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Character Strengths And Virtues: A Handbook And Classification

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CharacterStrengthsand Virtues

The work contained herein is that of the Values in Action Institute,a nonprofit initiative of the Manuel D. and Rhoda Mayerson Foundation,directed by Dr. Neal H. Mayerson. Donald O. CliftonMihalyi CsikszentmihalyiEd DienerRaymond D. FowlerBarbara L. FredricksonHoward GardnerDavid MyersC. Rick SnyderCharles SpielbergerClaude SteeleRobert J. SternbergGeorge VaillantEllen Winner

CharacterStrengthsand VirtuesA Handbook and ClassificationChristopher Peterson & Martin E. P. Seligman12004

3Oxford New YorkAuckland Bangkok Buenos Aires Cape Town ChennaiDar es Salaam Delhi Hong Kong Istanbul Karachi KolkataKuala Lumpur Madrid Melbourne Mexico City Mumbai NairobiSão Paulo Shanghai Taipei Tokyo TorontoCopyright 2004 by Values in Action InstitutePublished by American Psychological Association750 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242www.apa.organdOxford University Press, Inc.198 Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10016www.oup.comOxford is a registered trademark of Oxford University PressAll rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced,stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means,electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise,without the prior permission of Oxford University Press.Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication DataPeterson, Christopher, 1950 Feb. 18–Character strengths and virtues : a handbook and classification / Christopher Peterson,Martin E. P. Seligmanp. cm.Includes bibliographical references (p. ).ISBN 0-19-516701-51. Character—Handbooks, manuals, etc. 2. Virtues—Handbooks, manuals, etc. I. Seligman,Martin E. P. II. Title.BF818 .P38 2004155.2'32—dc2220030243209 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1Printed in the United States of Americaon acid-free paper

PrefaceCan we hold hope that positive psychology will be able to help people evolvetoward their highest potential?” The classification described in this bookbegan with this question, posed by Neal Mayerson to Martin Seligman in 1999.The Mayerson Foundation was concerned that inadequate progress was beingmade from well-worn problem-fixing approaches and that an approach basedon recognizing people’s strengths and aspirations might prove more effective.Mayerson turned to Seligman to explore the intersection of the emerging fieldof positive youth development and Seligman’s new push to articulate a newpositive psychology. It soon became clear that two prior questions needed tobe answered: (1) how can one define the concepts of “strength” and “highestpotential” and (2) how can one tell that a positive youth development programhas succeeded in meeting its goals?These two concerns framed the classification project from its inception. TheManuel D. and Rhoda Mayerson Foundation created the Values in Action (VIA)Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the development of a scientificknowledge base of human strengths. Seligman was the scientific director of theVIA Institute, and he asked Christopher Peterson to be its project director. InSeptember 2000, Peterson temporarily relocated from the University of Michigan to the University of Pennsylvania. For the next three years, Seligman andPeterson, with the assistance of a prestigious array of scholars and practitioners,devised a classification of character strengths and virtues (addressing the “good”teenager concern) and ways of measuring them (addressing the program evaluation concern). This book describes the results of this collaboration. We remaingreatly interested in positive youth development but now believe that the classification and measurement strategies we have created can be applied muchmore broadly.We have been helped mightily along the way. Our specal gratitude is ofcourse expressed to the Manuel D. and Rhoda Mayerson Foundation for cre-

