Basic Human Values Essay
HUMAN VALUES Values have been a central concept in the social sciences since their inception. For both Durkheim (1893, 1897) and Weber (1905), values were crucial for explaining social and personal organization and change. Values have played an important role not only in sociology, but in psychology, anthropology, and related disciplines as well. Values are used to characterize societies and individuals, to trace change over time, and to explain the motivational bases of attitudes and behavior. Despite or, perhaps, because of the widespread use of values, many different conceptions of this construct have emerged (e.
. , Boudon, 2001; Inglehart, 1997; Kohn, 1969; Parsons, 1951; Rokeach 1973). Application of the values construct in the social sciences has suffered, however, from the absence of an agreed-upon conception of basic values, of the content and structure of relations among these values, and of reliable empirical methods to measure them (Hitlin & Piliavin, 2004; Rohan, 2000). This article presents a theory intended to fill the part of this gap concerned with the values of individuals (Schwartz, 1992, 2005a).
The theory concerns the basic values that people in all cultures recognize.
It identifies ten motivationally distinct value orientations and specifies the dynamics of conflict and congruence among these values. Some values contradict one another (e. g. , benevolence and power) whereas others are compatible (e. g. , conformity and security). The “structure” of values refers to these relations of conflict and congruence among values, not to their relative importance. If value structures are similar across culturally diverse groups, this would suggest that there is a universal organization of human motivations.
Of course, even if the types of human motivation that values express and the structure of relations among them are universal, individuals and groups differ substantially in the relative importance they attribute to their values. That is, individuals and groups have different value “priorities” or “hierarchies. ” This article explicates the theory of personal values and describes two different instruments to measure the values it identifies. Data gathered with these instruments in over 70 countries around the world have validated both the contents and structure of values postulated by the theory.
I will also examine some sources of individual differences in value priorities and some of the behavioral and attitudinal consequences that follow from holding particular value priorities. In doing so, I will consider processes through which values are influenced and through which they influence action. The Theory of Value Contents and Structure The Nature of Values When we think of our values we think of what is important to us in life. Each of us holds numerous values (e. g. , achievement, security, benevolence) with varying degrees of importance. A particular value may be very important to one person but unimportant to another.
The value theory (Schwartz, 1992, 2005a) adopts a conception of values that specifies six main features that are implicit in the writings of many theorists: (1) Values are beliefs linked inextricably to affect. When values are activated, they become infused with feeling. People for whom independence is an important value become aroused if their independence is threatened, despair when they are helpless to protect it, and are happy when they can enjoy it. (2) Values refer to desirable goals that motivate action. People for whom social order, justice, and helpfulness are important values are motivated to pursue these goals. 3) Values transcend specific actions and situations. Obedience and honesty, for example, are values that may be relevant at work or in school, in sports, business, and politics, with family, friends, or strangers. This feature distinguishes values from narrower concepts like norms and attitudes that usually refer to specific actions, objects, or situations. (4) Values serve as standards or criteria. Values guide the selection or evaluation of actions, policies, people, and events. People decide what is good or bad, justified or illegitimate, worth doing or avoiding, based on possible consequences for their cherished values.
But the impact of values in everyday decisions is rarely conscious. Values enter awareness when the actions or judgments one is considering have conflicting implications for different values one cherishes. (5) Values are ordered by importance relative to one another. People’s values form an ordered system of value priorities that characterize them as individuals. Do they attribute more importance to achievement or justice, to novelty or tradition? This hierarchical feature also distinguishes values from norms and attitudes. (6) The relative importance of multiple values guides action.
Any attitude or behavior typically has implications for more than one value. For example, attending church might express and promote tradition, conformity, and security values at the expense of hedonism and stimulation values. The tradeoff among relevant, competing values is what guides attitudes and behaviors (Schwartz, 1992, 1996). Values contribute to action to the extent that they are relevant in the context (hence likely to be activated) and important to the actor. The above are features of all values. What distinguishes one value from another is the type of goal or motivation that the value expresses.
The values theory defines ten broad values according to the motivation that underlies each of them. Presumably, these values encompass the range of motivationally distinct values recognized across cultures. According to the theory, these values are likely to be universal because they are grounded in one or more of three universal requirements of human existence with which they help to cope. These requirements are: needs of individuals as biological organisms, requisites of coordinated social interaction, and survival and welfare needs of groups. Individuals cannot cope successfully with these requirements of human existence on their own.
Rather, people must articulate appropriate goals to cope with them, communicate with others about them, and gain cooperation in their pursuit. Values are the socially desirable concepts used to represent these goals mentally and the vocabulary used to express them in social interaction. From an evolutionary viewpoint (Buss, 1986), these goals and the values that express them have crucial survival significance. I next define each of the ten values in terms of the broad goal it expresses, note its grounding in universal requirements, and refer to related value concepts.
To make the meaning of each value more concrete and explicit, I list in parentheses the set of value items included in the first survey instrument to measure each value. Some important value items (e. g. , self-respect) have multiple meanings; they express the motivational goals of more than one value. These items are listed in brackets. Self-Direction. Defining goal: independent thought and action–choosing, creating, exploring. Self-direction derives from organismic needs for control and mastery (e. g. , Bandura, 1977; Deci, 1975) and interactional requirements of autonomy and independence (e. g. Kluckhohn, 1951; Kohn & Schooler, 1983; Morris, 1956). (creativity, freedom, choosing own goals, curious, independent)[self-respect, intelligent, privacy] Stimulation. Defining goal: excitement, novelty, and challenge in life. Stimulation values derive from the organismic need for variety and stimulation in order to maintain an optimal, positive, rather than threatening, level of activation (e. g. , Berlyne, 1960). This need probably relates to the needs underlying self-direction values (cf. Deci, 1975). (a varied life, an exciting life, daring) Hedonism. Defining goal: pleasure or sensuous gratification for oneself.
