Posts tagged stages

Emotions and personality : take 2

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In my last post, I laid forth my claim that personality and emotions are interrelated; in this post I want to review the affective literature to come up with the different types of affective phenomenon ranging from emotions to moods to personality traits and see what is common and where they differ

In particular, I read this article titled ‘Psychological theories of emotion’ by Scherer; and apart from providing a broad overview of the dimensional, discrete emotions, meaning based and component theories of emotions, it also does a very good job of defining emotions and differentiating them from other affective phenomenon.

Without further ado, here is how the five major affective phenomenon are described:

  1. Emotions: relatively brief episodes of synchronized responses by all or most organismic subsystems to the evaluation of an external or internal event, as being of major significance (eg anger, sadness, joy fear , shame etc)
  2. Mood: diffuse affect state, mots pronounced as changes in subjective feeling , of low intensity, but relatively longer duration, often without apparent cause (eg cheerful, gloomy, irritable, listless , depressed, buoyant)
  3. Interpersonal stances: Affective stance taken towards another person in a specific interaction, coloring the interpersonal exchange in that situation. (eg. distant, cold, warm supportive , contemptuous)
  4. Attitudes: relatively enduring, affectively colored beliefs, preferences and  predispositions towards objects or persons (eg liking, loving, hating, valuing,  desiring)
  5. Personality Traits: emotionally laden , stable personality dispositions and action tendencies, typical for a person (eg. nervous,  anxious, reckless, morose, hostile, envious, jealous)

Note how the above classification also fits the 5 stage model: emotions representing stage 1 , mood stage 2 with stress on subjectivity, Interpersonal stances stress the interpersonal angle in stage 3; while attitudes have more to do with affective and social phenomenon per se in stage 4. ; finally Personality traits is something characteristic of , and defining of, self and properly belongs to stage 5.

Anyway, all said and done, the above classification provides reason not only to differentiate emotions and personality, but by subsuming them under one rubric of affective phenomenon ,also highlighting the similarities and universal features.

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Perry’s stages of intellectual and ethical devlopement

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In one of the recent posts we saw that Averill believed that ethics or moral domain in psychology can be derived from focusing on emotions, will, motivation , ethics and virtue; while the mental domain in psychology and philosophy evolved by studies of epistemology. Today I wish to focus on one way of how we come to know i.e. a theory of epistemology and how a staged theory for the same has been proposed by Perry in a student education domain.

To quote from wikipedia:

The Perry scheme is a model for understanding how college students “come to know, the theories and beliefs they hold about knowing, and the manner in which such epistemological premises are a part of and an influence on the cognitive processes of thinking and reasoning”.

Perry has split his analysis of how college students “come to know” into nine position further grouped into 4 stages, but I will treat all of them as stages only and try to fit them in my eight stage model by trying to draw parallels with Selman’s role-taking or perspective taking stages. I’ll be using material extensively from Wikipedia and this page about Perry’s scheme.

