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Character Strengths

Character Strengths (Peterson & Seligman, 2004)


Dr. Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology, posits that if a person can effectively utilize his or her character strengths at work, in leisure, or in family life, he or she would be more able to achieve the sense of authentic happiness of flourishing (Seligman, 2011). In the concept of value application, Peterson and Seligman summarize more than 200 positive attributes into six virtues, namely wisdom, courage, transcendence, humanity, justice, and temperance. From these virtues, twenty-four more concrete and measureable character strengths are subdivided (Peterson and Seligman, 2004).


Creativity: Thinking of new ways to do things. Never content with doing something the conventional way if a better way is possible.

Curiosity: Curious about everything. Always asking questions, and finds all subjects and topics fascinating. Likes exploration and discovery.

Judgment: Thinking things through and examining them from all sides. Does not jump to conclusions; but relies only on solid evidence to make the decisions. Able to change your mind.

Love of Learning: Loves learning new things. Has always loved school, reading, and museums-anywhere and everywhere there is an opportunity to learn.

Perspective: May not think of self as wise, but friends hold this view. Friends value perspective on matters and turn to person for advice.



Bravery: A courageous person who does not shrink from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain. Speaks up for what is right even if there is opposition. Acts on convictions.

Perseverance: Works hard to finish what has started. No matter the project, "gets it out the door" in timely fashion. Does not get distracted during working.

Honesty: An honest person, not only by speaking the truth but by living life in a genuine and authentic way. Down to earth and without pretense.

Zest: Regardless of what one’s do, approaches it with excitement and energy. Never do anything halfway or halfheartedly. Life is an adventure.


Love: Values close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing and caring are reciprocated. Feels most close are the same people who feel most close to him / her.

Kindness: Kind and generous to others, and never too busy to do a favor. Enjoy doing good deeds for others, even if one does not know them well.

Social Intelligence: Aware of the motives and feelings of other people. Knows what to do to fit in to different social situations, and knows what to do to put others at ease.


Teamwork: Excels as a member of a group. A loyal and dedicated teammate, always does sharing, and works hard for the success of group.

Fairness: Treating all people fairly is an abiding principle. Does not let personal feelings bias decisions about other people. Gives everyone a chance.

Leadership: Excels at the tasks of leadership: encouraging a group to get things done and preserving harmony within the group by making everyone feel included. Does a good job organizing activities and seeing that they happen.


Forgiveness: Forgives those who have done one wrong. Always give people a second chance. The guiding principle is mercy and not revenge.

Humility: Does not seek the spotlight, preferring to let the accomplishments speak for themselves. Does not regard oneself as special, and others recognize and value their modesty.

Prudence: A careful person with consistently prudent choices. Does not say or do things that they might later regret.

Self-Regulation: Self-consciously regulates feelings and actions. A disciplined person in controlling their appetites and emotions, not vice versa.


Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence: Notices and appreciates beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in all domains of life, from nature to art to mathematics to science to everyday experience.

Gratitude: Aware of the good things that happen to oneself, and never take them for granted. Usually takes the time to express thanks to others.

Hope: Expect the best in the future, and work to achieve it. Believes that the future is something that one can control.

Humor: Likes to laugh and tease. Bringing smiles to other people is important. Tries to see the light side of all situations.

Spirituality: Have strong and coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe. Know where one fits in the larger scheme. Beliefs shape actions and are a source of comfort to oneself.

Seligman, M. E. P. (2011). Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being. New York: Free Press.

Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. New York: Oxford University Press and Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.