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A personal value is absolute or relative and ethical value, the assumption of which can be the basis for ethical action. A value system is a set of consistent values and measures. A principle value is a foundation upon which other values and measures of integrity are based.

Some values are physiologically determined and are normally considered objective, such as a desire to avoid physical pain or to seek pleasure. Other values are considered subjective, vary across individuals and cultures, and are in many ways aligned with belief and belief systems. Types of values include ethical/moral values, doctrinal/ideological (religious, political) values, social values, and aesthetic values. It is debated whether some values that are not clearly physiologically determined, such as altruism, are intrinsic, and whether some, such as acquisitiveness, should be classified as vices or virtues. Values have been studied in various disciplines: anthropology, behavioral economics, business ethics, corporate governance, moral philosophy, political sciences, social psychology, sociology and theology to name a few.

Values can be defined as broad preference concerning appropriate courses of action or outcomes. As such, values reflect a person's sense of right and wrong or what "ought" to be. "Equal rights for all", "Excellence deserves admiration", and "People should be treated with respect and dignity" are representative of values. Values tend to influence attitudes and behavior.

Personal values

According to Morris Massey, values form during three significant periods:

  • imprint period - from birth to 7 years
  • modelling period - from 8 to 13 years
  • socialization period - from 13 to 21 years

Personal values provide an internal reference for what is good, beneficial, important, useful, beautiful, desirable, constructive, etc.[citation needed] Values generate behaviour[1] and help solve common human problems for survival by comparative rankings of value, the results of which provide answers to questions of why people do what they do and in what order they choose to do them.[citation needed]

Over time the public expression of personal values that groups of people find important in their day-to-day lives, lay the foundations of law, custom and tradition.[How to reference and link to summary or text] Personal values in this way exist in relation to cultural values, either in agreement with or divergent from prevailing norms.[citation needed]. A culture is a social system that shares a set of common values, in which such values permit social expectations and collective understandings of the good, beautiful, constructive, etc. Without normative personal values, there would be no cultural reference against which to measure the virtue of individual values and so culture identity would disintegrate.[citation needed]

Wyatt Woodsmall points out that "'Criteria' are used to refer to 'the standards on which an evaluation is based'."[citation needed] Values relate then to what one wants and in what order one wants them; criteria can only refer to the evidences for achieving values and act as a comparative standard that one applies in order to evaluate whether goals have been met / values satisfied.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

Values are obtained in many different ways.[citation needed]

Social values

Main article: Social values

Cultural values

File:Inglehart Values Map.svg

The Inglehart-Welzel Cultural Map of the World, constructed by sociopolitical scientists Ronald Inglehart and Christian Welzel based on the World Values Survey.

Individual cultures emphasize values which their members broadly share. One can often identify the values of a society by noting which people receive honor or respect. In the United States of America, for example, professional athletes at the top levels in some sports receive more honor (measured in terms of monetary payment) than university professors. Surveys show that voters in the United States would be reluctant to elect an atheist as president, suggesting that a belief in a God is a generally shared value. There is a difference between values clarification and cognitive moral education. Value clarification consists of "helping people clarify what their lives are for and what is worth working for. It encourages students to define their own values and to understand others' values."[2] Cognitive moral education builds on the belief that students should learn to value things like democracy and justice as their moral reasoning develops.[2] Educationist Chaveen Dissanayake says personal and cultural values can vary according to the living standards of a person.

Values relate to the norms of a culture, but they are more global and abstract than norms. Norms provide rules for behavior in specific situations, while values identify what should be judged as good or evil. While norms are standards, patterns, rules and guides of expected behavior, values are abstract concepts of what is important and worthwhile. Flying the national flag on a holiday is a norm, but it reflects the value of patriotism. Wearing dark clothing and appearing solemn are normative behaviors to manifest respect at a funeral. Different cultures reflect values differently and to different levels of emphasis. "Over the last three decades, traditional-age college students have shown an increased interest in personal well-being and a decreased interest in the welfare of others."[2] Values seemed to have changed, affecting the beliefs, and attitudes of the students.

