The Structure of Value Relations

In addition to identifying ten motivationally distinct basic values, the Value Theory elucidates a structural feature of values, namely, the dynamic relations among them. Actions in pursuit of any value have psychological, practical, and social consequences that may conflict or may be congruent with the pursuit of other values. For example, the pursuit of achievement values may conflict with the pursuit of benevolence values - seeking success for self is likely to obstruct actions aimed at enhancing the welfare of others who need one's help. However, the pursuit of achievement values may be compatible with the pursuit of power values - seeking personal success for oneself is likely to strengthen and to be strengthened by actions aimed at enhancing one's own social position and authority over others. Another example: the pursuit of novelty and change (stimulation values) is likely to undermine preservation of time-honoured customs (tradition values). In contrast, the pursuit of tradition values is congruent with the pursuit of conformity values; both motivate actions of submission to external expectations.

The circle in Figure 1.1 portrays the total pattern of relations of conflict and congruity among values postulated by the theory. The circular arrangement of the values represents a motivational continuum. The closer any two values are in either direction around the circle, the more similar their underlying motivations. The more distant any two values, the more antagonistic their underlying motivations.

Figure 1.1. Theoretical model of relations among ten motivational types of values.

The conflicts and congruities among all ten basic values yield an integrated structure of values. This structure can be summarized with two orthogonal dimensions. Self-enhancement vs. self-transcendence: On this dimension, power and achievement values oppose universalism and benevolence values. Both of the former emphasize pursuit of self-interests, whereas both of the latter involve concern for the welfare and interests of others. Openness to change vs. conservation: On this dimension, self-direction and stimulation values oppose security, conformity and tradition values. Both of the former emphasize independent action, thought and feeling and readiness for new experience, whereas all of the latter emphasize self-restriction, order and resistance to change. Hedonism shares elements of both openness and self-enhancement.

Evidence for this theoretical structure has been found in samples from 67 nations [Fon96] [Sch92] [Sch94] [Sch05b] [Sag95]. It points to the broad underlying motivations that may constitute a universal principle that organizes value systems. People may differ considerably in the importance they attribute to each of the ten basic values, but their values are apparently organized by the same structure of motivational oppositions and compatibilities. This integrated motivational structure of relations among values makes it possible to study how whole systems of values, rather than single values, relate to other variables.