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The current best practice for measuring virtues is via self-reports (Peterson & Seligman, 2004). However, self-reports use conventional rating scales that ask respondents to give ratings to virtues (e.g., ‘I am honest’) which are highly susceptible to self-presentation biases and score inflation. As such, their use for tracking growth over time is limited. While it is possible to measure virtues using ratings from third parties, they are prone to similar biases. Solving the problem of positivity biases in rating scales is therefore a leading issue in the measurement of virtues.

We seek to address this fundamental problem by leveraging an innovation derived from research in personnel selection, where self-reported rating scales are formatted to overcome self-presentation biases. Specifically, we adopt a multidimensional forced-choice (MFC) format that requires individuals to rank order different virtues (e.g., ‘I am honest’; ‘I am positive’, ‘I am forgiving’). Using a statistical algorithm, each individual can be normatively scored on each virtue.

Our goal is to develop and validate an integrative MFC scale of 6 core virtues – wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance, and transcendence (Peterson & Seligman, 2004). The main activities will include: (1) scale development – creating a reliable measure of virtues; (2) scale validation – establishing its association with key outcomes; (3) scale proliferation – distributing and promoting the use of the new scale.
We expect to produce:(1) a validated MFC scale of virtue;(2) at least 4 peer reviewed articles;(3) a website and a smartphone application for the delivery, scoring, and administration of the MFC virtue scale and associated virtuous behaviors.

The potential enduring impacts will include: (1) using an innovative approach to solve self-reported biases for virtues; (2) establishing technology usable by institutions and organizations for measuring and tracking core dimensions of virtues.