Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification

Pages: 800
Item #: 4317046
ISBN: 978-0-19-516701-6
List Price: $79.50
Member/Affiliate Price: $60.00
Copyright: 2004
Format: Hardcover
Availability: In Stock
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For individuals in the U.S. & U.S. territories


Co-published with Oxford University Press

This groundbreaking handbook of human strengths and virtues is the first progress report from a prestigious group of researchers in the Values in Action Classification Project, which has undertaken a systematic classification and measurement of universal strengths and virtues. This landmark work makes possible for the first time a science of human strengths that goes beyond armchair philosophy and political science. The handbook begins with the background of the VIA classification scheme and defines terms before describing in thorough detail the current state of knowledge with respect to each of the 24 character strengths in the classification.

Addressing issues of assessment and measurement, practical applications, and directions for future research, this work will demand the attention of any psychologist who is interested in positive psychology and its relevance to clinical, personality, and social psychology.

Board of Advisers

Donald O. Clifton
Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi
Ed Diener
Raymond D. Fowler
Barbara L. Fredrickson
Howard Gardner
David Myers
C. Rick Snyder
Charles Spielberger
Claude Steele
Robert J. Sternberg
George Vaillant
Ellen Winner

Table of Contents


I. Background

  1. Introduction to a "Manual of the Sanities"
  2. Universal Virtues?—Lessons from History
  3. Previous Classifications of Character Strengths

II. Strengths of Character

Strengths of Wisdom and Knowledge


  1. Creativity [Originality, Ingenuity]
  2. Curiosity [Interest, Novelty-Seeking, Openness to Experience]
  3. Open-Mindedness [Judgment, Critical Thinking]
  4. Love of Learning
  5. Perspective [Wisdom]

Strengths of Courage


  1. Bravery [Valor]
  2. Persistence [Perseverance, Industriousness]
  3. Integrity [Authenticity, Honesty]
  4. Vitality [Zest, Enthusiasm, Vigor, Energy]

Strengths of Humanity


  1. Love
  2. Kindness [Generosity, Nurturance, Care, Compassion, Altruistic Love, "Niceness"]
  3. Social Intelligence [Emotional Intelligence, Personal Intelligence]

Strengths of Justice


  1. Citizenship [Social Responsibility, Loyalty, Teamwork]
  2. Fairness
  3. Leadership

Strengths of Temperance


  1. Forgiveness and Mercy
  2. Humility and Modesty
  3. Prudence
  4. Self-Regulation [Self-Control]

Strengths of Transcendence


  1. Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence [Awe, Wonder, Elevation]
  2. Gratitude
  3. Hope [Optimism, Future-Mindedness, Future Orientation]
  4. Humor [Playfulness]
  5. Spirituality [Religiousness, Faith, Purpose]

III. Conclusions

  1. Assessment and Applications


Index of Names

Subject Index

Reviews & Awards

Peterson and Seligman's Character Strengths and Virtues adds a needed balance to the psychological literature. Topics such as character and virtue have too long been only in the domains of moral philosophy and politics. This work provides a needed psychological foundation for studying some of the attributes that are most important to a world that is foundering on the shoals of wars, terrorism, and atrocities. I recommend the book very highly.
Robert J. Sternberg, IBM Professor of Psychology and Education, Yale University; Director, Center for the Psychology of Abilities, Competencies, and Expertise (PACE Center), Yale University; Past President, American Psychological Association

Character Strengths and Virtues is a highly original book and destined to become a classic — both in the social sciences and in the humanities.
George E. Vaillant, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School and Director of Research for the Department of Psychiatry, Brigham and Women's Hospital

Not since Skinner have psychologists been so bold as to suggest a science of human character and virtue. The chapters in this volume show the power of being scientifically proactive about characteristics we normally see as beyond the reach of science. The book manages to be both deeply informative and, in each chapter, genuinely inspiring. My hope is that it will transport scientific psychology into fields of discourse that have rarely considered it before.
Claude Steele, PhD, Chair and Professor, Psychology Department, Stanford University

Peterson and Seligman's endeavor to focus on human strengths and virtues is one of the most important initiatives in psychology of the past half century. I am pleased to have had the opportunity to make a small contribution to this paradigm-changing effort.
Howard Gardner, Hobbs Professor of Education and Cognition, Harvard Graduate School of Education