Hedonism values derive from organismic needs and the pleasure associated with satisfying them. Theorists from many disciplines (e. g. , Freud, 1933; Morris, 1956; Williams, 1968) mention hedonism. (pleasure, enjoying life, self-indulgent) Achievement. Defining goal: personal success through demonstrating competence according to social standards. Competent performance that generates resources is necessary for individuals to survive and for groups and institutions to reach their objectives. Achievement values appear in many sources (e. g. , Maslow, 1965; Rokeach, 1973).
As defined here, achievement values emphasize demonstrating competence in terms of prevailing cultural standards, thereby obtaining social approval. (ambitious, successful, capable, influential) [intelligent, self-respect, social recognition] Power. Defining goal: social status and prestige, control or dominance over people and resources. The functioning of social institutions apparently requires some degree of status differentiation (Parsons, 1951). A dominance/submission dimension emerges in most empirical analyses of interpersonal relations both within and across cultures (Lonner, 1980).
To justify this fact of social life and to motivate group members to accept it, groups must treat power as a value. Power values may also be transformations of individual needs for dominance and control (Korman, 1974). Value analysts have mentioned power values as well (e. g. , Allport, 1961). (authority, wealth, social power)[preserving my public image, social recognition] Both power and achievement values focus on social esteem. However, achievement values (e. g. , ambitious) emphasize the active demonstration of successful performance in concrete interaction, whereas power values (e. g. authority, wealth) emphasize the attainment or preservation of a dominant position within the more general social system. Security. Defining goal: safety, harmony, and stability of society, of relationships, and of self. Security values derive from basic individual and group requirements (cf. Kluckhohn, 1951; Maslow, 1965; Williams, 1968). There are two subtypes of security values. Some serve primarily individual interests (e. g. , clean), others wider group interests (e. g. , national security). Even the latter, however, express, to a significant degree, the goal of security for self (or those with whom one identifies).
The two subtypes can therefore be unified into a more encompassing value. (social order, family security, national security, clean, reciprocation of favors)[healthy, moderate, sense of belonging] Conformity. Defining goal: restraint of actions, inclinations, and impulses likely to upset or harm others and violate social expectations or norms. Conformity values derive from the requirement that individuals inhibit inclinations that might disrupt and undermine smooth interaction and group functioning. Virtually all value analyses mention conformity (e. g. Freud, 1930; Kohn & Schooler, 1983; Morris, 1956; Parsons, 1951). As I define them, conformity values emphasize self-restraint in everyday interaction, usually with close others. (obedient, self-discipline, politeness, honoring parents and elders)[loyal, responsible] Tradition. Defining goal: respect, commitment, and acceptance of the customs and ideas that one’s culture or religion provides. Groups everywhere develop practices, symbols, ideas, and beliefs that represent their shared experience and fate. These become sanctioned as valued group customs and traditions (Sumner, 1906).
They symbolize the group’s solidarity, express its unique worth, and contribute to its survival (Durkheim, 1912/1954; Parsons, 1951). They often take the form of religious rites, beliefs, and norms of behavior. (respect for tradition, humble, devout, accepting my portion in life)[moderate, spiritual life] Tradition and conformity values are especially close motivationally; they share the goal of subordinating the self in favor of socially imposed expectations. They differ primarily in the objects to which one subordinates the self. Conformity entails subordination to persons with whom one is in frequent interaction—parents, teachers, bosses.
Tradition entails subordination to more abstract objects—religious and cultural customs and ideas. As a corollary, conformity values exhort responsiveness to current, possibly changing expectations. Tradition values demand responsiveness to immutable expectations from the past. Benevolence. Defining goal: preserving and enhancing the welfare of those with whom one is in frequent personal contact (the ‘in-group’). Benevolence values derive from the basic requirement for smooth group functioning (cf. Kluckhohn, 1951; Williams, 1968) and from the organismic need for affiliation (cf.
Korman, 1974; Maslow, 1965). Most critical are relations within the family and other primary groups. Benevolence values emphasize voluntary concern for others’ welfare. (helpful, honest, forgiving, responsible, loyal, true friendship, mature love)[sense of belonging, meaning in life, a spiritual life]. Benevolence and conformity values both promote cooperative and supportive social relations. However, benevolence values provide an internalized motivational base for such behavior. In contrast, conformity values promote cooperation in order to avoid negative outcomes for self.
Both values may motivate the same helpful act, separately or together. Universalism. Defining goal: understanding, appreciation, tolerance, and protection for the welfare of all people and for nature. This contrasts with the in-group focus of benevolence values. Universalism values derive from survival needs of individuals and groups. But people do not recognize these needs until they encounter others beyond the extended primary group and until they become aware of the scarcity of natural resources. People may then realize that failure to accept others who are different and treat them justly will lead to life-threatening strife.
They may also realize that failure to protect the natural environment will lead to the destruction of the resources on which life depends. Universalism combines two subtypes of concern—for the welfare of those in the larger society and world and for nature (broadminded, social justice, equality, world at peace, world of beauty, unity with nature, wisdom, protecting the environment)[inner harmony, a spiritual life] An early version of the value theory (Schwartz, 1992) raised the possibility that spirituality might constitute another near-universal value.
The defining goal of spiritual values is meaning, coherence, and inner harmony through transcending everyday reality. If finding ultimate meaning is a basic human need (e. g. , Niebuhr, 1935), then spirituality might be a distinct value found in all societies. The value survey therefore included possible markers for spirituality, gleaned from widely varied sources. (a spiritual life, meaning in life, inner harmony, detachment)[unity with nature, accepting my portion in life, devout]. As noted below, spirituality is not a value that has a consistent broad meaning across cultures.
The Structure of Value Relations In addition to identifying ten basic values, the theory explicates the structure of dynamic relations among the values. The value structure derives from the fact that actions in pursuit of any value have consequences that conflict with some values but are congruent with others. For example, pursuing achievement values typically conflicts with pursuing benevolence values. Seeking success for self tends to obstruct actions aimed at enhancing the welfare of others who need one’s help. But pursuing both achievement and power values is usually compatible.
