From Values in Action Institute


In 1998, Dr. Neal H. Mayerson contacted Dr. Martin E.P. Seligman who was at the time conceiving of establishing a robust effort to focus social science on exploring what is best about human beings and how we use those best characteristics to build our best lives.  The two decided to launch and effort of unprecedented magnitude to lay the groundwork for this new science of positive psychology.  Dr. Mayerson created a non-profit organization (now the VIA Institute on Character) to do this work and provided the funding to support Dr. Seligman in orchestrating a diverse collection of scholars and practitioners that took three years and more than a million dollars to complete.  The work was presented in detail in a landmark publication, Character Strengths and Virtues, and the VIA Survey was posted on the Internet for people to take a no charge.

  1. Wisdom and Knowledge Cognitive strengths that entail the acquisition and use of knowledge
  2. Courage – Emotional strengths that involve the exercise of will to accomplish goals in the face of opposition, external or internal
  3. Humanity - Interpersonal strengths that involve tending and befriending others


  1. Justice - Civic strengths that underlie healthy community life
  2. Temperance – Strengths that protect against excess
  3. Transcendence - Strengths that forge connections to the larger universe and provide meaning


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