Every 6-12 months I like to take the VIA Survey of Character Strengths. You can take this test (and many others) on the University of Pennsylvania’s Authentic Happiness site [registration required – free] and the great thing is that the site keeps track of all of your previous test results. The test ranks 24 different character strengths and the idea is that the top 5 (your signature strengths) are the ones to pay attention to and find ways to use more often.
I’ve taken the test a total of 7 times between August 2007 and today (January 2012). The signature strengths that topped today’s test are as follows:
- Creativity, ingenuity, and originality
(signature strength in 7/7 tests taken)
Thinking of new ways to do things is a crucial part of who you are. You are never content with doing something the conventional way if a better way is possible.
- Love of learning
(signature strength in 7/7 tests taken)
You love learning new things, whether in a class or on your own. You have always loved school, reading, and museums-anywhere and everywhere there is an opportunity to learn.
- Capacity to love and be loved
(signature strength in 2/7 tests taken)
You value close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing and caring are reciprocated. The people to whom you feel most close are the same people who feel most close to you.
- Curiosity and interest in the world
(signature strength in 5/7 tests taken)
You are curious about everything. You are always asking questions, and you find all subjects and topics fascinating. You like exploration and discovery.
- Judgment, critical thinking, and open-mindedness (signature strength in 6/7 tests taken)
Thinking things through and examining them from all sides are important aspects of who you are. You do not jump to conclusions, and you rely only on solid evidence to make your decisions. You are able to change your mind.
Overall, I think my test results are pretty consistent – with the exception of the ‘capacity to love and be loved’ strength. This strength has only appeared as one of my signature strengths in the last two tests taken (it was ranked 8, 7, 15, 14, 7 in the previous tests) which I think reflects a growing comfortableness with myself and deepening of a number of important relationships (Jason and I got married last year too!).
I didn’t deliberately set out to regularly take the test or monitor my test results over a number of years but I’m glad I have (and grateful that the Authentic Happiness site keeps all the previous test results – I would have surely lost track of them otherwise). Looking back, the results seem to provide both confirmation of the key elements of my character/personality and evidence of how I’ve grown and changed over time.
Amanda Horne says
Happy New Year!
Your results are typical of what the researchers suggested and found: that we have 3-4 strengths that
consistently appear in the ‘top’ although not always in the same order. I’d also encourage you (and your readers who do this questionnaire) to look beyond the top 5, to the next few in the list which you feel really are part of what you consider to be your top strengths. It’s not easy to tell from the VIA results how close number 6 is to number 5. You might have high scores here also which warrants the next few down being part of your top strengths. For example, how far down was ‘love and to be loved’ in the previous “BJ” times (BJ = Before Jason).
The researchers/pschologists also comment that life situations do affect our strengths and the order they appear over time.
Here’s something interesting to consider also which I have learnt anecdotally:
1) a client’s 24th strength shot to the top when they had something meaningful to do
2) a client’s top strength had sunk to #24 over time because work got in the way of life. They miss using their 24th strength and want to bring it to the top again.
Enjoy continuing to do the VIA. I do mine every couple of years, and it’s alwasy fun to compare the results.
Happy New Year to you too! And I should have acknowledged you in my original post for first introducing me to the VIA!
Thanks for your comments. Interesting observations from your client(s) about the degree to which their strengths were influenced by their life/work situation!
One of the things that I’ve really appreciated about the results from the test is that it helps me to evaluate potential new jobs/opportunities. Often it’s easy to be influenced by how exciting or interesting something sounds, but I know that I’ll quickly be frustrated, burnt out or disappointed if I’m not using my strengths. Asking ‘how will this opportunity enable me to use and grow my signature strengths?’ is something I’m trying to do more consciously.