  1. Stage 1: Dualism/Received Knowledge:There are right/wrong answers, engraved on Golden Tablets in the sky, known to Authorities.Basic Duality:All problems are solvable; Therefore, the student’s task is to learn the Right Solutions.The authorities know: e.g. “the tutor knows what is right and wrong”. Contrast this with the undifferentiated perspective of Selman, the first stage. In it “one attributes one’s or protagonist perspective to everyone else’s. One may have a concept of perspective or Theory-of-mind but may suffer from an inability to attribute any other perspective to anyone else distinct from one’s own”. The underlying theme in both the cases is that there is only one reality- one perspective-mine; one knowledge or right answer- my authority’s.
  2. stage 2: Full Dualism: Some Authorities (literature, philosophy) disagree; others (science, math) agree. Therefore, there are Right Solutions, but some teachers’ views of the Tablets are obscured. Therefore, student’s task is to learn the Right Solutions and ignore the others! The true authorities are right, the others are frauds “e.g my tutor knows what is right and wrong but others don’t”. Contrast this with second stage of Selman that of social-informational perspective taking: It is a stage “whereby one comes to realize that not only there exits a perspective, but that it can be different for different persons. Nevertheless, despite the realization that the perspectives can differ ( based on say the different information that each may have) the preponderant tendency is to consider one’s perspective as valid and by exchanging information attempts to make others perspective inline with one’s own.”. the underlying theme in both cases is that there is one reality, but there can be two views of it; my view or my authority’s view is , of course, the correct one.
  3. Satge 3: Multiplicity/Subjective Knowledge: There are conflicting answers;therefore, students must trust their “inner voices”, not external Authority.Early Multiplicity:There are 2 kinds of problems:those whose solutions we know and those whose solutions we don’t know yet (thus, a kind of dualism). Student’s task is to learn how to find the Right Solutions.There are some uncertainties and the authorities are working on them to find the truth “e.g my tutors don’t know, but somebody out there is trying to find out”. Contrast this with Selman;’s third stage that of self-reflective perspective taking. It “marks the first empathetic perspective taking whereby one sees, thinks and feels from other person’s perspectives using first person. This is literally stepping in someone else’s shoes and truly seeing as if the situation concerned oneself. This not just a logical realization that someone can have a different perspective but also realizing that that perspective can be equally valid given the other person’s unique situation. Thus one thinks and feels like the other person and can both suffer and enjoy the outcomes of situations as they unfold from the other person’s perspective. The emphasis is on understanding. And empathy.” The underlying theme here I believe is understanding that instead of just right and wrong answers / solutions, there are different approaches to solve the problems which are indeed solvable. Also the theme is to feel from inside the authority, to understand how authority is gained- and know how to find the answer rather than just what is the right answer. While the first two stages focused on what is the right answer, after realizing that there may not be a right answer, the focus changes to how to find the right answer. this is akin to finding that there is no one valkid perspective and thus changing focus to how one feels in other persons shoes and having his/her different perspective.
  4. stage 4: Late Multiplicity: Most problems are of the second kind(we don’t know solution yet); therefore, everyone has a right to their own opinion; or some problems are unsolvable; therefore, it doesn’t matter which (if any) solution you choose. Student’s task is to shoot the bull.(Most freshman are at this position, which is a kind of relativism)At this point, some students become alienated, and either retreat to an earlier (“safer”) position (“I think I’ll study math, not literature, because there are clear answers and not as much uncertainty”) or else escape (drop out) (“I can’t stand college; all they want is right answers” or else “I can’t stand college; no one gives you the right answers”.) (a)Everyone has right to their own opinion “e.g different tutors think different things” (b) The authorities don’t want the right answers. They want us to think in certain way “e.g there is an answer that the tutors want and we have to find it”. Contrast this with the fourth ‘third-party or bystander stage‘ . In it “one has decentred in the emotional/cognitive personal sense and can see a situation not only from first and second person perspectives of interacting parties, but also from that of a neutral bystander. This includes the ability to keep multiple perspectives in mind at the same time. One does not see from this perspective and then from the other – one looks at the entire big picture or view and understands that different people are having different perspectives.” The underlying theme is that of relativism and that there are as many solutions/perspectives and right answers as there are people involved. My tutor/authority doesn’t want the absolute right answer (as there are none) but a certain type of answer that he considers is right and neutral and thinks that the answer doesn’t necessarily stem and is embedded in his own perspective. Thus, the right answer, if any, is taken by consensus, and can be different form my own or my tutors own perspectives/ beliefs about the right solution.
  5. stage 5: Relativism/Procedural Knowledge: There are disciplinary reasoning methods: Connected knowledge: empathetic (why do you believe X?; what does this poem say to me?) vs. Separated knowledge: “objective analysis” (what techniques can I use to analyze this poem?) Contextual Relativism: All proposed solutions are supported by reasons; i.e., must be viewed in context & relative to support. Some solutions are better than others, depending on context. Student’s task is to learn to evaluate solutions. Everything is relative but not equally valid “e.g there are no right and wrong answers, it depends on the situation, but some answers might be better than others”. contrast this with Selman’s fifth stage that of societal perspective. In it “one realizes that the neutral third party perspective is not really neutral but influenced by the societal and cultural context in which the bystander lives and is reflective of those values. One realizes that one can have different neutral perspectives on a situation, each of which would be colored by the values that are dear to the social and cultural context in which the situation occurs and which dictate what a neutral perspective is. One may realize that some values are desirable and others are not and that the perspective that is informed by desirable values is more preferable.” the underlying theme in both cases is to move away from decontextualized value-free equality of all perspectives/ solutions to a contextual and value-laden evaluation of relatively better/ more valid perspectives/ answers given a particular context.
  6. The sixth stage: “Pre-Commitment“: Student sees the necessity of: making choices and committing to a solution. You have to make your own decisions “e.g what is important is not what the tutor thinks but what I think”. I had not delineated any stages of Selman beyond the fifth stage for the perspective taking, but if I have to venture it may be akin to choosing a particular value-laden way of looking at things irrespective of the given context. It would be akin to choosing your attitude to life no matter what you have been served. To paraphrase Victor Frankl , your own unique attitude/ perspective is one thing no one can take away from you. you can always choose how to see things , not objectively as per a some gold standard, but subjectively , but a subjectivity that is informed and grounded in a prior commitment. For eg., you can choose to be positive (have a positive attitude) and focus on the silver linings in the clouds. The underlying theme would be existential theme- that of creating your own meaning- your own perspective, your own right solution/ answer. Nothing is given. You are . The problems are. You have to construct and create your own answers and meaning. You are free and can exercise choice as to commit to a way of life, a perspective, a solution, an answer- something that leads to coherence for you and your life.
  7. Satge 7 : Commitment/Constructed Knowledge: Integration of knowledge learned from others with personal experience and reflection. Commitment: Student makes a commitment. Challenges to Commitment: Student experiences implications of commitment. Student explores issues of responsibility. First commitment “e.g for this particular topic I think that….”; Several Commitments “e.g for these topics I think that….”. I have collapsed stages 7 and 8 of Perry into one stage . The corresponding Selman’s stage would be measuring, aligning and integrating one’s chosen perspective with those of ones con-specifics and bringing things in harmony. The underlying theme I believe is on communicating with others regarding ones committed answers and either modifying ones perspective or trying to modify others perspectives/ solutions/answers as per one’s committed solution/ perspective/answer. On not only is and has chosen a right answer/perspective, one is also forced to convince others of the rightness of ones perspective and ones solution/answer. With great commitment, comes great responsibility.
  8. stage 8: “Post-Commitment”: Student realizes commitment is an ongoing, unfolding, evolving activity. Believe own values, respect others, be ready to learn “e.g I know what I believe in and what I think is valid, others may think differently and I’m prepared to reconsider my views”. stage 8 of Selman may have been a step away from proselytizing tone of seventh stage and more of (in)tolerance of equally strongly committed views by others. The ingroup/outgroup dynamic is at play and while some groups of people may adhere to our shared committed solutions/ beliefs/ perspectives; other groups may have other solutions/ beliefs/ perspectives and we can perhaps mutually agree to disagree at worst, if not to learn from the different committed views and enhance and deepen our view of reality, at best. The underlying theme being that of tolerance for others who ware equally committed to their view/ solution and may be correct in a way in their own right.

