What are virtues and strengths in positive psychology?

Ronald Siegel
Two positive psychologists, Martin Seligman (from the University of Pennsylvania) and Christopher Peterson (the VIA Institute on Character's scientific director), who published the handbook Character Strengths and Virtues (the "un-Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders"), describe six "virtues," or core characteristics that are universally valued. The six virtues are wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance, and transcendence. The characteristics associated with these virtues are labeled character "strengths." For example, one person might gain the virtue of wisdom by using the strength known as curiosity. Another person might gain wisdom through the strength of open-mindedness and a tendency to see all points of view. Each of the six virtues has a set of character strengths associated with it. Strengths are less abstract than virtues, and are often the characteristics people use to talk about the qualities that differentiate one person from another.

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