Positive psychology searches the premises of a good life in the psychological attributes of the person. Of course, it’s only one of few places where positive psychology is searching. Anyway, those psychological attributes are acquired during a lifetime. They are giving a person an opportunity to be independent and responsible for his actions to make his life better. The attributes make the human decide what he will do with his biological and social possibilities for his and others well-being.
The psychological attributes are included in a concept of a feature. There are two main ways of understanding a feature. First one is a type of a behavioral trait which refers to consistent and repetitive forms of functioning. For example, we can say that the person is sociable because she searches, in many different ways, the contact with others. We will see how the person behaves and will tell what she is like. The second one is mental predispositions which is a psychological readiness for various forms of functioning. The mental predispositions refer to specific mental mechanisms which manifestations are shown in thoughts, feelings, and behavior. For example, the impulsiveness which is shown in various psychological phenomena and behaviors is a result of the weak operation of the self-control mechanism. Positive psychology is more focusing on the second way of understanding a feature.
What’s more, those features who are beneficial from the point of view of well-being we distinguish by calling them virtues and character strengths. Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman made a book Character Strengths and Virtues (CSV) in which they present a measure of humanist ideals of virtue in an empirical and rigorously scientific manner. There are six virtues and twenty-four character strengths.
- Wisdom and Knowledge – creativity, curiosity, willingness to learn, social intelligence, wisdom, rationality
- Humanity – kindness, love
- Temperance – modesty, self-control, prudence
- Courage – vitality, resourcefulness, coherence
- Justice – loyalty, team spirit, leadership
- Transcendence – hope, gratitude, forgiveness, admiration for beauty, spirituality, humor
Let me know what do you think about virtues and character strengths. In my next psychology post, I want to talk a little bit more about some of the virtues and character strengths.
- Trzebińska, E. (2008). Positive Psychology. Warszawa: Wydawnictwa Akademickie i Profesjonalne.
- Wikipedia: Character Strengths and Virtues
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