Phew! This post was a handful. Hope you like it and like my theorizing and dogged attempt to fit everything in a eight fold developmental model.

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universal human mate preference: four dimensions or eight factors?

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In  my last post I had mentioned how Seligman and Peterson have tried to correlate their structure of human virtues/character strengths with work of other researchers like the universal dimensions of human mate preferences discovered by Buss et al.  Today I wish to discuss in detail the universal dimensions of human mate preferences discovered by Buss  et al.

Buss et al looked at data , using an 18 item preference ratings archival database, of about ten thousand people, from various cultures across the globe, and used the analysis strategy outlined by Bond to take care of different sample size from different cultures. they then applied the Principal component analysis to the refined data so obtained to determine the underlying structure of the mate preferences.

Their PCA analysis led to discovery of four dimensions all of which could be quantified as bipolar dimensions with one pole representing a different construct and another representing a sort-of-but-not-really opposed construct. For eg.,the first factor included loadings from ‘‘good financial prospects’’ (-0.65), ‘‘favorable social status or ratings’’ (-0.62), and ‘‘ambition and industriousness’’ (-0.41), each of which loaded negatively. The component also included ‘‘mutual attraction—love’’ (0.49), which loaded positively. They thus labeled this component ‘‘Love vs. Status/Resources.’

Similarly the 3 other components were labeled “Dependable/Stable vs. Good Looks/Health”; “Education/Intelligence vs. Desire for Home/Children”; and “Sociability vs. Similar Religion”.

