The Psychology of Values

By Clive Seligman; James M. Olson et al. | Go to book overview

1
Value Priorities and Behavior: Applying a Theory of Integrated Value Systems

Shalom Schwartz Hebrew University of Jerusalem

A major goal of research on values has been to relate individual differences in value priorities to differences in attitudes, behavior, and background variables. Past research most commonly adopted one of two approaches. Much research has selected a few single target values whose priorities were postulated to associate with the attitude, behavior, or background variable of interest and then examined empirical relationships (e.g., obedience and social class -- Alwin, 1984; world at peace and pacifism -- Mayton & Furnham, 1994; equality and civil rights -- Rokeach, 1973). Other research has been more exploratory. It has related lists of values to various other variables and then discussed the significant associations that emerged (e.g., with personality inventories -- Furnham, 1984; with race, nationality, and age -- Rokeach, 1973; with quality of teaching -- Greenstein, 1976). The associations with single values that emerge can, of course, almost always be interpreted as making sense, post hoc.

The focus on relationships with single values makes both these approaches unsatisfying. It leads to a piecemeal accumulation of bits of information about values that is not conducive to the construction of coherent theories. Three noteworthy problems beset these approaches. First, the reliability of any single value is quite low. Hence chance may play a substantial role in the emergence or nonemergence of significant associations with single values. Second, absent a comprehensive set of values or of a broad theory to guide selection of target values, values that were not included in a study may be equally or more meaningfully related to the phenomenon in question than those studied (e.g., the almost total absence of power values in the literature on values and political orientations).

Third, and most important, these single-value approaches ignore the widely

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