What is the culture like at Character Lab?

Culture is like a garden: It’ll grow whether you tend it or not. We want a good garden, intentionally cultivated. This Culture Book explains what we do every day. It describes how we do it. Most importantly, it articulates why we do it. In short, these pages describe the Character Lab way. Each day, we seek to exemplify the very character strengths that we promote.

How do you define character?

We define character as everything we do to help other people as well as ourselves.

As an organizing principle, we separate character strengths into three dimensions. Strengths of heart, such as gratitude, enable harmonious relationships with other people. Strengths of will, such as grit and self-control, enable achievement. Strengths of mind, such as curiosity, enable independent thinking. Character Lab also recognizes and supports a diversity of frameworks including SEL, whole child, and 21st-century skills.

Why character?

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.”

Overwhelming scientific evidence now shows that character strengths like purpose, curiosity, and gratitude are critically important to social and emotional well-being, physical health, and achievement. 

Are there more character strengths than those listed on Character Lab?

Yes, there are many more individual character strengths than we have profiled. We’ve just selected some of those that are the best-studied. Because character is not one-size-fits-all, there’s probably no list that’s exhaustive. 

Doesn’t success depend on things other than character?

Yes, success is affected by many factors, especially environment. For more on how our environment shapes our behavior, check out this Tip of the Week.