Thursday, May 16, 2013

VIA Character Strengths -- Free online test

When I learned how to administer, score, and interpret psychological tests, my supervisors insisted that I never give a test that I hadn't already taken myself. It is one thing to assure a patient that completing the 567 items on the MMPI-2 will be worth their time and effort; it is another to take the test yourself. I once had a supervisor, a psychiatrist, who always sampled the drugs that he would prescribe to patients, so he could experience the side effects for himself. When patients complained, "You don't know what it's like to be on these drugs!" he could placidly reply, "Yes, I do." Well, I know what it's like to complete the MMPI-2, and the Rorschach, and the WAIS-III, etc.

"This is not a Rorschach Inkblot"

The VIA Character Strengths survey might be the least iatrogenic of all psychological tests. Everything said about you is positive. You can take it here. (Be sure not to pay for any of the reports -- the free version is sufficient).

The idea is to identify your existing strengths and to capitalize on them. Think of 5 ways you use each of your Top 5 strengths (write those down). Then think of 5 new ways you could employ those strengths but are not currently. That yields a 25-point behavioral action plan. Then, and most importantly, start doing those new things.

For example, if your Number One strength is Love of Learning (as mine is), then you might plan to enroll in a class of some kind or arrange an informal apprenticeship with someone who has a skill you wish to develop yourself.

At the risk of iatrogenic injury, I find it useful to look at the Bottom 5 strengths too. Doing so might give you some ideas about how you might moderate the behaviors associated with them. For example, if your Bottom strength is Modesty, you might want to try spending more time celebrating other people's accomplishments and less time trumpeting your own. Modesty will probably remain one of your lower traits, but you might become a bit less obnoxious.



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