus on, practical tips that can help you strengthen your values, and intervention methods to prevent underuse of your signature strengths. You can also use the strengths-based models to help you practice your middle and lesser strengths.
VIA Character Strengths Survey Benefits
VIA reveals what values most align with yourself, what you should improve, and how to adapt to unfamiliar and difficult situations.
1. VIA Character Strengths Survey reveals what is important to you
VIA indicates how you like to go about your work, regardless of whether you are being paid to do it that way, or whether anyone is admiring you for it. This is primarily because you hold these values close to your heart, and they are well aligned with your belief system.
Most of your character strengths are based on your circumstances. Nothing operates in a vacuum, and you do not live in a bubble. It is highly likely that your current settings have played a major role in how you feel and see things.
2. It teaches you what to work on
When you go through changes like taking up a new job, welcoming a new family member, or moving from one city to another – you will see big shifts in your demeanor, ultimately leading you to develop a much more positive personality.
The character strengths that remain consistent through these changes are your core or signature values, whereas the ones that move around according to your current situations are the ones you draw from situationally. It may be worth focusing on the latter set of values because they provide you with strength in difficult circumstances.
As you move ahead in life, you will find yourself changing with your circumstances. With that, your core strengths and values will change too. That is why it is worth taking the survey annually in order to identify the shifts in your personality and character.
3. VIA Character Strengths Survey teaches you how to adapt to unfamiliar situations
Focusing on your character strengths can be extremely beneficial for your subjective well-being, no doubt. Earlier research indicated that your signature strengths are perhaps the most important focus area, but recent studies have revealed that it is much better to achieve a balance where your middle and lesser strengths are as developed as signature ones. Both sets of values can help you adapt to unfamiliar situations in better ways.
Signature strengths refer to the top 5 positive traits that you can rely upon and use without paying any attention. Middle strengths are those that you tend to draw upon less often, and lesser strengths are the bottom five values in your list.
Research studies related to VIA Character Strengths Survey and its uses
There are several research studies that indicate the importance of implementing character strengths in the workplace as well as in your personal lives.
VIA has proved its psychometric validity and reliability with the help of many research studies. In fact, it has been proven that when people develop a deeper understanding of their signature strengths, they tend to think in terms of personal development and apply these positive traits for achieving their goals.
Here are some well-researched tenets of VIA:
1. VIA Character Strengths Survey increases the sense of fulfillment
Research has indicated that people who are aware of their character strengths are more likely to experience positive emotions, develop good relationships, and feel overall satisfied with their life.
It should be noted that just being aware of your strengths will not improve your quality of life. Integrating them into your work and personal life is just as important.
2. It increases the sense of happiness
It has been found that being able to use your character strengths to their maximum potential can lead to increased happiness. In fact, it can boost mental health status and alleviate mood disorders like depression and anxiety as well.
3. VIA Character Strengths Survey increases productivity
Find a way to integrate your employees’ character strengths into their work, and they are sure to feel more engaged. It will also lead to more job satisfaction, as well as a higher commitment to your company. Moreover, it also increases their attention to details, as well as their dedication towards the tasks they have been assigned.
4. It helps cope with negative situations
Being able to tap into your character strengths can help you cope better with stress related to work, as well as develop the will to counter negative scenarios.
5. It helps you develop a sense of purpose
Using your signature strengths will help you develop a sense of purpose and derive a deeper meaning from your work. People who apply their top positive traits see their work as a higher calling.
It is a no-brainer that using signature strengths can have a positive impact on one’s personal life as well as help boost their productivity at work. It is, thus, of extreme importance to develop an awareness of your core values in order to create more opportunities and develop an environment of growth around you. VIA character survey is a tried and tested tool to help you achieve the same, and it takes just 10 minutes! Take the test today to find out what your strengths are, and tell us in the comments section below how you plan on applying them to your life.
Namrata is a Doctor i.e. dentist turned writer and a clinical researcher. Eager to learn about anything and everything, she is what you would call a jack of all trades and master of none. With a zeal for reading novels, books, and anything she could get her hands on ever since she was little, she embarked into a writing career purely out of luck. After indulging in a freelancing career for nearly two years, she can now write on anything - from dentistry to decor, travel to technology, medicine to management - but the psychology remains her first love. Having dealt with mental health issues in the past, she hopes to raise awareness for the same and help people with her work in association with The MindFool team