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Perceptions Matter: The Common Cause UK Values Survey

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PERCEPTIONS MATTER
The Common Cause UK Values Survey
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Designed by: Marcela Teran (marceptr@gmail.com) and Clear Honest Design (www.
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First published in 2016 by Common Cause Foundation, United Kingdom.
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ISBN: 978-0-9932556-1-8
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Back cover: Kedren Elliott
PERCEPTIONS MATTER
The Common Cause UK Values Survey
This research was a collaborative initiative between: Dr Tom Crompton, Common Cause
Foundation (project development, writing this report); Rebecca Sanderson, consultant
(overall project management and results analysis; Dr Mike Prentice, University of Salzburg,
Austria (statistical analysis of quantitative results); Dr Netta Weinstein, University of Cardi,
UK (collection of qualitative data and analysis); Oliver Smith, Common Cause Foundation
(project development); Professor Tim Kasser, Knox College, Illinois (study design and results
analysis).
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:
We would like to thank the following for their help and advice in the development of this
project: Jon Alexander; Paul Allen; Dr Keith Allott; Tom Baker; Leo Barasi; Mike Barry; Anne
Marte Bergseng; Dr Zareen Bharucha; Christian Bjørnæs; Richard Black; Elena Blackmore;
Tom Burke; Mark Chenery; Dr Ian Christie; Jon Cracknell; Tom Deacon; Bran Dearling; Lord
Deben, John Gummer; Alice Delemare; Deborah Doane; Natan Doron; John Fellowes; Julia
Forster; Eleanor Glenn; June Graham; Tim Hollo; Susan Jeynes; Guy Jowett; Osbert Lancaster;
Neal Lawson; Peter Lipman; Dax Lovegrove; Dr Caroline Lucas; George Marshall; Robin
McAlpine; Josh Moreton; Dr Ciaran Mundy; Ben Page; Kathy Peach; Jules Peck; Nick Perks;
Ro Randall; Michael Rogerson; Olivia Ryan; Andrew Simms; Dr Graham Smith; Ed Straw;
Christian Tonnensen; Dan Vockins; Halina Ward; Morag Watson; Shelagh Wright.
Common Cause Foundation is especially grateful to WWF-UK, without whose nancial
support this work would not have been possible.
This report should be cited as:
Common Cause Foundation (2016) Perceptions Matter: The Common Cause UK Values Survey,
London: Common Cause Foundation.
For further information, please email:
tcrompton@commoncausefoundation.org
PROJECT TEAM:
We are a not-for-prot organisation catalysing action on the values that underpin positive
social and environmental change. We act as thinkers, coaches, communicators, learners,
participants, convenors and doers.
WWF-UK provided initial funding to set up Common Cause Foundation as an independent
organisation in 2015. The Foundation emerged from a long-standing project to understand
values in order to inspire action on environmental and social causes. We have a proven track
record in providing tools and solutions to help engage values to inspire positive social and
environmental change.
www.commoncausefoundation.org
ABOUT COMMON CAUSE FOUNDATION
CONTENTS
SUMMARY | p. 1
1. INTRODUCTION: THE COMMON CAUSE PERSPECTIVE
1.1 Three interrelated challenges confronting UK citizens | p. 5
1.2 Values and how they work | p. 6
1.3 Why values matter | p. 7
1.3.1 Values and social and environmental concern | p. 8
1.3.2 Values and civic engagement | p .8
1.3.3 Values and cultural estrangement | p. 8
1.4 The ‘values nexus’ | p. 8
1.4.1 People’s own values | p. 8
1.4.2 People’s perceptions of others’ values | p. 9
1.4.3 The values encouraged by social institutions | p. 9
2. HOW WE CONDUCTED THIS RESEARCH
2.1 The survey | p. 13
2.2 Follow-up interviews | p. 13
2.3 Reporting the results | p. 14
2.4 Consultation | p. 14
3. UK CITIZENS’ OWN VALUES
3.1 What does a typical UK citizen value? | p. 17
3.2 UK citizens’ own values and civic engagement | p. 18
BOXES
Box 1 Technical note on values | p. 7
Box 2 Testing for biases | p. 13
Box 3 Adjusted compassionate value score | p. 15
4. CITIZENS’ PERCEPTIONS OF OTHERS’ VALUES
4.1 What do people think that a typical British person values? | p. 21
4.2 How do people feel about others’ values? | p. 22
4.3 UK citizens’ perceptions of others’ values and civic engagement | p. 22
4.4 UK citizens’ perceptions of others’ values and cultural estrangement | p. 25
4.5 Is it embarrassing to be compassionate? | p. 26
5. SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS
5.1 Participants’ own values and the values they believe to be encouraged by social
institutions | p. 28
5.2 What do people say about the values encouraged by institutions? | p. 29
5.3 Institutions and cultural estrangement | p. 30
6. WORKING WITH AN UNDERSTANDING OF VALUES
6.1 Promoting compassionate values through role models | p. 32
6.2 Conveying a more accurate perception of others’ values | p. 33
6.3 Challenging assumptions about the values that most people hold to be important
6.4 A nal note of encouragement | p. 35
APPENDIX: DEMOGRAPHICS
A.1. Dierences between men and women | p. 37
A.2. Variations with age | p. 37
A.3. Political persuasion | p. 38
A.4. Regional variations | p. 39
ENDNOTES
| p. 34
he far-reaching challenges currently
confronting UK society – from climate
change and biodiversity loss to inequality
and poverty – can seem insurmountable. Our
political and social systems seem incapable of
taking the leadership decisions necessary to
bring about transformational change.
While the reasons for this are myriad, we
believe that engaging our common values
is critical to help create an alternative, more
sustainable path.
Common Cause Foundation contacted a
thousand people across Britain and asked
them what they valued in life. We looked
at groups of compassionate values like
‘helpfulness’, ‘equality’ and ‘protection of
nature’ and selsh values such as ‘wealth’,
‘public image’ and ‘success’. Our results are
striking:
74% of respondents place greater
importance on compassionate values
than selsh values. We nd this to be
the case irrespective of age, gender,
region, or political persuasion. We can
be condent that this result doesn’t
arise from respondents seeking to
cast themselves in a better light by
downplaying the importance they attach
to selsh values. We were able to test for
such bias.
77% of respondents believe that their
fellow citizens hold selsh values to be
more important, and compassionate
values to be less important, than is
actually the case.
People who hold this inaccurate
belief about other people’s values feel
signicantly less positive about getting
involved – joining meetings, voting,
volunteering. These people also report
greater social alienation. They report
feeling less responsible for their
communities, and they are less likely to
feel that they t in with wider society
– relative to citizens who hold more
accurate perceptions of a typical British
person’s values.
These results lead us to pose a crucially
important question: Why is it that such a large
majority of people believe their fellow citizens
hold selsh values to be more important, and
compassionate values to be less important, than
is actually the case?
One explanation is that people are repeatedly
told by institutions (for example, the
media, politicians, and even schools and
universities) that most other people are out
for themselves. The impression conveyed is
that most people are more concerned about
acquiring stu, making the money to acquire
stu, cultivating their public image, and
becoming inuential than is actually the
case.
Our survey supports this explanation. We
asked people what values they felt were
encouraged by some key types of institution
– arts and culture, schools and universities,
the media, government and business.
Worryingly, people believe that each of these
institutions discourage compassionate
values, and encourage selsh values,
relative to the importance that they attach
to these values themselves. For example,
people believe that schools and universities
encourage values of wealth, image and
ambition more than people themselves
hold these values to be important. The more
strongly people believe that these key types of
institution encourage these selsh values, the
more strongly they believe that these values
also characterise a typical fellow citizen.
The good news is that this situation can
be changed. Such change could be key to
building public concern about today’s social
and environmental challenges, fostering
widespread public engagement on these
challenges, and reducing people’s feelings of
apathy and alienation.
There are many ways in which institutions
can strengthen compassionate values in
society, through their engagement with
their members and the public. Values are
implicit in the policies and practices that
an institution adopts; in the ways that
T
SUMMARY
1
employees are managed and decisions
reached; and in the physical environment
provided for members of sta, customers
or visitors. These areas of activity can be
developed in ways that not only activate
those compassionate values, but strengthen
them for the long term, too.
