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Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  327 ratings  ·  21 reviews
"Character" has become a front-and-center topic in contemporary discourse, but this term does not have a fixed meaning. Character may be simply defined by what someone does not do, but a more active and thorough definition is necessary, one that addresses certain vital questions. Is character a singular characteristic of an individual, or is it composed of different aspect ...more
Hardcover, 800 pages
Published April 8th 2004 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published January 1st 2004)
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 ·  327 ratings  ·  21 reviews

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Billie Pritchett
Dec 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology
Christopher Peterson's and Martin Seligman's Character Strengths and Virtues (CSV) is supposed to be the "positive" antidote to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, more popularly known as the DSM, now in its fifth incarnation DSM-5. Whereas the DSM-5 is a catalog of all the mental problems a person could be said to have, the CSV is supposed to be a catalog of all the mental strengths a person could be said to have. The CSV is part of a larger effort to get people not only ...more
Kate Coleman
Feb 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Martin Seligman's work on Positive Psychology inspired a whole new way of thinking about mental health and recovery. There's still a lot of work to do to bring this new approach to everyday mental health practice, but the tools we need are right there. I'll keep fighting the fight until professionals focus on strengths instead of deficits and we move to an empowering, compassionate understanding of mental health challenges that supports people to flourish, no matter what 'diagnosis' they may hav ...more
Surya Vamshi
Sep 22, 2018 rated it liked it
This book is all about the classification of the human character strengths and how they got evolved from different regions and cultures. There is lot of emphasis on the classification and less on deliberate cultivation.
Mar 22, 2013 rated it liked it
Christopher Peterson AND Martin Seligman not able to check out from Wili

Table of Contents

Contributors xiii


Introduction to a ``Manual of the Sanities''
3 (30)

Universal Virtues?---Lessons From History
33 (20)

Previous Classifications of Character Strengths
53 (56)



93 (16)

Creativity [Originality, Ingenuity]
109 (16)

Curiosity [Interest, Novelty-Seeking, Openness to Experience
Jan 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This heavy (I'm guessing 3 pounds) and comprehensive tome is a beautiful encyclopedia of human strengths and virtues across all cultures and major philosophic/ religious tenets, and an excellent reference for those in counseling, education, and maybe many more professional fields.
Dec 27, 2014 rated it liked it
Extremely thorough and well researched. Though it does discuss how to cultivate the various strengths and virtues, it barely does so. That was my primary purpose for reading the book. Still, it can serve as a nice reference guide.
Lizzie Bray
Jan 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Encyclopedic, but worth the effort.
Daniel Coburn
Apr 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
We hear lots about mental disorders. But what about what allows us to be mentally strong and healthy? And what about what supports our thriving and flourishing? This is a fascinating resource of "mental sanities" that classifies a range of character strengths and virtues. It provides a needed counterbalance to manuals of mental disorders like the DSM, since a full understanding of human psychology and health will include both our positive and negative potentials. This would be a useful resource ...more
May 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very useful in assisting me to identify my strengths and weaknesses as well. Also, it is a good reading within a framework to consider self-improvement and sustain children's psychological developments in different ages slot.
Stephen Cranney
Jun 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Great book, but a little dated. If I get it I think I'll wait for an updated edition.
Trish Khoo
Oct 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love this textbook
Daniel Seifert
Finally, a handbook and classification of positive attributes (strengths, virtues) from years of work and research in "positive" psychology that capture the human being in a living, dynamic tension between inherent brokenness and a capacity to flourish. Practitioners have had to work too long with just the DSM-IV (now V) as a primary set of "labels" to describe our clients while having to advocate for their strengths among the naysayers surrounding client cases. Character Strengths and Virtues: ...more
Tim Gannon
Aug 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology-mind
It is from the American Psychological Association - from positive psychology researchers - whose aim is for all to evolve to their highest potential - it is all about character - it posits that there are 24 universal virtues - it looks at numerous fields of study all the way back to Plato to discuss these virtues, it talks about what assessment tools are available for each of them - gender and cultural differences - historical changes in how they are viewed - etc - I thought it was very inclusiv ...more
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
This is a great first attempt at acknowledging the pervasiveness of various virtues across the predominant cultures of thought in the world, while not necessarily equating them all in terms of quality and importance. It's clear that it's a work in progress though, as the virtues towards the beginning of the book are very well-described in terms of examples and qualifications, and virtues towards the end, especially the ones interesting to me relating to transcendence, are given a much more curt ...more
Jesse D
Jul 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A science-based catalogue of virtues, what humanity has learned about them, and what the virtues look like in action. The closest thing I have to a bible.

If you're into science and ethics, this is a must skim.
Teri Temme
Jan 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this book! I love studying about personal strengths and this volume gives all you could ever want and more. So happy they took the time to compile it. Very interesting. Entertaining and illuminating.
Jeff Lampson
I am impassioned with the individual, team and societal implications for living a strength based and virtuous life. This work has begun building the foundation for helping us move from knowing of virtue to living our character strengths and virtues.

An exceptional practioners guide.
Liz Busby
Nov 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Read several of the introductions and then skimmed the rest. I wish I had the time to read the whole thing--in spite of all the scholarly language, the subject matter and the clearly thorough and fair thought put into it makes it totally worth it. Very interesting. I will have to get back to this.
Cynthia Hart
Oct 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Author's website is excellent: Offers free tools related to flourishing & happiness.

The detailed descriptions on character strengths are what I enjoyed. I didn't read the dense research that comprises over 50% of this book. To clearly understand and appreciate results of VIA Strengths Survey (free test on website) you really need to see a copy of this book.

Warning: This book is densely packed with current research supporting the theories. If you have an
Jun 21, 2015 rated it liked it
A dictionary of good traits. Now you have broadened your vocabulary of good traits, you see it in others and also wish to develop some yourself.
May 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Impressive span across cultures and time for a definitive list of virtues.
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Christopher Peterson is visiting assistant professor of literature at Claremont McKenna College.

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The must-read summer beach book is a kind of American tradition. The crash of the waves. The glare of the sun. The sand in the pages. Is t...
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“Youth development is an interdisciplinary field that draws broadly on different social sciences to understand children and adolescents (Larson, 2000). It embraces an explicit developmental stance: Children and adolescents are not miniature adults, and they need to be understood on their own terms. Youth development also emphasizes the multiple contexts in which development occurs. Particularly influential as an organizing framework has been Bronfenbrenner’s (1977, 1979, 1986) ecological approach, which articulates different contexts in terms of their immediacy to the behaving individual. So, the microsystem refers to ecologies with which the individual directly interacts: family, peers, school, and neighborhood. The mesosystem is Bronfenbrenner’s term for relationships between and among various microsystems. The exosystem is made up of larger ecologies that indirectly affect development and behavior, like the legal system, the social welfare system, and mass media. Finally, the macrosystem consists of broad ideological and institutional patterns that collectively define a culture. There is the risk of losing the individual amid all these systems, but the developmental perspective reminds us that different children are not interchangeable puppets. Each young person brings his or her own characteristics to life, and these interact with the different ecologies to produce behavior. Youth development” 1 likes
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