The concept of integrity, despite being of obvious importance and relevance for a variety of reasons, has been largely under-theorized and underdeveloped in psychological science. At Life University, “Integrity and Citizenship” comprise one of the eight core proficiencies that the university seeks to encourage its students to develop and express. As such, in 2014 Dr. Riekeman, President of Life University, suggested that the next five years of the Octagon conferences would be dedicated to the exploration of integrity

In 2014, the Octagon brought together researchers, scholars, and experts in the nonprofit world to discuss integrity, citizenship, secular ethics, and the establishment of the Center for Compassion, Integrity and Secular Ethics. Between the 2014 and 2015 Octagon conferences, a working group on integrity was established among the Center Fellows and others, led by Dr. Tom Pruzinksy of Quinnipiac University, Dr. Corey Keyes of Emory University, Dr. Donnie Davis of Georgia State University and others. The purpose of the working group is to develop an operational definition of integrity, with the intention of developing measurement instruments for integrity for use on both individual and organizational levels. The Octagon Integrity Working Group presented some of its initial work at the 2015 Octagon in April of that year, and continues to explore the issue of integrity, its dimensions, how to measure it, and how to help individuals and organizations maintain, restore, and strengthen it.

One of the unique perspectives that has emerged, especially through the initiative of Dr. Keyes, is to explore the relationship between compassion and integrity. The key question driving this concern is this: can a person’s integrity, if understood as a virtue, be measured and assessed independently of the impact of that person’s actions on others?

To this end, Dr. Keyes, Dr. Pruzinksy and Dr. Ozawa-de Silva reached out to Dr. Kennon Sheldon to hold an event at the World Congress of Positive Psychology in Orlando in June, 2015, discussing the topic of “compassionate integrity.” Dr. Sheldon was, along with Dr. Keyes, a member of the original group brought together to launch the field of positive psychology in the early 1990s, and authored the entry on Integrity in the seminal handbook on Character Strengths and Virtues that proved to be a milestone in the field. The session on Compassionate Integrity, held in the format of a discussion hour, was very well received at the World Congress and attracted some seventy or so participants who actively engaged in discussion around the relationship between integrity and compassion, continuing the discussions started at the Octagon.

The working group is now engaged in collaboratively authoring an article reviewing the literature on integrity and robustly conceptualizing compassionate integrity such that measurement instruments can be developed.

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