Rokeach's Theory of Human Values: A Comprehensive and Systematic Approach
Rokeach: The Nature of Human Values
Human values are one of the most fundamental aspects of human nature. They shape our beliefs, attitudes, preferences, and actions. They influence our culture, society, and personality. But what are human values exactly? How can we measure them? And how do they affect our lives?
rokeach the nature of human values pdf
In this article, we will explore these questions by reviewing one of the most influential books on human values: The Nature of Human Values by Milton Rokeach. We will summarize the main argument of the book, describe the Rokeach Value Survey that it introduces, and discuss its implications for various fields of study and practice.
What are human values?
According to Rokeach, human values are "enduring beliefs that a specific mode of conduct or end-state of existence is personally or socially preferable to an opposite or converse mode of conduct or end-state of existence" (Rokeach, 1973, p. 5). In other words, values are what we consider important, desirable, and worthwhile in life.
Values are not objective facts or truths. They are subjective judgments that vary from person to person and from culture to culture. They are not fixed or static. They can change over time and in response to different situations. They are not innate or inherited. They are learned and acquired through socialization and experience.
Who is Milton Rokeach?
Milton Rokeach was an American social psychologist who was born in Poland in 1918 and immigrated to the United States in 1929. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1947 and taught at Michigan State University, Washington State University, and Tel Aviv University. He died in 1988.
Rokeach was interested in studying the role of values in human behavior and social change. He conducted many experiments on topics such as prejudice, conformity, persuasion, attitude change, and cognitive dissonance. He also developed several scales and surveys to measure various psychological constructs, such as dogmatism, authoritarianism, openness to experience, and self-concept.
His most famous work is The Nature of Human Values, which was published in 1973. It is based on his extensive research on human values that spanned more than two decades. It is considered a classic in the field of social psychology and a landmark contribution to the study of human values.
What is the main argument of the book?
The main argument of the book is that human values are the core concept across all the social sciences. Rokeach claims that values are the main dependent variable in the study of culture, society, and personality, and the main independent variable in the study of social attitudes and behavior.
As a dependent variable, values reflect how people adapt to their environment and cope with their needs and conflicts. They are influenced by various factors, such as biological, psychological, social, cultural, historical, and situational. They also vary across individuals, groups, and societies.
As an independent variable, values affect how people perceive, evaluate, and act in the world. They guide their choices, preferences, goals, and motivations. They shape their beliefs, attitudes, opinions, and ideologies. They influence their communication, interaction, and cooperation with others.
Rokeach argues that by understanding human values, we can better understand human nature and behavior. He also proposes a method for measuring human values that he calls the Rokeach Value Survey.
The Rokeach Value Survey
What is the Rokeach Value Survey?
The Rokeach Value Survey (RVS) is a self-report questionnaire that assesses the relative importance of 36 values for a person. It consists of two lists of 18 values each: one for terminal values and one for instrumental values.
Terminal values are the desired end-states of existence that a person strives to achieve in life, such as happiness, freedom, peace, or salvation. Instrumental values are the preferred modes of conduct that a person uses to attain terminal values, such as honesty, courage, responsibility, or creativity.
The RVS asks the respondent to rank each list of values from 1 (most important) to 18 (least important) according to his or her own personal preference. The resulting rank order of values represents the person's value system or value profile.
How does it measure human values?
The RVS measures human values by comparing the relative importance of different values for a person. It does not measure the absolute importance or intensity of each value. It also does not measure the frequency or consistency of value expression or behavior.
The RVS assumes that values are organized hierarchically in a person's mind, such that some values are more important than others. It also assumes that values are bipolar, such that each value implies its opposite or converse value. For example, freedom implies conformity, equality implies inequality, and happiness implies unhappiness.
The RVS allows for cross-cultural and cross-sectional comparisons of value systems among different groups of people. It also allows for longitudinal and experimental studies of value change and stability over time and in response to different interventions.
What are the 18 terminal and 18 instrumental values?
