Character strengths are an indispensable aspect of positive psychology.
They are a set of personal skills that counteract mental disorders and have a positive impact on our general health and well-being (Bromley, Johnson & Cohen, 2006).
The concept of strength of character dates back to the 1920s, and research on the subject spanned the globe. Many character strength tests and assessments, both qualitative and quantitative, have emerged to help mental health professionals assess individual strengths and weaknesses.
With the increasing number of these tests, it can be difficult to know which assessments are reliable and valid enough.
This article examines three of the science-based character strengths assessments to help you choose the best assessment for your psychology or coaching practice.
Before we go any further, we think you might want to do this.Download our three strength exercises for free. These detailed, science-backed practices help you or your clients realize your unique potential and create a life that feels energized and authentic.
This article contains:
- How can we best measure character strengths?
- Values in Action (VIA) Character Strengths Survey
- DiSC Personal Assessment Tool
- Das CliftonStrengths Assessment
- Additional resources to develop your strengths
- A message to take home
How can we best measure character strengths?
There are two important ways in which we can evaluate the performance of a personStrengthen, each with advantages and disadvantages. One approach is to usequalitative methods, while the other should be usedQuantitative methods.
Qualitative approaches to assess strengths
Qualitative approaches to understanding a person's strengths can be done with the support of a coach, counselor, or therapist. Such examinations can be carried out individually or in groups, for example within a work team.
A popular approach for conducting qualitative strength assessments is observation or retrospective reports from observers, e.g. B. Use of the critical incident technique (Flanagan, 1954).
Flanagan (1954, p. 327) defines headaccidentas "any observable human activity that is in itself complete enough to allow inferences and predictions to be made about the person performing the action".
By applying the critical incident technique, investigators will effectively collect "stories" of incidents that may reflect a person's character or, in this case, a person's character strengths.
For example, imagine that you are thinking about the character qualities of your best friend. As you do this, you may recall a time when this person abandoned plans to go rescue you on short notice, eg B. When a pipe burst in your house and that person came to help clean up the water in your house. .
This situation, involving your friend's actions around the broken pipe, is an example of a critical incident that you might interpret as an indication of strength of character, such as honesty or generosity.
There are several advantages to using qualitative methods, particularly the critical incident technique, to assess an individual's character strengths (MBA Skool Team, 2020).
First, the technique allows for the identification of strengths that can only manifest in unique or intensified situations. For example, you don't need a friend running to your aid every day like in the example above. However, if we had judged this friend's strengths just by his behavior on a normal day, we would never have noticed his honesty and generous spirit.
Another strength of qualitative approaches is that they can take into account the role and perspective of the observer, as well as the context in which a strength is demonstrated.
For example, while an interview with a coworker may reveal work-related behaviors that indicate your coworker's strengths, such as: B. toughness, this coworker's love partner may note other strengths, such asEmpathy. Qualitative approaches can use perspectives from both sources simply by questioning these different observers.
Finally, the critical incident approach allows for the identification of more unusual or niche character strengths that do not necessarily fit into an existing framework. Examples of such strengths might be resourcefulness or attention to detail. Additionally, these initial qualitative observations can sometimes help develop a quantitative measure of character strengths later (Thun & Kelloway, 2011).
Despite these advantages, qualitative approaches to assess character strengths have several drawbacks (MBA Skool Team, 2020).
First, observations made by others are subject to recall and recall biases (Michel, 2001). While this also applies to quantitative strengths reports collected from observers, the critical incident approach can magnify this effect.
Second, qualitative reports using the critical incident approach may be susceptible to recent effects. That is, observations made closer to the time of reporting may displace those made in the past.
Finally, depending on the person, situation, and context, an assessment of character strengths may be based only on critical incidents that may not accurately reflect that person's strengths. For example, the character strength of social intelligence is a strength that can manifest itself more passively and subtly in a person's daily interactions than in intense situations.
For a resource with many qualitative examples of character strengths, see Ryan Niemiec and Robert McGrath.tripe The Power of Character Strengths: Appreciate and Ignite Your Positive Personality.
In this book you will find more than 50 examples of stories that highlight the strengths and virtues of the character of people in everyday life.
Quantitative approaches to strength assessment
Quantitative approaches to determining our strengths often take the form of self-assessment questionnaires.
