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A Rose by Any Name? The Values Construct

A Rose by Any Name? The Values Construct
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  A Rose by Any Name? The Values Construct Meg J. Rohan School of PsychologyUniversity of New South Wales Definitional inconsistency has been epidemic in values theory and research. An ab-breviated review of values-related theory and research is provided, and 5 aspects of the values construct that may have contributed to this inconsistency and the resultinglackofsynthesisarediscussed.Aproposalfortheprocessbywhichvalueprioritiesin- fluence attitudinal and behavioral decisions also is outlined. Attitudinal and behav-ioral decisions are shown to be traceable to personal value priorities, although thelink is indirect. The importance of 4 constructs in this process is highlighted. In the past, personal value systems, social value systems, worldviews, and ideologies eachmay have been given the generic label values. “When  I  useaword,”HumptyDumptysaid,inratherascornful tone, “it means just what I choose it tomean—neither more nor less.”“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you  can make words mean different things.”“Thequestionis,”saidHumptyDumpty,“whichistobemaster—that’sall.”(Carroll,1865/1966,p.185) Important theorists in a variety of fields have em-phasized the importance of people’s value priorities inunderstanding and predicting attitudinal and behav-ioral decisions. For example, Gordon Allport (1961)suggested that value priorities were the “dominatingforceinlife”(p.543)becausetheydirectedallofaper-son’s activity toward their realization. Elsewhere,Allport(1955)beratedpsychologistsforfailingtocon-sider that people’s value priorities influence their per-ception of reality (p. 89). Allport’s reprimand remainsrelevant even now because value theory and researchare at the fringe of the field. For example, no discus-sion of value theory appears in a sample of introduc-tory social psychology and personality textbookspublished in this decade (Aronson, Wilson, & Akert,1997; Baron & Byrne, 1997; Burger, 1997; Carducci,1998; Cloninger, 1996; Hewstone, Stroebe, &Stephenson, 1996; Liebert & Liebert, 1998; Myers,1996; Pervin, 1996; E. R. Smith & Mackie, 1995). Al-though Allport’s enthusiasm for the construct lost itsinfluence with the rise of behaviorism (behavioristswould have looked with disfavor at this unobservableconstruct), it does not explain why enthusiastic atten-tion to the values construct has not been revived nowthat there is a willingness to discuss and investigateother latent constructs such as schemas (e.g., Reich &Weary, 1998) and working models (e.g., Mikulincer,1998).Or,doesthevaluesconstructexistincontempo-rary research under other names?The status of values theory and research suffers be-cause the word  values  is open to abuse and overuse bynonpsychologists and psychologists alike. For exam-ple, consider politicians’ (and others’) moaning abouttheerosionoffamilyvalues.Whatdotheymeanbyfam-ily values? People—including psychologists, anthro-pologists, political scientists, and sociologists—seemtousetheword values inHumptyDumptyfashion:Theymake it mean just what they choose it to mean.However, the problem is not new. Adler (1956), forexample, suggested that as a result of definitional con-fusion, the “emphasis on values has slowed down theadvancement of the social sciences rather than fur-thered it” (p. 279). One popular strategy for settlingconfusion is to invent new names for the construct.Clyde Kluckhohn (1951), whom Levitin (1968) de-scribed as having offered one of the most comprehen-sive analyses of the values construct, described theresult of this strategy: Reading the voluminous, and often vague and diffuse,literature on the subject in the various fields of learn-ing, one finds values considered as attitudes, motiva-tions,objects,measurablequantities,substantiveareasofbehavior,affect-ladencustomsortraditions,andre-lationships such as those between individuals, groups,objects, events. (C. K. M. Kluckhohn, 1951, p. 390) M.B.Smith(1969)alsobemoanedthe“proliferationof conceptsakintovalues”thatwerelabeled,forexample, 255 Personality and Social Psychology Review Copyright © 2000 by2000, Vol. 4, No. 3, 255–277 Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. Preparation