4. How values change

Each of us holds and is influenced by all of the values listed above, but we differ in how strongly we hold each of them. This in turn is related to how our values have been shaped throughout our lives.

Over time, repeated engagement of values is likely to strengthen them.1 Our lives therefore provide continual opportunities for – and constraints on – the pursuit and growth of certain values. In addition, experiences themselves are not value-free. A classroom in which the setting is open and accepting of different viewpoints, students are treated as equals, and independence is encouraged may reinforce intrinsic values. In contrast, one which prioritises unquestioning respect for the teacher’s authority and is heavy on penalties is likely to engage security, tradition and conformity values. Taking an American law degree appears to cultivate extrinsic values and diminish wellbeing in students during their course of study;2 and certain types of religious schooling have been shown to cultivate tradition and security values.3

Our experience of various aspects of our society will help strengthen particular values. Community centres and churches, trade unions, libraries, local sports clubs – institutions that we share and recognise as promoting the common good – may increase the importance we place on equality, social justice, or friendship. Forests and parks may promote appreciation for nature and other intrinsic values. Extrinsic and security motivations may be strengthened through competitive work environments; advertising appealing to status; the focus of the media on perceived enemies and national security; and the portrayal of financial success as ‘achievement’ – reflected in rich lists, GDP as the primary indicator of a nation’s success, celebrity and fashion culture.

Our experience of particular institutions and policies (themselves shaped in part by societal values) can change or reinforce our perceptions of ‘what is possible, desirable and normal’:4 a process known as ‘policy feedback’.5 Anti-discrimination laws, the right to roam, free museums and state pensions may provide opportunities or constraints that promote intrinsic values. Exposure to the institutions of consumer culture may also represent a form of ‘policy feedback’. A great deal of commercial advertising and marketing appears to impact upon societal values by promoting materialism and stimulating the desire for security, conformity or self-enhancement.6 Communications, policies and institutions that embody particular values are likely to have the effect of cultivating those values (and discouraging opposing values) and associated behaviours over time. By playing on people’s concern for status and wealth, therefore, we may encourage less environmentally-conscious behaviour and lower concern about other people.

Factors that we think are likely (and some that have been shown) to influence people’s values.7

How values have shifted in the past

Large-scale, widespread changes in values have been observed across the world at different times, and attributed to different factors. In the Czech Republic, the transitional period since communism has seen marked shifts in values – from self-interest and conservation values (encouraged by low levels of social trust and a higher priority placed on conformity) to a much higher significance being placed on intrinsic, universalism and self-direction values.8 The shift has been attributed to several factors: more young people going to university; the rising use of new technologies, and political discourse that espouses universalism and benevolence values, including ‘social justice, equality, peace, environmentalism, honesty, and forgiveness’.9

One of the clearest examples of the ‘policy feedback’ effect in action was the changing attitudes of East Germans towards collective provision of healthcare, welfare and redistribution of wealth in the wake of the reunification of Germany – while those of West Germans remained the same.10 In a similar way, it has been suggested that Britons’ values shifted as a result of the equalising effects of the Second World War – rationing, conscription, the abolition of first class carriages on trains, evacuation, sharing bomb shelters – as well as the subsequent faith in the state’s role in the provision of services  and a shared ambition to re-build the post-war world.11

Other striking shifts in attitudes strongly suggestive of value-change have been noted after particular events. Three years after the introduction of television in Fiji, for example, and during a period of rapid social change, adolescent girls showed a heightened preoccupation with body-image and social competition – attributes directly associated with extrinsic values – and there were dramatic increases in eating disorders.12 Increases in security values, and decreases in stimulation values, were also documented in children and adults after terrorist attacks, including the Oklahoma bombing, the 9/11 attacks and the London bombings of 2005.13

Inevitably, whether they seek it or not, groups can also influence societal values: not only media, but businesses, or political and social movements. Alongside other clear economic and social factors; anti-slavery, women’s and labour movements played a significant role in embedding values such as equality and social justice in policy, law and wider society.14 One study showed that between 1968 and 1971, equality increased in importance from seventh- to third-ranked value among US citizens, and suggests the civil rights movement played an instrumental role in this change.15 There are also indications that both feminist and Islamist women’s groups in Turkey, despite facing continued political, social and religious constraints, have had significant effects on political values and discourse. Their continued promotion of more equal conditions for women, campaigns against domestic violence and struggle for the protection and empowerment of all citizens have had major impacts on laws and attitudes.16

It is not difficult to see why all this is likely to be important for our work on the issues we care about. Values influence institutions and norms, and vice versa. Therefore, the values we appeal to; outlets we provide for the expression of different values; and policies we help bring into being will reinforce certain kinds of values, with important effects on people’s attitudes and behaviours.