However, they may sometimes include responses to questionnaires completed by others on our behalf, e.g. B. from people involved in 360-degree reviews.
As with qualitative assessments of character strengths, these psychometric-based questionnaires have various strengths and weaknesses.
First, quantitative character.strengths-based interventionsand the tools are becoming more convenient to manage as part of a coaching or consulting practice using digital tools.
For example, use a platform likesequence, help practitioners easily guide clients through a path of individualized activities that assess and explore character strengths through standardized quizzes or exercises.
Second, standardized measures of strengths and weaknesses tend to result in more accurate and objective assessments of character strengths than qualitative assessments.
As we have seen, qualitative evaluations can be influenced by recall, recent effects, context, and the perspective of the person making the evaluation. In contrast, quantitative assessments tend to provide results that demonstrate test-retest reliability (Peterson & Seligman, 2004). That is, a person performing the same test at a later date will tend to get a similar result.
However, quantitative assessments of character strengths, like qualitative assessments, also have drawbacks.
First, quantitative evaluations may be prone to socially desirable responses. For example, Osin (2009) found that different character strengths in Peterson and Seligman's (2004) Values in Action model are significantly correlated with socially desirable response indicators such as: B. the strengths of honesty, humility, andsorry.
Therefore, it is important to use this type of questionnaire in contexts where people are motivated to respond in ways that seem positive, such as: B. when selecting and setting scenarios.
Organizations should take special care to confirm that there are real links between specific strengths and desirable job behaviour/performance before including such evidence in any selection or evaluation process.
Second, quantitative indicators of character strengths tend to take a unified approach and are therefore limited to lists of strengths, areas, or factors included in the assessment.
As a result, these rankings may not be able to capture more niches or unusual strengths.
Finally, choosing an appropriate scale with the right scientific backing can be difficult (although this post should help with that!), and some scales require certification to be administered correctly.
Ultimately, the best approach that you as a professional can take to assess strengths is probably a combination of qualitative face-to-face discussion and quantitative psychometrics. However, given the accessibility and ease with which such psychometric methods can be administered, there is little reason not to incorporate them into your strengths-based training practice.
Below, we'll take a closer look at three character strength assessments that have shown strong evidence of reliability and validity throughout research and are widely used in practice.
Values in Action (VIA) Character Strengths Survey
If you're looking for the main character's strength rating, then you've come to the right place.VIA Character Strengths Survey, designed by Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman (2004).
In their research, Peterson and Seligman see character strengths as "specific psychological processes that define broader virtues, which are fundamental traits identified and valued by moral philosophers and religious thinkers over time" (Shogren, Singh, Niemiec, and Wehmeyer). , 2017).
This 15-minute assessment measures 24 of these character strengths, which fall into six broad categories:
VIA Character Strengths Assessment
|wisdom and knowledge|
4. Love to learn
|1. The ability to create something unique and original.|
2. Curiosity and interest in knowing.
3. The power of rationalization and critical thinking.
4. The affinity to participate in new activities to adapt to something new.
5. Wisdom and insight to see the world as others see it.
|1. Courage, bravery, fearlessness.|
2. Perseverance and strength to resist in times of need.
3. Authenticity, veracity and authenticity.
4. The energy to live life to the fullest and face challenges with determination and positivity.
3. Social intelligence
|1. The power to feel and show affection for others and build lasting relationships.|
2. Mercy and Empathy.
3. The ability to communicate effectively and form strong social bonds.
|1. The motivation to work as a team and strive to achieve the objectives of the group.|
2. The virtue of treating everyone equally and making impartial judgments.
3. Ability to be the face of a team, effectively supervising and empowering others.
|1. The ability to accept the defects of others.|
2. modesty and ahumble nature.
3. Rational thought and ability to interpret things logically.
4. Self-control and mastery over self-expression.
|1. Praise yourself and the environment.|
2. Feel and express gratitude even for the little things in life.
3. Positive feelings and optimism, oriented towards the future.
4. The ability to approach life with a fun and carefree attitude.
5. Loyalty and religious devotion.
The VIA assessment consists of a total of 240 positive questions. Examples of items are "I feel deep emotions when I see beautiful things" and "I always treat people fairly whether I like them or not."