of this article was supported in part by an AustralianResearch Council Small Grant to Meg Rohan. Thanks to Mark Zanna, David A. Kenny, Felicia Pratto, and Shalom Schwartz fortheir insightful comments and suggestions.Requests for reprints should be sent to Meg J. Rohan, School of Psychology, The University of New South Wales, Sydney 2052,Australia. E-mail:  as core attitudes or sentiments, preferences, cathexes,andvalences(p.98).D.T.Campbell(1963)providedalistof76conceptsthatincludedvalue,attitude,andmo-tive to illustrate that “superficially quite dissimilar ter-minologies may be describing essentially the samefacts and processes” (pp. 100–101). D. T. Campbell(1963) suggested that the common characteristic of theseconceptswasthateachcouldbeviewedascoordi-nators of behavior. However, conceptualizing the ab-stract, trans-situational, implicit nature of these funda-mental coordinators of behavior is difficult.The purpose of this article is to review briefly work in the area of values, to propose a definition of the val-ues construct that distinguishes it from other relatedconstructs, and to propose a process by which valuepriorities coordinate people’s attitudinal and behav-ioral decisions. In tracing the link between value prior-ities and decisions, I highlight the importance of twoconstructs—worldviews and ideologies—that are of-tenlabeledas values. Beforepresentingthisproposal,Idiscuss aspects of the values construct that are at theheart of definitional diversity and confusion. At the Heart of the Confusion? FiveAspects of the Values ConstructAspect 1: Nouns and Verbs Use of the word  value  as a noun is recorded in the Compact Oxford English Dictionary  (1991) as early as1303, to refer to the fairness and equivalence of theamount of a commodity in an exchange, and in 1398 tomeanastandardofestimation.Useof  value asaverbisregistered at a similar time, to describe the act of ap-praising the worth—in terms of its appropriateness forexchange—of a commodity. However, its meaningwas later expanded to incorporate more abstract ex-changes and standards. Thomas and Znanieki(1918/1958) focused on this latter meaning in their fa-mous  The Polish Peasant   work. Value as a verb.  The use of   value  as a verb im-pliesthatsomehigherlevelevaluationhastakenplace.Whenpeoplesaythattheyvalue(verb)athing,person,action,oractivity,theyareexpressingadeepermeaningassociated with that entity. So, they do not simply liketheentity;theyfeelthatitisgood(themeaningof  good  isdiscussed later) and relates to or somehow expressestheir underlying values (noun). The link between peo-ple’s liking for an entity and their value priorities hasbeen demonstrated empirically (see Feather, 1995; seealso Feather, 1982s).Little specific attention has been paid to the valuingprocess,butithasbeensuggested,forexample,thatpeo-ple chronically and effortlessly engage in ascertainingthe goodness or badness of the stimuli in their environ-ments (a “drive to evaluate,” Festinger, 1954; see alsoPratto,1994).NormanFeather’s(1996)commentshedslightonwhatmaybetakingplaceinthevaluingprocess:“Werelatepossibleactionsandoutcomeswithinpartic-ularsituationstoourvaluesystems,testingthemagainstourgeneralconceptionsaboutwhatwebelieveisdesir-ableorundesirableintermsofourownvaluepriorities”(p. 224). Perhaps as a result of the lack of theoretical(and empirical) attention to the valuing process itself,programs designed to change people’s value priorities(e.g., the value self-confrontation method; Rokeach,1973) have met with limited success, and long-termchanges are disappointingly rare (e.g., see Kristiansen& Hotte, 1996). Investigation of the valuing processmaybenefitfromworksuchasTetlock’s(1986)exami-nations of ideological reasoning and work on the pro-cessing of information (e.g., the heuristic–systematicmodel and the elaboration likelihood model; see Eagly& Chaiken, 1993). Value as a noun.  