To my naive mind all of these bipolar dimensions seem to be separate constructs in themselves and I cannot fathom why dependable/stable should be taken as opposed to good looks/health. to me they seem sort of independent constructs. I would rather view the findings as eight separate poles than 4 bipolar dimensions with each dimension conflating two constructs/factors.

The paper immediately drew to my mind this paper, by Haslam et al, that while finding the underlying structure of positive characteristics, found three consistent bipolar dimensions using multi dimensional scaling. However, when the same data was subjected to cluster analysis, 6 factors were or clusters were apparent , each cluster being the pole of a single bipolar dimension. These 6 factors were “self-control,” “love,” “wisdom,” “drive,” “vivacity,” and “collaboration” which to my mind seems to map onto the virtues of self-restraint/temperance strengths, interpersonal or humanity strengths, intellectual or wisdom strengths, courage or emotional strengths , activity or vitality strengths and justice or civic strengths. Of course I think their MDS missed a fourth dimension which would have led to 8 clusters , the 2 remaining being religious and transcendence strengths.

Returning back to our current paper on universal mate preferences, I would like to break up the 4 dimensions into 8 factors and present them in a staged developmental order. It would be worthwhile to note that the two opposed dimensions are usually two adjacent stages following each other and may indeed reflect some conflict in mind of people as to which stage of mate preference to prefer based on their evolved natures . Here goes:

  1. first stage: Physical/biological : good looks/health
  2. second stage: will, restraint and control: dependable/stable.
  3. third stage: dominance/hierarchy, friends and foes: status/ resources.
  4. fourth stage: interpersonal: Love
  5. fifth stage: cognitive: education/ intelligence
  6. sixth stage: intimacy: desire for home/children.
  7. seventh stage: communicative/ generative:  sociability
  8. eights stage: integrity, ingroup/outgroup: similar vs dissimilar religion.

Of course this is not the first time I have tried to put Buss’s findings in a 8 stage model; earlier I had tried to put his views on personality in a  eight fold structure- whereby the last three stages of reproduction/evolution may be now characterized as biological, linguistic and cultural evolution. Anyway getting back to universal mate preferences, I can see that eight fold structure is found in the mate preferences too depending on which stage of preferences you have evolved/developed.

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SHACKELFORD, T., SCHMITT, D., & BUSS, D. (2005). Universal dimensions of human mate preferences Personality and Individual Differences, 39 (2), 447-458 DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2005.01.023
Haslam, N., Bain, P., & Neal, D. (2004). The Implicit Structure of Positive Characteristics Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30 (4), 529-541 DOI: 10.1177/0146167203261893

The factor structure of virtues and perosnality: a continuing mess

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Continuing my theme of focusing on human character strengths and virtues and relating them to personality,  I have been doing more reading of the literature and want to discuss three papers today.

First up is Shyrack et al’s recent paper that again explores the factor structure of VIA-IS and finds support for a 3 or 4 factor solution. They discuss the various conflicting/mutually supporting factor analytical results and the resulting 4 or 5 underlying components or factors. the VIA-youth scale consistently gives 4 factors while the VIA-Is (adult form) gives 5 factors.

However, I have issues with the samples on which the factor analysis is done. the mean age in Shyrack’s current study was 50 years approx, but in most other analysis, the analysis is conducted on university students. The age and developmental stage of the sample is important because as per a developmental stage perspective many of the virtues will not become manifest/ apparent and bloom in full strength until a particular age has been reached. for eg, till age 50 people have perhaps mastered the first 6 stages (including intimacy as per Erikson’s model) but still have not finished to satisfaction the developmental tasks of generativity (seventh stage) and integrity (eights stage). Not faced with any developmental challenges to these situations, the people may have lacked incentives to develop the corresponding virtues; thus I would not be surprised if people identify / relate to only at most 6 virtues. I would suggest that new tests be developed for post middle age and senior citizens than the normal adult scales and their data analyzed to understand the true factor structure of virtue. This is akin to their being different measurement instruments for children, adolescents and adults for character strengths and perhaps rightly they reflect different underlying factors thus validating a developmental stages approach. If analyzed this way I am sure the data for aged people will support a eight factor structure. Much of the data obtained from college students, in my view would only support 4 or 5 factor virtue structure.

