The intentions and actions that benefit both the individual and others

Why character?

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.” Our goal is to make this vision a reality.

Overwhelming scientific evidence now shows that character strengths like self-control, curiosity, and gratitude are critically important to social and emotional well-being, physical health, and achievement. Although character strengths are malleable, surprisingly little is known about how they can be intentionally cultivated. This is why Character Lab exists—to research and create new ways to help all children develop character.

What kind of character strengths lead to thriving?

Research has demonstrated that character is plural, encompassing a multitude of strengths that can be organized into three dimensions: Interpersonal strengths, like gratitude, enable harmonious relationships with other people; intrapersonal strengths, like grit and self-control, enable achievement; and intellectual strengths, like curiosity, enable a fertile and free life of the mind.

How can we cultivate character?

Character Lab believes that helping children develop character is an age-old challenge that will yield to a new solution: world-class scientists working hand-in-hand with expert educators and visionary designers.

The result is Character Lab’s suite of Playbooks, which help parents and teachers develop character in children and, as role models, in themselves. As James Baldwin once observed, “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”

Strengths of heart

  • Interpersonal or “giving” strengths
  • Help you relate in positive ways to other people
  • Examples: gratitude, kindness, empathy

Strengths of mind

  • “Intellectual” or “thinking” strengths
  • Help you wonder, reason, and create
  • Examples: curiosity, creativity, humor

Strengths of will

  • Intrapersonal or “doing” strengths
  • Help you achieve your goals
  • Examples: grit, self-control

Download our Character Strength Posters

Character Strength Posters

Printable 11×17 posters for your classroom or office

Download now

Research articles about character

A tripartite taxonomy of character: Evidence for intrapersonal, interpersonal, and intellectual competencies in children
Contemporary Educational Psychology, 48, 16–27.
Park, D., Tsukayama, E., Goodwin, G. P., Patrick, S., & Duckworth, A. L. (2017).

Integrating psychological and cultural perspectives on virtue: The hierarchical structure of character strengths
The Journal of Positive Psychology, 10(5), 407–424.
McGrath, R. E. (2015).