Seeking personal success for oneself tends to strengthen and to be strengthened by actions aimed at enhancing one’s own social position and authority over others. Another example: Pursuing novelty and change (stimulation values) is likely to undermine preserving time-honored customs (tradition values). In contrast, pursuing tradition values is congruent with pursuing conformity values. Both motivate actions of submission to external expectations. Actions in pursuit of values have practical, psychological, and social consequences. Practically, choosing an action alternative that promotes one value (e. . , taking drugs in a cultic rite—stimulation) may literally contravene or violate a competing value (obeying the precepts of one’s religion—tradition). The person choosing what to do may also sense that such alternative actions are psychologically dissonant. And others may impose social sanctions by pointing to practical and logical inconsistencies between an action and other values the person professes. Of course, people can and do pursue competing values, but not in a single act. Rather, they do so through different acts, at different times, and in different settings.
The circular structure in Figure 1 portrays the total pattern of relations of conflict and congruity among values. Tradition and conformity are located in a single wedge because, as noted above, they share the same broad motivational goal. Conformity is more toward the center and tradition toward the periphery. This signifies that tradition values conflict more strongly with the opposing values. The expectations linked to tradition values are more abstract and absolute than the interaction-based expectations of conformity values.
They therefore demand a stronger, unequivocal rejection of opposing values. Viewing values as organized along two bipolar dimensions lets us summarize the oppositions between competing values. As Figure 1 shows, one dimension contrasts ‘openness to change’ and ‘conservation’ values. This dimension captures the conflict between values that emphasize independence of thought, action, and feelings and readiness for change (self-direction, stimulation) and values that emphasize order, self-restriction, preservation of the past, and resistance to change (security, conformity, tradition).
The second dimension contrasts ‘self-enhancement’ and ‘self-transcendence’ values. This dimension captures the conflict between values that emphasize concern for the welfare and interests of others (universalism, benevolence) and values that emphasize pursuit of one’s own interests and relative success and dominance over others (power, achievement). Hedonism shares elements of both openness to change and self-enhancement. Although the theory discriminates ten values, it postulates that, at a more basic level, values form a continuum of related motivations. This continuum gives rise to the circular structure.
To clarify the nature of the continuum, I note the shared motivational emphases of adjacent values: (a) power and achievement–social superiority and esteem; (b) achievement and hedonism–self-centered satisfaction; (c) hedonism and stimulation–a desire for affectively pleasant arousal; (d) stimulation and self-direction–intrinsic interest in novelty and mastery; (e) self-direction and universalism–reliance upon one’s own judgment and comfort with the diversity of existence; (f) universalism and benevolence–enhancement of others and transcendence of selfish interests; (g) benevolence and tradition–devotion to one’s in-group; (h) benevolence and conformity–normative behavior that promotes close relationships; (i) conformity and tradition–subordination of self in favor of socially imposed expectations; (j) tradition and security–preserving existing social arrangements that give certainty to life; (k) conformity and security–protection of order and harmony in relations; (l) security and power–avoiding or overcoming threats by controlling relationships and resources. In sum, the circular arrangement of the values represents a motivational continuum. The closer any two values in either direction around the circle, the more similar their underlying motivations; the more distant, the more antagonistic their motivations.
The idea that values form a motivational continuum has a critical implication: The division of the domain of value items into ten distinct values is an arbitrary convenience. It is reasonable to partition the domain of value items into more or less fine-tuned distinct values according to the needs and objectives of one’s analysis. Conceiving values as organized in a circular motivational structure has an important implication for the relations of values to other variables. It implies that the whole set of ten values relates to any other variable in an integrated manner. I return to this implication below. Measuring Value Priorities The Schwartz Value Survey
The first instrument developed to measure values based on the theory is now known as the Schwartz Value Survey (SVS; Schwartz, 1992, 2005a). The SVS presents two lists of value items. The first contains 30 items that describe potentially desirable end-states in noun form; the second contains 26 or 27 items that describe potentially desirable ways of acting in adjective form. Each item expresses an aspect of the motivational goal of one value. An explanatory phrase in parentheses following the item further specifies its meaning. For example, ‘EQUALITY (equal opportunity for all)’ is a universalism item; ‘PLEASURE (gratification of desires)’ is a hedonism item.
Respondents rate the importance of each value item “as a guiding principle in MY life” on a 9-point scale labeled 7 (of supreme importance), 6 (very important), 5, 4 (unlabeled), 3 (important), 2, 1 (unlabeled), 0 (not important), -1 (opposed to my values). People view most values as varying from mildly to very important. This nonsymmetrical scale is stretched at the upper end and condensed at the bottom in order to map the way people think about values, as revealed in pre-tests. The scale also enables respondents to report opposition to values that they try to avoid expressing or promoting. This is especially necessary for cross-cultural studies because people in one culture or subculture may reject values from others cultures. The SVS has been translated into 47 languages.
The score for the importance of each value is the average rating given to items designated a priori as markers of that value. The number of items to measure each value ranges from three (hedonism) to eight (universalism), reflecting the conceptual breadth of the values. Only value items that have demonstrated near-equivalence of meaning across cultures in analyses using multi-dimensional scaling (SSA; Schwartz, 1992, 1994, 2005a) and confirmatory factor analysis (CFA; Schwartz ; Boehnke, 2004) are included in the indexes. Across 212 samples (national representative, teacher, student), alpha reliabilities of the 10 values average . 68, ranging from . 61 for tradition to . 5 for universalism (Schwartz, 2005b). The Portrait Values Questionnaire The Portrait Values Questionnaire (PVQ) is an alternative to the SVS developed in order to measure the ten basic values in samples of children from age 11, of the elderly, and of persons not educated in Western schools that emphasize abstract, context-free thinking. The SVS had not proven suitable to such samples. Equally important, to assess whether the values theory is valid independent of method required an alternative instrument. The PVQ includes short verbal portraits of 40 different people, gender-matched with the respondent (Schwartz, 2005b; Schwartz, et al. , 2001).