All items are presented on a five-point scale, with 1 being “very similar to me” and 5 being “very different from me”.
You can complete the full VIA assessment for free at the VIA Institute at Character'swebsite.
Reliability and Validity
This strengths rating and assessment system marks the culmination of a three-year research project led by Peterson and Seligman (2004) involving 55 social scientists from around the world (VIA Institute on Character, undated).
The 24 subscales have satisfactory internal consistency. This means that the items that assess each strength appear to be effective in measuring that strength.
Likewise, the test-retest correlations of the scale are significant for four months, which suggests that the questionnaire tends to produce consistent results for the same individual over time.
The test also shows convergent validity across a variety of demographics. For example, military test takers were significantly more likely than civilians to score high on the strengths of honesty, hope, perseverance, and teamwork.
Despite these positive results, one study found that the 24 character strengths did not produce a factor structure consistent with the six higher-order factors proposed by Peterson and Seligman (Macdonald, Bore, & Munro, 2008), suggesting potential problems. with the underlying underlying factors. factors. . conceptual theory suggests evaluation.
However, despite these insights into factor structure, the VIA appears to be an effective and psychometrically valid tool that is likely to find a place in any positive psychologist's toolbox.
DiSC Personal Assessment Tool
Another science-based strengths assessment widely used in the business environment is the DiSC personal assessment tool.
The DiSC model was first developed by Dr. William Marston appears in his 1928 bookemotions of normal people. Work organization psychologists later adapted Marston's work as the basis for an employee screening tool.
The word "DiSC" is an acronym used to represent the four behavioral profiles measured by the assessment, represented by a circumplex (DiSC Profile, n.d.):
- Dominance (D) measures a direct and dominant disposition with adjectives such as "willpower."
- Influence (i) measures an interactive and influential disposition with adjectives such as "alive".
- Firmness (S) measures a compliant and stable attitude with adjectives such as "patient."
- Conscientiousness (C) measures a private and conscientious attitude with adjectives such as "analytical."
In addition to these four profiles, there are four profiles that combine the above letters with their neighboring profiles on the circumflex (DiSC profile, undated):
- Di/iD measures a fast-moving, active disposition with adjectives like "dynamic."
- iS/Si measures a pleasant and warm personality with adjectives like "cheerful."
- SC/CS measures a moderate and cautious attitude with adjectives such as "self-controlled".
- CD/DC measures a questioning and skeptical attitude with adjectives like "cautious."
Sample evaluation items are as follows:
- I am brave.
- Accuracy is my priority.
- I can be quite frank with my opinions.
- People think I'm a good listener.
- I love meeting new people.
The DiSC assessment consists of approximately 80 items, and all items are presented on five-point scales, where 1 means 'strongly disagree' and 5 means 'strongly agree'.
It should be noted that the classic DiSC assessment is only one of several comprehensive assessments using the DiSC Circleplex model. If your focus is business or leadership coaching, you may find value in one of DiSC's variations that focus on topics such asproductive conflictmioffer.
If you are interested in trying a version of the DiSC profiling test, take a free version of the Open Source Psychometrics Project testwebsite.
Reliability and Validity
There is substantial evidence to support the DiSC profile assessment, provided you obtain a version of the assessment from a reputable retailer.
In terms of reliability, studies evaluating the Everything DiSC distributor (2013) demonstrated that the test has strong test-retest reliability. Furthermore, the scale exhibits strong internal consistency, suggesting that the scale items successfully measure a single, consistent construct.
In terms of validity, neighboring profiles in the circumflex (eg, dominance and influence) should show moderate to strong positive correlations. Conversely, profiles on opposite sides of the circumflex (eg, influence and conscientiousness) should show negligible or negative correlations.
These correlation patterns were confirmed in a 2013 report on the tool (Everything DiSC, 2013), demonstrating the reliability of the assessment.
If you want to use DiSC Profile Assessments as a tool in your training practice, be sure to obtain a license from a reputable provider, as there are many variations, not all of which have been scientifically validated.
To be on the safe side, we recommend purchasing a license from Wiley's official DiSC profile.website.
Das CliftonStrengths Assessment
Developed in 2001 by educational psychologist Donald Clifton, theCliftonStrengths Assessmentaims to help people maximize their potential by discovering their talents and strengths.