Shyrack et al find support for 3 or 4 factor model, but based on a cursory look at their extraction using goldberg technique (see figure) I can extrapolate that a support for eight factor structure , with social strengths splitting in justice and humanity, and temperance splitting in temperance proper (restraint) and emotional strength. I hope someone perofmrs extraction till 8 factors and tries to label them, especially with aged poulation.

That bring me to Munro et al paper that also used undergraduate students as samples and performed factor analysis to come up with 5 factors ; however they also centered their data and after centration (to reduce social desirability effects). Their scree plot supported a 9 factor structure. See the scree plot that clearly shows at least eight factor (eigenvalues > 1) . to me it is not understandable why they left this centered data and instead went on to derive a five factor structure from the non-centered raw data.

That brings me to the last paper. It is by Cawley et al and is based on lexical analysis of virtue adjectives and nouns and also uses a different Virtue scale the Virtue Scale instead of VIA-IS. This approach too yielded a found fold structure (Empathy, Order, Resourceful, Serenity), but I believe there is much scope for more exploration with their data. However the best take home from the very insightful article is that virtue and ethics are separate. Virtue is related to being; while ethics is related to doing. Ethics is more cognitively grounded , especially the one gauged by DIT or Kohlberg’s moral dilemmas and is not related much to virtue which is more grounded in character or personality. And they found support for this in their data. That I believe is an important difference an finding to keep in mind. Also I liked this paragraph that lists the attributes that give rise to moral domain competency. To me they follow naturally , as stage tasks and issues , in reverse order as one undergoes moral development:emotions (1st stage), will (second stage) , motivation (3rd stage), Ethics (4th stage) and Virtue (5th stage).

The independence of this measure of the virtues and the personality measures from the more cognitive DIT measure of moral development may also reflect the independence of the mental (cognitive±intellectual) and moral (emotional±motivational) domains in psychology and philosophy (Averill, 1980). Averill observes that the mental domain evolved from studies of epistemology, while the moral domain (including personality) evolved from studies of virtue ethics, motivation, will, and emotion. Thus, from Averill’s observation, one would expect a measure of virtue to be more strongly related to measures of personality than to measures of cognitive moral development. Additional empirical data on the relationships among virtue, personality, moral cognitive development, and epistemological style can be found in Cawley (1997).

Also, I liked this para, that distinguishes between temperance proper (2nd stage doing with restraint) and Activity (7th stage that is more agentic):

McCrae and John (1992) also acknowledge that there are two components of Conscientiousness (C): an inhibitive view and a proactive view. They note that:
A number of di?erent conceptions of C have been o?ered. Tellegen’s Constraint and Hogan’s Prudence re¯ect an inhibitive view of C as a dimension that holds impulsive behavior in check. Digman and Takemoto-Chock’s Will to Achieve represents a proactive view of C as a dimension that organizes and directs behavior. The term Conscientiousness combines both aspects, because it can mean either governed by conscience or diligent and thorough. Empirically, both kinds of traits seem to covary. (p.197)
Perhaps the virtues factor Order represents the inhibitive, non-impulsive aspect of Conscientiousness as a virtue, and the virtues factor Resourcefulness represents the proactive, diligent aspect of Conscientiousness as a virtue (see also Johnson & Ostendorf, 1993).

Overall, I highly recommend reading the Cawley et al paper (available freely on the web) and encourage more research that utilizes multiple approaches to correlating Virtues with other constructs as outlined in this bit from munro et al:

In addition to developing their classification system, Peterson and Seligman (2004) have also suggested how their classification of character strengths and virtues is related to, but distinct from, already established theories of values. For example, Peterson and Seligman (2004) see their classification of character strengths and virtues as being related toMaslow’s (1973) idea of self-actualised individuals, the Five FactorModel (FFM) of personality (McCrae & John, 1992; Costa & McCrae, 1994), Cawley’s virtue factors (Cawley,Martin, & Johnson, 2000), Buss’ evolutionary ideas about what is attractive in a mate [i.e. what character traits are essential for survival and propagation, (Botwin, Buss, & Shackelford, 1997; Shackelford, Schmitt, & Buss, 2005)], and Schwartz’s (1992) Universal Values.
Some research into establishing the validity of these claims has begun. Haslam, Bain, and Neal 2004) found that both Schwartz’s (1992) Universal Values and the Five Factor Model (FFM) of personality were conceptually linked to the 24 character strengths. However, as these constructs were defined and subsequently measured by only one or two terms that were ranked and grouped together by participants on the basis of conceptual likeness, more thorough research is needed before we can draw any firm conclusions.