Each portrait describes a person’s goals, aspirations, or wishes that point implicitly to the importance of a value. For example: “Thinking up new ideas and being creative is important to him. He likes to do things in his own original way” describes a person for whom self-direction values are important. “It is important to him to be rich. He wants to have a lot of money and expensive things” describes a person who cherishes power values. For each portrait, respondents answer: “How much like you is this person? Responses are: very much like me, like me, somewhat like me, a little like me, not like me, and not like me at all. We infer respondents’ own values from their self-reported similarity to people described implicitly in terms of particular values.
Respondents are asked to compare the portrait to themselves rather than themselves to the portrait. Comparing other to self directs attention only to aspects of the other that are portrayed. So, the similarity judgment is also likely to focus on these value-relevant aspects. The verbal portraits describe each person in terms of what is important to him or her. Thus, they capture the person’s values without explicitly identifying values as the topic of investigation. The PVQ asks about similarity to someone with particular goals and aspirations (values) rather than similarity to someone with particular traits. The same term can refer both to a value and a trait (e. g. , ambition, wisdom, obedience).
However, people who value a goal do not necessarily exhibit the corresponding trait; nor do those who exhibit a trait necessarily value the corresponding goal. For example, people may value creativity as a guiding principle in life but not be creative. And some creative people may attribute little importance to creativity as a value that guides them. The number of portraits for each value ranges from three (stimulation, hedonism, and power) to six (universalism), reflecting the conceptual breadth of the values. The score for the importance of each value is the average rating given to these items, all of which were designated a priori as markers of a value.
All the value items have demonstrated near-equivalence of meaning across cultures in analyses using multi-dimensional scaling (SSA; Schwartz, 2005b). Across 14 samples from 7 countries, alpha reliabilities of the ten values averaged . 68, ranging from . 47 for tradition to . 80 for achievement (Schwartz 2005b). The designers of the European Social Survey (ESS: www. europeansocialsurvey. org) chose the theory and the PVQ as the basis for developing a human values scale to include in the survey. The ESS version includes 21 items, most from the PVQ and a few revised to encompass additional ideas in order better to cover the content of the ten different values.
Across 20 representative national samples, Alpha reliabilities of the values with this version averaged . 56, ranging from . 36 (tradition) to . 70 (achievement). These reliabilities reflect the fact that only two items measure each value (three for universalism). Equally important, given the constraint of so few items, the decisive factor in selecting items was to maximize coverage of the varied conceptual components of each value rather than to increase internal reliability. As seen below, despite low reliabilities these values predict behavior and attitudes systematically. Correcting Response Tendencies Respondents differ in their use of the response scales both in the SVS and the PVQ.
Some people rate most abstract values very important as guiding principles or most portraits very similar to themselves. Others use the middle of the response scales, and still others rate most values unimportant or most portraits dissimilar to themselves. The scale should measure people’s value priorities, the relative importance of the different values. This is because it is the tradeoff among relevant values, not the absolute importance of any one value, which influences behavior and attitudes. Say, two people rate tradition values 4. Despite the same absolute score, tradition values obviously have higher priority for a person who rates all other values lower than for one who rates all other values higher.
To measure value priorities accurately, one must correct individual differences in use of the response scales. To correct, we center each person’s responses on his or her own mean (details in Schwartz, 2005a, 2006). This converts absolute value scores into scores that indicate the relative importance of each value to the person, i. e. , the person’s value priorities. Cross-Cultural Evidence for the Theory of Value Content and Structure As evidence for the theory, I bring the findings of assessments with data using the SVS and data using the ESS version of the PVQ. The SVS data were gathered between 1988 and 2002 from 233 samples from 68 countries located on every inhabited continent (total N= 64,271).
The samples include highly diverse geographic, cultural, linguistic, religious, age, gender, and occupational groups. Samples include those that represent a nation or a region in it (16), grade k-12 school teachers (74), undergraduate students from a variety of fields (111), adolescents (10), and adult convenience samples (22). For each sample, I prepared a matrix of Pearson correlations between the 56 or 57 value items. I analyzed this matrix with Similarity Structure Analysis (SSA) (Borg ; Shye, 1995; Guttman, 1968). This nonmetric multi-dimensional scaling technique maps items as points in a multidimensional space such that the distances between the points reflect the interrelations among the items.
The greater the conceptual similarity between any two items, the more related they should be empirically and hence the closer their locations should be in the multidimensional space. The SSA provides 2-dimensional spatial maps of relations among values, like that shown in Figure 2, but without partition lines. The a priori assignment of items to values guides the partitioning of the maps. If the motivational content of values is the most powerful principle that organizes people’s value priorities, the relations among value items in the two-dimensional space should reflect this content. Specifically, it should be possible to partition the space into distinct regions containing the items that represent each of the 10 values.
If the theory accurately describes the structure of value relations, then the observed regions should form a circular pattern similar to the theoretical structure of Figure 1. Because values form a motivational continuum, the decisions about exact boundaries are arbitrary. Items near the boundaries of adjacent values inevitably overlap somewhat in meaning. Consequently, in analyses in many samples, value items from adjacent types of values may intermix rather than emerge in clearly distinct regions. Rules for partitioning are described in Schwartz (1992, 2005a). Figure 2 presents an example of SSA results for 57 value items from the aggregate sample across all nations. Marker values are in bold.
The locations of specific items in regions of basic values in this figure completely support both the content of each value and the circular structure of relations among them. Analyses in single samples typically show at least small deviations such as intermixing of items from conceptually adjacent values and misplacement of a few value items to nearby regions. In separate analyses in 233 samples, however, every value formed either a distinctive region or an intermixed region with a conceptually adjacent value in at least 96% of samples. Spirituality items formed a distinct region in only 38% of samples. The proposed spirituality items emerged most frequently in the tradition, benevolence, universalism, and security value regions, respectively.
These data show that people in most cultures respond to ten types of values as distinct and that the broader value orientations captured by adjacent values are discriminated nearly universally. Findings with the 21 item PVQ used in the ESS lead to the same conclusion. An SSA based on the responses of 35,161 respondents from 20 countries yields a spatial array of items that can be partitioned into 10 distinct regions, each encompassing the a priori value markers. Moreover, the order of the values regions follows the theorized circular structure. Separate analyses in each of the 20 countries that completed the values scale yield structures very similar to Figure 2. In 15 countries, the ten values form ten distinct regions.
