Thursday 19 May 2016

2.3: Personal Character Strengths

Character in the Professions: Teaching

Discussion Board Unit 2.3

Please use these discussion boards to interact with your fellow learners. The discussion boards provide a unique opportunity for learners to debate ideas and thoughts generated by the ‘Character in the Professions: Teaching’ course and reflect on the application of theory discussed in your professional lives.

Unit 2.3 investigates ‘Personal Character Strengths’ with reference to the well-used ‘Values in Action’ survey. Take the survey and self-report your own character strengths.

Activity 2 challenges you to think of a time when you have been required to use one or more of the character strengths which appear in your top 5 from the VIA.

Discuss how you used those character strengths below. Did the virtues compete with one another at any point?

Activity 3 looks at Bystander Effect.
Watch the video and join the discussion:

Why do you think so many people ignored the man in ‘distress’?

Think of an example where you had the opportunity to act virtuously but failed  to do so and chose an 'easier' option. Why did you act in the way that you did? What would it take for you to act in a ‘more virtuous’ way?

Please post your comments below and join the discussion. 


  1. My top five character strengths are: Perseverance, Bravery, Fairness, Kindness and Judgement. I time I showed the character traits of perseverance and judgement was probably when completing my A-levels at college. I was told my several of my teachers that I was predicted fairly low/average results and it really worried me as I wanted to get at least B grades to get into my university choices. Instead of letting this knock my confidence, i used it for motivation and revised solidly in the last two weeks before my exams. I managed to go up two grades in Dance and English and one grade in Religious Studies. I was really pleased that I didn't give up and proven the predicted grades wrong. A time I have shown kindness, fairness and bravery would be when sticking up for people in difficult situations. For example, on a night out when a group of men were shouting abuse at a homeless man, I confronted them and tried to get them to stop as it wasn't fair. This was probably very risky and foolish in ways as I could have got myself in trouble, but I wanted to show the man kindness and show that someone cared enough to stick up for him. The virtues that competed with each other in this scenario was definitely fairness and judgement. I knew it wasn't fair and I couldn't handle the injustice of the incident, yet my judgement told me to not to involve myself.

  2. This video is a great example of people being so consumed by their own fear of 'going against the norm' in society that they lose all empathy and concern for others. I find it hard to understand why you would choose that as the 'easier' option, for myself, the easier option would genuinely be just to ask the person if they are ok. Otherwise, you'd be concerned all day that you'd walked past someone in great need and failed to help them. I guess it's an issue of 'not wanting to be involved' and not seeing it as your responsibility to do anything about it. This is something I have been guilty of too, of course, as I think everyone has at some point. When I was younger I used to walk past homeless people pretending to ignore them, pretending that I hadn't seen them, because I felt too uncomfortable to say I didn't have any money. This makes me feel guilty as an adult now, as they deserve to be acknowledged even if you do not have money to give them. Now if I pass a homeless person but I don't have any change, I say that I'm sorry and wish them a good day, because it's kinder than to completely ignore them.

  3. My five top character strengths are: Kindness, fairness, teamwork, appreciation of beauty and excellence and honesty. I feel I display these character traits when I am working in a team with one or more people. I appreciate the effort people put in and I show kindness to help them and myself succeed. I Often show kindness to encourage others to succeed even if it does not benefit me directly, I feel a sense of fulfillment knowing that I have made a task somewhat easier for someone else to achieve. I often show fairness and share the workload so it really is a ‘group effort’, and I often appreciate the little details people put in and notice/ praise what they do. I ensure I present myself in an honest and genuine way, as this is what I hope others will do to me by presenting themselves in an honest and genuine way.

  4. The people in the video portray a realistic view of most people conforming to the unspoken rules of society, the idea of ‘not getting involved’. In order for people to break the social ‘norm’ of not getting involved people would have to portray character traits such as kindness, humility, care and love. Some people may experience barriers such as taking risk and the feeling of ‘uncertainty’ of what it might lead to. Engaging in a mindset of helping other who are in need can help people overcome the barrier of uncertainty. Similarly to the comment above I too have displayed behaviours of ignoring homeless people in the street. Whilst shopping in town I often get approached by people selling ‘big issue’ instead of wishing them a good day I quickly walk past to avoid the conversation of having no change on me. Stopping for a minute and wishing someone a good day can essentially put a smile on that persons face, encouraging them to have confidence and continue to show bravery in the difficult situation they are in.

  5. My top five character strengths are appreciation of beauty and excellence, kindness, fairness, love and gratitude. I think I demonstrated all of these when working at a summer camp in America. I think these character strengths work well with each other and they helped me be a liked member of staff by the children who attended the camp. I was able to have lots of fun with the children and be a friend to them, but also be fair and kind when problems arose that needed to be dealt with, such as children arguing with one another or saying unkind things. In addition, I always felt grateful to have had the opportunity to work in such a beautiful, natural setting for two months, even when the work was hard and I was tired. I look back on it now as one of the best experiences of my life, and one that helped me develop my character strengths further.

  6. The people in the video displayed the classic Bystander effect and did not stop to help, especially when the person was not wearing formal clothes. If the public had displayed virtuous behaviour, the actors would not have been lying down for more than a few seconds before someone came over to help. The public had a barrier stopping them from helping, which was the fact that the other members of the public were doing nothing, so they felt that they had to conform to that same behaviour. It is difficult sometimes to break the conformation and to behave in a different way, which is why it took so long for the people to be helped.
    I have been guilty of the same behaviour. When on a subway, I saw a woman who was clearly upset, but because she was holding a bottle of vodka and seemed drunk, I did not ask her if she was okay, which I should have. I think it was the Bystander effect again that stopped me, as no one else was helping her, but also that she seemed drunk, as I was worried about her being potentially aggressive.