Heer is toast to more such research!

Shryack, J., Steger, M., Krueger, R., & Kallie, C. (2010). The structure of virtue: An empirical investigation of the dimensionality of the virtues in action inventory of strengths Personality and Individual Differences, 48 (6), 714-719 DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2010.01.007
MACDONALD, C., BORE, M., & MUNRO, D. (2008). Values in action scale and the Big 5: An empirical indication of structure Journal of Research in Personality, 42 (4), 787-799 DOI: 10.1016/j.jrp.2007.10.003
CAWLEY, M., MARTIN, J., & JOHNSON, J. (2000). A virtues approach to personality1 Personality and Individual Differences, 28 (5), 997-1013 DOI: 10.1016/S0191-8869(99)00207-X

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Character strengths and virtues: a 5/8 factor structure?

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Positive psychology is based on the premise that it is equally important to study what is good in life as it is to study what goes wrong. Positive psychology thus focuses on building and capitalizing on existing strengths of people while not focusing too much on their weaknesses, which has been focus of the traditional pathological view of humans.
Martin Seligman, the founding father of positive psychology, and Christopher Peterson, accordingly, have developed a Values In Action (VIA)-character strengths inventory and classification scheme to measure and classify the virtues or character strengths in a taxonomic system. It is a 240 items self-report measure that identifies 24 character strengths and orders them as per their predominance in a person’s life. These 24 character strengths are further classified in 6 broad virtues. I am reproducing teh 6 broad virtues and the 24 character strengths below:

  1. Wisdom and Knowledge Cognitive strengths that entail the acquisition and use of knowledge
    • Creativity: Thinking of novel and productive ways to conceptualize and do things
    • Curiosity: Taking an interest in ongoing experience for its own sake
    • Open-mindedness: Thinking things through and examining them from all sides
    • Love of learning: Mastering new skills, topics, and bodies of knowledge
    • Perspective: Being able to provide wise counsel to others
  2. Courage-Emotional strengths that involve the exercise of will to accomplish goals in the face of opposition, external and internal
    • Bravery: Not shrinking from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain
    • Persistence: Finishing what one starts; persisting in a course of action in spite of obstacles
    • Integrity: Speaking the truth but more broadly presenting oneself in a genuine way
    • Vitality: Approaching life with excitement and energy; not doing anything halfheartedly
  3. Humanity-Interpersonal strengths that involve tending and befriending others
    • Love: Valuing close relations with others, in particular those in which caring is reciprocated
    • Kindness: Doing favors and good deeds for others; helping them; taking care of them
    • Social intelligence: Being aware of the motives and feelings of other people and oneself
  4. Justice- Civic strengths that underlie healthy community life
    • Citizenship: Working well as a member of a group or team; being loyal to a group
    • Fairness: Treating all people the same according to the notions of fairness and justice
    • Leadership: Encouraging a group of which one is a member to get things done
  5. Temperance-Strengths that protect against excess
    • Forgiveness and mercy: Forgiving those who have done wrong; accepting others’ faults
    • Humility/Modesty: Letting one’s accomplishments speak for themselves
    • Prudence: Being careful about one’s choices; not taking undue risks
    • Self-regulation: Regulating what one feels and does; being disciplined
  6. Transcendence-Strengths that forge connections to the larger universe and provide meaning
    • Appreciation of beauty and excellence: Noticing and appreciating beauty, excellence, and/or
      skilled performance in various domains of life
    • Gratitude: Being aware of and thankful for the good things that happen
    • Hope: Expecting the best in the future and working to achieve it
    • Humor: Liking to laugh and tease; bringing smiles to other people
    • Spirituality: Having coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe

Seligman and Peterson arrived at these strengths via an esoteric route: they analyzed the major ethical and religious teachings of major eastern (Taoism, Confucianism, Hinduism and Buddhism) and western  (Judaism, Christianity, Athenian virtues and Islamic) religions and going by the authoritative texts of these religions tried to find universal and ubiquitous character strengths or virtues.  They themselves and others performed factor analysis on their 240 item questionnaire, and data obtained from different people who answered the questionnaire, and obtained at different time 5 factor or 4 factor solutions.