In the remaining five countries, eight values form distinct regions and the items of two conceptually adjacent values intermix. The SSA analyses provide graphic evidence to support the value theory across cultures, measuring values with two quite different methods. Confirmatory factor analyses provide more formal statistical tests of the content and structure of values. Schwartz and Boehnke (2004) demonstrated configural invariance for ten latent value factors across 23 countries, using the SVS. Davidov, Schmidt, and Schwartz (2005) had to unify pairs of values that are motivationally close into seven latent factors to obtain configural and metric invariance across the 20 ESS countries.
It was probably necessary to unify values because the 21-item ESS instrument measures each value with so few items. Another question addressed in this research concerns whether the ten basic values identified by the theory are comprehensive. Do they leave out any broad values to which individuals across societies attribute at least moderate importance? It is difficult definitively to reject the possibility that some universal values are missing. But the findings make this unlikely. Collaborators in many different countries added value items they thought might be missing in the SVS. When included in the SSAs, these items typically emerged in regions appropriate to their meanings (e. g. , national identity in security; chastity in conformity).
Thus, they identified no new, potentially universal values. Were any basic types of values missing, we would expect empty regions in the SSA maps. To test whether the analyses were sufficiently sensitive to identify potentially missing values, I ran SSAs on the SVS data after intentionally excluding values. Only after dropping all the items from two adjacent values did empty regions appear. The absence of empty regions in the full SSAs therefore implies that no broad value orientations are missing. Future theorizing may suggest additional, narrow values. It is likely, however, that the values in the theory cover the full range of broad, near-universal values.
The Pan-Cultural Baseline of Value Priorities Individuals differ substantially in the importance they attribute to the ten values. At the societal level, however, consensus regarding the hierarchical order of the values is surprisingly high. Across representative samples, using different instruments, the importance ranks for the ten values are quite similar. Benevolence, universalism, and self-direction values are most important. Power and stimulation values are least important. Tradition values, measured with the SVS and full PVQ also have low importance, but the two items used in the 21-item PVQ of the ESS yield moderate importance ratings.
Security values are 4th, conformity values 5th or 6th, hedonism 7th, and achievement 6th to 8th. This hierarchy provides a baseline to which to compare the priorities in any sample. Such comparison is critical for identifying which, if any, of the value priorities in a sample are distinctively high or low. A sample may rank benevolence highest, for example, but compared with other samples the importance rating of this value may still be relatively low. Why is there a pan-cultural consensus on value priorities? And why this particular hierarchy of values? The pan-cultural consensus likely derives from the adaptive functions of values in maintaining societies and from shared human nature (e. g. Campbell, 1975; Parsons, 1951; Schwartz & Bardi, 1997). Socializers and social control agents will discourage values that clash with the smooth functioning of significant groups or the larger society. Values that clash with human nature are unlikely to be important. The basic social function of values is to motivate and control the behavior of group members (Parsons, 1951). Two mechanisms are critical. First, values serve as internalized guides for individuals; they relieve the group of the necessity for constant social control. Second, people invoke values to define particular behaviors as socially appropriate, to justify their demands on others, and to elicit desired behaviors.
Socializers seek, consciously or not, to instill values that promote group survival and prosperity. To explain the pan-cultural value hierarchy, we must explain why particular values are viewed as more or less desirable across societies. Three demands of human nature and requirements of societal functioning are especially relevant for explaining the observed pan-cultural value hierarchy. (1) Most important is promoting and preserving cooperative and supportive relations among members of primary groups. The most critical focus of value transmission is to develop commitment to positive relations, identification with the group, and loyalty to its members. 2) Second, individuals must be motivated to invest the time, the physical and the intellectual effort needed to perform productive work, to solve problems that arise during task performance, and to generate new ideas and technical solutions. (3) Third, it is socially functional to legitimize gratification of self-oriented needs and desires to the extent this does not undermine group goals. Rejection of all such gratification would frustrate individuals, leading them to withhold their energies from the group and its tasks. The high importance of benevolence values (1st) derives from the centrality of positive, cooperative social relations in the family, the main setting for initial and continuing value acquisition.
Benevolence values provide the internalized motivational base for such relations. They are reinforced and modeled early and repeatedly. Universalism values (2nd) also contribute to positive social relations. They are functionally important primarily when group members must relate to those with whom they do not readily identify, in schools, work-places, and so on. They may even threaten in-group solidarity during times of intergroup conflict. Therefore, universalism values are less important than benevolence values. Security (4th) and conformity (5th) values also promote harmonious social relations. They do this by helping to avoid conflict and violations of group norms.
But these values are usually acquired in response to demands and sanctions to avoid risks, control forbidden impulses, and restrict the self. This reduces their importance because it conflicts with gratifying self-oriented needs and desires. Moreover, the emphasis of these values on maintaining the status quo conflicts with innovation in finding solutions to group tasks. Acting on tradition values (overall 8th) can also contribute to group solidarity and thus to smooth group functioning and survival. But tradition values find little expression in the behavior that interaction partners have a vital interest in controlling. They largely concern commitment to abstract beliefs and symbols.
Pursuing power values (10th) may harm or exploit others and damage social relations. Still, they have some importance because power values help to motivate individuals to work for group interests. They also justify the hierarchical social arrangements in all societies. Self-direction (3rd) values serve the second and third basic functions of values without undermining the first. They foster creativity, motivate innovation, and promote coping with challenges the group may face in times of crisis. Behavior based on these values is intrinsically motivated. It satisfies individual needs without harming others. Hence, it rarely threatens positive social relations.
