Virtues Web Site

Sculoa di Atene by Raffaello Sanzio (1509-1510)


The Virtues Web Site provides information about our research program on a virtue-based psychology. At the present time this site does not contain extensive resources or links to information on virtue ethics. If that is what you are looking for, try Lawrence M. Hinman's web site on Aristotle and virtue ethics.

Psychology Today Blog Post Response to Sam Harris

Since my retirement in 2014 I have become more interested in informal writing than in publishing articles, at least for now. My most recent writing on morality was a three-part response to Sam Harris's Moral Landscape challenge.

A Response to Sam Harris's Writings on Moral Truth Pt 1 of 3

A Response to Sam Harris's Writings on Moral Truth Pt 2 of 3

A Response to Sam Harris's Writings on Moral Truth Pt 3 of 3


Here is a copy of our publication on virtues in pdf format:

Cawley, M. J. III, Martin, J. E., & Johnson, J. A. (2000). A virtues approach to personality. Personality and Individual Differences, 28, 997-1013.

and a copy of the Virtues Scale that was used in this study.


Information on scoring the Virtues Scale is available here. For further information on scoring, consult the article.

Norms for 390 college students (163 male, 227 female) for individual virtue items and the four factor scales, for both real virtues and ideal virtues (see article), are presented in this copy of Table 1 from Cawley's dissertation.

Eventually we will add descriptions of ongoing and planned research.

John A. Johnson first became interested in ethics as an undergraduate, when he wrote a research paper on the possible impact of different ethical systems on biological survival and reproductive success. The question that motivated the paper was as follows: If a group of people actually followed the ethical guidelines of a particular ethical system, how would their survival and reproductive success compare to a second group of people who followed the ethical guidelines of a different ethical system? Johnson's ancient undergraduate paper is now available for reading as a pdf file.

Johnson's first professional publication was a book chapter, coauthored with Robert Hogan and Nicholas Emler, on an evolutionary theory of moral development. To view or download a pdf copy of that chapter, follow the link in the reference below:

Hogan, R., Johnson, J. A., & Emler, N. P. (1978). A socioanalytic theory of moral development. In W. Damon (Ed.), New directions for child development: Vol. 2. Moral development (pp. 1-18). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Johnson continues to be interested in individual differences in adherence to ethical systems and the relationship between morality and evolution. His thinking has evolved since his boyhood writings on these topics, and his latest essay on morality can be found here.

Recommended Books on Improving Psychological Well Being through Virtues

John A. Johnson highly recommends two books by Timothy Miller on improving psychological well being through the cultivation of Compassion, Attention, and Gratitude. The first is How to Want What You Have: Discovering the Magic and Grandeur of Ordinary Existence. The second is a companion workbook, Wanting What You Have: A Self-Discovery Workbook, that John currently uses in his course, Psychology of Personal Well-Being and Adjustment.

Contact information

Michael Cawley, The Meadows Psychiatric Center,
James E. Martin, Department of Psychology, Penn State University,
Site maintained by John A. Johnson, Penn State DuBois,
First posted: May 30, 2002.
Last update: August 12, 2015.