Cross-Cultural Evidence for the Theory of Basic Values
Studies have assessed the Schwartz Theory of Basic Values with representative national samples from 37 countries around the world. The samples in the studies include highly diverse geographic, cultural, linguistic, religious, age, gender, and occupational groups.
In these studies, the values on one side of the circular structure of human values oppose the values on the other side. The oppositions of the self-transcendence values to self-enhancement values and of the openness to change values to conservation values are virtually universally present.
Individuals differ substantially in the importance they attribute to personal values. Across societies, however, there is surprising consensus regarding the hierarchical order of the values. Across representative samples, even when using different survey instruments to collect the data, the importance ranks for the values are quite similar.
Why is there such a cross-cultural hierarchy of values? It probably derives from our common human nature and from adaptive functions of maintaining societies.
Being a part of a society discourages values that clash with the smooth functioning of significant groups or the larger society. Values that clash with human nature are unlikely to be important.