Kluckhohn and Strodbeck

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Unit 4 General Psychological Issues in Cultural Perspective Subunit 4 Personality and Values Across Cultures 8-1-2002

Article 3

Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck's Values Orientation Theory
Michael D. Hills
University of Wikato, New Zealand, mhills@waikato.ac.nz

Recommended Citation Hills, M. D. (2002). Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck's Values Orientation Theory. Online Readings in Psychology and Culture, Unit 4. Retrieved from http://scholarworks.gvsu.edu/orpc/vol4/iss4/3 This Online Readings in Psychology and Culture Article is brought to you for free and open access (provided uses are educational in nature)by IACCP and ScholarWorks@GVSU. Copyright © 2002 International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology. All Rights Reserved. ISBN 978-0-9845627-0-1

Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck's Values Orientation Theory
Abstract
People's attitudes are based on the relatively few, stable values they hold. Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck's (1961) Values Orientation Theory proposes that all human societies must answer a limited number of universal problems, that the value-based solutions are limited in number and universally known, but that different cultures have different preferences among them. Suggested questions include humans' relations with time, nature and each other, as well as basic human motives and the nature of human nature. Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck suggested alternate answers to all five, developed culture-specific measures of each, and described the value orientation profiles of five SW USA cultural groups. Their theory has since been tested in many other cultures, and used to help negotiating ethnic groups understand one another, and to examine the inter-generational value changes caused by migration. Other theories of universal values (Rokeach, Hofstede, Schwartz) have produced value concepts sufficiently similar to suggest that a truly universal set of human values does exist and that cross-cultural psychologists are close to discovering what they are.

This article is available in Online Readings in Psychology and Culture: http://scholarworks.gvsu.edu/orpc/vol4/iss4/3

Hills: Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck's Values Orientation Theory

INTRODUCTION Cross-cultural psychology has two broad aims: to understand the differences between human beings who come from different cultural backgrounds, and to understand the similarities between all human beings. The similarities may be sought at all levels – from the physiological (our eyes are able to perceive colour) through the cognitive (we are also able to perceive perspective, or relative distance), to the personal (we can be both happy and sad, gentle or aggressive) to the social (we all relate to our parents and siblings), to the cultural (we all share cultural norms with others of the same cultural background). These cultural norms can take a variety of forms. They may be quite concrete and specific, like the type of clothing we find acceptable on a given occasion, or extremely complex and abstract, as are our religious beliefs. An important type of norm is the concept we have of ourselves in relation to other objects and people. These may range from our belief about the nature of human nature (Wrightsman, 1992), to the opinions we hold (our political opinions, for instance) to the attitudes we have toward a variety of concepts which we hold. Attitudes have long been studied by psychologists – especially social psychologists. For the first half of the twentieth century, it was believed that if we could measure them accurately, they would enable us to predict human behaviour. And predicting behaviour is what all psychology is about. However, as we became more psychometrically sophisticated, and able to measure attitudes accurately with instruments such as the Likert summated ratings scale, we learned that attitudes are much more complex than we had realised, and that they have to be measured very carefully, and a number of other factors such as context and strength taken into...
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