What Matters Most?

Using your strengths to impact well-being

Who Is More Curious: Barack Obama or Mitt Romney?

Let’s try to understand the character strengths of the Presidential candidates.

Is it Romney or Obama who is perceived to be more brave, more honest, or more creative?

Who’s the stronger team-player: Joe Biden or Paul Ryan?

Each of these are important attributes of our character. Unfortunately, character has traditionally been viewed in a very limited way. Political, religious, and educational institutions frequently stake claim on 2-5 characteristics deemed to be most important and then attempt to impose these on students, congregants, and others. Common traits typically focused upon include respect, honesty, responsibility, integrity, and kindness.

Recently, character has been put to the rigors of science and scientists have delivered. Following rigorous investigation and scientific analyses over a three-year period, a classification and measurement tool emerged. The resulting 24 character strengths continue to be studied by researchers around the world and practitioners from multiple disciplines.

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Now, back to politics….

Across the United States, citizens and politicians are engaging in vigorous debates about who should be our next president. Yet, despite all of the time spent discussing the candidates’ positions on the issues, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll, it is character that matters most when choosing a president.

And character does not take center-stage. What takes center-stage are attack ads, comments about the failings of the other candidate, self-promotion, and glorious proclamations.

Who are these four men really? What strengths are really at their core?

You can take action to contribute to this meaningful discussion. Take the VIA Presidential Caucus poll. In less than 5 minutes, you’ll have the chance to identify those character strengths that you believe are most essential in a great President, as well as identify those strengths you believe are strongest in the current Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates. This unique poll comes from a non-profit, non-partisan organization, the VIA Institute on Character.

So, who's more curious? Let's use our own curiosity and find out together.

In a future entry, I will share with you the results of the poll.

References:

Mayerson, N. H. (2012, September 25). Presidential character assassination. Psychology Today Blog: Quite a Character.

Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. New York: Oxford University Press and Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Ryan M. Niemiec, Psy.D., is the education director at the VIA Institute on Character.

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