Study of Americans' Understanding of Virtue and Vice

Project Number: 
Start Date: 
Sun, 03/01/1998
End Date: 
Mon, 12/31/2001

Alan Wolfe of Boston University conducted a national survey on the themes of virtue and vice. Wolfe interviewed Americans from all walks of life and social classes and asked questions such as: What does the term virtue mean to you? Which virtues are the most important? What are the leading vices? What do they mean for the future of our society? What role does religion play in the formation of character? How do you compare that role to that of other institutions such as family or schools?

Wolfe focused on specific virtues such as forgiveness, honesty, loyalty, self-discipline and specifically Christian virtues such as faith, hope, and charity. Wolfe published his findings in the book “Moral Freedom: The Search for Virtue in a World of Choices” (W.W. Norton & Company, 2001).