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Value basis of socio-political attitudes across 15 countries

On September 16, Professor Shalom Hillel Schwartz (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) took part in the “Culture matters” seminar. Prof. Schwartz is a research director at ISEL-SCR and the author of one of the most widely accepted theories of human values (Schwartz 1992, 1994).

Shalom H. Schwartz presented his study on the influence of values on socio-political attitudes in 15 countries. According to a point of view popular among sociologists, there is very little coherence among political attitudes in general population, and only the political elite has systematic political attitudes (Converse, 1964). This view is indirectly supported by the fact that no common predictors of political attitudes were discovered until now. In his study, Shalom H. Schwartz tested if personal values are an organizing principle behind political attitudes. 

The study was carried out in 15 countries, with an average sample of 567 people per country. The participants completed the Personal Values Questionnaire and a questionnaire assessing political attitudes, such as attitudes towards traditional morality, blind patriotism, law, entrepreneurship, civil liberties, military interventions, and immigration. The data showed a relationship between personal values and all of the above attitudes. Value scores explained from 6 to 38 percent of variance for various political attitudes in comparison to 1 – 10% of variance explained by sociodemographic factors such as age, gender, level of education and income.

Convers’ hypothesis was not supported – political attitudes were consistent with the values for most people, not only for the intellectual minority. However, the association between values and political attitudes was more robust among participants with higher level of education (12 – 34% of explained variance for participants with university degrees as compare to 8 – 28% for participants with high school diplomas).