Movies are an art-form highly suited for inspiring character strengths and helping in the discovery, understanding and exploration of these positive aspects in human beings. Ryan Niemiec (VIA’s education director) and Danny Wedding explore 1,500 examples in their book Positive Psychology at the Movies, 2nd edition (2014). They explain that the best positive psychology movies meet the following criteria:
Strong portrayal of a character’s signature strengths which are critical to the character’s identity;
Depicts conflict/obstacles that challenge the character;
The character uses strengths to overcome the adversity;
The film’s overall presentation is uplifting or speaks deeply to the human condition.
The film holds great potential to generate cinematic elevation (i.e., it causes people to feel motivated to do good and increases their altruism)