We surveyed over a thousand people across Greater Manchester, using a widely used and tested values survey.
Across Greater Manchester, 85% of people attach greater importance to ‘compassionate’ values – such as social justice, environmental protection, forgiveness and honesty – than they do to ‘selfish’ values, such as wealth and social status.
This result is unlikely to have arisen as a consequence of people giving biased reports on their own values (something for we have been able to test). This perhaps reflects Greater Manchester’s long history as a region that celebrates these values.
There are countless opportunities to express ‘compassionate’ values by helping one of the many organisations across Greater Manchester that work to help address social or environmental problems. We’ve compiled a list of a few such opportunities here.
People who hold ‘compassionate’ values to be more important are more likely to be civically engaged (they are more likely to feel responsible for their community or to feel that it is important to volunteer, for example) and they are more likely to express concern about social and environmental issues in Greater Manchester, such as income inequalities, lack of affordable housing, poverty or climate change. They are more likely to have voted, volunteered or supported a charity in the last three years. People who hold ‘compassionate’ values to be more important are also more likely to be supportive of devolution: they are more likely to agree that it’s a good thing for Greater Manchester to have a mayor, and that local areas should be given more decision-making powers on issues such as tax, education and policing.
The opposite results are found among people for whom ‘selfish’ values are more important. These people are less likely to be civically engaged, less likely to express concern about social or environmental issues, and less likely to be supportive of devolution. They are also likely to report lower levels of ‘life satisfaction’.
But the people of Greater Manchester underestimate one another! 75% of people think that a typical fellow citizen of Greater Manchester holds compassionate values to be less important than he/she does himself/herself; and 65% of people think that a typical fellow citizen of Greater Manchester holds selfish values to be more important than he/she does himself/herself.
It seems that this ‘perception gap’ – people’s incorrect perceptions of what matters to other people living across Greater Manchester – may be very important. Irrespective of their own values, people who perceive their fellow citizens in Greater Manchester as attaching lower importance to ‘compassionate’ values are less likely to be civically engaged, less likely to express social or environmental concern, less likely to be supportive of devolution, and are likely to report lower life satisfaction.
Pretty much the opposite is true of people who perceive their fellow citizens in Greater Manchester as attaching higher importance to ‘selfish’ values. Again, irrespective of their own values, these people are likely to be less civically engaged, less supportive of devolution, and to report lower life satisfaction.
These results hold across all boroughs of Greater Manchester, with few significant demographic differences. Young people, in the age-range 18-24 are significantly more likely to attach importance to ‘selfish’ values, and women are significantly more likely to attach importance to ‘compassionate’ values.
Help us close the perception gap. Tell your friends, families, colleagues and neighbours about the findings of this survey. Perhaps you can begin to talk with other people in the expectation that they hold ‘compassionate’ values to be the most important? In the large majority of cases, this expectation will be justified, and you will help to testify to the importance that you place on ‘compassionate’ values, closing the ‘perception gap’.
Does this sound like a familiar story? Download our infographic pack and use them on your social media channels, on your blog and website.
The online survey was conducted for Common Cause Foundation by Opinium. Data analysis was conducted by Dr. Paul Hanel (Department of Psychology, University of Bath) and Dr Lukas Wolf (School of Psychology, Cardiff University). Infographics were produced by Creative Concern. This project was supported by a grant from the Big Lottery Fund. Participants’ values were assessed using the widely-used ‘Portrait Values Questionnaire’ (Schwartz et al., 2001).
Greater Manchester Values Survey