Development of Human Values

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Developing a Meta-Inventory of Human Values
An-Shou Cheng
College of Information Studies,
University of Maryland, USA
ascheng@umd.edu
ABSTRACT

Human values are increasingly being used as a concept in a
wide range of fields including psychology, sociology,
anthropology, science and technology studies, and
information science. However, the use of this concept
varies widely in these different fields, and several different instruments have been developed separately to measure
values. This paper reviews research to date on values in all of these fields to develop a definition of values, and then
reviews 12 value inventories to create a meta-inventory.
Keywords

Human values, value inventories, meta-analysis.
INTRODUCTION

Kenneth R. Fleischmann
College of Information Studies,
University of Maryland, USA
kfleisch@umd.edu
when conducting content analysis, a priori, content-specific or a posteriori, a content-sensitive value inventory is needed for performing such categorization work.
The literature to date includes several value inventories.
They were either designed for investigating general
individual values or focused on a specific object at issue
such as work values in a business context. Existing value
inventories, however, are designed for survey research.
Only few of them have been applied to content analysis. By
reviewing 12 value inventories that account for different
levels of analysis derived from various domains, our goal
for this paper is to develop a meta-inventory of human
values that can be tailored to serve researchers’ needs when conducting surveys or content analysis.

Historically, human values have been important factors for
social scientists exploring various social, psychological,
economic, and political phenomena (Hitlin, 2003). Since
they develop and evolve in a social context, values can be
considered as a link between self and society (Rokeach,
1973), and therefore, values are a unique psychological
construct that are prominent antecedents to decision-making
and behavior at the individual and societal levels of analysis.

For the following sections, we begin with the definition of
values and the importance of value research. We then
discuss value classifications and review 12 existing value
inventories. Based on our meta-analysis of these 12 value
inventories, we develop a meta-inventory of human values.
We conclude by discussing the implications of the metainventory and directions for future research.

Values can be assessed through various means. One of the
popular approaches for measuring values is to survey
individuals regarding how they would rank or rate the
relative importance of items in a given list of values. In this sense, efforts toward categorizing values into particular
types are important for researchers as they embed value
inventories into empirical tests that serve research needs.
Content analysis is also an effective approach for studying
human values. It provides an unobtrusive analysis of
recorded communication such as speeches and testimonies
that coders might detect values an individual was
consciously or subconsciously expressed in textual
materials while might not want to express in a survey
(Fleischmann, Oard, Cheng, Wang, & Ishita, 2009). As
textual data are sorted into a coding scheme by researchers

WHAT ARE VALUES

ASIST 2010, October 22–27, 2010, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.
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In social science research, “the term ‘values’ has been used variously to refer to interests, pleasures, likes, preferences, duties, moral obligations, desires, wants, goals, needs,
aversions and attractions, and many other kinds of selective orientations” (Williams, 1979, p. 16). However, the
abstraction and lack of sophisticated empirical support have caused values to be understudied in social science research
(Spates, 1983).
Rokeach (1973) noted the confusion of terminology, that
values were...
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