University of Michigan psychologist Christopher Peterson had an a-ha moment during that speech and began to wonder whether character strengths matter to where you live. Peterson is a professor of psychology and has created a classification system for human strengths and virtues. He spearheaded the development of "Values in Action" (VIA), a key assessment tool from the positive psychology field for measuring character strengths.
Following Peterson's insight from the 2006 Summit, he and colleague Nansook Park examined the collected VIA responses (along with respondents' zip codes) and Richard Florida's creativity scores (based on talent, tolerance and technology of cities) to look at whether people who live in different cities (with more than 300,000 people) have different strengths of character. They reported their initial findings last week at the 2007 Gallup International Positive Psychology Summit:
- There is a direct relationship between character strengths - such as appreciation of beauty, creativity, curiosity and a love of learning - and a city's creativity rating. These particular character strengths are individual-focused, head strengths.
- There is an inverse relationship between character strengths and a city's creativity rating. That is, creative cities are low in the character strengths that connect people.
Watch for the full paper about this coming from Peterson and Park.