Seligman and Peterson themselves identify the following five factors from exploratory factor analysis. :

  • strengths of restraint (fairness, humility, mercy, prudence)
  • intellectual strengths (e.g., creativity, curiosity, love of learning,appreciation of beauty)
  • interpersonal strengths (e.g., kindness, love, leadership, teamwork,playfulness)
  • emotional strengths (e.g., bravery, hope, self-regulation, zest)
  • theological strengths (e.g., gratitude, spirituality)

Some other researchers found a four factor structure ( Interpersonal Strengths, Fortitude, Vitality, and Cautiousness) while some others have found related four or even one factor structure.

To my mind the original character strengths seem to follow the five/eight staged developmental/evolutionary model, especially when seen from the big 5/8 personality model ,  as follows:

  1. stage 1: related to emotions: personality trait neuroticism. character strength of Courage/Fortitude. Also known otherwise as emotional strength.
  2. stage 2: related to impulses/will: personality trait conscientiousness: character strength of Temperance. Also known otherwise as  strength of restraint.
  3. stage 3: related to forming alliances and friendships and concerned with dominance/submission. the social domain and group dynamics.  personality trait extraversion. character strength Justice. Leadership, fairness and citizenship are all civic strengths.
  4. stage 4: related to close interpersonal relations. personality trait agreeableness. : the personal and interpersonal domain. character strength humanity. Also known as interpersonal strength.
  5. stage 5: related to self-discovery and cognition; personality trait openness to experience. the cognitive and intellectual domain. character strength wisdom. also known as intellectual strengths .
  6. stage 6, 7 and 8 are qualitatively different and thus might have been clubbed into the transcendence/religiosity factor, but I believe as we evolve and understand better we would be able to classify the transcendence / religiosity factor into 3 separate factors and identify the individually. For a starter distinguishing amongst religiosity (trust vs distrust the sixth stage)  and transcendence (the eighth stage) may be called for.  Also, Todd Kashandan et al found that Vitality may be an apt name for the factor representing transcendence/religiosity and by vitality they meant Zest, hope humor etc all traits that are related to personality dimension of 7th stage viz Activity. thus I propose to split transcendence in 3 factors: one religious strengths ( stage 6 consisting of gratitude, hope); activity strengths (stage 7 consisting of Zest, humor, vitality etc) and transcendence strengths (stage 8 consisting spirituality, appreciation of beauty etc)

I would be on the lookout for the astute experimenter/observer who first fits the eight stage factor model to the character strengths and confirms the eight factor structure of character strengths and virtues and also relates them to underlying personality traits.

Seligman and Peterson have themselves tried to relate the character strengths to personality traits and so have been other recent attempts, but they will remain insufficient till the eight stage theoretical model is taken as a foundation. Seligman and Peterson note, in respect of the five factor structure they discovered using factor analysis:

What we call here strengths of restraint correspond closely to virtues of temperance; intellectual strengths correspond to virtues of wisdom and knowledge; interpersonal strengths collapse the virtues of humanity and justice ; emotional strengths correspond to virtues of courage; and the theological strengths are included among our transcendence virtues.
We also note that the first three factors here correspond to the Big Five factors of conscientiousness, openness, and agreeableness; the fourth factor—emotional strengths—may correspond to the opposite of the Big Five factor of neuroticism. The fifth factor—theological strengths—has no Big Five counterpart.

I believe their attempts, and the attempts of other researchers will go futile, till the eight fold developmental/evolutionary model is taken as the theoretical bedrock on which to perform confirmatory factor analysis.

Dahlsgaard, K., Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. (2005). Shared Virtue: The Convergence of Valued Human Strengths Across Culture and History. Review of General Psychology, 9 (3), 203-213 DOI: 10.1037/1089-2680.9.3.203
Brdar, I., & Kashdan, T. (2010). Character strengths and well-being in Croatia: An empirical investigation of structure and correlates Journal of Research in Personality, 44 (1), 151-154 DOI: 10.1016/j.jrp.2009.12.001

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