In this report we highlight three things
that organisations and individuals can do
immediately:
Promote compassionate values through
role models
Convey a more accurate perception of
others’ values
Challenge assumptions about the values
that most people hold to be important
Promoting compassionate values through role
models. Role models play an important part
in everyone’s lives. People may be in direct
personal contact with important role models
– their teachers or managers, for example.
But role models are also known indirectly –
as leaders in government, business leaders,
people portrayed in advertisements, and
celebrities promoted by the media. People
are sensitive to the values held by those they
respect – and research nds that the values
conveyed by respected gures inuence
the values of others. Those in positions of
inuence should examine the values that
they demonstrate through the way they
conduct their work. Better still, they can
foster public debate about values by speaking
openly about the compassionate values
that motivate them. Members of sta in
organisations that help to elevate people to
the position of role models (the media or
advertising agencies, for example) play a
very important role in promoting particular
values in UK society. These members of sta
should ask questions of one another: Does
our inuence bring responsibilities? If so,
how do we want, collectively, to respond
to these? What are the values projected by
the people whose public prole we help to
create and sustain? Are these values that are
helpful to society?
Conveying a more accurate perception of
others’ values. Simply conveying accurate
information about the values of others will
help to correct widespread misconceptions.
Value surveys can help here. They are easy
to run and analyse, and the results generate
public interest. Such surveys should become
a standard tool used by businesses (engaging
their customers or employees), educational
establishments (surveying students, pupils
or members of sta), media organisations
(through online resources), museums
(supporting visitors in exploring their own
values and those of typical fellow citizens),
or civil society organisations (surveying
their supporters or people concerned about a
particular cause).
Challenging assumptions about the values
that most people hold to be important. Any
organisation makes assumptions about
what motivates its employees, customers,
pupils, students, voters, viewers, readers,
listeners or visitors. A university admissions
department, for example, may assume that
most prospective students are primarily
motivated by pursuing highly-paid jobs.
Such assumptions aect the experience
that people have in interacting with the
organisation, and the values that these
interactions encourage. Organisations
often assume that people are best motivated
by appeals to their nancial interests,
cultivation of their public image, or their
desire for power and inuence. This is often
not the case. Moreover, working on this
assumption will tend to lead organisations
to weaken people’s compassionate values
and strengthen their selsh values. Members
of sta in any organisation should ask of
themselves: What are our assumptions about
what matters most to the people with whom
we interact? Are these accurate? What are
the wider social implications of relying on
these assumptions?
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THE COMMON
CAUSE
PERSPECTIVE
1. INTRODUCTION
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1.1. THREE INTERRELATED
CHALLENGES
CONFRONTING UK
CITIZENS
s a society, people in the UK confront
three interrelated challenges:
The rst challenge that people collectively
confront is to mount proportionate
responses to pressing social and
environmental problems – from climate
change to inequality; from persistent child
poverty to biodiversity loss.
Socially, levels of income inequality and
poverty are persistent, and the proportion
of children who are materially deprived is
rising.1 Racial prejudice is higher now than
it was at the start of the millennium2 and
declining numbers of people believe that
legal immigrants should have the same
rights as British people.3
Environmentally, UK embedded carbon
emissions continue to rise, at a time when
it is increasingly dicult to dismiss severe
ooding as freak ‘once-in-a-hundred-year’
events, rather than as a sign of underlying
changes in our climate.4 The variety and
abundance of the other species with which
we share our islands continues to decline.5
The second challenge is to deepen public
commitment to civic participation. Active
public participation is needed in both local
and national political debate. But levels of
political participation are static or declining.6
There is widespread dissatisfaction with
how well the government engages people
and declining numbers of people see it as
everyone’s duty to vote.7
The third challenge is to rebuild social
cohesion and reshape social institutions to
inspire public trust. People’s trust in social
institutions is currently falling.8
These challenges are interrelated. Citizens
must make vocal demands of decision-
makers in government and business. In
the absence of such demands, it is dicult
to foresee that these decision-makers will
embrace change at the scale that is necessary
to meet the social and environmental
challenges we face – particularly when such
changes are often opposed by powerful
vested interests. Such demands, if they are to
be made, will emerge from a culture in which
there is deep and widespread commitment to
civic participation. If this civic participation
is to be nurtured, then it will also be
necessary to address problems of cultural
estrangement, building a wider sense of
social cohesion and shared purpose.
Progress in meeting these challenges will
be built on a foundation of compassionate
values. Political parties of every hue
frequently claim to ‘own’ British values.
But this rhetoric risks obscuring a deeper
understanding: there are commonalities
between the values held to be important
by most UK citizens. Most people attach
greatest importance to compassionate
values, regardless of gender, age, region, and
political persuasion. But collectively we need
to work to strengthen these values further,
and support people in acting in line with
them.
The public expression of values in the UK
arises from the interplay of at least three
important factors. This report highlights:
People’s own values
People’s perceptions of the values held
to be important by fellow citizens
The values encouraged by our social
institutions
We refer to the interplay of these three
factors as a ‘values nexus’ (see Figure 1 on
p. 11). Drawing on existing peer-reviewed
research and new survey data, this report
presents an understanding of this nexus and
its role in motivating necessary action on
today’s social and environmental challenges,
in promoting civic engagement, and in
building UK citizens’ belief in the possibility
of working eectively through dierent
types of social institution.
Before turning to examine these three
factors in greater depth, it’s necessary to
understand more about what values are and
how they work.
A
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1.2. VALUES AND HOW
THEY WORK
Values shape people’s beliefs about what is
desirable, important, or worthy of striving
for in their lives.9 Psychologists have
identied several groups of values but this
report focuses on just two: compassionate
values and selsh values. These two groups
are of particular relevance to peoples
social and environmental concern, people’s
motivation to express this concern through
various forms of civic action, and people’s
feelings of social connectedness.
Compassionate Values
A group of ‘compassionate values’ are
associated with stronger social and
environmental concern, and stronger
motivation to act in line with this concern.
The values that comprise this group are
listed in Box 1. Almost everyone holds all
these compassionate values at some level,
though the relative importance that they are
accorded varies from person to person.
Values in this group are related to one
another, such that a person who attaches
relatively high importance to any one of
these values is likely to also attach relatively
high importance to the others. Psychologists
refer to this as ‘bleed-over’ between related
values.10
This is just to say, for example, that if a person
believes social justice to be important, then he
or she is also likely to think that helpfulness is
important.
People who hold compassionate values to
be important are more likely to express
concern about social and environmental
problems – both in the attitudes that they
hold, and the behaviours that they adopt in
awareness of these problems.11 Moreover,
drawing attention – even very subtly – to
compassionate values leads people to
express deeper concern about social and
environmental issues.12
Selsh Values
The second group of values that is of
particular relevance to expressions of social
and environmental concern is selsh values’
(also listed in Box 1). As with compassionate
values, everyone (or almost everyone) holds
values in this group to be important at some
level. Further, selsh values are also related
to one another, such that concern about one
of these values is likely to ‘bleed-over’ into
concern about other selsh values.
This is just to say, for example, that if a person
believes that wealth is important, he or she is
also likely to think that authority is important.
Selsh and compassionate values are
opposed to one another. This opposition is
observed in two dierent ways.
First, studies have found that when people
are asked to rate the importance that they
attach to dierent values, people who rate
compassionate values highly are likely to
rate selsh values lower, and vice-versa.
It is dicult to attach importance to both
compassionate and selsh values at the same
time.13
This is just to say, for example, that most people
who attach high importance to authority attach
low importance to social justice, and vice-versa.
It’s not that it’s impossible to hold both things
to be important – just that, when asked about
their values, most people do not attach high
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importance to both of these aims.
Second, it has been found experimentally
that when a person’s attention is drawn –
even very subtly – to one group of values, the
importance that this person attaches to the
other set of values diminishes.14
Drawing a person’s attention to
compassionate values tends to temporarily
diminish the importance that he or she
attaches to selsh values, and vice-versa.
People who hold selsh values to be
important are less likely to express concern
about social and environmental problems.
