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Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification 1st Edition
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"Essential. Upper-division undergraduates and above, especially those interested in positive psychology." --Choice
"Peterson and Seligman's Character Strengths and Virtues adds a needed balance to the psychological literature. Topics such as character and virtue have too long been only in the domains of moral philosophy and politics. This work provides a needed psychological foundation for studying some of the attributes that are most important to a world that is foundering on the shoals of wars, terrorism, and atrocities. I recommend the book very highly."-Robert J. Sternberg, IBM Professor of Psychology and Education, Yale University; Director, Center for the Psychology of Abilities, Competencies, and Expertise (PACE Center), Yale University; Past President, American Psychological Association
"Peterson and Seligman's endeavor to focus on human strengths and virtues is one of the most important initiatives in psychology of the past half century. I am pleased to have had the opportunity to make a small contribution to this paradigm-changing effort."-Howard Gardner, Hobbs Professor of Education and Cognition, Harvard Graduate School of Education
"The book helps, in other words, with a coherent conversation about human qualities or character. Perhaps it can ultimately help people to remain 'attached to their values' as well."--Family Medicine
About the Author
Christopher Peterson is at University of Michigan. Martin E. P. Seligman is at University of Pennsylvania.
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To give you an example for how this would work, Readers are asked to go to AuthenticHappiness.org, sign up (it's free), take this very long survey called the "VIA Survey of Character Strengths," and then read what their top five strengths are. After that, they can read about those strengths in this book, the CSV and find better ways to make use of those strengths in their daily lives. My top strengths, for instance, are "love of learning," "curiosity," "creativity," "humor," and "open-mindedness." I am also a teacher. Here is a simple way I can integrate these strengths into my teaching. I can learn about the subject I teach as much as possible through study ("love of learning"), I can discover new things about my students through asking questions and allowing exercises where students open up ("curiosity"), I can research news methods for teaching more effectively ("creativity"), I can make fun of myself and my blunders, and general incongruities in life and work and so on, as they come up in the classroom ("humor"), and I can be receptive and understanding to my students and their expression, giving them first the benefit of the doubt ("open-mindedness"). It is also, of course, possible for me to integrate these strengths into my relationships and into my play.
Readers of this book are also encouraged, after they have better incorporated their natural strengths into their lives, to cultivate another strength. For example, I could do more to increase "Kindness/Generosity" as a strength, by displaying kindness in various situations to students and colleagues. And of course in other areas of life.
I highly recommend the book.
-The authors provide, and then develop, definitions and assumptions to support their scheme. Next, they develop a classification scheme for character and virtue similar to the successful multi-axis Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), which allows psychologists and psychiatrists to diagnose mental conditions in a reasonably productive and consistent manner. Classification helps recognize basic elements, helps understand past performance, and helps standardize and partially quantify a protocol for evaluating data (this may possibly allow character to be evaluated and developed more objectively than we can today, although wise subjective evaluation will still definitely be necessary). Providing a framework for character and virtue is often better than saying "S/he seemed like such a good person," or "well, I just think that candidate's character is better."
-The authors use examples of virtue and character from several different times and cultures for their scheme, and conclude that virtue and character based on an internal quality of mind (rather than external events like popularity or a promotion) can be developed and can lead to a better life. A skeptic and postmodernist could snipe at this and argue we should not even try to develop virtue or that universal standards are impossible; I would suggest that this issue is too important to be left to the nay-sayers, that just because things are not done perfectly does not mean they should not be done well or better, and that many credible leaders have shown examples suggesting virtue, character, and a positive life can be developed. This is an eminently worthy subject. The authors' goals, efforts, and respectable methodology are clearly far better than just throwing up one's hands and cursing the darkness.
-In my opinion, this book is invaluable and exciting, and re-ignites a proud human tradition to make better sense of character, virtue, and positive cultivated happiness (eudaemonia). Goodness knows -- we could use it! Developing flexible standards is a proven augmentation for the opinions of a true expert. Sure, we would all disagree with elements of the book, but my only major criticism is that such a scheme is subject to the usual abuse by those who try to substitute a framework for good judgment.
-I would recommend this book to any educator, psychology connoisseur, or anyone interested in character (one of the few important questions for any human to ask). Hope this review helps you.