The moderate importance of achievement values (7th) may reflect a compromise among the bases of value importance. On the positive side, these values motivate individuals to invest in group tasks. They also legitimize self-enhancing behavior, so long as it contributes to group welfare. On the negative side, these values foster efforts to attain social approval that may disrupt harmonious social relations and interfere with group goal attainment. The importance of hedonism (6th) and stimulation (9th) values derives from the requirement to legitimize inborn needs to attain pleasure and arousal. These values are probably more important than power values because, unlike power values, their pursuit does not necessarily threaten positive social relations.
Roots of the Dynamic Structure of Value Relations Having shown that the structure of relations among values may be universal, we now look more closely at the possible roots of this structure. Thus far, we identified congruence and conflict among the values that are implicated simultaneously in decisions as one dynamic principle that organizes the structure of values. Close examination of the structure suggests other dynamic principles (see Figure 3). A second principle is the interests that value attainment serves. Values in the top panel of Figure 3 (power, achievement, hedonism, stimulation, self-direction) primarily regulate how one expresses personal interests and characteristics.
Values in the bottom panel (benevolence, universalism, tradition, conformity, security) primarily regulate how one relates socially to others and affects their interests. Figure 1 shows that security and universalism values are boundary values. They primarily concern others’ interests, but their goals also regulate pursuit of own interests. Relations of values to anxiety are a third organizing principle. Pursuit of values on the left in Figure 3 serves to cope with anxiety due to uncertainty in the social and physical world. People seek to avoid conflict (conformity) and to maintain the current order (tradition, security) or actively to control threat (power).
Values on the right (hedonism, stimulation, self-direction, universalism, benevolence) express anxiety-free motivations. Achievement values do both: Meeting social standards successfully may control anxiety and it may affirm one’s sense of competence. The anxiety aspect of the value structure relates to the two basic self-regulation systems that Higgins (1997) has proposed. One system regulates avoidance of punishment and focuses people on the goal of preventing loss. Security needs, obligations, and the threat of loss trigger this system. Values on the left in Figure 3, most centrally security and conformity, motivate this type of self-regulation. They guide attention and action to avoid or overcome actual or potential danger.
Higgins’ second system regulates pursuit of rewards and focuses people on the goal of promoting gain. Nurturance needs, ideals, and opportunities to gain trigger this system. Values on the right in Figure 3, most centrally self-direction, motivate this type of self-regulation. They guide attention and action to intrinsically rewarding social, intellectual, and emotional opportunities. The structure of relations among the ten values may also have a biogenetic basis. The ten values map exactly onto four innate drives proposed by Lawrence and Nohria (2002. Presumably, these drives emerged as a set of decision guides in the course of evolution and are central to human nature.
The four drives are: (1) to acquire—to seek, take, control, and hold material and status resources and pleasurable experiences; (2) to bond—to form social relationships and develop mutually caring commitments; (3) to learn—to know, comprehend, believe, appreciate, and understand their environment and themselves via curiosity; (4) to defend—to defend themselves and their valued accomplishments whenever they perceive them to be endangered. The drives to acquire and to bond often come into conflict when taking decisions about an action, as do the drives to learn and to defend. Each value appears to express one drive or a blend of two. Values transform drives into desirable goals that are available to awareness and that can therefore be used in conscious planning and decision-making.
The matches are as follows: benevolence—to bond; universalism—to bond + to learn; self-direction—to learn; stimulation—to learn (+ to acquire pleasurable experience); hedonism—(to learn) + to acquire pleasurable experience; achievement—to acquire; power—to acquire + to defend; security—to defend; conformity and tradition—to defend + to bond. This mapping of values onto drives goes around the value circle (Figure 1). The oppositions between values parallel the conflicts between drives that Lawrence and Nohria (2002) identify. The matching of values to drives suggests that an innate basis may help account for the near-universality of the value structure. Sources of Individual Differences in Basic Values Processes Linking Background Variables to Value Priorities
People’s life circumstances provide opportunities to pursue or express some values more easily than others. For example, wealthy persons can pursue power values more easily, and people who work in the free professions can express self-direction values more easily. Life circumstances also impose constraints against pursuing or expressing values. Having dependent children constrains parents to limit their pursuit of stimulation values. And people with strongly ethnocentric peers find it hard to express universalism values. In other words, life circumstances make the pursuit or expression of different values more or less rewarding or costly. Typically, people adapt their values to their life circumstances.
They upgrade the importance they attribute to values they can readily attain and downgrade the importance of values whose pursuit is blocked (Schwartz & Bardi, 1997). Thus, people in jobs that afford freedom of choice increase the importance of self-direction values at the expense of conformity values (Kohn & Schooler, 1983). Upgrading attainable values and downgrading thwarted values applies to most, but not to all values. The reverse occurs with values that concern material well-being and security. When such values are blocked, their importance increases; when they are attained easily, their importance drops. Thus, people who suffer economic hardship and social upheaval attribute more importance to power and security values than those who live in relative comfort and safety (Inglehart, 1997).
People’s age, education, gender, income and other characteristics affect their socialization and learning experiences, the social roles they play, the expectations and sanctions they encounter, and the abilities they develop. Thus, differences in background characteristics largely determine the differences in life circumstances to which people are exposed, which, in turn, affect their value priorities. This section examines key socio-demographic variables as crucial antecedents of individual differences in value priorities. Age and Life Course As people grow older, they tend to become more embedded in social networks, more committed to habitual patterns, and less exposed to arousing and exciting changes and challenges (Glen, 1974).
This implies that conservation values (tradition, conformity, security) should increase with age and openness to change values (self-direction, stimulation, hedonism) decrease. Once people enter families of procreation and attain stable positions in the occupational world, they tend to become less preoccupied with their own strivings and more concerned with the welfare of others (Veroff, Reuman, & Feld, 1984). This implies that self-transcendence values (benevolence, universalism) increase with age and self-enhancement values (power, achievement) decrease. The first column of Table 1 reports correlations of age with values across the 20 ESS countries. The number of countries in which the correlation was in the same direction as the overall correlation appears in parentheses.