They are less likely to hold attitudes
supportive of addressing these problems,
and they are less likely to adopt behaviours
aimed at mitigating these problems.15
For example, drawing a person’s attention, even
very subtly, to ‘achievement’ (a selsh value)
is likely to suppress opposing compassionate
values (which include ‘helpfulness’). This can
be demonstrated experimentally – drawing
attention to achievement leads a person to
show less inclination to respond to a request
for help than someone in a control group whose
attention is drawn to value-neutral things, like
food.16
1.3 WHY VALUES MATTER
In Section 1.1, we highlighted three related
challenges confronting UK citizens: to mount
proportionate responses to profound social
and environmental problems, to deepen
public commitment to civic participation,
and to rebuild social cohesion and trust in
social institutions. In this section we explore
the relationship between compassionate and
selsh values and action to meet these three
challenges.
BOX 1: TECHNICAL NOTE ON VALUES
There are many dierent groups of values,
but in this report we focus on those that
are of particular importance in predicting a
person’s social or environmental concern, and
motivation to express this concern through
various forms of civic engagement.
Here we draw on two extensive bodies of
academic research. These two bodies of
research use dierent vocabularies to describe
similar but distinct groups of values.
Professor Tim Kasser, who has pioneered
work on life-goals, has dened intrinsic and
extrinsic values – terms that we have used in
many of our previous publications.
Professor Shalom Schwartz has developed a
very widely recognised survey tool that we
use in the study reported on here (the Portrait
Values Questionnaire). He uses the terms self-
transcendence and self-enhancement values.
In this report we use two new terms that, to
our knowledge, have no specic denition in
the academic literature, but that we believe
have greater resonance for a non-specialist
audience:
Compassionate values include:
‘broadmindedness’, ‘a world of beauty’, ‘a
world at peace’, ‘equality’, ‘protecting the
environment’, ‘social justice’, ‘helpfulness’,
‘forgiveness’, ‘honesty’ and ‘responsibility’.
Values in this group are associated
with greater concern about social and
environmental issues, and greater motivation
to engage in various forms of civic action.
These are known to academics as ‘self-
transcendence’ values and encompass some of
the ‘intrinsic’ values.
Selsh values include: values of ‘wealth’,
‘social recognition’, ‘social status’ and
‘prestige’, ‘control or dominance over people’,
‘authority’, ‘conformity’, ‘preserving public
image’, ‘popularity’, ‘inuence’ and ‘ambition’.
Selsh values are associated with lower
concern about social and environmental
issues, and lower motivation to engage in
various forms of civic action. These are known
to academics as ‘self-enhancement’ values and
they are similar to ‘extrinsic’ values.
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.. VALUES AND SOCIAL AND
ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERN
Research demonstrates that people who
attach relatively higher importance to
compassionate values, or relatively lower
importance to selsh values, hold more
positive attitudes towards action to address
social and environmental challenges. These
people are also more likely to act in ways that
help to address these challenges. This is an
extensive and robust body of research, and
we did not seek to extend it in this study.17
.. VALUES AND CIVIC
ENGAGEMENT
People who attach greater importance to
compassionate values have been found to be
more likely to be involved with civil society
organisations (through membership, making
nancial donations, and volunteering
time). They are also more likely to be
involved in political activism (for example,
by boycotting products, contacting a
politician or government ocial, joining
public demonstrations, or participating in
illegal protest activities). People who attach
importance to selsh values are less likely to
become engaged in these ways.18
.. VALUES AND CULTURAL
ESTRANGEMENT
Cultural estrangement is the feeling of
not tting in or not belonging to wider
society. Widespread feelings of cultural
estrangement in the UK could erode our
cultural cohesion and the loyalty that we feel
towards one another. It has been found that
Britons who perceive a wider gap between
their own values and those that they see
as characterising people in British society
report higher levels of cultural estrangement
than those who perceive a narrower gap.19
1.4 THE ‘VALUES NEXUS’
Given the profound importance of values,
as outlined in the Section 1.3, it is crucial to
ask how people’s commitment to particular
values develops and strengthens.
Recall that we refer to the interrelationships
between people’s own values, people’s
perceptions of others’ values, and the values
seen to be encouraged by social institutions
as the ‘values nexus’ (see Section 1.1). Each
of these three factors is likely to both shape,
and be shaped by, the other two (see Figure 1
on p. 11).
A deeper understating of this nexus will
help to promote collective responses to
the challenges outlined in Section 1.1.20
In this discussion, social institutions
are taken to include a wide range of
dierent organisations, including media
organisations; schools and universities;
museums, theatres and galleries; businesses,
and government organisations.
.. PEOPLE’S OWN VALUES
People’s commitment to particular values
is likely to inuence their perceptions of a
typical fellow citizen’s values (see Arrow A in
Figure 1).
People’s values are likely to inuence
the friends that they choose, the
neighbourhoods in which they settle,
the jobs they do, the TV stations they
watch, the newspapers or blogs that
they read, and their leisure activities.
People will draw on these in forming
their beliefs about a typical fellow
citizen’s values. People’s perceptions
about the values held to be important by
a typical fellow citizen will therefore be
inuenced by their own values, through
decisions that they make in line with
these values.
People’s commitment to particular values
is likely to inuence the shape of social
institutions (see Arrow B in Figure 1).
People’s values will inuence their
perceptions of the kind of society in
which they would like to live – and
therefore their beliefs about how social
institutions should operate. Citizens
play an important role in shaping social
institutions – for example, as voters,
customers or volunteers. It’s known
that people’s values help to predict their
8
voting preferences and their purchasing
decisions, their motivation to volunteer
and their commitment to various forms
of civic engagement.21 The values of UK
citizens will therefore inuence the way
that these institutions develop.
Clearly, the values held to be important
by decision-makers with direct
responsibility for these institutions
are likely to be still more inuential in
shaping how they develop.
... PEOPLE’S PERCEPTIONS
OF OTHERS’ VALUES
People’s perceptions about a typical fellow
citizen’s values are likely to contribute to
deepening their commitment to some values
– and to weakening their commitment to
others (see Arrow C in Figure 1).
A person’s perception of a typical fellow
citizen’s values inuences his or her
understanding of what is ‘normal’ or
‘acceptable’ behaviour, and therefore
the way in which he or she acts (at
least when observed by others). But a
person’s behaviour inuences his or her
values. When a person perceives himself
or herself as behaving in a particular
way, he or she draws inferences about
what he or she values, and may modify
the importance that he or she attaches
to particular values accordingly.22 So
a person’s perception of what matters
to others is likely to inuence the
importance that he or she attaches to
particular values.
How is a person’s perception of others’
values shaped? A person’s perceptions
will be inuenced by both what fellow
citizens say is important to them and
what he or she infers about fellow
citizens from the way that they behave.
For this reason, it is very signicant if
people don’t always bear testimony to
the values that they hold to be most
important – either in what they say, or
what they do. As we will see, people
often speak and act as though they
attach particular importance to values
that are actually relatively unimportant
to them.
People’s perceptions about other people’s
values are likely to contribute to shaping
social institutions (see Arrow D in Figure 1).
People’s perceptions of a typical
fellow citizen’s values also seem
certain to inuence the shape of social
institutions. This inuence will arise
in part through public support for
particular types of social institution. If
most UK citizens believe that a typical
fellow citizen is dishonest, this is likely
to deepen public support for a social
security system geared to catch ‘welfare
cheats’ – even if this risks denying
support to some who are deserving. If,
on the other hand, most UK citizens
believe that a typical fellow citizen is
honest, this is likely to deepen public
support for a social security system that
is accepting of some abuse in the course
of ensuring that everyone who needs
state support is able to access this in a
straightforward way.
A decision-maker’s perceptions about
a typical fellow citizen’s values are
likely to have an immediate impact in
shaping those institutions in which he
or she has an involvement. As we’ll see,
people’s perceptions of others values are
often inaccurate and we nd no reason
to believe that decision-makers are any
less susceptible than anyone else to
misunderstandings of this kind.
.. THE VALUES
ENCOURAGED BY SOCIAL
INSTITUTIONS
People’s experience of any social
institution will contribute to deepening
their commitment to some values, and to
weakening commitment to others (see Arrow
E in Figure 1).
To the extent that institutions tend to
encourage particular values, people’s
experience of these institutions is likely
to strengthen the importance that they
come to place on these values. Research
nds that over time people learn to
place importance on particular values
as a result of their social experience.23
For example, studying law has been
found to lead students to place greater
9
importance on selsh values – perhaps
because of the competitive nature of
undergraduate law degrees.24 People’s
interaction with social institutions – for
example, schools, shopping malls and
television – will inuence their values.