A dilemma that early valuestheorists and researchers faced was whether values(noun) should be investigated from the perspective of theentitybeingevaluated(e.g.,“Howmuchvaluedoestheentityhave?”)orfromtheperspectiveofthepersondoingthevaluing(e.g.,“Whatdoesthispersonvalue?”;see Feather, 1975, p. 3, for a discussion of this point).However, this issue essentially has been settled: Con-temporary values theorists investigate the values con-structfromtheperspectiveofthepersonwhoevaluatesthe entities in his or her environment, and they seek tomeasure people’s priorities on various values in an ef-fort to understand the underlying motivations of peo-ple’s responses to their environments (see Rohan &Zanna, in press).Anaidtopeople’sconstantevaluationofthestimuliintheirenvironments( value asaverb)wouldbeacogni-tive structure in which information about past evalua-tionscouldbecollected(seeBargh,Chaiken,Govender,& Pratto, 1992). This information, if organized, thencould serve as a kind of analogical principle to use inevaluatingandimbuingmeaningtonewlyencounteredobjects and events. Humans’ ability to use analogy toimbue meaning and coherence to their experiences ishighly developed. Indeed, some cognitive scientists(e.g.,Holyoak&Thagard,1995,1997;Thagard&Shel-ley,inpress)haveconsidereditsomuchapartofhumanexperiencethattheyhaveusedcomputersimulationstodemonstratetheeasewithwhichanalogiesareused.Be-causetheseanalogicalprinciplesarerelevantacrosssit-uations and time, they may be what are generallyreferred to as  values  (noun). The values construct de-scribed this way, then, seems not unlike  schemata  thatweredefinedbyBartlett(1932)asbeing“activeorgani-zations of past experience” (p. 201). 256 ROHAN  Schwartz and Bilsky (1987, 1990) found that fivefeatures of the values construct are recurrently men-tioned in the values literature: that the values con-struct concerns (a) beliefs, (b) desirable end states orbehaviors, (c) trans-situational guides, (d) selectionand evaluation of behavior and events, and (e) therelative ordering of beliefs, desirable end states or be-havior, or guides. These features are all consistentwith the suggestion that the value system is a stablemeaning-producing superordinate cognitive structure.Considering its analogical nature, the value systemmay provide the basic architecture of what has beenreferred to as the “narrative mode” of human under-standing that deals in “human or human-like intentionand action and the vicissitudes and consequences thatmark their course” (Bruner, 1986, p. 13; see alsoMcAdams, 1999). The value system also may pro-vide organization for what Hazel Markus (1977) andher colleagues (e.g., Fong &Markus, 1982) have in-vestigated as  self-schemata. It is a well-supported suggestion that value systemsarecognitivestructures,andoftenit isimpliedinvaluedefinitions (see Table 1 for a selection of definitions)and in explanations about the function of value sys-tems. For example, this suggestion is implied inAllport’s (1961) contention that value systems were“schemata of comprehensibility” (p. 544) and in C. K.M. Kluckhohn’s (1951) answer to the question “Whyaretherevalues?”:Becausewithoutvaluesystems“in-dividuals could not get what they want and need fromother individuals in personal and emotional terms, norcould they feel within themselves the requisite mea-sure of order and unified purpose” (p. 400). Othershave stated it more clearly. For example, Rokeach(1968) suggested that value priorities occupy centralpositionsincognitivenetworksofattitudesandbeliefs.Feather(1971,1980,1999)alsoclearlydescribedthecognitive structure status of value systems and de-scribed them as abstract structures or associative net-works. However, he highlighted an importantfeature—that the networks are linked to the affectivesystem. As a result, these abstract structures—“orga-nized summaries of experience”—provide “continuityand meaning under changing environmental circum-stances” (Feather, 1980, p. 249). Silvan Tomkins’s(e.g.,1979)scripttheoryseemsrelevant.Tomkinssug-gestedthatfromtheearliestweeksoflife,humansstore“scenes”containingatleastoneaffectandoneobjectof that affect (see Carlson, 1981). These scenes are col-lectedinto“scripts”sothatsensecanbemadeofthere-lations among various scenes.An assumption implicit in discussions of affectivelinkstovaluesystemsisthatpeoplewillbemotivatedtoengage in situations that are similar to other situationsthatresultedinpositiveaffect(oranabsenceofnegativeaffect),tobewithpeoplewhoenablepositiveaffect(orminimize negative affect), and to behave in ways thatwillproducepositiveaffect(orreducenegativeaffect).These motivations may then produce what Schwartzand Bilsky (1987, 1990) described as the  motivationalgoals  that underlie value priorities—people may havepreferencesforparticulartypesofemotion(andthereissomeindirectevidenceforthis;seeworkonself-regula-toryfocusbyHiggins,e.g.,1997).Forexample,accord-ingtoSchwartzandBilsky(e.g.,1987)thedefininggoalof self-direction values is independent thought and ac-tion; thinking and behaving in independent ways mayprovide feelings that can be described as positively 257 THE VALUES CONSTRUCT Table 1.  