All the observed correlations confirm the expected associations and support the probable processes of influence. All associations are monotonic. Gender Various theories of gender difference lead researchers to postulate that men emphasize agentic-instrumental values like power and achievement, while females emphasize expressive-communal values like benevolence and universalism (Schwartz & Rubel, 2005). Most theorists expect gender differences to be small. Column 2 of Table 1 supports expectations regarding both the nature and strength of value relations to gender in the ESS data. Analyses with the SVS and PVQ instruments across 68 countries yield similar esults. Gender differences for eight values are consistent, statistically significant, and small; differences for conformity and tradition values are inconsistent. Both evolutionary and social role theories help to explain how adaptations to prehistoric and/or current life circumstances might produce the observed gender differences (Schwartz & Rubel, 2005). Education Educational experiences presumably promote the intellectual openness, flexibility, and breadth of perspective essential for self-direction values (Kohn & Schooler 1983). These same experiences increase the openness to non-routine ideas and activity central to stimulation values.
In contrast, these experiences challenge unquestioning acceptance of prevailing norms, expectations, and traditions, thereby undermining conformity and tradition values. The increasing competencies to cope with life that people acquire through education may also reduce the importance of security values. Column 3 of Table 1 reveals the expected positive correlations of years of formal education with self-direction and stimulation values and negative correlations with conformity, tradition, and security values. In addition, education correlates positively with achievement values. The constant grading and comparing of performance in schools, emphasizing meeting external standards, could account for this.
The associations of education with values are largely linear, with the exception of universalism values. Universalism values begin to rise only in the last years of secondary school. They are substantially higher among those who attend university. This may reflect both the broadening of horizons that university education provides and a tendency for those who give high priority to universalism values to seek higher education. Income Affluence creates opportunities to engage in discretionary activities and to choose one’s life style freely. It reduces security threats and the need to restrict one’s impulses and to maintain supportive, traditional ties.
Higher income should therefore promote valuing of stimulation, self-direction, hedonism, and achievement values and render security, conformity, and tradition values less important. The correlations between total household income (12 categories) and value priorities, in column 4 of Table 1, support these expectations. Income contributed to higher stimulation, self-direction, achievement, and power values, primarily in the upper third of the income distribution. The Pattern of Value Relations with Other Variables: An Integrated System Most research on the antecedents or consequences of values has examined empirical relations between a few target values and a particular background variable, attitude, or behavior (e. g. , social class and obedience—Alwin, 1984; equality and civil rights–Rokeach, 1973).
The value theory enables us to treat peoples’ value systems as coherent structures. It allows us to relate the full set of values to other variables in an organized, integrated manner. The critical idea is the circular motivational structure of values. This structure has two implications for value relations: (1) Values that are adjacent in the structure should have similar associations with other variables. (2) Associations of values with other variables should decrease monotonically in both directions around the circle from the most positively to the most negatively associated value. That is, the order of associations for the whole set of ten values follows a predictable pattern.
If a background variable, trait, attitude, or behavior correlates most positively with one value and most negatively with another, the expected pattern of associations with all other values follows from the circular value structure. The data in Table 2 illustrate this pattern. Table 2 lists the values in an order corresponding to their order around the circular structure of value relations (cf. Figure 1). The correlations in Table 2 generally exhibit both features of value relations. Adjacent values have largely similar associations with the background variables and the associations of the values largely decrease monotonically in both directions around the circle from the most positively to the most negatively associated value. The integrated structure of values makes it easier to theorize about relations of value priorities to other variables.
Once theory identifies the values likely to relate most and least positively to a variable, the circular motivational structure then implies a specific pattern of positive, negative, and zero associations for the remaining values. Next, one develops theoretical explanations for why or why not to expect these implied associations. The integrated structure serves as a template that reveals “deviations” from the expected pattern. The association of education with achievement values is one such deviation. Deviations are especially interesting because they direct us to search for special conditions that enhance or weaken relations of a variable with values (Schwartz, 1996). Predicting Behavior with Basic Values
Do people’s value priorities influence their behavior in systematic, predictable ways? I first examine processes through which values can influence behavior. Then I describe exemplary studies of value-behavior relations. Linking Processes Value activation. Values affect behavior only if they are activated (Verplanken & Holland, 2002). Activation may or may not entail conscious thought about a value. Much information-processing occurs outside of awareness. The more accessible a value, i. e. , the more easily it comes to mind, the more likely it will be activated. Because more important values are more accessible (Bardi, 2000), they relate more to behavior.
Value-relevant aspects of situations activate values. A job offer may activate achievement values and a car accident may activate security values. Even coincidental increases in the accessibility of a value, say by coming across value-relevant words in a puzzle, increase chances it will be activated. If it is a high-priority value, it may then lead to behavior. Focusing attention on the self may also increase value-behavior relations because it activates values that are central to the self-concept, values of high importance. Verplanken and Holland (2002) demonstrated these effects in experiments where they manipulated the accessibility of values in one study and self-focus in another.
Activation experiments are particularly important because they show that activating values causes behavior. The studies of value-behavior relations discussed below cannot demonstrate causality. Although the reasoning is causal, they are all correlational. Values as a source of motivation. People’s values, like their needs, induce valences on possible actions (Feather, 1995). That is, actions become more attractive, more valued subjectively, to the extent that they promote attainment of valued goals. People who value stimulation would likely be attracted to a challenging job offer whereas those who value security might find the same offer threatening and unattractive. High-priority values are central to the self-concept.
Sensing an opportunity to attain them sets off an automatic, positive, affective response to actions that will serve them. Sensing a threat to value attainment sets off a negative affective response. Values may influence the attractiveness of actions even without conscious weighing of alternatives and their consequences. We rarely realize the influence of our values when we choose which program to watch on TV, for example. Conscious thought may later modify the attractiveness of actions by bringing their many consequences to mind (e. g. , impacts of taking a new job on the family). Basic values also affect action through the specific attitudes they underlie.
Even when values motivate people, they are unlikely to act unless they believe they have the capacity to carry out the action and that it is likely to produce the desired outcomes (Feather, 1995). Influence of values on attention, perception, and interpretation in situations. High priority values are chronic goals that guide people to seek out and attend to value-relevant aspects of a situation (Schwartz, Sagiv, & Boehnke, 2000). One woman may attend to the opportunities a job offers for self-direction, another to the constraints it imposes on her social life. Each defines the situation in light of her own important values. Each interpretation suggests that a different line of action is desirable.