The inuence of social institutions
is also likely to operate at a national
level. It’s known that citizens in more
economically de-regulated countries
tend to attach relatively greater
importance to selsh values, and lower
importance to compassionate values.25
People’s experience of any social institution
will inuence their beliefs about the values
of a typical fellow citizen (see Arrow F in
Figure 1).
Institutions are likely to inuence
people’s perceptions of other peoples’
values.26 Where institutions have been
designed in expectation that people
behave in line with particular values,
behaviour associated with these values
is more likely to be elicited. Think about
what a social institution incentivises
and rewards, what it measures, and
what implicit assumptions it conveys
about the way that most people behave.
These characteristics contribute
to creating and arming people’s
perspectives on human nature.27
Institutions encourage people to behave
in particular ways. These patterns of
behaviour convey an understanding
of what motivates people and of the
values that people hold to be important.
If social institutions repeatedly elicit
particular kinds of behaviour, then this
is likely to shape wider perceptions of
the values held to be important by a
typical UK citizen.
So, for example, if social institutions
are designed in ways that anticipate
citizens will behave in predominantly
self-interested ways, self-interested
behaviour is more likely to be
elicited, providing ‘social proof ’ of the
importance of selsh values.28 As one
social psychologist writes:
“[T]he image of humans as self-interested
leads to the creation of social institutions
(e.g. work-places, schools, governments) in
that image which, in turn, transforms that
image into reality.” 29
10
C
SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERN
CIVIC ENGAGEMENT
CULTURAL ESTRANGEMENT
PEOPLE’S OWN
VALUES
AB
E
D
F
PEOPLE’S
PERCEPTIONS
OF OTHERS
VALUES
VALUES
ENCOURAGED
BY SOCIAL
INSTITUTIONS
Figure 1: The ‘values nexus’
People’s own values, people’s perceptions of
others’ values, and the values encouraged
by social institutions are likely to interact in
ways detailed in this section and summarised
in this gure. A person’s own values will
inuence the type of people with whom
they have contact (whether this contact is
personal, or via the media) and therefore this
person’s perceptions about a typical fellow
citizen – including a typical fellow citizen’s
values (Arrow A). Social institutions will
be shaped in part by people’s own values
(for example, through the preferences that
people express as decision-makers, voters or
consumers) (Arrow B). Believing that most
people hold particular values to be more
important than is actually the case is likely to
lead a person to attach greater importance to
these same values himself or herself (Arrow
C). Social institutions are also likely to be
inuenced by people’s perceptions of others’
values (Arrow D). Social institutions are
likely to inuence citizens’ values through
the expectations they create about how
citizens will behave (do these institutions,
for example, encourage a focus on selsh
values such as authority and wealth, or
compassionate values such as justice and
equality?) (Arrow E). Social institutions are
likely to inuence people’s perceptions of
others’ values (Arrow F). Interaction between
these elements of the values nexus will
shape the values that UK citizens hold to be
important – and will therefore contribute to
determining levels of concern about social
and environmental problems, commitment
to civic engagement and feelings of cultural
estrangement.
11
HOW WE
CONDUCTED
THIS RESEARCH
2.
12
2.1 THE SURVEY
e asked Ipsos-MORI to contact
one thousand demographically
representative UK citizens. These people
were presented with:
A series of demographic questions on
gender, age, the region of the UK in which
they live, the highest level of education
that they attained, perceptions of their
household income.
A series of questions that have been
developed by psychologists to test for
biases in the way that people respond (see
Box 2).
A well-validated and widely used survey
tool to assess participants’ own values.30
This same values survey, a second time, but
now asking participants to think about the
values of ‘a typical British person’.
This same values survey, a third time, but
now asking participants to think about the
values encouraged by one of ve dierent
types of social institution. For this part
of the survey participants were randomly
assigned to one of ve dierent conditions
and asked about the values encouraged
by either: arts and culture, the business
sector, the education system, the media, or
government.31
A series of questions that have been
developed by psychologists to test for
‘cultural estrangement’.32
A series of questions that have been
developed by psychologists to test attitudes
towards ‘civic engagement’.33
A series of questions about participants’
civic engagement in the last ve years:
had participants voted, attended a public
meeting or demonstration, got in touch
with a government ocial, volunteered,
distributed information about a social
cause, signed a petition, donated money?
Questions about political persuasion
(liberal versus conservative).
2.2 FOLLOW-UP
INTERVIEWS
After conducting the survey, we invited
a sub-set of respondents to participate
in follow-up interviews. Twenty people
participated in these interviews, which
were conducted by a psychologist from the
University of Essex. These conversations,
which typically lasted an hour, were recorded
and transcribed. Analysis of this material
W
BOX 2: TESTING FOR BIASES
It might be argued that participants in a
survey such as this will tend to overstate
the importance that they attach to
compassionate values and to understate the
importance that they place on selsh values.
They may do so consciously to project a
more positive public image or unconsciously
because they hold unrealistically high
opinions of themselves.
Previous studies have found, however, that
responses to values surveys are not unduly
aected by such sources of bias – particularly
when, as in this case, the survey is conducted
anonymously.34 Nonetheless, we wanted
to check for these biases. We asked every
participant to complete a section of the
survey designed to assess whether or not
they were likely to respond in a biased
manner.35
We checked for two types of bias:
Impression management: a habitual
and conscious tendency to try to project
a positive public image
Self-deceptive enhancement: an
unconscious tendency to project oneself
in a positive light
We then tested to see whether the results
we present in this report were impacted by
either of these two kinds of bias. We found
that they were not.36
13
was then conducted by a psychologist at the
University of Cardi. In this report, we draw
on material from these interviews to deepen
our understanding of the results of the
quantitative survey.
2.3 REPORTING THE
RESULTS
Although we collected data about a wide
range of dierent groups of values, this
report focuses only on compassionate and
selsh values. In addition to reporting on
people’s scores on these two groups of values,
we also make frequent use of a measure
which we call the adjusted compassionate
value score (see Box 3).
A person’s own adjusted compassionate
value score is a measure of a person’s relative
inclination towards compassionate as
opposed to selsh values. It is calculated by
subtracting a person’s selsh value score
from his or her compassionate value score. A
person who attaches greater importance to
compassionate than to selsh values has an
adjusted compassionate value score greater
than zero. Someone who attaches greater
importance to selsh than to compassionate
values has an adjusted compassionate value
score of less than zero.
We also calculated adjusted compassionate
value scores for participants’ perceptions
about the values held to be important by a
typical fellow citizen. Here we subtracted the
score that a participant awarded a typical
fellow citizen for selsh values from the
score that a participant awarded a typical
fellow citizen for compassionate values.
2.4 CONSULTATION
Preliminary results of this analysis were
then shared with experts drawn from a
range of dierent organisations, including
civil society organisations, political parties,
think tanks, businesses, and universities.
We held one-to-one meetings with
these experts, each of whom is listed in
the acknowledgements. This input was
invaluable in developing this report.
The remainder of this report presents and
discusses the results of this research. The
next three sections focus on each of the
three key elements of the values nexus as
we have described this in Figure 1: Citizens’
own values, citizens’ perceptions of others’
values, and citizens’ perceptions of the values
encouraged by social institutions.
14
BOX 3: ADJUSTED COMPASSIONATE VALUE SCORE
Value score
Compassionate value score
Compassionate Value ScoreSelfish Value Score
= Adjusted Compassionate Value Score
Participant A Participant B
Figure 2: Calculation of adjusted compassionate
value score for two hypothetical participants
In this report, we make use of a measure
of people’s values that we call the adjusted
compassionate value score. This is a
useful shorthand way of showing how
much importance a person attaches to
compassionate values relative to selsh
values. This measure enables us to simplify
the presentation of many of our results.
Similar measures have also been used in a
good deal of the academic work on which
this report draws.
Recall that compassionate and selsh values
are ‘opposed’ to one another: people who
hold compassionate values to be important
are likely to attach lower importance to
selsh values, and vice-versa.
Our survey asked participants to rate the
importance of each value on a numerical
scale. We then calculated average scores
for compassionate values, and average
scores for selsh values. The adjusted
compassionate value score was calculated
by subtracting a person’s selsh value score
from a person’s compassionate value score.
Look at the data for Participant A in Figure
2 below. She holds compassionate values to
be more important than selsh values, and
in this respect she is typical of the majority
of people we surveyed. Her adjusted
compassionate value score is therefore
positive.
