Chapter 2: Values as dependent variables

People’s life circumstances provide opportunities to pursue or express some values more easily than others: For example, wealthy persons can pursue power values more easily, and people who work in the liberal professions can express self-direction values more easily. Life circumstances also impose constraints against pursuing or expressing values. For instance, having dependent children constrains parents to limit their pursuit of stimulation values by avoiding risky activities. And people with strongly ethnocentric peers find it hard to express universalism values. In other words, life circumstances make the pursuit or expression of different values more or less rewarding or costly. For example, a woman who lives in a society where common gender stereotypes prevail is likely to be rewarded for pursuing benevolence values and sanctioned for pursuing power.

This chapter investigates how background variables influence value priorities. In other words, we treat values as dependent variables. The first section of the chapter discusses how the whole set of ten values relates with other variables. Then we investigate how age influences value priorities. In the exercises you will study how gender and education influence people’s values.

Although we treat values as dependent variables in this chapter, it is important to note that values do not merely depend on our life circumstances. Our value-based choices also influence many of our life circumstances. We return to the reciprocal influence of values and life circumstances on one another at the end of this chapter.