The 18 terminal values are:
A comfortable life (a prosperous life)
An exciting life (a stimulating, active life)
A sense of accomplishment (lasting contribution)
A world at peace (free of war and conflict)
A world of beauty (beauty of nature and the arts)
Equality (brotherhood, equal opportunity for all)
Family security (taking care of loved ones)
Freedom (independence, free choice)
Inner harmony (freedom from inner conflict)
Mature love (sexual and spiritual intimacy)
National security (protection from attack)
Pleasure (an enjoyable, leisurely life)
Salvation (saved, eternal life)
Social recognition (respect, admiration)
True friendship (close companionship)
Wisdom (a mature understanding of life)
The 18 instrumental values are:
Ambitious (hard-working, aspiring)
Broad-minded (open-minded, tolerant)
Capable (competent, effective)
Cheerful (lighthearted, joyful)
Clean (neat, tidy)
Courageous (standing up for your beliefs)
Forgiving (willing to pardon others)
Helpful (working for the welfare of others)
Honest (sincere, truthful)
Imaginative (daring, creative)
Independent (self-reliant, self-sufficient)
Intellectual (intelligent, reflective)
Logical (consistent, rational)
Loving (affectionate, tender)
Obedient (dutiful, respectful)
Polite (courteous, well-mannered)
Responsible (dependable, reliable)
Self-controlled (restrained, self-disciplined)
What are some examples of value profiles?
Rokeach provides several examples of value profiles in his book, based on his research with different samples of respondents. He compares the value profiles of different groups, such as students, teachers, religious leaders, political activists, and prisoners. He also compares the value profiles of different cultures, such as Americans, Israelis, Japanese, and Russians.
Students tend to rank freedom, happiness, and self-respect as their top terminal values, and independent, intellectual, and imaginative as their top instrumental values.
Teachers tend to rank a world at peace, a sense of accomplishment, and wisdom as their top terminal values, and broad-minded, responsible, and capable as their top instrumental values.
Religious leaders tend to rank salvation, inner harmony, and mature love as their top terminal values, and loving, forgiving, and obedient as their top instrumental values.
Political activists tend to rank equality, social recognition, and a world at peace as their top terminal values, and courageous, ambitious, and helpful as their top instrumental values.
Prisoners tend to rank family security, freedom, and pleasure as their top terminal values, and honest, self-controlled, and polite as their top instrumental values.
Americans tend to rank freedom, self-respect, and a comfortable life as their top terminal values, and honest, responsible, and capable as their top instrumental values.
Israelis tend to rank national security, family security, and freedom as their top terminal values, and courageous, independent, and helpful as their top instrumental values.
Japanese tend to rank social recognition, a sense of accomplishment, and family security as their top terminal values, and polite, obedient, and responsible as their top instrumental values.
Russians tend to rank equality, a world at peace, and happiness as their top terminal values, and broad-minded, forgiving, and intellectual as their top instrumental values.
These examples illustrate how value profiles can reveal the similarities and differences among various groups of people. They also show how value profiles can reflect the historical and cultural contexts of different societies.
The Implications of the Book
How does the book contribute to the social sciences?
The book contributes to the social sciences by providing a comprehensive and systematic framework for studying human values. It offers a clear definition of what values are, a reliable method for measuring them, and a rich set of data for analyzing them.
The book also demonstrates how human values can be used to explain and predict various phenomena in the fields of sociology, anthropology, psychology, political science, and economics. For example, Rokeach shows how values can account for the formation and change of social groups, the development and expression of personality, the emergence and resolution of conflicts, the formation and change of attitudes and opinions, the motivation and performance of behavior, and the allocation and distribution of resources.
The book also suggests how human values can be used to influence and improve various aspects of human life. For example, Rokeach shows how values can be used to promote social harmony, personal growth, moral education, social justice, and human welfare.
How does the book relate to philosophy and religion?
The book relates to philosophy and religion by addressing some of the most fundamental questions that humans have asked throughout history: What is the meaning of life? What is the good life? What are the ultimate goals and purposes of human existence?
The book also explores some of the most influential sources and systems of human values: What are the origins and foundations of human values? How do they relate to reason and emotion? How do they relate to faith and revelation? How do they relate to ethics and morality?
The book also examines some of the most diverse perspectives and traditions of human values: How do they vary across time and space? How do they reflect different cultures and civilizations? How do they express different worldviews and ideologies?
How does the book inform social attitudes and behavior?
The book informs social attitudes and behavior by providing a deeper understanding of what motivates and guides human action. It reveals how people make decisions and choices based on their values. It also shows how people communicate and interact with others based on their values.
The book also provides a basis for evaluating and changing social attitudes and behavior. It helps people to identify and clarify their own values. It also helps people to compare and contrast their values with those of others. It also helps people to appreciate and respect the diversity of values among different groups of people.