Now look at the data for Participant B.
He is not typical of most UK citizens, in
holding selsh values to be more important
than compassionate values. His adjusted
compassionate value score is negative.
We also asked people what they think a
typical fellow citizen values. We can present
this as an adjusted compassionate value
score.
Here we take a person’s assessment of the
importance that a typical fellow citizen
attaches to compassionate values and
subtract his or her assessment of the
importance that a typical fellow citizen
attaches to selsh values.
Selsh value score
Adjusted compassionate value
score (in this case positive)
Adjusted compassionate value
score (in this case negative)
15
UK CITIZENS’
OWN VALUES
3.
16
3.1 WHAT DOES A TYPICAL
UK CITIZEN VALUE?
he majority of survey participants place
greater importance on compassionate
values than selsh values.
Figure 3 shows the distribution of adjusted
compassionate value scores for the
demographically representative sample of
one thousand UK citizens. 74% of people
report caring about compassionate values
more than selsh values.
Of course, this isn’t to suggest that selsh
values, such as wealth and social status, are
unimportant to most people: at some level,
they are important to almost everyone. But
our results corroborate earlier surveys of UK
citizens in showing that most people place
greater importance on compassionate values
than on selsh values.37
It may be that people ‘secretly’ hold
compassionate values to be of lower
importance than they report in surveys
such as ours, and ‘secretly’ attach greater
importance to selsh values. Perhaps, when
asked as participants in a survey, most
people feel more comfortable saying that
compassionate values are important to them,
and tend to down-play the importance of
selsh values.
We were able to test for such bias in the way
that people reported their values (see Box 3).
We found that there was no association
between people’s reports about their
compassionate or selsh values and their
tendencies to either: a) modify their
responses to meet with social approval; or b)
try to elevate others’ perceptions of them.
T
40
35
30
25
20
15
10
5
0
-7.5 -6.5 -5.5 -4.5 -3.5 -2.5 -1.5 -0.5 0.5 1.5 2.5 3.5 4.5 5.5 6.5 7.5
26% 74%
Adjusted compassionate value score
Percentage
Figure 3: Adjusted compassionate value score for respondent’s own values.
This histogram shows data for a demographically representative sample of one thousand UK adults. Most UK citizens have an adjusted com-
passionate value score greater than zero (i.e. to the right of the black dotted line). In other words, most UK citizens attach greater importance
to compassionate values than to selsh values.
17
3.2 UK CITIZENS’ OWN
VALUES AND CIVIC
ENGAGEMENT
We found that UK citizens who have a
relatively higher compassionate value score
are also signicantly more likely to report
having engaged in a range of dierent types
of civic engagement. This result corroborates
other published research.38 The reverse
is true for people with a relatively higher
selsh score. See Table 1, and Figure 4 below.
These results, coupled with a great deal of
other published evidence regarding the
associations between compassionate and
selsh values and social and environmental
concern, further underscore the importance
of understanding citizens’ values and the
factors that inuence these.
What is the relationship with
a person’s compassionate
value score?
What is the relationship with
a person’s selsh value score?
Activities in last ve years
Voted in a national or local
election
Positive (see Figure 4, below) Negative (see Figure 4, below)
Other forms of civic
engagement, including
signing a petition, getting
in touch with a government
ocial, attending a public
meeting, volunteering,
donating
Positive Negative
Attitudes
Attitudes towards various
forms of civic behaviour
Positive Negative
Table 1: Relationships between a person’s values and engagement in various
forms of civic behaviour.39
18
VOTING BEHAVIOUR
VOTING BEHAVIOUR
PARTICIPANTS’ COMPASSIONATE VALUES
PARTICIPANTS’ SELFISH VALUES
2.0
1.9
1.8
1.7
1.6
-2 -1 0 1 2 3
2.0
1.9
1.8
1.7
1.6
-2-3 -1 0 1 2
Figure 4: Relationships between the importance that participants place
on compassionate values or selsh values and their voting behaviour
The top graph shows the incidence of voting behaviour rising with increasing compassionate value
scores. The bottom graph shows the incidence of voting behaviour falling with increasing selsh
value scores. The coloured areas show 95% condence limits.
19
CITIZENS’
PERCEPTIONS
OF OTHERS’
VALUES
4.
20
4.1 WHAT DO PEOPLE
THINK THAT A TYPICAL
BRITISH PERSON VALUES?
ur survey results reveal that most
UK citizens (77%) underestimate the
importance that a typical British person
attaches to compassionate values while also
overestimating the importance that a typical
British person attaches to selsh values. In
other words, people tend to assume that a
typical fellow citizen has a lower adjusted
compassionate value score (see Box 3) than
is actually the case.
Figure 5 shows the data for the adjusted
compassionate value score for participants’
assessment of their own values (blue bars)
and for participants’ assessment of the
values of a typical fellow citizen (yellow
bars).
This gap between what UK citizens actually
value and what UK citizens believe that a
typical British person values does not seem
to be due to biases in the way that people
responded to our survey. Just as we were
able to test for the eects of such bias in
explaining the results regarding people’s
own values, so we were able to test for such
bias in people’s perception of others’ values
(see Box 2). Following these tests, we
concluded that this ‘gap’ does not arise as a
result of reporting bias.
Follow-up interviews conducted with twenty
of our survey participants oered further
support for our nding that UK citizens tend
to believe that others attach less importance
to compassionate values, and more
importance to selsh values, than is actually
the case.
Here are some typical examples of the ways
in which participants reected on others’
values:
All young people want is wealth, that’s the
big thing, if you ask them for one thing, they
want to be rich” (Participant 5).
A lot of people don’t care about anything
except money.” (Participant 15).
“There’s focus on earning money, and
that’s what’s valued, not being a capable,
competent human being. I don’t think it’s
[being competent is] something people value
any more, they don’t value it in themselves.
(Participant 10).
O
2
1.8
1.6
1.4
1.2
1
0.8
0.6
0.4
0.2
0Average Women
Own Values
Perception of a
typical fellow citizen’s
values
Men
Figure 5: Adjusted compassionate value scores by gender
The adjusted compassionate value score for respondents’ own values (blue bars) and respondents’ perception of a typical
fellow citizen’s values (yellow bars). On average, a UK citizen has an adjusted compassionate value score of 1.28. As can
be seen, this is signicantly higher among women than men. These dierences between men and women are discussed
further in the Appendix. Bars show 95% condence limits.
Gap between people’s own
values and those they ascribe
to a typical fellow citizen
}
Average Women Men
21
“We have a culture of self, and not a culture
of responsibility, it’s all about me, my needs,
not the society’s need” (Participant 2).
Only a small minority expressed the feeling
that a typical fellow citizen attached
importance to compassionate values. For
example, one respondent said:
“I think in general most people are kind and
considerate” (Participant 20).
In Section 1.4.1 we suggested that people’s
own values will inuence their perceptions
of a typical fellow citizen’s values. We also
suggested that, reciprocally, perceptions
of a typical fellow citizen’s values will
inuence a person’s own values (see Section
1.4.2). Our data are consistent with this
perspective. We nd a signicant positive
correlation between a person’s own adjusted
compassionate value score and his or her
perceptions of a typical fellow citizen’s
adjusted compassionate value score.40
4.2 HOW DO PEOPLE FEEL
ABOUT OTHERS’ VALUES?
When interviewed after completion of the
survey, we found that many participants
perceive a gap between their own values and
those of typical fellow citizens.
Here is some of what participants said:
“It’s not that easy [to express social justice]
these days. Years ago when so many people
were really poor and there was nothing, I
mean, we managed, in fact, where I lived, if
you get a new set of furniture, you’d pass your
old one to the next person on the road, that
sort of thing, and that’s how it worked. There
was a community. And I like that because
you do understand the other person’s point of
view and you try to help them, but you don’t
get much of that these days unfortunately”
(Participant 5).
“I think in today’s society a lot of people can
look down on you if you… I think it’s hard to
convince people in this day and age to care
about other people in the world, and I think it
is getting harder as well” (Participant 12).