Like the DiSC profile assessment, this tool is widely used in organizations.
The CliftonStrengths assessment helps individuals and leaders better identify and utilize strengths by assessing 34 different strength themes, each falling into one of four general areas:
|theme of strength||Description|
|Analytical||The ability to search for and synthesize reasons and causes that may affect a situation.|
|context||Talent to understand the circumstances of the present moment by reflecting on the past.|
|Futurist||Talent to inspire others with inspiring visions of what the future can be.|
|debate||Fascination for themes and ideas and ability to connect seemingly disparate phenomena.|
|Forbidden||Ability to collect and organize information, ideas, artifacts, and even relationships.|
|intelligence||Talent for introspection and an appreciation for intellectual thought and discussion.|
|Lerner||A strong desire to continually learn and improve with an appreciation for the learning process.|
|Strategic||Talent to identify issues and problems and find alternative courses of action.|
|building a relationship|
|adaptability||The ability to "cope with the blows" and figure out the future day after day.|
|Connection||The ability to find meaning in all events and hold the belief that nothing is a coincidence.|
|developer||The ability to recognize and nurture the potential and talent of others.|
|Empathy||Talent for feeling the feelings of others and taking the perspective of others.|
|harmony||Talent, consensus and agreement to achieve itminimize conflicts.|
|includes||Effective in accepting everyone as they are and making sure everyone feels included.|
|individualization||Talent to recognize the unique qualities of each person and how they can be used effectively in a group.|
|positivity||The ability to inspire others to strive through positive emotional contagion.|
|relator||Ability to deeply enjoy intimate relationships and work with friends.|
|activator||Talent to turn plans into actions quickly.|
|domain||Talent to control a situation and make decisions.|
|Communication||Gifted at putting thoughts into words through conversations and presentations.|
|Competence||The ability to measure one's own progress against that of others and strive to outperform the competition.|
|maximizer||Ability to foster personal and group excellence and take projects from good to excellent.|
|trust||The ability to master your own life with a strong internal compass that facilitates safe decisions.|
|Significant||Talent to prioritize creating a big impact, hoping to make a significant impact on groups and individuals.|
|courting||Talent to break the ice, make connections and attract new people.|
|ARTIST||Skill and perseverance in hard work.achieve goals; he is content to be busy and productive.|
|arranger||Talent in organizing resources for maximum productivity.|
|Believe||Effective in staying true to one's core values, which define an unchanging purpose for one's life.|
|consistency||Talent to do justice through clear rules, procedures and routines that everyone can follow.|
|weight||Skilled at making careful decisions and anticipating obstacles while pursuing goals.|
|discipline||Expert in creating and succeeding in creating routine and orderly structures/systems.|
|Focus||Expert in setting direction, following and staying the course.|
|Responsibility||Commitment to be trustworthy and take psychological responsibility for what you say you will do.|
|relaxing||Talent to identify and solve problems.|
The CliftonStrengths assessment consists of 177 paired statements, each of which the participant has 20 seconds to respond to.
For example, a scale might have the statement "Starting conversations is an effort for me" at one end and "I am in a hurry to start a conversation with a stranger" at the other end.
The participant then gives a response on a five-point scale, indicating which statement best describes them and to what extent. A response of 3 would mean that neither statement is characteristic of the respondent or that both statements describe the person equally.
At the end of the test, participants immediately receive their top 5 topics.
For more information on the CliftonStrengths assessment, see Gallups Officialwebsite.
Reliability and Validity
In terms of reliability, the CliftonStrengths assessment has moderate internal consistency, but this is partly due to the large number of strengths included in the assessment (Asplund, Agrawal, Hodges, Harter, & Lopez, 2014).
The 34 subjects in the test were shown to have fairly consistent test-retest reliability at one month, three month, and six month time intervals, with few subjects showing noticeable changes over the longer retest period (Asplund et al., 2014). ) .
Likewise, the chi-square test showed that a topic that appears in the top 5 for a respondent on a first test will appear in the top 5 for the same respondent on a subsequent test for 33 of 34 topics.
In terms of validity, there is substantial evidence for the CliftonStrengths assessment. The results of the hierarchical clustering analysis provided evidence of the construct validity of the measure, showing that the items tended to cluster within their subjects in the expected manner (Asplund et al., 2014).
