Given the scale and importance of the issues we face, many of us have believed that the ends justify the means. Changing behaviours (or policies) is sometimes seen as key, whatever motivations or methods are harnessed to achieve this goal. The values research, however, suggests that continually compromising on the means risks ultimately placing the desired ends out of reach – by strengthening values that set back efforts towards more systemic change.
Behavioural and policy changes remain important, of course, and we will sometimes need to appeal to extrinsic values to bring them about. An understanding of values simply allows us to place these changes in a broader context – carefully considering the trade-offs we will inevitably face.