Eleven participants (from a total of twenty
that we interviewed) identify a value
gap between themselves and others, and
express the view that selsh values are
communicated or expressed in public
forums, for example by media or the
government. Six participants express
frustration about this perceived gap. For
example:
“I want to change their [other people’s]
values, but inside, to my mind, I understand
that I cannot force them.(Participant 4)
“Our society can be quite image-driven, so
money, and clothes, and obviously you need
money for that, so you need to be involved a
lot in work, and that sort of thing can be very
time consuming, and you don’t always have
the time to spend on friends, family, and the
people you like... and it makes you feel a bit
lonely.” (Participant 9)
4.3 UK CITIZENS’
PERCEPTIONS OF OTHERS’
VALUES AND CIVIC
ENGAGEMENT
In Section 3.2 we explored the relationship
between people’s own values and civic
engagement. Our results also show that
a person’s perceptions of a typical fellow
citizen’s values are important in predicting
civic engagement. We found that the more
strongly a person perceives a typical fellow
citizen to hold compassionate values to be
important, the more positive that person’s
attitude towards various forms of civic
engagement, and the more likely that person
is to vote.41
We also found, conversely, that the more
strongly a respondent perceives a typical
fellow citizen to hold selsh values to be
important, the less likely he or she is to hold
positive attitudes towards various forms
of civic engagement, and the less likely he
or she is to vote. Results for other forms
of civic behaviour did not reach statistical
signicance. See Table 2, and Figure 6 over
leaf.
22
What might the reason be for this
relationship between civic engagement
and a person’s beliefs about a typical fellow
citizen’s values? One of our respondents
clearly felt that to act in line with their
compassionate values would leave them
looking peculiar, or invite hostility:
“I think it can be quite hard [to express
responsibility], because people see you as
a hippie… So, yeah, some people just think
you’re crazy. I think with today’s culture,
you buy something, you don’t think of where
it’s come from, you don’t really think it’s
gonna go in the end, and it is sort of like a
very fast paced life, and when you’re the
only one out of a group saying let’s protect
the environment they’re gonna say shut up.”
(Participant 12).
Another indicates that they tend to ‘play
along’ with what they take to be more
socially dominant values:
“Well it’s a very materialistic, capitalistic
environment and society that we live in. I
don’t like it very much. I try to express my
values as much as possible, but to live with
them [other people], you just try and play the
roles as much as possible....(Participant
17).
What is the relationship
with a person’s
perception of others’
compassionate values?
What is the relationship
with a person’s
perception of others’
selsh values?
Have you voted in a
national or local election
in the last ve years?
Positive (see Figure 6, top) Negative (see Figure 6,
bottom)
Attitudes towards
various forms of civic
behaviour
Positive Negative
Table 2
Relationships between a person’s perception of a typical fellow citizen’s values and
engagement in various forms of civic behaviour.42
23
2.0
1.9
1.8
1.7
1.6
-2 -1 012
VOTING BEHAVIOUR
PARTICIPANTS’ PERCEPTION OF OTHERS’ SELFISH VALUES
Figure 6: Voting behaviour and perceptions of others’ values
Relationship between participants’ voting behaviour and their perceptions of the importance that a
typical fellow citizen places on compassionate values (top graph) and on selsh values (bottom graph). The
coloured areas show 95% condence limits
2.1
2.0
1.9
1.8
1.7
1.6
-2-3 -1 012
VOTING BEHAVIOUR
PARTICIPANTS’ PERCEPTION OF OTHERS’ COMPASSIONATE VALUES
24
As we’ve seen, it appears that UK citizens
hold compassionate values to be more
important than they typically give one
another credit for. If people were to come to
recognise this, then this could promote civic
engagement. But could it be that conveying
a more accurate perception of others’
values will be particularly eective among
those who attach greater importance to
compassionate values themselves?
Our evidence suggests that this is not the
case. Rather, conveying a more accurate
perception of a typical fellow citizen’s values
is likely to be eective irrespective of the
importance that a person already attaches to
compassionate values himself or herself.
Figure 7, below, illustrates this.
4.4 UK CITIZENS’
PERCEPTIONS OF OTHERS’
VALUES AND CULTURAL
ESTRANGEMENT
We nd that a persons perception of a
typical fellow citizen’s values is important in
predicting his or her own feelings of cultural
estrangement. Generally speaking, our
results show that people are more likely to
express feelings of cultural estrangement
if they feel that a typical fellow citizen
places relatively high importance on selsh
values, or relatively low importance on
compassionate values.43
This is particularly true for people who
themselves attach relatively high importance
to compassionate values.44 Cultural
estrangement is highest among people who
have high compassionate values themselves
but who perceive others to have low
compassionate values.
VOTING
1.4
1.3
1.2
LOW MEAN HIGH
People whose own compassionate values are low
People whose own compassionate values are high
Figure 7
This graph shows how people’s voting behaviour varies with their perception of the importance that a typical fellow citizen
places on compassionate values. The upper line shows the nature of this relationship for someone who personally holds
compassionate values to be relatively important (someone in the 80th percentile). The lower line shows the nature of this
relationship for someone who holds compassionate values to be relatively unimportant (someone in the 20th percentile). It
seems that, regardless of the importance a person attaches to compassionate values himself or herself, voting is positively
related to his or her perception of a typical fellow citizen’s compassionate values, for perceptions at or above the national
average. This leads us to propose that successfully conveying an accurate perception of the importance that a typical fellow
citizen places on compassionate values will lead to greater motivation to vote, irrespective of the importance that a person
places on compassionate values himself or herself. (Note: results are shown for two standard deviations either side of the
mean.)
These people hold
compassionate values to be
important, and are more
likely to vote - especially
if they think a typical
fellow citizen attaches
high importance to
compassionate values.
These people hold
compassionate values to be
less important, and are less
likely to vote - especially
if they think a typical
fellow citizen attaches low
importance to compassionate
values.
Ascription of compassionate values to a typical
fellow citizen
25
As might be expected, the opposite eect
is found for selsh values. Among people
who attach low importance to selsh values,
feelings of cultural estrangement are
highly sensitive to perceptions about the
importance that other people place on selsh
values.
Cultural estrangement is very high among
people who attach low importance to selsh
values but who perceive that a typical fellow
citizen attaches high importance to these
values. In contrast, cultural estrangement
is very low among people with low selsh
values who perceive that a typical fellow
citizen attaches low importance to these
values.
Our data also point to a relationship
between cultural estrangement and civic
engagement. People who experience greater
cultural estrangement are signicantly less
likely to vote or to hold positive attitudes
towards a range of other forms of civic
engagement.
Perceptions matter. UK citizens’ perceptions
of the values of a typical fellow citizen are
likely to be an important factor in fostering
greater civic engagement and in reducing
cultural estrangement. We believe that,
hitherto, most work on values and cultural
change has paid too little attention to this
important insight.
4.5 IS IT EMBARRASSING
TO BE COMPASSIONATE?
In Section 4.3 we discussed one possible
reason why people who underestimate the
importance that a typical fellow citizen
places on compassionate values may be less
likely to vote. We suggested that people
may commonly fear appearing peculiar, or
inviting hostility, by acting in line with their
compassionate values. This is particularly
likely to be the case where people perceive
others as holding these values to be less
important than they do themselves.
Other research has found that people can
be reluctant to admit to being motivated
by compassionate values. Evidence for this
emerges in studies of the reasons that people
oer to explain why they choose to help
other people, or to support social causes.
Such studies nd that people are often most
comfortable when explaining these actions
in self-interested ways. Indeed, a self-
interested explanation seems to leave people
content that they have given an acceptable
account of their actions – one that reassures
a listener that they have, indeed, acted from
self-interest rather than compassion.45
Tragically, perhaps one of the most
important barriers to greater civic
engagement is people’s fear that they appear
unusual when they act in line with their
compassionate values. Accordingly, people
may often be willing to take action on social
or environmental challenges, or to become
more civically engaged. Indeed, they may
feel that to take such action or to become
more engaged is in line with the values that
they hold to be most important. But they
don’t actually take such action or actually
become engaged – because they believe that
to do so would risk drawing attention to
their compassionate values and leave them
looking a bit peculiar.
This process is likely to be self-reinforcing.
An average UK citizen views a typical
fellow citizen as holding selsh values to
be more important and compassionate
values to be less important than is actually
the case. This leaves him or her more
likely to behave in ways that convey the
impression that he or she attaches less
importance to compassionate values than
is actually the case. Such behaviour, when
observed by others, will further perpetuate
the widespread misperception about other
people’s values – the so-called ‘norm of self-
interest’.
