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Course by S. Schwartz “Using Basic Human Values to Understand Individual Behavior”

Shalom Schwartz, the scientific supervisor of the International Laboratory of Socio-Cultural Research, conducted a course "Using Basic Human Values ​​to Understand Individual Behavior" for Master students of the program "Applied Social Psychology" on 12-15th September.

The course began with a discussion about what the basic values of the individual are. According to Prof. Schwarz, basic values are “beliefs about the importance of abstract goals as guiding principles in life”. Values motivate the choice of behavior, justify past actions, help us to evaluate other people and events, direct our attention and perception, and serve as social indicators of fundamental societal change.

S. Schwarz started to develop the theory of basic values of the individual level in 1992. He identified 10 universal values: Power, Tradition, Conformity, Security, Universalism, Benevolence, Stimulation, Hedonism, Achievement, Self-Direction. These values represent different types of motivation and form a circle, consisting of 4 blocks: Openness to change (Self-Direction, Stimulation, Hedonism), Conservation (Conformity, Tradition, Security), Self-Transcendence (Universalism, Benevolence), and Self-Enhancement (Achievement, Power, Hedonism). Two questionnaires - SVS and PVQ-40 - were developed to measure values. Students were asked to fill out these surveys and compare the results.

The next lecture was devoted to the study of the relationship of values to behavior. S. Schwartz showed how the theoretical model of the structure of values was confirmed by using multidimensional scaling analysis of empirical data. According to Prof. Schwartz, the processes linking values to behavior are the following: value activation, motivation, cognition guided by values, planning of action. He demonstrated the examples of links between values and behavior: a vote for "left" in the 2001 elections in Italy was connected with the values of Universalism and Benevolence and for the "right" - with the values of Power, Security and Conformity; adopting technological innovations is associated with the values of Stimulation and Self-Direction; the choice of economic and business education is associated with the values of Power and Achievement, etc. Then students were trying to predict themselves what values are associated with certain types of behavior.

Open lecture on 14th September was devoted to the presentation of Schwartz’ revised theory of basic human values, being developed for the last two years. Participants filled in a new questionnaire of PVQ-R, designed to measure 19 values: Self-Direction Thought, Self-Direction Action, Stimulation, Hedonism, Achievement, Power Dominance, Power Resources, Face, Security Personal, Security Social, Tradition, Conformity Rules, Conformity Interpersonal, Humility, Benevolence Dependability, Benevolence Caring, Universalism Concern, Universalism Nature, Universalism Tolerance. These values are also arranged in a circular continuum, but added a new dimension: Personal Focus, Social Focus and above them - Self-Protection and Anxiety Avoidance and Growth on Anxiety-Free. S. Schwartz is planning to test a theory in Russia. He is going to examine relations of all 19 values to wide range of behaviors and compare values in terms of strength of their relations to behavior. He hypothesizes that specific behaviors are primarily motivated by one value.

At the last session of the course students were asked to complete another form - EBQ (Everyday Behavior Questionnaire), recently translated into Russian by research team of the laboratory. Half of the students completed questionnaires by themselves, the second half - on behalf of the person they know well. After filling the questionnaire it was necessary to give the feedback to professor, and identify those of the 19 values that underlie each statement about the behavior.

Professor Schwartz shared his research plans with students and wished them to enjoy and benefit from conducting their own research and also expressed a desire for further cooperation. In June he plans to conduct a course about his theory of values of the cultural level.

Trainee Researcher
Olga Pavlenko