What is Character?

Character is one of those terms everyone defines a little differently, and most of those definitions would be right. For us, character is the intentional effort of living out one’s core values and working on continuous growth through ethical and compassionate decision-making. Core values are an individual or group’s most significant, deeply held beliefs that serve as a guide for how we think, feel and what we do.

Character is positive values in action.

Thomas Lickona

This is not a definitive nor exhaustive description of character. Scholars and character development practitioners have grappled with the term character for years, and that will continue. Character.org hopes this gives you a starting point and a curiosity to dig deeper. Build your own definition as you select and define your own core values.

Why Character Matters

Character doesn’t simply make an individual successful but those around them as well. In a world writhed with consequences from lack of character, decisions rooted in positive character shine a light in the darkness that inspires others to prioritize ethics and compassion. Character impacts every individual in our community, and in today’s world made small by technology, it impacts those outside of our community as well.

The 11 Principles of Effective Character

The 11 Principles of Effective Character were originally authored by Thomas Lickona, Eric Schaps and Catherine Lewis for Character.org, then the Character Education Partnership, in 1995. They were developed after a study comparing a multitude of successful schools. Their common traits became the 11 Principles. Since then, skilled researchers and practitioners have reviewed and revised the 11 Principles regularly to make sure they stay relevant to today’s audience, and they will continue to be updated biannually. This way we will sustain the best research-based practices in character development for communities all over.