This process is likely to inuence not just
people’s perceptions of others’ values or
people’s perception of ‘normal’ behaviour.
It is also likely to inuence people’s actual
values.
As the circular process outlined above
gathers energy, people’s actual commitment
to compassionate values is also likely to
weaken. This is because as people become
aware of their discomfort in acting in line
with compassionate values, their perception
of their own values is likely to shift in a more
selsh direction. When they subsequently
reect on their own values (or when they are
asked about their values by others) they are
likely to report their selsh values as being
of relatively greater importance, and their
compassionate values as of relatively less
importance.
26
SOCIAL
INSTITUTIONS
5.
27
5.1 PARTICIPANTS’ OWN
VALUES AND THE VALUES
THEY BELIEVE TO BE
ENCOURAGED BY SOCIAL
INSTITUTIONS
hat do people feel that they are
encouraged to value? We asked
participants about the values that they feel
are encouraged by each of ve key types of
social institution:
Arts and culture – galleries, museums,
theatre and music
Business – companies that operate for
prot
The education system – nurseries, primary
schools, secondary schools and universities
Media – newspapers, television, radio and
social media
Government – local and national
governments
Relative to their own value priorities, people
feel that these types of social institution oer
lower encouragement for compassionate
values and greater encouragement for selsh
values. See Figure 8, below.
This result may highlight the scope that
many institutions would be aorded
to realign their work, so that people
come to perceive them as promoting the
compassionate values that most British
citizens consider of greatest importance.
Decision-makers in large institutions often
voice the opinion that they simply can’t do
more to encourage compassionate values
because this wouldn’t be acceptable to
their customers, voters, students, patrons,
readers, viewers, or listeners. These data
challenge that perception – and raise the
possibility that decision-makers could go far
further than they currently do in promoting
compassionate values.
In Section 1.4.3 we suggested that over time
the values encouraged by particular social
institutions will inuence the values held
to be important by people who regularly
interact with these institutions. Our data
are consistent with this suggestion. We
nd that those participants who perceive
institutions as encouraging compassionate
values relatively more strongly also
attach signicantly more importance to
compassionate values themselves.46
W
SELF
1.5
1
0.5
0
-0.5
-1
ARTS &
CULTURE
EDUCATION OTHER MEDIA GOVERNMENT BUSINESS
Figure 8: Mean adjusted compassionate value scores for participants’
beliefs about the values encouraged by various types of institution
The orange bars show the mean adjusted compassionate value scores for participants’ beliefs about
the values encouraged by institutions of each type. The blue and yellow bars, added for comparison,
show adjusted compassionate value scores for participants’ own values and participants’ perceptions of
others’ values, respectively. Of the ve institutional categories, business is seen to do least to encourage
compassionate values – most people perceive business as doing more to encourage selsh values than
compassionate values. Bars show 95% condence limits.
Galleries, museums, theatre and music are considered to encourage
compassionate values more, and selsh values less, than other institutions
People feel that business
tends to encourage
selsh values more than
compassionate values
28
We also suggested in Section 1.4.3 that over
time the values encouraged by particular
social institutions will inuence people’s
perceptions about the values of a typical
fellow citizen. Again, our survey results are
consistent with this suggestion. We nd that
those participants who perceive institutions
as encouraging compassionate values
relatively more strongly perceive a typical
fellow citizen as attaching signicantly
greater importance to compassionate
values.47
5.2 WHAT DO PEOPLE
SAY ABOUT THE VALUES
ENCOURAGED BY
INSTITUTIONS?
It should be asked whether there is
widespread public support for better
alignment of the values encouraged by
various institutions with those held to be
important by most citizens.
It’s possible that people may typically
support institutions in encouraging values
other than those that they hold to be most
important themselves. For example, a person
may not rate ‘wealth’ to be important himself
or herself, but he or she may nonetheless
believe that it is desirable that the UK has
a strong private sector, driven by business
leaders who are focussed on ‘wealth
creation’. Similarly, a person may not be
particularly achievement oriented – but may
nonetheless be supportive of an education
system that encourages achievement among
young people.
However, our interviewees frequently
voiced frustration about the values that they
perceived to be encouraged by a range of
dierent institutions.
For example:
“I think greed can breed greed; they [business
leaders] just wanna get more richer and
successful, and they probably don’t feel they
have to do anything else apart from run their
own businesses…” (Participant 12)
Nonetheless, participants did express
the perception that people in positions of
social inuence could step up to setting
higher standards. As the participant above
continues:
“…but I think those sort of people do need to
stand up and do something, because people
do listen to them so they could use their
inuence more positively.” (Participant 12)
Other participants allude to examples of
a range of institutional constraints on
expressing the values that they hold to be
important – imposed by their workplace, the
media, schools or government.
“I think it’s dicult in a rigid hierarchy to say
we work as a team; especially with younger
people who are so used to looking after
themselves...” (Participant 1)
“It [media] shapes, or doesn’t give a 360
degree perspective on any issue, there’s
always a particular slant and you rarely get
an unbiased article. I’ve been shocked when
I’ve read the Daily Mail sometimes. It frames
the way people think, and they don’t care
about other points of views.” (Participant 10)
“[The media could] remove these tags,
such as ‘Super Woman’, with the ability
to do everything; to have the high-prole
job, perfect marriage, all the multi-tasking
abilities we’re supposed to have – just start
removing these labels.(Participant 6)
“The school is good on the curriculums, the
reading and writing and science and all that,
but we don’t teach life values at all. Some
of the religious schools do, but not all of the
children are religious. So, perhaps lessons
on life, and how to treat each other in a good
way [are needed].(Participant 16)
“It’s still a bit of a classist society, and think
the Conservatives do like to keep it that way,
so I think that must hinder true friendship,
someway. I’m not sure they promote
equality...” (Participant 19)
Several participants also demonstrate
awareness of the role of government in
inuencing values, revealing a sophisticated
understanding of how policies and
29
legislative programmes might inuence
values:
“To me, an opinion on unfairness is the
government targeting people on benets
even though there are a few [fraudulent
claimants]... But they’re taking thousands
out of the system, when there’s tax-dodgers
taking millions out of the system. So I think
it has to be a top-down approach; lead by
example. And if we want a fair and moral
environment we’ve really gotta show that
through principles and the way they act.
(Participant 7)
“I think legislation really does embed in
people; it changes their practices and the
way things are formed; it stops permitting
certain things that are important, so
where racism is illegal, it obviously drives
it underground and is still there for some
people, but for others it makes them stop
and think that you’re not allowed to do this.”
(Participant 10).
In analysing transcripts from in-depth
interviews with twenty participants,
we were unable to nd any examples of
instances where people express approval
or satisfaction that social institutions
encourage selsh values. On the contrary,
a large majority (eighteen out of twenty
participants) express the opinion that it is
the proper role of institutions to promote
values that we identify as compassionate.
5.3 INSTITUTIONS
AND CULTURAL
ESTRANGEMENT
Participants who feel that social
institutions do not encourage
compassionate values report higher levels
of cultural estrangement. This is the case
irrespective of the importance that people
attach to compassionate values.
Cultural estrangement is highest among
people who attach high importance
to compassionate values, but who feel
that institutions do little to encourage
compassionate values.
These results are corroborated by ndings
for selsh values. Here, a person’s sense of
cultural estrangement is likely to be high
if he or she feels that social institutions
encourage selsh values. This relationship
is found irrespective of the importance that
a person attaches to selsh values. However,
people who feel that institutions encourage
selsh values are likely to show particularly
high levels of cultural estrangement if they
also attach particularly low importance to
selsh values themselves.
One might imagine that problems of cultural
estrangement could be addressed by better
aligning an organisation’s values with the
values of the people with whom it most
frequently interacts. For example, a media
organisation might seek to align the values
conveyed by its television programming with
the values of typical viewers.
But our evidence suggests that this would
be the wrong strategy. Even people who
themselves attach high importance to selsh
values report higher cultural estrangement
when they perceive institutions to encourage
these values.
Rather, these results raise the possibility that
cultural estrangement could be reduced in
part if institutions were to work to encourage
compassionate values – and discourage
selsh values – regardless of the values
characterising a typical person interacting
with this institution.
30
WORKING
WITH AN
UNDERSTANDING
OF VALUES
6.
