Christopher Peterson, PhD

Chris is the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan and is one of the founders and leading figures in positive psychology. He is noted for his work in the study of optimism, health, character, and well-being. He is one of the 100 most cited psychologists in the world and is now Co-Director of the newly-established Michigan Positive Psychology Center.

He received his PhD. in social psychology from the University of Colorado and respecialized in clinical psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. He also completed a clinical psychology internship at the Philadelphia VAMC.

Chris is widely regarded to be one of the seminal figures in Positive Psychology. He is a member of the Positive Psychology Steering Committee, a member of the board of directors of the Gallup Organization Positive Psychology Institute, a consulting editor of the Journal of Positive Psychology, and the positive psychology series editor of Oxford University Press.

He was the research director of the Values in Action (VIA) project, the most ambitious undertaking to date from the explicit vantage of positive psychology; the VIA project describes, classifies, and measures important strengths of character. Chris' VIA Survey of Signature Strengths has been taken by more than a million people throughout the globe. It has been translated into Chinese and Spanish as well.

Chris has twice been named best teacher at the University of Michigan and in 2010 won the 2010 Golden Apple Award - the most prestigious teaching award at the University of Michigan. He is the author of more than 350 publications. He is the co-author of Character Strengths and Virtues (2004) and the author of the best-selling A Primer in Positive Psychology (2006).



Chris as a Person. Here's a wonderful interview I did with Chris that is solely about him, not about positive psychology. If you want content, pass on this. But if you want to learn more about Chris, how he talks, how he thinks, you'll like it. Toward the end, there's some fascinating detail about how he would quickly master a new area, how he's been so productive. His scrabble skills. His GRE scores. How he approaches teaching. And much more.
To listen, click here for streaming audio or to download an mp3.


Chris' In-Depth Interview (1/20/12) Here's an extensive, widely-attended interview with Chris on the latest issues in Positive Psychology with questions coming in from listeners all over the world (80 mins). To listen, click here for streaming audio or to download an mp3.



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(Note: the really cool kids pronounce the VIA [VEE uh] )

Finally, if you have never taken the VIA Survey of Signature Strengths, I'd recommend you take it. The link is on the top left corner of the home page at

If you're an old hand, retake it. Your strengths and their associated scores are malleable. It only takes forty minutes. See how/whether you've changed.

Note: Important, to see the rank order of all 24 of your strengths--not just your Signature Strengths