The Criteria What qualifies as a personal character strength, and how do you know kno w if one is really yours? The researchers discuss many aspects of their methods and those of scientific psychology in the past. In A In A Primer in Positive Psychology Psychology (2007), Peterson explains: I believe that people possess signature strengths akin to what Allport (1961) identified decades ago as personal traits. These are strengths of character that a person owns, celebrates, and frequently exercises. In our interviews with adults, we find that almost everyone can readily identify a handful of strengths as very much their own, typically between two and five. Peterson goes on to present a list they used in 2004 summarizing their "possible criteria for signature strengths": • • • •
a sense of ownership and authenticity ("this is the real me") vis-a-vis the strength a feeling of excitement while displaying it, particularly at first a rapid learning curve as themes are attached to the strength and practiced continuous learning of new ways to enact the strength
• • • •
aa sense to actininusing accordance with the strength feelingofofyearning inevitability the strength, as if on e cannot be stopped or one dissuaded from its display the discovery of the strength as owned in an epiphany invigoration rather than exhaustion when using the strength the creation and pursuit of fundamental projects that revolve around the strength intrinsic motivation to use the strength
The list of personal character strengths is not set in stone. Like other scientific theories it is subject to change as evidence is evaluated over time. Here are the 24 strengths of character at present, grouped in 6 categories of virtues:
The List Strengths of Wisdom and Knowledge: Knowledge: Cognitive strengths that entail the acquisition and use of knowledge 1. Creativity [originality, ingenuity] : Thinking of novel and productive ways to conceptualize and do things. 2. Curiosity [interest, novelty-seeking, openness to experience] : Taking an interest in ongoing experience for its own sake; exploring and discovering.
3. Open-mindedness [judgment, critical thinking] : Thinking things through and examining them from all sides; weighing all evidence fairly. 4. Love 4. Love of learning learning : Mastering new skills, topics, and bodies of knowledge, whether on one's own or formally. 5. Perspec 5. Perspective tive [wisdom] [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.
Strengths of Courage: Courage: Emotional strengths that involve the exercise of will to accomplish goals in the face of opposition, external and internal 6. Bravery 6. Bravery [valor] [valor] : Not shrinking from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain; acting on convictions even if unpopular. 7. Persiste 7. Persistence nce [perseverance, [perseverance, industriou industriousness] sness] : Finishing what one starts; persisting in a course of action in spite of obstacles. 8. Integrity 8. Integrity [authenticity, [authenticity, honesty] honesty] : Presenting oneself in a genuine way; taking responsibility for one's feeling and actions. 9. Vitality [zest, enthusiasm, vigor, energy] : Approaching life with excitement and energy; feeling alive and activated.
Strengths of Humanity: Humanity: interpersonal strengths that involve tending and befriending others 10. Love 10. Love:: Valuing close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing and caring are reciprocated. 11. Kindness 11. Kindness [generosity, [generosity, nurturance, nurturance, care, care, compassion, compassion, altruistic altruistic love, "niceness" "niceness"] ] : Doing favors and good deeds for others. 12. Social 12. Social intelligenc intelligencee [emotional [emotional intelligence, intelligence, personal personal intelligence] intelligence] : Being aware of the motives and feelings of other people and oneself.
Strengths of Justice: Justice: civic strengths that underlie healthy community life 13. Citizenship [social responsibility, loyalty, teamwork] : Working well as a member of a group or team; being loyal to the group. 14. Fairness Fairness:: Treating all people the same according to notions of fairness and justice; not not letting personal personal feelings feelings bias bias decisions decisions about others. others. 15. Leadersh 15. Leadership ip:: Encouraging a group of which one is a member to get things done and at the same maintain time good relations within the group.
Strengths of Temperance: Temperance: strengths that protect against excess 16. Forgiveness and mercy: mercy: Forgiving those who have done wrong; accepting the shortcomings of others; giving people a second chance; not being vengeful. 17. Humilit 17. Humilityy / Modesty: Modesty: Letting one's accomplishments speak for themselves; not regarding oneself as more special than one is. 18. Prudenc 18. Prudencee: Being careful about one's choices; not taking undue risks; not saying or doing things that might later be regretted. 19. Self-regu 19. Self-regulation lation [self-contro [self-control] l] : Regulating what one feels and does; being disciplined; controlling one's appetites and emotions.
Strengths of Transcendence: Transcendence: strengths that forge connections to the larger universe and provide meaning 20. Apprecia 20. Appreciation tion of beauty beauty and excellence excellence [awe, [awe, wonder, wonder, elevation] elevation] : Appreciating beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in various domains of life. 21. Gratitude Gratitude:: Being aware of and thankful of the good things that happen; taking time to express thanks. 22. Hope 22. Hope [optimism, [optimism, future-mind future-mindedness, edness, future future orientation] orientation] : Expecting the best in the future and working to achieve it. 23. Humor 23. Humor [playfulne [playfulness] ss] : Liking to laugh and tease; bringing smiles to other people; seeing the light side. 24. Spiritual 24. Spirituality ity [religiousness, [religiousness, faith, faith, purpose] purpose] : Having coherent beliefs about the higher purpose, the meaning of life, and the meaning of the universe.