A science of character: Defining, discovering, and developing our individual strengths

What does it mean to be a good person? Whether we understand it in terms of character or morality or virtue, this is a question about how we should address the various life challenges we face as social beings. Those challenges involve situating our personal wants and needs in relationship to the wants and needs of others. How each of us does this defines our individual character, but also contributes to the collective patterns of interaction from which our social and cultural systems emerge.

Not only do these systems evolve as we do, our ideas evolve with us too. Although an appreciation for the concept of character isn’t new, our understanding of how we learn and how we should teach character development changes over time. Innovations in science, technology, and art are continuously reframing our sense of what is both physically and conceptually possible in every aspect of human development. All of which provides a new context for interpreting the meaning of old questions. Not necessarily because we’re looking for different answers, but because we’re able to see the question itself in different ways.


What is character?

The topic of character has been of longstanding interest to philosophers, educators, political leaders, religious leaders, and the general public. Until recently, the study of character had not undergone rigorous scientific efforts …

In the early 2000s, scientists began to bring character to the laboratory to study it. A 3-year project involving 55 distinguished scientists devoted to studying character traits throughout time was launched. This resulted in the VIA Classification of character strengths and virtues (Peterson & Seligman, 2004), a classification of positive traits in human beings …

One of the key findings about character is that each human being has a constellation of character traits (character strengths) that make him or her distinct or unique …

REFERENCE
The science of character: What is character? | VIA Institute

RELATED
Character Strengths Survey | VIA Institute on Character
Through the lens of strength: A framework for educating the heart | Mark Linkins • Ryan M. Niemiec • Jane Gillham • Donna Mayerson


The science of character

REFERENCE
The science of character | Tiffany Shlain & The Moxie Institute Films

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