The VIA Signature Strengths Questionnaire. Free Online Questionnaire.
The VIA Signature Strengths Questionnaire is great tool for understanding yourself better, and understanding the most effective ways to boost your positive emotions.
(VIA stands for “Values in Action”).
It’s a comprehensive but straightforward questionnaire that requires you to answer questions about 24 different character strengths. Based on your answers, you’ll get a rank ordering of the 24 strengths included in the questionnaire from your top strengths to your bottom “strengths” (i.e. meaning the things on the bottom of your list of 24 aren’t your strengths).
The idea is for you to look at what the automatically-generated test results suggest your top 5 ish strengths are, decide which resonate the most, and determine for yourself what you consider to be your key “signature strengths”. You should base your decision about whether something is a Signature Strength on whether
– You perceive yourself as naturally good at it.
– It’s an important source of positive emotions for you (when you’re using a Signature Strength you typically feel joy, excitement, serenity etc.)
– When you’re your most creative and/or engaged you’re probably using one or more of your signature strengths.
The test will probably produce a few results you don’t agree with. Ignore these. Focus on the information the test gives that’s useful to you.
How to use the information from the VIA Signature Strengths Questionnaire
1. The basic concept is that people are likely to be happier when their life gives them plenty of opportunities to utilize (“flex”) their signature strengths. From your questionnaire results, how can you increase the activities in your life that utilize your top strengths, or transform existing activities so that the way you do those activities better utilizes your strengths.
If you know yourself reasonably well, the questionnaire results should in effect “tell you what you already know” about yourself but perhaps a surprise might pop up that, when you reflect on it, resonates with you. Even if none of the information is surprising, people usually experience a nice self esteem boost from taking the test and getting their printout.
2. Of course the flip side of a strengths perspective is that if your life (e.g., job) requires you to frequently utilize character strengths near the bottom of your list of 24, it might bias your thinking in a way that makes you tend to underestimate the strengths you have. When you need to utilize skills that aren’t your particular strengths it’s likely to be quite hard for you. You’re not likely to feel much of a sense of flow during those tasks, and you’ll probably need to work harder at being good at them than you do at other tasks. Once you have a clear perception of what your signature strengths are it’s likely to be easier to identify when something is hard because it doesn’t suit you, rather than jumping to harsher judgments of yourself.
3. Once you’ve identified your Signature Strengths, having conscious awareness of what they are can help you recognize times when you’re experiencing what psychology PhDs call “flow.” When you’re feeling particularly engaged with something you’re doing and it feels good, ask yourself if its because you’re utilizing one of your Signature Strengths? (If the answer is No it might indicate you have signature strengths you missed). This awareness can help you savor these times more, which boosts positive emotions.
4. If you can find ways to combine your signature strengths (i.e. tasks that require you to use 2 or even 3 of your signature strengths), these will be abilities that will particularly differentiate you from other people.
Warning: The test is long (240 items, which will take you about 20 mins) but it’s well worth it.
How to take the VIA Signature Strengths Questionnaire.
You can access the VIA Signature Strengths Questionnaire free here – It’s listed as “VIA Survey of Character Strengths”.
You’ll need to register at the site, which only takes 2-3 minutes. There are lots of questionnaires on this site. Make sure you pick the one called VIA Signature Strengths. You’ll know you got the right one because it has 240 items.
With any questionnaire, it’s usually best not to overthink your answers. If you find yourself having difficulty making decisions about your answers, go with your first instinct.
Once you complete the questionnaire you’ll get a results page. This page isn’t very printer friendly, so you’ll need to select the text, copy and paste it into Word and print these pages. You should end up with about 4 printed pages.