vi ating the VIA Institute, which supported this work. Thanks in particular aredue to Neal Mayerson for his vision and encouragement.Thanks are also due more generally to the other benefactors and boostersof positive psychology. Don Clifton of the Gallup Organization, along with Martin Seligman, convened a meeting of scholars to begin a delineation of thestrengths. Much of what follows builds on this beginning. The late RobertNozick as well as Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, George Vaillant, Daniel Robinson,Kathleen Hall Jamieson, and Ed Diener were the heavyweights at this meeting.Three subsequent meetings were held as well, and we thank those in attendancefor their important contributions to this project: Bonnie Bernard, AlanBlankstein, Robert Blum, Dale Blyth, Jack Burke, Gaye Carlson, Sonia Chessen,Reginald Clark, Joseph Conaty, Katherine Dahlsgaard, Lucy Davidson, Ed Diener, Elizabeth Dunn, Thaddeus Ferber, Raymond Fowler, Carissa Griffing,Daniel Hart, Derek Isaacowitz, Terry Kang, Robert Kendall, Nicole Kurzer,Kenneth Maton, Donna Mayerson, Neal Mayerson, Richard McCarty, PeterNathan, Heather Johnston Nicholson, Joyce Phelps, Karen Pittman, Jane Quinn,Gordon Raley, Mark Rosenberg, Peter Schulman, David Seligman, AndrewShatté, Myrna Shure, Susan Spence, Peter Stevens, Philip Stone, ConstanciaWarren, Alan Williams, Steve Wolin, and Nicole Yohalem.The Atlantic Philanthropies, the John Marks Templeton Foundation, theAnnenberg/Sunnylands Trust Foundation, and the Department of Educationall funded aspects of this project and by supporting positive psychology generously created an atmosphere in which our classification project could be seenas a worthy one.Individual chapters in Section II of this book were drafted by expert socialscientists—see the list of contributors (pp. xiii–xiv)—commissioned by us toreview what was known about the various character strengths in the classification. We were fortunate that virtually all of our first choices were able towrite these drafts. In a few cases, we commissioned two separate drafts for agiven character strength, and these drafts were then melded. All the drafts werethoughtful and thorough, and we think that a fine book would have resultedsimply from gathering them together, even without our editing. However, wetook a further step and rewrote each draft for consistency in organization andtone. Our editing was deliberately heavy-handed, and the contributors shouldnot be held responsible for any resulting errors.We were also fortunate to have the advice of distinguished senior social scientists—see the Board of Advisors (p. ii)—while we worked on this project. Inparticular, the wisdom and support of George Vaillant kept us on track.Very early chapter drafts were reviewed by youth development experts—Bonnie Bernard, Robert Blum, Reginald Clark, Daniel Hart, Heather JohnstonNicholson, and Kenneth Maton—in a process coordinated by Nicole Yohalemand Karen Pittman of the International Youth Foundation. Later chapter draftswere reviewed by Donald K. Freedheim, Jerold R. Gold, William C. Howell,

Thomas E. Joiner, Randy J. Larsen, and Lee B. Sechrest, and we thank them fortheir thoughtful suggestions.We want to thank Gary VandenBos of the American Psychological Association and Joan Bossert of Oxford University Press—both organizations aregreat friends of positive psychology—for working together to publish this book.We also want to thank Marion Osmun of the American Psychological Association for her editorial work and Susan Ecklund for her thorough copyediting.We are grateful to Peter Schulman, Terry Kang, Linda Newsted, ChrisJenkins, and Patty Newbold for their help behind the scenes. Lisa Christie andJennifer Yu brought their sharp eyes and good humor to early drafts of themanuscript. Ilona Boniwell, Tiffany Sawyer, Lauren Kachorek, Tracy Steen,Angela Lee Duckworth, Rachel Kellerman, Robert Biswas-Diener, Emily Polak,Adam Cohen, and Derek Isaacowitz helped with some of the research describedhere. Katherine Dahlsgaard identifed the six core virtues—wisdom, courage,humanity, justice, temperance, and transcendence—used to organize the specific character strengths in the classification. Nansook Park has been a valuedcollaborator.We thank Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, Ed Diener, Kathleen Hall Jamieson,and George Vaillant for their leadership on the Positive Psychology SteeringCommittee. We are grateful as well to Don Clifton, Jim Clifton, and MarcusBuckingham of the Gallup Organization for pioneering work on strengths andshowing us that a psychology of human strengths was possible.And we of course want to thank the more than 150,000 individuals whocompleted versions of our measures during the past 3 years.Last, but certainly not least, our families and friends deserve special mention for embodying the strengths that constitute the classification. Virtue maybe its own reward, but we too reaped the benefits.vii

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ContentsContributorsxiii : BACKGROUND1 Introduction to a “Manual of the Sanities” 32 Universal Virtues?—Lessons From History 333 Previous Classifications of Character Strengths 53 : STRENGTHS OF CHARACTERStrengths of WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGEIntroduction934 Creativity [Originality, Ingenuity] 1095 Curiosity [Interest, Novelty-Seeking,Openness to Experience] 1256 Open-Mindedness [Judgment, Critical Thinking] 1437 Love of Learning 1618 Perspective [Wisdom] 181

x Strengths of COURAGEIntroduction 1979 Bravery [Valor] 21310 Persistence [Perseverance, Industriousness] 22911 Integrity [Authenticity, Honesty] 24912 Vitality [Zest, Enthusiasm, Vigor, Energy] 273Strengths of HUMANITYIntroduction 29113 Love30314 Kindness [Generosity, Nurturance, Care,Compassion, Altruistic Love, “Niceness”] 32515 Social Intelligence [Emotional Intelligence,Personal Intelligence] 337Strengths of JUSTICEIntroduction 35516 Citizenship [Social Responsibility, Loyalty, Teamwork] 36917 Fairness 39118 Leadership 413Strengths of TEMPERANCEIntroduction 42919 Forgiveness and Mercy 44520 Humility and Modesty 461

