The Foundations of a Good Life - Studies on the Advancement of Character Research


Character strengths are positively valued personality traits, which are assumed to be malleable and to contribute to the "good life". Even though research on character has flourished in the last few years, some of the most fundamental issues with regard to character have not been addressed so far.

The study of character has been neglected for a long time, as personality mostly dealt with neutrally valued concepts, and positive traits were regarded as the concern of other disciplines. However, positive traits are central because they contribute to a life worth living and to excellent achievements in different areas. Starting with the development of the Values in Action (VIA) classification of character strengths and virtues in 2004, psychological research has returned to study character.

Aims of the project

The project deals with central, yet unresolved issues on character and virtues. To this end, different conceptualizations of character and their relations to the "good life" are investigated. Furthermore, a more in-depth understanding of character should be achieved, the relationships between character strengths and virtues should be investigated, and the foundations for the advancement of existing classifications should be developed. Finally, it is investigated whether character is malleable, especially when specific character strengths are explicitly trained.

The project is expected to stimulate further basic and applied research by addressing some of the most pressing research questions. Additionally, it aims at developing strength-based interventions to provide relevant insights and instruments for practical applications.