Themes within the assessment have also been shown to be significantly correlated with conceptually related phenomena. For example, the achievement, discipline, focus, and responsibility themes are significantly correlated with the conscientiousness subscale.Big Five Personality Model(Asplund et al., 2014).
Together, these results support the reliability and validity of the CliftonStrengths assessment.
Additional resources to develop your strengths
We hope we've helped you narrow down your search for the perfect character assessment strength. In addition to our breakdown above, you can explore some of the additional resources below.
- The sailing ship metaphor
Once we understand our strengths, we can begin to understand how they affect our larger lives and our external environment. EITHERsailboat metaphor, Part ofPositive Psychology Toolkit©, is a great tool to discover how to use our candles (strengths) to help us achieve the desired goal.
- 12 Examples of Character Strengths, Interventions, and Worksheets
for another 12Examples of strength of character.and helpful tools to help your clients discover and capitalize on their strengths, check out our dedicated article by Courtney Ackerman.
- VIA's Top 10 TED Talks on Character Strengths and Virtues
If you want to dig even deeper into the VIA model of character strengths, check out our post by Elaine Houston with links to the top 10TED talks on VIA's strengths.
- 17 exercises to find strength
If you're looking for more scientific ways to help others build their strengths, check out this collection of17 tools to identify strengths for professionals. Use them to help others better understand their strengths, and use them in ways that improve their lives.
A message to take home
When we take the time to discover our strengths, we enhance our ability to take control of our lives and achieve our goals. Likewise, we become more capable of contributing to a successful team.
Strengths-based approaches form the foundation of positive psychology. As such, as a coach, psychologist, or other support professional working within a positive psychology paradigm, it is often helpful to have a strengths assessment in your toolkit to conduct with clients.
We hope our breakdown of the science behind three of the world's leading assessment tools has helped you decide which one to use in your practice.
We hope you have enjoyed reading this article. Do not forgetDownload our three strength exercises for free.
- Asplund, J., Agrawal, S., Hodges, T., Harter, J. y Lopez, S.J. (2014).Clifton StrengthsFinder 2.0 White Paper: Development and Validation. Gallup.
- Bromley, E., Johnson, J.G. and Cohen, P. (2006). Personality strengths in adolescence and reduced risk of developing mental health problems in early adulthood.Comprehensive Psychiatry,47(4), 315–324.
- DiSG profile. (North Dakota.).The science behind DiSC. Taken from https://www.discprofile.com/what-is-disc/research-reliability-and-validity.
- All DiSG. (2013).Adaptive Test Scoring Research Report. Taken from https://www.discprofile.com/CMS/media/doc/ed/research/research-report.pdf
- Flanagan, JC (1954). Die Critical-Incident-Technik.Psychological Newsletter,51(4), 327–358.
- Macdonald C, Bore M, and Munro D (2008). Value Scale in Action and the Big 5: An Empirical Framework Statement.Personality Research Journal,42(4), 787-799.
- Marston, WM (1928).emotions of normal people. Routledge.
- MBA School Team. (2020, May 15). Critical incident method.MBASkool.com. Retrieved from https://www.mbaskool.com/business-concepts/human-resources-hr-terms/15250-critical-incident-method.html#
- Miguel, S (2001). Analysis of service interruptions and recovery: a process-based approach.International Journal of Service Management,12(1), 20–33.
- Osin, P. (2009). Social Desirability in Positive Psychology: Prejudice or Desirable Sociality? T. Freire (ed.).Understand the research on positive living and apply positive psychology.and (pp. 407-428). climepsis.
- Peterson, C. y Seligman, ME (2004).Character Strengths and Virtues: A Manual and Classification(Volume 1). Oxford University Press.
- Shogren, K.A., Singh, N., German, R. y Wehmeyer, M.L. (2017).Strength of character and mindfulness. Oxford textbooks online. Retrieved from https://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199935291.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780199935291-e-77
- Thun, B. and Kelloway, E.K. (2011). Virtuous Leaders: Assessing Character Strengths in the Workplace.Revista canadienne de ciencias administrativas/Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences,28(3), 270–283.
- VIA Institute on Character. (North Dakota.).Published reliability and validity data from VIA-IS. Retrieved from https://www.viacharacter.org/researchers/assessments/via-is