21 Prudence47722 Self-Regulation [Self-Control] 499Strengths of TRANSCENDENCEIntroduction51723 Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence[Awe, Wonder, Elevation] 53724 Gratitude55325 Hope [Optimism, Future-Mindedness,Future Orientation] 56926 Humor [Playfulness] 58327 Spirituality [Religiousness, Faith, Purpose] 599 : CONCLUSIONS28 Assessment and Applications 625References 645Index of Names 763Subject Index789xi

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ContributorsRoy F. Baumeister (Humility and Modesty; Self-Regulation)Marvin W. Berkowitz (Fairness)Jessey H. Bernstein (Vitality)W. Keith Campbell (Humility and Modesty)Katherine Dahlsgaard (Lessons from History)Lucy Davidson (Integrity)Robert A. Emmons (Gratitude)Julie Juola Exline (Humility and Modesty)Constance A. Flanagan (Citizenship)Jonathan Haidt (Appreciation of Beauty)Andrew C. Harter (Persistence)Pamela S. Hartman (Perspective)Nick Haslam (Prudence)Cindy Hazan (Love)Thomas E. Joiner (Humility and Modesty)Lauren V. Kachorek (Humility and Modesty)Todd B. Kashdan (Curiosity)Dacher Keltner (Appreciation of Beauty)Joachim I. Krueger (Humility and Modesty)Jacqueline S. Mattis (Spirituality)xiii

xiv John D. Mayer (Social Intelligence)Michael E. McCullough (Forgiveness and Mercy; Kindness)Nansook Park (Assessment and Applications)Elizabeth Pollard (Integrity)Stephen G. Post (Kindness)K. Ann Renninger (Love of Learning)Willibald Ruch (Humor)Richard M. Ryan (Vitality)Peter Salovey (Social Intelligence)Carol Sansone (Love of Learning)Kennon M. Sheldon (Integrity)Stephen A. Sherblom (Fairness)Dean Keith Simonton (Creativity)Jessi L. Smith (Love of Learning)Tracy A. Steen (Bravery)Dianne M. Tice (Persistence)Kathleen D. Vohs (Self-Regulation)Harry M. Wallace (Persistence)Monica C. Worline (Bravery)Stephen J. Zaccaro (Leadership)

Section iBackground

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1. Introduction toa “Manual of the Sanities”The classification of strengths presented in this book is intended to reclaimthe study of character and virtue as legitimate topics of psychologicalinquiry and informed societal discourse. By providing ways of talking aboutcharacter strengths and measuring them across the life span, this classification will start to make possible a science of human strengths that goes beyondarmchair philosophy and political rhetoric. We believe that good charactercan be cultivated, but to do so, we need conceptual and empirical tools to craftand evaluate interventions.In recent years, strides have been made in understanding, treating, andpreventing psychological disorders. Reflecting this progress and critically helping to bring it about are widely accepted classification manuals—the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) sponsored by theAmerican Psychiatric Association (1994) and the International Classification ofDiseases (ICD) sponsored by the World Health Organization (1990)—whichhave generated a family of reliable assessment strategies and have led to demonstrably effective treatments for more than a dozen disorders that only a fewdecades ago were intractable (Nathan & Gorman, 1998, 2002; Seligman, 1994).Lagging behind but still promising in their early success are ongoing efforts todevise interventions that prevent various disorders from occurring in the firstplace (e.g., M. T. Greenberg, Domitrovich, & Bumbarger, 1999).Consensual classifications and associated approaches to assessment provide a common vocabulary for basic researchers and clinicians, allowing communication within and across these groups of professionals as well as with thegeneral public. Previous generations of psychiatrists and psychologists had nocertainty, for example, that patients in London who were diagnosed with schizophrenia had much in common with patients in Topeka receiving the same diagnosis. They had no reason to believe that an effective psychological o

character strengths and measuring them across the life span, this classifica-tion will start to make possible a science of human strengths that goes beyond armchair philosophy and political rhetoric. We believe that good character can be cultivated, but to do so, we need conceptual and empirical tools to craft and evaluate interventions.