A Selection of Values Definitions TheoristDefinition Lewin (1952, p. 41) Values influence behavior but have not the character of a goal (i.e., of a force field). Forexample, the individual does not try to “reach” the value of fairness, but fairness is “guiding ”his behavior. It is probably correct to say that values determine which types of activity have apositive and which have a negative valence for an individual in a given situation. In otherwords, values are not force fields but they “induce ” force fields. That means values areconstructs that have the same psychological dimension as  power fields. C. K. M. Kluckhohn (1951, p. 395) A value is a conception, explicit or implicit, distinctive of an individual or characteristic of agroup, of the desirable that influences the selection from available modes, means, and ends of actions.Heider (1958, p. 223) We shall use the term value as meaning the property of an entity (  x  has values) or as meaning aclass of entities (  x  is a value) with the connotation of being objectively positive in some way.Rokeach (1973, p. 5) A  value  is an enduring belief that a specific mode of conduct or end-state of existence ispersonally or socially preferable to an opposite or converse mode of conduct or end-state of existence.Feather (1996, p. 222) I regard values as beliefs about desirable or undesirable ways of behaving or about thedesirability or otherwise of general goals.Schwartz (1994, p. 21) I define  values  as desirable transsituational goals, varying in importance, that serve as guidingprinciples in the life of a person or other social entity.Schwartz (1999, p. 24) Idefinevaluesasconceptionsofthedesirablethatguidethewaysocialactors(e.g.,organizationalleaders, policy-makers, individual persons) select actions, evaluate people and events, andexplain their actions and evaluations.  valenced,higharousal(e.g.,excited,elated).Thedefin-inggoalofsecurityvaluesisstatedassafety,harmony,andstabilityofsociety,ofrelationships,andofself;be-havinginwaysthatenablesuchsafety,harmony,andse-curity may provide a feeling that can be described aspositively valenced, low arousal (e.g., calm, relaxed;seeFeldmanBarrett&Russell,1998,foranaffectstruc-ture model in which the distinction between high andlow arousal is described).Feather’s (e.g., 1999) suggestion that some valuetypes may be relatively undifferentiated with a limitednetworkofassociations,whereasothershaveahighde-greeofdifferentiationwithacomplexnetworkofasso-ciations,mayprovidedirectionforfurtherresearchintothe development of values and value change. The im-portance of particular value types may be driven by re-peated confirmation of particular entity–outcomesequences. Repeated disconfirmation of such se-quencesmaystimulatemodification,andtheprovisionofexperiences(eitherdirectorvicarious)maybuildupthe entity–outcome sequences in less elaborated valuetypes. Values versus attitudes.  When the values con-structisviewedintermsofanabstractmeaning-produc-ingcognitivestructure,thedividebetweenvaluepriori-ties and evaluations of specific entities seems wideindeed. However, people not only use the words “Ivalue” in talking about their evaluations of specific ortangible entities, they also use them in describing theirevaluationsofabstracttrans-situationalguides.Forex-ample, people not only may say “I value that ring” butalsomaysay“Ivaluesecurity.”Theproblemisthatse-curitycanbelabeledasa value, butitseemsinappropri-atetolabelaperson’sattachmenttoaringasa value. Theterm  attitude  may provide a temporary solution to theproblem of the abstractness or specificity of people’s judgments. Allport (e.g., 1935), as well as others (e.g.,see Eagly & Chaiken, 1993), used the word  attitude  todescribe specific judgments as well as abstract judg-ments that could be labeled as values. However, atti-tudes that have some kind of value-related implicationare often discussed in terms of having an “ego