Welcome to this second stage in your virtue education experience. Here you will soon perform a self-assessment of your character through a tool called the Virtue Test. Before you do so, it is helpful to understand the test and what to expect from it.
Let’s talk briefly about self-assessment.
Self-assessment helps you see yourself honestly, recognising both your flaws and your achievements.
Self-assessment requires the cultivation of two virtues: humility and prudence. Humility allows you to see yourself honestly and admit your flaws and achievements, and it is therefore essential for healthy self-assessment. It removes a spirit of self-justification, self-defence and false modesty and allows you to gain a clear vision of your strengths and weaknesses. Self-assessment, in fact, will never be beneficial in the presence of pride.
Self-assessment also embodies prudence (phronesis) for it requires rational reflection around the practices and expressions of virtue in everyday life. It applies the famous Delphic maxim “Know thyself ” and reflects Socrates’s famous words about the unexamined life that is not worth living.
Of course, self-assessment can be partial, biased and even delusional, and you should guard yourself against these pitfalls. In order to provide a clear vision of your strengths and weaknesses, self-assessment must be done without self-justification, self-defence or false modesty. A good safeguard is to have someone else answer the questions in the test about you, and then compare the results (more of this in Week 12 on Character friendship).
So how does the Virtue Test work? It is quite simple, and if you have ever taken a personality test, you will find it familiar.
You will find 100 brief statements, each of which is connected to a specific virtue. You will respond to each statement, ranking how it describes you: never, rarely, occasionally, frequently or always. Keep in mind that, with tests like this one, responders usually gravitate toward the more moderate answers ‘in the middle’ and stay away from the never and always answers. If in doubt, it is better to choose a more extreme answer as this will make your results clearer.
At the end of the test you will see a graph depicting your score on a scale of 0-100 for each virtue (you will also receive a copy of numerical results by email). Higher scores will indicate strength of virtue in your character. Lower scores will indicate virtues that you might want to work on. With the results in hand, you will proceed to Week 7 – Understand your results where you will be helped to interpret your results. This interpretation phase is important as it will help you reflect further and identify the virtue on which you would like to focus.
Once you have clarity in self-assessment, you will conclude this phase by selecting one virtue on which to work (Week 8 – Select a virtue).
Ready? Great. Proceed now to take the test.