MEASURING CHARACTER STRENGTHS: A METHODOLOGICAL STUDY OF MILITARY CADETS DURING A FIELD EXERCISE

O. Boe1, B.A. Heiskel2, Ø. Grande2, F.A. Nilsen1, H. Bang3

1Norwegian Military Academy (NORWAY)
2Norwegian Army (NORWAY)
3University of Oslo (NORWAY)
The Norwegian Military Academy (NMA) uses two different instruments in order to measure character strengths in its cadets, respectively a self-report questionnaire and an observational instrument. The self-report questionnaire is called Values In Action-Inventory of Strengths (VIA-IS) and is a recognized questionnaire. The observational instrument is developed by the NMA and is referred to as OBSCIF (OBServation of Character In Field). The purpose of the research in this study was to determine whether the NMA has chosen the right methods of measurement of character strengths in its cadets. Data were gathered during a field exercise with high physical and psychological stress. Cadets filled out the VIA-IS and was then observed by both fellow cadets and by experienced instructors during the field exercise. Based upon the correlation results, we found, except for two character strengths, low correlations across the methods of self-reporting and observation. Our research revealed several possible sources of error that could explain the low correlations. Sources of error may be related to the person being evaluated, the one who observe, the context and/or the instruments that are used to collect data. However, some significant correlations was found within the methods, which may mean that some character strengths are better suited for measurement through self-report and others through observation. The combination of the two methods self-reporting and observation are therefore likely a correct choice for the NMA. However, more research should be carried out in order to reduce potential sources of error associated with the measurement of character strengths.