Members take part in a culture even if each member's personal values do not entirely agree with some of the normative values sanctioned in the culture. This reflects an individual's ability to synthesize and extract aspects valuable to them from the multiple subcultures they belong to.

If a group member expresses a value that seriously conflicts with the group's norms, the group's authority may carry out various ways of encouraging conformity or stigmatizing the non-conforming behavior of that member. For example, imprisonment can result from conflict with social norms that the state has established as law.

Furthermore, institutions in the global economy can genuinely respect values which are of three kinds based on a "triangle of coherence".[3] In the first instance, a value may come to expression within the World Trade Organization (WTO), as well as (in the second instance) within the United Nations - particularly in the Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) - providing a framework for global legitimacy through accountability. In the third instance, the expertise of member-driven international organizations and civil society depends on the incorporation of flexibility in the rules, to preserve the expression of identity in a globalized world.

Nonetheless, in a warlike economic competition, differing views may contradict each other, particularly in the field of culture. Thus audiences in Europe may regard a movie as an artistic creation and grant it benefits from special treatment, while audiences in the United States may see it as mere entertainment, whatever its artistic merits. EU policies based on the notion of "cultural exception" can become juxtaposed with the policy of "cultural specificity" on the liberal Anglo-Saxon side. Indeed, international law traditionally treats films as property and the content of television programs as a service.[citation needed] Consequently cultural interventionist policies get opposed to Anglo-Saxon liberal position, causing failures in international negotiations[4]

Ethic values

{Main|Ethnic values}}


Values are generally received through cultural means, especially transmission from parents to children. Parents in different cultures have different values.[5] For example, parents in a hunter–gatherer society or surviving through subsistence agriculture value practical survival skills from a young age. Many such cultures begin teaching babies to use sharp tools, including knives, before their first birthdays.[6] Italian parents value social and emotional abilities and having an even temperament.[5] Spanish parents want their children to be sociable.[5] Swedish parents value security and happiness.[5] Dutch parents value independence, long attention spans, and predictable schedules.[5] American parents are unusual for strongly valuing intellectual ability, especially in a narrow "book learning" sense.[5] The Kipsigis people of Kenya value children who are not only smart, but who employ that intelligence in a responsible and helpful way, which they call ng'om.[5]

Sources of Values and Ethics

Several sources of professional values and ethics exist, and each source used is dependent on who is using them. The law is one source of values and ethics used in the workplace because laws were created to protect employees from misconduct by coworkers and management. Without these laws in place, employees would not feel as if they are valued by the company, so a disloyalty would be created (Joseph, Joshua, 2000). A second source of professional values and ethics is moral values based on religious beliefs. Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam all promote peace, trust, honesty, integrity, and love (Career-change, n.d.). A third source of professional values and ethics is the military. The military creates a sense of trust, discipline, respect, and integrity. Many employers find that ex-military employees are hard-working, disciplined, and respectful. Values and ethics may come from many sources, but all the sources have the same end result (Bauer, Christopher, n.d.).

List of possible personal values

See also


  1. Rokeach, M. (1973). The Nature of Human Values. New York: The Free Press.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Santrock, J.W. (2007). A Topical Approach to Life-Span Development. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill
  3. Lamy, Pascal, WTO Director-General, Speech to the European University Institute in Florence on 19 February 2011 (
  4. Hacker, Violaine (2011a), "Building Medias Industry while promoting a community of values in the globalization: from quixotic choices to pragmatic boon for EU Citizens", Politické Védy-Journal of Political Science, Slovakia, pp. 64-74.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 includeonly>Day, Nicholas. "Parental ethnotheories and how parents in America differ from parents everywhere else.", Slate, 10 April 2013. Retrieved on 19 April 2013.
  6. includeonly>Day, Nicholas. "Give Your Baby a Machete", Slate, 9 April 2013. Retrieved on 19 April 2013.

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