  1. [1] Hüther, G. (2006). Neurobiological approaches to a better understanding of human nature and human values. The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa, 2 (2), 331–343; Banerjee, R. and Dittmar, H. (2008). Individual differences in children’s materialism: the role of peer relations. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 31 (1), 17–31; Flouri, E. (1999). An integrated model of consumer materialism: can economic socialisation and maternal values predict materialistic attitudes in adolescents? Journal of Socio-Economics, 28 (6), 707–724; Goldberg, M.E., Gorn, G.J., Peracchio, L.A. and Bamossy, G. (2003). Understanding materialism among youth. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 13 (3), 278-288; Sheldon, K.M. and McGregor, H. (2000). Extrinsic value orientation and the tragedy of the commons. Journal of Personality, 68 (2), 383-411.
  2. [2] Sheldon, K.M. and Krieger, L.S. (2004). Does legal education have undermining effects on law students? Evaluating changes, motivation, values and well-being. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 22 (2), 261-286.
  3. [3] Angelucci, L., Da Silva, J., Juarez, J. (2009). Values and socio-demographic factors in university students: a comparative study. Acta Colombiana de Psicología,12 (1), 151-162.
  4. [4] Soss, J. and Schram, S.F. (2007). A public transformed? Welfare reform as policy feedback. American Political Science Review, 101 (1), 111-127.
  5. [5] Soss, J. and Schram, S.F. (2007). A public transformed? Welfare reform as policy feedback. American Political Science Review, 101 (1), 111-127; Brewer, J. and Lakoff, G. Why voters aren’t motivated by a laundry list of positions on issues. Cognitive Policy Works, 2008a. Available at http://www.cognitivepolicyworks.com/what-wedo/cognitive-policy/why-voters-arent-motivated-by-a-laundry-list-of-positionson-issues/; Brewer, J. and Lakoff, G. Comparing climate proposals: a case study in cognitive policy. Cognitive Policy Works, 2008b. Available at http://www.cognitivepolicyworks.com/what-we-do/cognitive-policy/comparing-climate-proposals-a-case-study-in-cognitive-policy
  6. [6] Schwartz, S.H. (2007). Cultural and Individual Value Correlates of Capitalism: A Comparative Analysis. Psychological Inquiry, 18(1), 52-57; Kasser, T.; Cohn, S.; Kanner, A.D. and Ryan, R.M. (2007). Some Costs of American Corporate Capitalism: A Psychological Exploration of Value and Goal Conflicts. Psychological Inquiry, 18(1):1-22.
  7. [7] Taken from responses in workshops and research; for example: Bardi, A.; Calogero, R.M. and Mullen, B. (2008). A New Archival Approach to the Study of Values and Value–Behavior Relations: Validation of the Value Lexicon. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93 (3), 483-497; Konty, M.; Duell, B. and Joireman, J. (2006). Scared selfish: a culture of fear’s values in the age of terrorism. The American Sociologist, 35 (2), 93-109; Hüther, G. (2006). Neurobiological approaches to a better understanding of human nature and human values. The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa, 2 (2), 331–343; Banerjee, R. and Dittmar, H. (2008). Individual differences in children’s materialism: the role of peer relations. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 31 (1), 17–31; Flouri, E. (1999). An integrated model of consumer materialism: can economic socialisation and maternal values predict materialistic attitudes in adolescents? Journal of Socio-Economics, 28 (6), 707–724; Goldberg, M.E., Gorn, G.J., Peracchio, L.A. and Bamossy, G. (2003). Understanding materialism among youth. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 13 (3), 278-288; Sheldon, K.M. and McGregor, H. (2000). Extrinsic value orientation and the tragedy of the commons. Journal of Personality, 68 (2), 383-411; Sheldon, K.M. and Krieger, L.S. (2004). Does legal education have undermining effects on law students? Evaluating changes, motivation, values and well-being. