Oct 012010

Experience with the VIA Signature Strength Questionnaire

by David Satterlee

I was asked to go to www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu and take the VIA Signature Strength Questionnaire, note my top five signature strengths, use each one in a novel way, and report on the experience.


I took VIA questionnaire and found it interesting. I already had an interest in Martin Seligman’s work with Positive Psychology and had already discovered and completed the questionnaire a year or two ago. The results this time were consistent with the earlier report and were not surprising or particularly gratifying. I have become deeply introspective over the last few decades; the results were not unexpected.

My wife and I are interested in each other’s life and work; she quickly volunteered to complete the VIA inventory as well. We compared results and were heartened to discover that we shared three strengths that we value in ourselves and each other. We discussed the differences in our other two strengths and concluded that they were divided along gender lines. For instance, mine included bravery/valor and hers included capacity to love and gratitude.

I would strongly recommend the VIA Signature Strength Questionnaire to anyone who cared to understand themselves better or think about virtues and how they might be cultivated in themselves and others.

Your Top Strength

Creativity, ingenuity, and originality

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.

1/18/09 – I reinvented some chocolate and peanut butter fudge that we had received as a gift. It was much too sweet and cloying. I put the nine chocolate squares in an 8×8 glass pan and filled-in the spaces with slivers of peanut butter fudge. Then I heated it all together in a microwave oven until soft and marbled it with diagonal strokes of a chopstick. I gave the top surface a light dusting with ground capsicum and raw powered cocoa. Then, I diced four cherry cordials, mixed in a little of both cinnamon and nutmeg, and heated it together until melted. This was drizzled over the fudge and reheated enough to fuse it together. The fudge was considerably improved.

Your Second Strength

Curiosity and interest in the world

You are curious about everything. You are always asking questions, and you find all subjects and topics fascinating. You like exploration and discovery.

1/22/09 – When my Biology teacher made some strong, dogmatic assertions about the genetic basis of evolution, I revisited an on-line Newsweek article that I had read that asserted that experience and behavior can affect offspring both through gene changes and unknown inheritance factors. http://www.newsweek.com/id/180103?gt1=43002 I also found and spent about an hour with my copy of Rupert Sheldrake’s The Presence of the Past: Morphic Resonance and the Habits of Nature. His theory of “formative causation” proposes that memory is inherent in nature and that the more a thing happens, the more likely it is to happen again.

Your Third Strength

Love of learning

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.

1/19/09 – The discussions of scientific rigor and precision, which we are having in both Psychology and Biology, has reminded me of a quote that made a big impression many years ago. To refresh myself on the thought, I’ve ordered a copy of Cybernetics for the Modern Mind by Walter R. Fuchs from Amazon.com. When we moved to North Carolina, we had a set of six six-shelf oak bookcases made for the books that needed to stay out and available. Amazon.com loves me.

Your Fourth Strength

Bravery and valor

You are a courageous person who does not shrink from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain. You speak up for what is right even if there is opposition. You act on your convictions.

1/21/09 – I’ve taken good care of my wife today. Last night, a pipe broke under the house. I made several trips, crawling through and laying in the mud to get it repaired. This morning, it took me about seven tries to get her car out of our parking area and up the first steep grade. Then I returned to escort her through the show-covered gravel and waited in the cold to listen for her double-honk from the asphalt road below.

Your Fifth Strength

Perspective (wisdom)

Although you may not think of yourself as wise, your friends hold this view of you. They value your perspective on matters and turn to you for advice. You have a way of looking at the world that makes sense to others and to yourself.

1/20/09 – My little sister called from Arkansas. She wants to start selling on eBay and asked me a lot of questions about how the system worked, and the best ways to price and list items. I gladly gave the best advice I could. She was grateful.

Copyright 2009, David Satterlee

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