Value priorities also influence the weight people give to each value issue. Even if both women recognize the same value-relevant opportunities and constraints, the weight they give them will differ depending on their value priorities. Influence of values on the planning of action. More important goals induce a stronger motivation to plan thoroughly (Gollwitzer, 1996). The higher the priority given to a value, the more likely people will form action plans that can lead to its expression in behavior. Planning focuses people on the pros of desired actions rather than the cons. It enhances their belief in their ability to reach the valued goal and increases persistence in the face of obstacles and distractions.
By promoting planning, value importance increases value-consistent behavior. Exemplary Studies As a first example of value-behavior relations, consider three studies of everyday behavior. Bardi and Schwartz (2003) generated ten sets of 6-10 behaviors that primarily express one of the ten basic values. Participants completed the SVS. Later, they rated how frequently they had performed each behavior in the past year, relative to their opportunities to perform it. In studies 2 and 3, intimate partners or close peers rated participants’ behavior too. The behavior indexes were the average frequency ratings of the behavior items that express each value.
Column 2 and 3 of Table 2 list the correlations between each value and its relevant behaviors. All correlations with self-reported behavior are significant and most are substantial. With other-reported behavior, all but the security correlation are significant. Self-reports probably exaggerate value-behavior relations, other reports probably underestimate them. Some values correlate more strongly with their relevant behaviors than others do. Why? In this study, normative group pressure was greatest for security, conformity, benevolence, and achievement behaviors. Yielding to normative pressure, even when a behavior opposes one’s own values, weakened value-behavior relations.
Second, external pressure is weaker for behaviors that express values of little importance to the group, permitting own values to have more influence. Tradition and stimulation values had especially low mean importance in these groups. Hence, priorities for these values showed stronger value-behavior correlations. A study of cooperative behavior in the laboratory (Schwartz, 1996) illustrates the crucial idea of trade-offs between competing values in guiding behavioral choice. Typically, the consequences of a behavior promote the expression or attainment of one set of values at the expense of the opposing values in the circle. To predict a behavior successfully, we must consider the importance of the values the behavior will harm as well as those it will promote.
The probability of a behavior depends on the relative priority a person gives to the relevant, competing values. Participants who completed the SVS were paired with another student to play a game. They were to choose one of three alternatives for allocating money between self and a member of their group whose identity was not revealed. Each would receive the amount of money they allocated to self plus the amount their partner allocated to them. The cooperative choice entailed taking the equivalent of 1? for self and giving 0. 8? to the other. Compared to the other choices, this meant sacrificing a little of what one could gain (0. 2?) and giving the maximum to the other.
The other two choices were both not cooperative, maximizing either one’s absolute gain (individualism) or relative gain (competing). Analyses of the consequences of cooperative and noncooperative behavior for the goals of the ten values suggested that benevolence and power values, opposed in the circle, are most relevant. Cooperation is more a matter of conventional decency and thoughtfulness in this setting than of basic commitment to social justice. Hence, benevolence values should relate to cooperation most strongly. Power values should relate most strongly to noncooperation. They emphasize competitive advantage and legitimize maximizing own gain even at the expense of others.
The correlations in column 3 of Table 2 confirm the hypothesis. Benevolence correlates most positively, power most negatively. Moreover, as expected, based on the motivational structure of value relations, the order of the correlations follows the order around the value circle from benevolence to power. Analyzing the data in another way demonstrates clearly that trade-offs among competing values guided behavior. Splitting the sample at the median on benevolence and on power values and crossing these sub-samples yielded four groups. In the group that valued benevolence highly and gave low importance to power values, 87% cooperated. This was twice the rate in any other group (35%-43%).
Thus, to elicit a high level of cooperation required both high priority for values that promote cooperation (benevolence) and low priority for values that oppose it (power). Voting. The next example of how value systems relate, as integrated wholes, to behavior takes us outside the laboratory. There were two main coalitions in the Italian elections of 2001, center-right and center-left. Both coalitions championed liberal democracy. But there were also policy differences. To the extent that citizens recognize these differences, the values whose attainment is most affected by them should influence their voting patterns. The center-right emphasized entrepreneurship and the market economy, security, and family and national values.
The intended consequences of such a policy are compatible with power, security, and achievement values. But they may harm the opposing values in the value circle, universalism and, perhaps, benevolence. The latter values call for promoting the welfare of others even at cost to the self. And universalism values express concern for the weak, those most likely to suffer from market-driven policies. In contrast, the center-left advocated social welfare, social justice, equality, and tolerance even of groups that might disturb the conventional social order. The intended consequences of such a policy are compatible with universalism and benevolence values.
They conflict, however, with pursuing individual power and achievement values and with security values that emphasize preserving the social order. Thus, political choice in these elections consisted of a trade-off between power, security, and achievement values on the right and universalism and benevolence values on the left. On that basis, I hypothesized: Supporting the center-right vs. center-left correlates most positively with the priority given to power and security values and most negatively with the priority given to universalism values. Correlations with the priority of achievement values should also be positive, and those with benevolence values negative.
Stated as an integrated hypothesis for the whole value circle: Correlations should decline from most positive for power and security values to most negative for universalism values in both directions around the circle (cf. Figure 1). Adults from the Rome region completed the PVQ and reported the coalition they had voted for in the 2001 election. We coded vote as (0) for center-left and (1) for center-right. We computed point-biserial correlations of voting with the 10 values, controlling gender, age, income, and education. Column 4 of Table 2 presents correlations between value priorities and voting for the center-right. As hypothesized, the correlation of universalism was the most negative, and the correlation of benevolence was negative too.
The positive correlations with security, power, and achievement were also significant. Figure 4 portrays the pattern of co
Cite this Basic Human Values Essay
Basic Human Values Essay. (2019, May 02). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/basic-human-values-920/