When we think of our values, we think of what is important to us in our lives (e.g., security, independence, wisdom, success, kindness, pleasure). Each of us holds numerous values with varying degrees of importance. A particular value may be very important to one person, but unimportant to another. The main features of the conception of basic values are summarized in the following points:
• Values are beliefs. But they are beliefs tied inextricably to emotion, not objective, cold ideas.
• Values are a motivational construct. They refer to the desirable goals people strive to attain.
• Values transcend specific actions and situations. They are abstract goals. The abstract nature of values distinguishes them from concepts like norms and attitudes, which usually refer to specific actions, objects, or situations.
• Values guide the selection or evaluation of actions, policies, people, and events. That is, values serve as standards or criteria.
• Values are ordered by importance relative to one another. People’s values form an ordered system of value priorities that characterize them as individuals.
Each of the basic values can be characterized by describing its central motivational goal:
1. Self-Direction. Independent thought and action; choosing, creating, exploring.
2. Stimulation. Excitement, novelty, and challenge in life.
3. Hedonism. Pleasure and sensuous gratification for oneself.
4. Achievement. Personal success through demonstrating competence according to social standards.
5. Power. Social status and prestige, control or dominance over people and resources.
6. Security. Safety, harmony, and stability of society, of relationships, and of self.
7. Conformity. Restraint of actions, inclinations, and impulses likely to upset or harm others and violate social expectations or norms.
8. Tradition. Respect, commitment, and acceptance of the customs and ideas that traditional culture or religion provide the self.
9. Benevolence. Preserving and enhancing the welfare of those with whom one is in frequent personal contact