"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete."

BUckminster Fuller

Systems Theorist


posted in Values

Values are the first step of logic we use to justify our feelings and subconscious motivators. Many scholars have looked to classify values, and look for social trends that we can use to create a better world.

When we understand values, and know our values, we make better decisions and have better relationships.

The Values, Rules, Knowledge framework shows us how values influence our decisions and actions.

Below is a summary of a number of values models that we have found with links for you to explore.

The Theory of Basic Human Values

Social psychologist Shalom H. Schwartz developed a list of human values that all cultures recognize. His list consists of 10 core values which can be grouped in 4 categories. According to the ViDA definition of values, these are categories of core values.

Openness to change

  • Self-Direction (Freedom of thought and action)
  • Stimulation (Excitement, novelty, and change)


  • Hedonism (Pleasure or sensuous gratification)
  • Achievement (Success according to social standards)
  • Power (Control over resources and people)


  • Security (Safety, stability and order)
  • Conformity (Adherence to informal and formal social expectations)
  • Tradition (Maintaining cultural, family, religious customs)


  • Benevolence (Promoting the welfare of your community)
  • Universalism (Appreciation and protection of all people and nature)

Notice how the values opposite to one another on this wheel are in natural conflict

Schwartz has collaborated with hundreds of researchers who have applied his theories and methods for measuring values in more than 80 countries. His research has been published internationally in journals of social psychology, cross-cultural psychology, developmental psychology, political psychology, sociology, education, law, and economics.

A simpler consolidation of Schwartz's grouping of values

He had a clear definition of values.

The Features of Values, defined by Schwartz

       1. Values are unmistakably linked to emotions and moods. When values are activated, people become infused with feeling. People who value freedom become aroused if their independence is threatened, act with despair when they are helpless to protect it, and are happy when they can enjoy it.

       2. Values direct us to desirable goals that motivate action. Values move us to take action. People who hold social order, justice, and helpfulness as important values are motivated to pursue goals that express these values.

       3. Values transcend specific actions and situations. The values of obedience and honesty, for example, are relevant in many different situations, and useful in the workplace or school, in business or politics, with friends or strangers. This distinguishes values from norms and attitudes that are only useful for specific actions or in certain situations.

       4. Values serve as standards or criteria. Values guide the selection or evaluation of actions, policies, people, and events. People decide what is good or bad, justified or illegitimate, worth doing or avoiding, based on possible consequences for their cherished values. But the impact of values in everyday decisions is rarely conscious. Values enter awareness when the actions or judgments one is considering have conflicting implications for different values one cherishes.

       5. Values are ordered by importance relative to one another. People’s values form an ordered system of priorities that characterize them as individuals. Do they give more importance to achievement or justice, to novelty or tradition? This hierarchical feature also separates values from norms and attitudes.

       6. The relative importance of multiple values guides action. Any attitude or behaviour will often impact more than one value. Competing values will guide attitudes and behaviours that allow for trade-offs. If you value self-discipline for achievement more than stimulation, you will sit down and work instead of going to the party. Values influence action when they are relevant and important to the actor.

Rokeach Value Survey

Another social psychologist, Milton Rokeach, developed a Value Survey to collect large amounts of data, and he published his findings in a number of books, including Understanding Human Values. created the Rokeach Value SurveyThis core values list consists of 36 values, split into two groups. The first group, Terminal Values, represent what people seek. The second group, Instrumental Values, represent the way people want to live.

Terminal Values

Terminal values are end-states that people like to have. According to the ViDA definition of values, these are means values or ideals that motivate us to live our core values. Speaking to these universal values can also help you connect with others more effectively.

  • True Friendship
  • Mature Love
  • Self-Respect
  • Happiness
  • Inner Harmony
  • Equality
  • Freedom
  • Pleasure
  • Social Recognition
  • Wisdom
  • Salvation
  • Family Security
  • National Security
  • A Sense of Accomplishment
  • A World of Beauty
  • A World at Peace
  • A Comfortable Life
  • An Exciting Life

Instrumental Values

Instrumental values are ways of behaving that people prioritize. According to the ViDA definition of values, these are categories of core values.

  • Cheerfulness
  • Ambition
  • Love
  • Cleanliness
  • Self-Control
  • Capability
  • Courage
  • Politeness
  • Honesty
  • Imagination
  • Independence
  • Intellect
  • Broad-Mindedness
  • Logic
  • Obedience
  • Helpfulness
  • Responsibility
  • Forgiveness

World Values Survey

The World Values Survey (WVS) is an international research program devoted to the scientific and academic study of social, political, economic, religious and cultural values of people in the world. At the moment, WVS is the largest non-commercial cross-national empirical time-series investigation of human beliefs and values ever executed.

The world values survey classifies different cultural values that are being expressed, then compares different national societies with each other.

Inglehart–Welzel Cultural Map

The following map was created by political scientists Ronald Inglehart and Christian Welzel to better understand how to direct social and economic development. You will see two dimensions of social values compared to one another:

  • Traditional values plotted against Secular-rational values on the Y-axis
  • Survival values plotted against Self-expression values on the X-axis

Traditional values

These emphasize the importance of religion, parent-child ties, deference to authority and traditional family values. People who embrace these values also reject divorce, abortion, euthanasia and suicide. These societies have high levels of national pride and a nationalistic outlook.

Secular-rational values

These values are defined by what they are not. Secular-rational values have preferences opposite to traditional values. These societies place less emphasis on religion, traditional family values and authority. Divorce, abortion, euthanasia and suicide are seen as relatively acceptable.

Survival values

These values place emphasis on economic and physical security. Survival values underpin an ethnocentric outlook and low levels of societal trust and tolerance.

Self-expression values

This group of values gives high priority to environmental protection, tolerance of foreigners, gay, lesbian and gender equality. This group demands more participation in decision-making in economic and political life.

16 Desires of Motivation

Starting from studies involving more than 6,000 people across the globe, Professor Steven Reiss proposed a theory that find 16 basic desires driving almost all human behaviour. These intrinsic desires directly motivate a person's behavior, and do not satisfy other desires indirectly.

The desires are:

  • Acceptance, the need for approval
  • Curiosity, the need to learn
  • Eating, the need for food
  • Family, the need to raise children
  • Honor, the need to be loyal to the traditional values of one's clan/ethnic group
  • Idealism, the need for social justice
  • Independence, the need for individuality
  • Order, the need for organized, stable, predictable environments
  • Physical activity, the need for exercise
  • Power, the need for influence of will
  • Romance, the need for sex
  • Saving, the need to collect
  • Social contact, the need for friends (peer relationships)
  • Status, the need for social standing/importance
  • Tranquility, the need to be safe
  • Vengeance, the need to strike back or win

Dr. Reiss has since passed on, but his motivational profiling tool is still being used around the world.