The Psychology of Values

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

2
Revising the Value Pluralism Model: Incorporating Social Content and Context Postulates

Philip E. Tetlock The Ohio State University

Randall S. Peterson Northwestern University

Jennifer S. Lerner University of California, Berkeley

One of life's painful truisms is that difficult choices are unavoidable. This truism holds up pretty well whether we are talking about managing individual lives or complex social systems. At the individual level, we run into a multitude of familiar value trade-offs: obligations to others versus self-interest, self-interest now (consumption) versus self-interest later (savings), autonomy versus intimacy, work versus family versus leisure, and the common dilemma of accountability to conflicting constituencies (in order to please this person or reference group, I must anger this other one). At a societal level, we confront an equally daunting battery of trade-offs. In political economy, there is the classic tension between social equality and economic efficiency. In international relations, there are the contradictory goals of deterrence (be strong enough to resist exploitation) and reassurance (don't be so intimidating that you scare the other side into preemptively attacking you). The list is potentially endless, but we have already made our point: the world can be a very dissonant place. It is impossible to arrange our lives and our values to escape trade-offs completely.

The original value pluralism model of ideological reasoning was an effort to explain how people cope with a wide array of personal and political value tradeoffs. We have five objectives in this chapter. First, we present the early version of the value pluralism model and sketch some experimental and archival studies to test the predictions of that model. Second, we note some conceptual and empirical problems with the early value pluralism model. Third, we revise the value pluralism model in two key respects: the addition of the social content and context postulates. The social content postulate asserts that how people cope with value conflict depends on the "social content" of the colliding values -- in particular, whether "secular values" have been pitted against "sacred ones." The social

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