Developing a goals-based approach to virtue.


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Recent literature (e.g., Ng & Tay, 2020) calls for a shift in virtue assessment away from decontextualized, global assessments toward contextualized measures. Throughout this dissertation, I seek to present a model of virtue informed by Cybernetic Big Five that situates virtues as characteristic adaptation strategies engaged in pursuit of goals. I seek to develop a theory-aligned measure of virtue by taking a goals-based approach to virtue. In chapter one, I present the extant literature regarding virtues and propose the goals-based measurement paradigm as a potential solution to issues of virtue measurement. In chapter two, I present data from three studies validating a goals-based measure of the virtue patience and provide empirical evidence regarding virtue’s place within the personality system. Across three studies, my new measure of patience in the pursuit of goals was reliable, structurally valid, and provided insight into contextual effects of patience. Building upon the findings in chapter two in chapter three, I extend the Aristotelian model of virtue by proposing the virtue counterbalancing circumplex model. Under this model, each virtue is paired with a complementary, counterbalancing virtue, where the vice of excess for one virtue is the vice of deficiency for the other. I test this extended model with a longitudinal goals-based approach study on the virtues of patience and courage positioned between the vices of passivity and reactivity. Findings suggested empirical support for the virtue counterbalancing circumplex model. Additionally, there were interesting distinctions at the within level (e.g., specific goal level) and between level (e.g., characteristic person level) of analysis, which provide further insight into how these virtues and vices relate. Finally, in chapter four I present overall conclusions and takeaways from the present research, situating the findings from chapter two and three within both virtue and personality literature.