About Character

  • What do you mean by “character strengths” exactly?

    We define character strengths as ways of acting, thinking, and feeling that benefit the individual as well as the broader community. Some prefer the term “social and emotional competencies” or “non-cognitive factors” or “life skills.” We appreciate the fact that others choose to use different terms. In our view, what matters is not terminology but, instead, the hard work of advancing the science and practice of growing these capacities.

  • Doesn’t success depend on things other than character?

    Of course! Students can’t succeed if they aren’t given opportunities to do so. But there is evidence that character strengths are beneficial for most kids no matter their objective circumstances.

  • Are these character strengths really universal?

    Yes. Research indicates that character strengths like gratitude, self-control, and curiosity have been valued by cultures around the world and throughout human history. That said, how a character strength is demonstrated may vary by community.

About Character Lab

  • How did you choose to focus on these certain character strengths?

    Before Character Lab existed, we focused on seven strengths that pilot research and personal reflection suggested were especially relevant to schools. We have since discovered that these strengths exemplify three very broad families of character: intellectual strengths like curiosity and zest, interpersonal strengths like gratitude and social/emotional intelligence, and intrapersonal strengths like grit, self-control, optimism, and growth mindset.

  • What kinds of schools are you working with?

    We work with all types of schools! We believe that character development has a place in all schools—private, public, parochial, urban, suburban, rural, low-income, high-income, and everything in between. Right now, our research projects are only in the US.

  • I have a program that develops character. Can we partner? Can you evaluate it?

    We’re always interested in the work of others. However, we do not evaluate other programs at this time.

  • I want to include your [visuals, strengths, information] in my [curriculum, training, presentation]. Is there copyright? What do I need to do?

    All of our materials are free. By all means, please use our visuals or distribute our materials to your staff or colleagues. Similarly, if you’d like to share them on a blog or other public source, that’s great! All we ask is that you credit us by saying that the materials came from the Character Lab. Also, please don’t take our work and (1) claim it’s your own, (2) change it and then claim the modified ideas came from us, or (3) attempt to make money from it in any way.