defen-sive”function(e.g.,Katz,1960;Ostrom&Brock,1968,1969; Sherif & Cantril, 1947; M.B. Smith, Bruner, &White,1956;seealsoJohnson&Eagly,1990).WorkbyDavid Sears and his colleagues on  symbolic racism (e.g., Sears & Kinder, 1985) and work by Mark Zannaand his colleagues (e.g., Esses, Haddock, & Zanna,1993;Zanna,Haddock,&Esses,1990;seealsoBiernat,Vescio,Theno,&Crandall,1996)inwhichtheviolationofsymbolicbeliefswasfoundtobeanimportantfactorin prejudiced attitudes can be viewed as another per-spective on the value-related implications of attitudes.Although the term  attitude  has remained popular(e.g., see the much-quoted passage in Allport, 1935, p.798), empirical focus on the values construct hasbecome somewhat obscured. To allow the values con-struct a chance to come back into the limelight, I pro-pose that the term  attitude  is used only for evaluationsof specific entities. The term  values  then can be re-served for discussions of abstract trans-situationalguides.Already,thisseemstobetheconventionindis-cussions of what are labeled  value-expressive attitudes (e.g., see Maio & Olson, 2000a, 2000b). Summary.  Usedasaverb, value referstothepro-cessofascertainingthemeritofanentitywithreferenceto an abstract value system structure. Used as a noun, value  refers to the result of this process. These value judgmentsmaybeformedoramendedwhenpeopleen-counter new entities or existing judgments are chal-lenged.Ratherthanuse attitude torefertoevaluationsof either specific or more abstract entities, I propose that attitude  is reserved for describing evaluations of spe-cific entities. In view of the conceptualization of thevalue system as an affectively charged cognitive struc-ture, more attention to affect value system links seemswarranted. Aspect 2: Values, Value Types, ValuePriorities, and Value Systems Not only is the word  values  used in reference topeople’s value priorities and the organization of thosevalue priorities, their value systems, it is also used todescribe judgments and categories of judgments. Forexample, broad-mindedness is a judgment that con-cerns acceptance of diversity, and self-direction refersto a category of judgments that concern independenceand free thinking.The ensuing confusion not only leads to misunder-standings and misinterpretations but also obscures animportantassumptionthathasbeencharacteristicofallvaluetheoriesandforwhichthereisnowempiricalsup-port:Althoughpeopledifferintermsoftheirvaluepri-orities, the structure of the human value system isuniversal (e.g., Schwartz, 1992, 1994, 1996). That is,people differ only in terms of the relative importancetheyplaceonasetofuniversallyimportantvaluetypes.The assumption that value system structure is uni-versal may be lost in phrases such as “people attachgreat importance to their values” (Maio & Olson,1998, p. 294) that are meant to describe people’s ten-dency to defend their value priorities. It also may belost in discussions of how children acquire values (i.e.,how children’s value priorities undergo change; seeGrusec & Kuczynski, 1997).A review of value theories is presented next to pro-vide an overview of past and contemporary focus onthe value system, value types, and value priorities. 258 ROHAN  Early value theories.  In general, early theoristsfocusedonindividualdifferencesintheorganizationof some universally relevant set of human features. Forexample, Alexander Shand (1896, 1914) proposed atheoryofcharacterinwhichdifferentconfigurationsinthe organization of sentiments (a concept somewhatconsistent with the values construct) resulted in differ-ences in people’s attitudinal and behavioral responsesto the world. Eduard Spranger (1928), a philosopherwhoalsofocusedonorganization,suggestedthatsixat-titudes (i.e., value types) were present in everyone indifferent proportions with one dominating. So, for ex-ample, Spranger suggested that for the self-affirmingrhetorician, political value priorities dominated,whereaseconomicvalueprioritiesdominatedtheprac-tical type.Spranger’s (1928) work inspired the first (1931)version of the Study of Values instrument (Allport,Vernon, & Lindzey, 1960). This instrument providedan indication of the relative priorities people placed onthe six value types by measuring the effect of people’svalue priorities on their answers to questions. TheStudy of Values instrument