Toward a Developmental Approach to Measuring the Development of Character: Perspectives from Project Arete


  • Elise Murray Tufts University
  • Brian Burkhard Tufts University
  • Hillary Schaffer Tufts University
  • Diane Ryan Tufts University
  • Andrew Farina U.S. Military Academy & Tufts University
  • Chaveso Cook U.S. Military Academy & Tufts University
  • Jeremiah Powers U.S. Military Academy & Tufts University
  • Michael Matthews U.S. Military Academy
  • Richard Lerner Tufts University


Contemporary models of character development emphasize that character is a malleable outcome of
individual-context relations. Positive character, or character virtues, vary in relation to specific contextual
circumstances requiring the enactment of specific behaviors that are morally appropriate and necessary
for positive individual-context relations to occur. The exploration of the features of character virtue
development that arise in specific contexts points to the role of educational institutions as key settings
wherein character develops, including higher education institutions whose fundamental mission is to
train leaders of character. This potential value for understanding how leaders of character are “produced”
within such an institution was a key basis of Project Arête, a study of the pathways of character virtue
development and leadership traversed by the cadets within the United States Military Academy (USMA)
at West Point. We discuss the theoretical and methodological ideas we have used within Project Arête
to shape our assessments of character development and leadership, and focus on issues involved in the
design, measurement, and analysis of developmental changes in individuals, context, and individualcontext


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How to Cite

Elise Murray, Brian Burkhard, Hillary Schaffer, Diane Ryan, Andrew Farina, Chaveso Cook, Jeremiah Powers, Michael Matthews, & Richard Lerner. (2019). Toward a Developmental Approach to Measuring the Development of Character: Perspectives from Project Arete. Journal of Character and Leadership Development, 6(2). Retrieved from