About the VIA Institute on Character

Based in Cincinnati, Ohio, the VIA Institute on Character is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing the science of character strengths to the world. We do so by creating and validating surveys of character, supporting researchers, and developing practical strengths-based tools for individuals and professionals, such as therapists, managers and educators. In this spirit, the VIA Survey is offered free of charge worldwide in many languages.

What We Believe

We believe that the rigorous, scientific pursuit to understand the range and dimensions of human goodness (e.g., character strengths) is the key to generating discoveries and strategies for improving the human experience that will enable and encourage the development and use of tools, practices, and methodologies which will fundamentally shift the trajectory of humankind toward the better.

What Is the VIA Survey?

The VIA Survey is at the core of the VIA Institute. It is a psychometrically validated personality test that measures an individual’s character strengths. When you discover your greatest strengths, you can use them to face life’s challenges, work toward goals, and feel more fulfilled both personally and professionally. In turn, researchers and professionals can access years worth of survey results data to advance the science and practice of strengths. Take the free survey now.

VIA By the Numbers

Over 30+ million survey takers

What Does “VIA” Mean?

While it once stood for "Values in Action Inventory," our original psychological assessment, the "VIA" [vee-uh] in our organization's name today describes the way that our institute connects research and practice. Not only do we advance the field every day through research, we also help individuals and professionals practice the science of character strengths every day to better their lives.

Our People

VIA is led by a tight-knit team of distinguished psychologists and researchers. Get to know Neal H. Mayerson, Ph. D., Martin E. P. Seligman, Ph.D., Donna Mayerson, Ph.D., Ryan M. Niemiec, Psy.D, and the rest of the team. Learn more.

Our History

In the early 2000s, the VIA Institute supported pivotal work on the nature of positive character. A 3-year, 55-scientist study led by Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman culminated in the landmark text Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification. The project also involved the creation of two valid and free measurement tools—the VIA Inventory of Strengths (colloquially known as the VIA Survey) for adults, and the VIA Youth Survey.

Our Work on Character Strengths Research

Watch a presentation by Dr. Neal Mayerson on the importance of understanding and applying character strengths to improve ourselves and our world: A Character Strengths Revolution.

Read an article on the growing research on character strengths and how more research is needed to continue this work studying the core aspects of human goodness: The Character Strengths Response: An Urgent Call to Action.

Our Commitment to Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

The VIA Institute began with the question: "what is best in people?" and a belief in the universality of character strengths in each of us, across cultures, religions, beliefs and races. We embrace this belief in our work and in our research to help people discover, apply and celebrate unique character strengths in themselves and others. We stand for justice and humanity, and we condemn marginalization, discrimination and oppression in all forms. Read More.

Organizations using VIA:

VIA Partners

VIA is Proud to be a Member of:

  • International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA)
  • European Positive Psychology Association
  • Canadian Positive Psychology Association
  • International Coaching Federation (ICF)
  • Institute of Coaching, Harvard Medical School
  • New Zealand Association of Positive Psychology
  • Polish Positive Psychology Association

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