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 22 (2), 261-286; L., Da Silva, J., Juarez, J. (2009). Values and socio-demographic factors in university students: a comparative study. Acta Colombiana de Psicología,12 (1), 151-162; Soss, J. and Schram, S.F. (2007). A public transformed? Welfare reform as policy feedback. American Political Science Review, 101 (1), 111-127; Brewer, J. and Lakoff, G. Why voters aren’t motivated by a laundry list of positions on issues. Cognitive Policy Works, 2008a. Available at http://www.cognitivepolicyworks.com/what-wedo/cognitive-policy/why-voters-arent-motivated-by-a-laundry-list-of-positions-on-issues; Brewer, J. and Lakoff, G. Comparing climate proposals: a case study in cognitive policy. Cognitive Policy Works, 2008b. Available at http://www.cognitivepolicyworks.com/what-we-do/cognitive-policy/comparing-climate-proposals-a-case-study-in-cognitive-policy; Schwartz, S.H. (2007). Cultural and Individual Value Correlates of Capitalism: A Comparative Analysis. Psychological Inquiry, 18(1), 52-5; Kasser, T.; Cohn, S.; Kanner, A.D. and Ryan, R.M. (2007). Some Costs of American Corporate Capitalism: A Psychological Exploration of Value and Goal Conflicts. Psychological Inquiry, 18(1):1-22; Wade, M.D., Liu, L.A. and Vacek, J. (2011). Values and Upward Influence Strategies in Transition: Evidence From the Czech Republic. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 42 (2), 288–306.
  8. [8] Wade, M.D., Liu, L.A. and Vacek, J. (2011). Values and Upward Influence Strategies in Transition: Evidence From the Czech Republic. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 42 (2), 288–306.
  9. [9] Wade, M.D., Liu, L.A. and Vacek, J. (2011). Values and Upward Influence Strategies in Transition: Evidence From the Czech Republic. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 42 (2), 288–306.
  10. [10] Svallfors, S. (2010). Policy feedback, generational replacement, and attitudes to state intervention: Eastern and Western Germany, 1990–2006. European Political Science Review, 2 (1), 119–135.
  11. [11] Addison, P. (1975). The Road to 1945. London: Cape.
  12. [12] Becker, A. E. (2004, December). Television, disordered eating, and young women in Fiji: Negotiating body image and identity during rapid social change. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, 28 (4), 533–559.
  13. [13] Verkasalo, M., Goodwin, R., and Bezmenova, I. (2006). Value change following a major terrorist incident: Finnish adolescent and student values before and after 11th September 2001. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 36 (1), 144–160; Frink, D. D., Rose, G. M., and Canty, A. L. (2004). The effects of values on worries associated with acute disaster: A naturally occurring quasi-experiment. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 34 (1), 85–107; Goodwin, R. and Gaines, S. (2009). Terrorism perception and its consequences following the 7th July 2005 London bombings. Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression, 1 (1), 50–65.
  14. [14] Deneulin, S. (2009). http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fopus.bath.ac.uk%2F15945%2F&sa=D&sntz=1&usg=AFQjCNFybZcx-9oKhO9AWriywmqAkV_hcQ WeD Working Paper 09/49. Bath, UK: University of Bath/Wellbeing in Developing Countries Research Group.
  15. [15] Rokeach, M. (1979). Change And Stability In American Value Systems 1968–1971. In M. Rokeach, ed. Understanding Human Values: Individual and Societal. New York: The Free Press/ Simon and Schuster, pp. 129–147.
  16. [16] Arat, Y. (1998). Feminists, Islamists, and Political Change in Turkey. Political Psychology, 19 (1),117–131.

Next: 5. Frames

  • zulfiqar

    A store selling clothing and shoes has monthly revenue
    of $100,000 from clothing and $50,000 from shoes. Own price elasticity of
    demand for clothes is -2 and cross price elasticity of demand between clothes
    and shoes is -0.5. if the store increases the price of clothes by 5%, what will
    be the change in revenue? can any body make answer?