The book also suggests ways of influencing and modifying social attitudes and behavior. It proposes strategies for creating and reinforcing desirable values. It also proposes strategies for reducing and resolving value conflicts. It also proposes strategies for fostering and facilitating value change.
Summary of the main points
In this article, we have reviewed one of the most influential books on human values: The Nature of Human Values by Milton Rokeach. We have summarized the main argument of the book, described the Rokeach Value Survey that it introduces, and discussed its implications for various fields of study and practice.
We have learned that human values are enduring beliefs that guide our preferences and actions in life. We have learned that human values can be measured by ranking 36 terminal and instrumental values according to their relative importance. We have learned that human values can reveal the similarities and differences among various groups of people and reflect the historical and cultural contexts of different societies.
We have also learned that human values are the core concept across all the social sciences. We have learned that human values can explain and predict various phenomena in the fields of sociology, anthropology, psychology, political science, and economics. We have also learned that human values can influence and improve various aspects of human life.
Evaluation of the book's strengths and weaknesses
The book has many strengths that make it a valuable and relevant source of knowledge and insight. Some of these strengths are:
It provides a clear and comprehensive definition of what human values are.
It offers a reliable and valid method for measuring human values.
It presents a rich and diverse set of data on human values from different samples and cultures.
It demonstrates how human values can be used to understand and influence various domains of human behavior and social change.
It addresses some of the most fundamental questions and issues that humans face in life.
The book also has some weaknesses that limit its scope and applicability. Some of these weaknesses are:
It assumes that human values are bipolar and hierarchical, which may not capture the complexity and dynamism of value systems.
It focuses on 36 values that may not represent all the possible values that humans can hold or express.
It relies on self-report data that may be subject to bias and distortion.
It does not account for the situational and contextual factors that may affect value expression and behavior.
It does not consider the ethical and moral implications of value judgments and actions.
Recommendations for further reading
If you are interested in learning more about human values, you may want to read some of the following books and articles:
Culture's Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions and Organizations Across Nations by Geert Hofstede (2001). This book presents a framework for comparing cultural differences based on six dimensions of national culture: power distance, individualism-collectivism, masculinity-femininity, uncertainty avoidance, long-term orientation, and indulgence-restraint.
The Theory of Basic Human Values by Shalom H. Schwartz (2012). This article proposes a theory of 10 basic human values that are derived from three universal requirements: biological needs, social coordination, and survival and welfare. The 10 values are: self-direction, stimulation, hedonism, achievement, power, security, conformity, tradition, benevolence, and universalism.
The World Values Survey by Ronald Inglehart et al. (2014). This is an ongoing global research project that measures people's values and beliefs across more than 100 countries. It covers topics such as democracy, religion, gender equality, environment, happiness, trust, tolerance, and solidarity.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the main purpose of the Rokeach Value Survey?
The main purpose of the Rokeach Value Survey is to assess the relative importance of 36 terminal and instrumental values for a person. It provides a way to measure and compare value systems among different groups of people.
What are some examples of terminal and instrumental values?
Some examples of terminal values are happiness, freedom, peace, and salvation. These are the desired end-states of existence that a person strives to achieve in life. Some examples of instrumental values are honesty, courage, responsibility, and creativity. These are the preferred modes of conduct that a person uses to attain terminal values.
How do human values vary across cultures and societies?
Human values vary across cultures and societies due to various factors, such as historical, geographical, economic, political, religious, and linguistic influences. Different cultures and societies may have different priorities, preferences, and expectations regarding what is important, desirable, and worthwhile in life.
How do human values affect social attitudes and behavior?
Human values affect social attitudes and behavior by guiding how people perceive, evaluate, and act in the world. Values shape people's beliefs, opinions, ideologies, and motivations. They also influence people's communication, interaction, and cooperation with others.
How can human values be changed or modified?
Human values can be changed or modified by various methods, such as education, persuasion, socialization, experience, or intervention. Values can change over time and in response to different situations. Values can also be influenced by external factors, such as media, peers, leaders, or events.
What are some of the benefits and challenges of studying human values?
Some of the benefits of studying human values are that they can help us to understand ourselves and others better. They can also help us to appreciate and respect the diversity of values among different groups of people. They can also help us to improve various aspects of human life. Some of the challenges of studying human values are that they are complex and dynamic. They are also subjective and relative. They are also influenced by many factors that may be difficult to measure or control.