was one of the most popu-larmeasuresofhumanvalueprioritiesformanyyears.Also guided by the assumption that a value systemcontains a finite number of universally relevant valuetypes on which people place relative importance, Mor-ris (1956) presented people with 13 ways to live andaskedthemtorateeachofthedescriptiveparagraphstoshow how much they liked or disliked each of them(see Dempsey & Dukes, 1966, for a shortened, revisedversion). Morris (1956) found that five general valuetypes were contained inthe “ways to live” descriptions(see pp. 32–34): social restraint and self-control, en- joyment and progress in action, withdrawal andself-sufficiency, receptivity and sympathetic concern,and self-indulgence (or sensuous enjoyment). Eachway seems to describe the implications of a high prior-ity on one value for priorities on other values. For ex-ample, the following way can be viewed as adescription of the effects that a high priority on hedo-nistic values has for other value priorities: Lifeissomethingtobeenjoyed—sensuouslyenjoyed,enjoyed with relish and abandonment. The aim in lifeshouldnotbetocontrolthecourseoftheworldorsoci-etyorthelivesofothers,buttobeopenandreceptivetothingsandpersonas,andtodelightinthem.Lifeismorea festival than a workshop or a school for moral disci-pline.Toletoneselfgo,toletthingsandpersonsaffectoneself, is more important than to do—or to do good.Such enjoyment, however, requires that one beself-centeredenoughtobekeenlyawareofwhatishap-pening and free for new happenings. So one shouldavoid entanglements, should not be too dependent onparticularpeopleorthings,shouldnotbeself-sacrific-ing;oneshouldbealonealot,shouldhavetimeformed-itationandawarenessofoneself.Solitudeandsocialitytogether are both necessary in the good life. (Morris,1956,p.16) In measurement terms, Morris can be viewed as beingahead of his time—his approach has been labeled the  prototype approach  and it has been used, for example,in assessing attachment style (e.g., see Griffin &Bartholomew,1994),parentingstyle(Rohan&Zanna,1996),andself-esteem(Rohan,2000).Thelogicofthisapproachisthatpeopleingeneral(bothnovicesandex-perts) primarily understand the world by assessing di-verse configurations of characteristics and comparingthis assessment with a prototype (see Broughton,Boyes, & Mitchell, 1993; Cantor, Smith, French, &Mezzich, 1980; Mayer & Bower, 1986; Setterlund &Niedenthal, 1993). Rokeach’s (1973) value theory.  MiltonRokeach(1973)—who has been accorded the major credit forproviding an impetus for values research after behav-iorism’s heyday (see Mayton, Ball-Rokeach, & Loges,1994)—used a somewhat different approach to mea-surement. He named values, briefly explained theirmeaning, and asked people to arrange the value words“in order of importance to YOU, as guiding principlesinYOURlife”(e.g.,Rokeach,1973,p.27).Thereweretwotypesofvaluewordsinthelist:goals(terminalval-ues) and modes of conduct (instrumental values). Thelist of goals included such things as a “comfortable life(a prosperous life)” and “self-respect (self-esteem),”and the mode of conduct list included such things as“broad-minded(open-minded),”“forgiving(willingtopardon others),” and “helpful (working for the welfareofothers)”(seeRokeach,1973,pp.359–361).Respon-dents then arranged the list of value words in terms of therelativeimportancetheyplacedonthem.Theset of values named was created on the basis of intuition (seeRokeach,1973,p.30)andwasmeanttobeareasonablycomprehensive sample of possible human values.However, Braithwaite and Law (1985) identified fouromissionsinthislist:valuesrelatingto“physicaldevel-opment and well-being (e.g., physical fitness, goodhealth),” “individual rights (e.g., privacy, dignity),”“thriftiness(e.g.,carewithmoney,takingadvantageof opportunities),” and “carefreeness (acting on impulse,spontaneity).” Nevertheless, Rokeach’s (1973) list of valuewordswasproducedwiththeassumptionthat“allmen everywhere possess the same values to differentdegrees”(p.3).Incidentally,Schwartz(e.g.,1992)wasunable to find support for the usefulness of the termi-nal–instrumental distinction.Since its development, the Rokeach Value Survey(Rokeach, 1973) has been perhaps the most popularmethod of measuring value priorities. Unfortunately, 259 THE VALUES CONSTRUCT
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