Some subjects qualify for a second rant.
Following the previous post, I decided to look into this strength testing a little further and took the 120 question test on the VIA Institute on Character website. This has the original version of the questionnaire that the DWP used as the basis for its now discredited test; VIA (according to The Guardian) are still recommending that UK Jobseekers use the full version of the test.
What’s interesting is that the two tests produce startling different results. Only Judgement/ Critical Thinking come out at exactly the same position and only two out of the top 5 strengths are the same in both tests. Interesting, too, is the fact that everything is expressed in terms of strengths – surely by the time you get towards the bottom of the list, you ought really to be repackaging these supposed attributes as weaknesses (or, at the very least, “double-plus-unstrengths”).
Humility (Modesty on the DWP test, which uses a subset of exactly the same questions) drops from 4 to 18. A bit of an odd one, this, because modesty and humility aren’t quite the same thing. Humility, in the sense of being connected to the earth (L. humus = earth (not to be confused with a Middle Eastern savoury dip)) can be one of the greatest strengths – a bit like the concept of rootedness in Kung Fu (you see, I was listening). Not at all the same as modesty, which they describe as “not seeking the spotlight”, which is really about being self-effacing or, to paraphrase Churchill on Attlee, the recognition that you may have much to be modest about.
A bit surprised to find honesty, humour and perseverance below the half way line. They obviously weren’t around a couple of weeks ago when I was trying to tell HMRC (why oh why is my tax office in Wales?) about some untaxed income. If that isn’t evidence of honesty, humour and perseverance, then I don’t know what is.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the
greatestleastest of these is love
And what on earth am I supposed to make of “Love” which in this scheme of things is my least strong strength?
If this is an evidence-based test, then I’m Humpty-Dumpty. The more I look at this, the more I think that this is a world of snake-oil salesmen where words mean what you want them to mean and there are prizes for everyone (except any Jobseeker who faces having their benefit cut because they have the integrity to reject this nonsense).
My results from the full VIA test.
Character Strength # 1 Judgment (1)
Thinking things through and examining them from all sides are important aspects of who you are. You do not jump to conclusions, and you rely only on solid evidence to make your decisions. You are able to change your mind.
Character Strength # 2 Love of learning (3)
You love learning new things, whether in a class or on your own. You have always loved school, reading, and museums-anywhere and everywhere there is an opportunity to learn.
Character Strength # 3 Creativity
Thinking of new ways to do things is a crucial part of who you are. You are never content with doing something the conventional way if a better way is possible.
Character Strength # 4 Fairness
Treating all people fairly is one of your abiding principles. You do not let your personal feelings bias your decisions about other people. You give everyone a chance.
Character Strength # 5 Prudence
You are a careful person, and your choices are consistently prudent ones. You do not say or do things that you might later regret.
Character Strength #6 Curiosity (2)
You are curious about everything. You are always asking questions, and you find all subjects and topics fascinating. You like exploration and discovery.
Character Strength #7 Kindness
You are kind and generous to others, and you are never too busy to do a favor. You enjoy doing good deeds for others, even if you do not know them well.
Character Strength #8 Bravery
You are a courageous person who does not shrink from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain. You speak up for what is right even if there is opposition. You act on your convictions.
Character Strength #9 Teamwork
You excel as a member of a group. You are a loyal and dedicated teammate, you always do your share, and you work hard for the success of your group.
Character Strength #10 Forgiveness
You forgive those who have done you wrong. You always give people a second chance. Your guiding principle is mercy and not revenge.
Character Strength #11 Honesty
You are an honest person, not only by speaking the truth but by living your life in a genuine and authentic way. You are down to earth and without pretense; you are a “real” person.
Character Strength #12 Humor
You like to laugh and tease. Bringing smiles to other people is important to you. You try to see the light side of all situations.
Character Strength #13 Perseverance
You work hard to finish what you start. No matter the project, you “get it out the door” in timely fashion. You do not get distracted when you work, and you take satisfaction in completing tasks.
Character Strength #14 Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence
You notice and appreciate beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in all domains of life, from nature to art to mathematics to science to everyday experience.
Character Strength #15 Perspective
Although you may not think of yourself as wise, your friends hold this view of you. They value your perspective on matters and turn to you for advice. You have a way of looking at the world that makes sense to others and to yourself.
Character Strength #16 Spirituality
You have strong and coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe. You know where you fit in the larger scheme. Your beliefs shape your actions and are a source of comfort to you.
Character Strength #17 Leadership
You excel at the tasks of leadership: encouraging a group to get things done and preserving harmony within the group by making everyone feel included. You do a good job organizing activities and seeing that they happen.
Character Strength #18 Humility (4)
You do not seek the spotlight, preferring to let your accomplishments speak for themselves. You do not regard yourself as special, and others recognize and value your modesty.
Character Strength #19 Zest (5)
Regardless of what you do, you approach it with excitement and energy. You never do anything halfway or halfheartedly. For you, life is an adventure.
Character Strength #20 Gratitude
You are aware of the good things that happen to you, and you never take them for granted. Your friends and family members know that you are a grateful person because you always take the time to express your thanks.
Character Strength #21 Hope
You expect the best in the future, and you work to achieve it. You believe that the future is something that you can control.
Character Strength #22 Social intelligence
You are aware of the motives and feelings of other people. You know what to do to fit in to different social situations, and you know what to do to put others at ease.
Character Strength #23 Self-Regulation
You self-consciously regulate what you feel and what you do. You are a disciplined person. You are in control of your appetites and your emotions, not vice versa.
Character Strength #24 Love
You value close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing and caring are reciprocated. The people to whom you feel most close are the same people who feel most close to you.