31
f UK citizens are to respond collectively
to profound social and environmental
problems, to deepen public commitment to
civic participation, to build social cohesion,
and to re-shape social institutions such that
these inspire public trust, then they will need
to build on a foundation of shared values.
We have argued that this foundation has
three interrelated elements. Together,
they make up a ‘values nexus’: people’s
own values, people’s perceptions of the
values held to be important by typical
fellow citizens, and the values promoted
– deliberately or inadvertently – by social
institutions.
The widespread importance that people
currently attach to compassionate values
presents a basis from which to build. This
commitment to compassionate values
transcends dierences of age, gender,
region and even political persuasion (see
Appendix).
Compassionate values can be engaged,
legitimised and strengthened by many
dierent organisations – including many
that don’t formally have a role in helping to
address social or environmental challenges,
in building civic engagement, or in reversing
cultural estrangement.
There are many ways in which organisations
can strengthen compassionate values in
society. Values are implicit in the ways that
organisations communicate, in the policies
and practices that they adopt, in the ways
that they manage employees and reach
decisions, and in the physical environment
that they create. All of these areas of activity
can be developed in ways that engage and
strengthen compassionate values.
Of the possible approaches to strengthening
compassionate values, this section focuses
on just three:
Promoting compassionate values through
role models
Conveying a more accurate perception of
others’ values
Challenging assumptions about the values
that most people hold to be important
These three approaches can be pursued
by, among others: members of sta in civil
society organisations working with groups
of people living in a particular area or
expressing particular concerns; business
managers engaging groups of customers or
employees; teachers working with pupils,
students and fellow members of sta; people
working for media organisations through
the printed or on-line resources that they
produce; members of sta in museums,
theatres, or other public spaces supporting
visitors in developing an understanding of
their own values and those of their fellow
citizens.
6.1 PROMOTING
COMPASSIONATE VALUES
THROUGH ROLE MODELS
Reading or hearing about the values of
another person whom one respects can
have a signicant impact on a person’s own
values. Studies have found that presenting
people with information about the values of
respected gures can have long-term impacts
on people’s motivation to become involved
in civic action on social issues – even several
months later.48 If people who nd themselves
in positions of public inuence aimed for
openness about the importance that they
attach to compassionate values, and reected
publicly on some of the pressures that they
encounter to place greater importance on
selsh values, they could help to strengthen
compassionate values more widely.
This approach can be developed further by
drawing comparisons between a person’s
own values and those values that he or
she ascribes to a typical fellow citizen.
Our research suggests that most people
mistakenly believe that they hold higher
compassionate value scores than the
‘average’ person. Peoples ‘inated’ beliefs
about their own values is likely to lead
them to imagine that they share the value
priorities of a minority of people in the wider
population who invite respect because they
visibly attach above average importance
to compassionate values. People can then
be taken aback to discover that they don’t
in fact hold compassionate values to be as
important as some of the role models with
whom they had identied themselves.
I
32
Being taken aback in this way can be used
to good eect. It can leave people feeling
dissatised with their own values, and this
dissatisfaction can become an impetuous
for change, motivating people to change
their own value priorities in a more
compassionate direction.49
For example, suppose a prominent public
person in Birmingham (perhaps an active
community leader) is locally respected as
someone who demonstrates compassionate
values in how she works. Residents of the
city who complete a values quiz in the local
paper, or on-line, and who compare their
own values to those of this leader may be
taken aback to discover a wider disparity
between her values and their own than they
anticipated. This discovery leaves them
feeling dissatised with their own values.
Over time they are likely to come to place
greater importance on compassionate
values.
If public gures have an important inuence
on the values of those who respect them,
then this raises questions of those who
create and maintain the prominence
of these gures. Members of sta in
organisations that help to elevate people to
the position of role models (the media or
advertising agencies, for example) play a
very important role in promoting particular
values in UK society. These members of
sta should ask of one another: Does our
inuence bring responsibilities? If so, how
do we want, collectively, to respond to
these responsibilities? What are the values
projected by the people whose public prole
we help to create and sustain? Are these
values that are helpful to society?
In this section we have highlighted
the possible ways in which coming to
understand something about the values held
to be important by people who command
respect may help to shift others’ values in
the direction of those held to be important
by these people. This will have positive
inuence when these role models are
clearly seen to attach high importance to
compassionate values.
But this also highlights a danger. Many
public gures choose to emphasise the
importance that they place on selsh
values (for example, public image, social
recognition, ambition or wealth). This is an
emphasis which is often further magnied
by the media. Such messages are likely to
shift the value priorities of those who respect
these celebrities, such that they come to
attach greater importance to selsh values.
This will likely lead these people to become
less socially and environmentally concerned,
and less civically engaged.
6.2 CONVEYING A MORE
ACCURATE PERCEPTION OF
OTHERS’ VALUES
There are many instances where people
hold inaccurate beliefs about a typical
person’s attitudes. A range of studies
have found that presenting information
on people’s misconceptions about others’
attitudes can lead to signicant changes
in people’s behaviour. Some studies have
invited participants to discuss these
misperceptions, while others have simply
presented information about them.50
Both approaches have proven eective in
leading people to modify their behaviour,
such that people come to act more closely
in line with the attitudes they themselves
hold, rather than the attitudes that they
(inaccurately) perceive others to hold. For
example, participants in one experiment
were told that people typically think that
they behave more honestly than most other
taxpayers. People who were presented with
this information were subsequently found to
claim signicantly lower deductions in their
tax returns.51
33
We suggest that similar approaches could
be used to motivate people to re-examine
their values. People could be presented with
survey data such as those presented in this
report: conveying the insight that most
people hold compassionate values to be more
important than selsh values, but that most
people also believe that others place less
importance on compassionate values (and
more importance on selsh values) than is
actually the case. We predict that this would
lead people to be more likely to act in line
with their compassionate values.
Where it’s possible to work with groups of
people, information of this kind could form
the basis of facilitated discussions. Where
this is not possible, evidence suggests that
presenting people with this information
in written form – through a website, for
example – may be an eective way of
leading people to come to act in line with
their compassionate values. Such actions
will then contribute to developing public
understanding that compassionate values
are generally held to be more important than
most people imagine.
In more developed versions of this kind
of initiative, people could be invited to
complete two simple value surveys. The rst
of these surveys would ask a person about
his or her own values. The second would ask
about his or her perceptions of the values
of a typical fellow citizen. A participant’s
data could then be presented alongside
data for the wider population. (This could
be done visually using values maps.) The
juxtaposition of these two sets of data would
illustrate the participant’s likely tendency to
underestimate the importance that a typical
fellow citizen places on compassionate
values.
Such approaches could be used in a range of
dierent contexts. Value surveys are easy to
run and analyse, and in common with many
‘psychological quizzes’ the results generate
widespread interest. Such surveys should
become a standard tool used by businesses
(engaging their customers or employees),
educational establishments (surveying
students, pupils or members of sta), media
organisations (through on-line resources),
museums (supporting visitors in exploring
their own values and those of typical fellow
citizens), or civil society organisations
(surveying their supporters or people
concerned about a particular cause).
6.3 CHALLENGING
ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT
THE VALUES THAT MOST
PEOPLE HOLD TO BE
IMPORTANT
As we’ve discussed (Section 5), a wide range
of dierent organisations – arts and culture
organisations, educational institutions, the
media, government and businesses – are
seen by most people to encourage selsh
values and discourage compassionate values
relative to the importance that a typical UK
citizen places on these values.
Values are often encouraged in subtle ways,
and members of sta in such organisations
may need to reect carefully in order to
reach a perspective on what values they
are currently working to encourage.
Any organisation reects a particular
understanding of what motivates people –
whether as employees, customers, pupils,
students, voters, viewers, readers, listeners
or visitors.
Consider, for example:
University campaigns to recruit students
and the assumptions made by members of
the teaching sta convey an understanding
of what motivates students and
prospective students. Is this the search for
purpose and vocation, or a highly paid job?
Politicians’ speeches convey their
understanding of what motivates people to
vote for them. Is this a fairer and more just
society, or more take-home pay?
Managers convey their understanding
of what motivates their employees – for
example, through the way in which they
34
recognise good performance. Is this
recognised by the collective celebration
of meaningful work well done, or by a
nancial bonus?
Assumptions about what motivates people in
turn shape the experience that people have
in interacting with the organisation, and the
values that are encouraged.
It is often and implicitly assumed that
people are most eectively motivated
through appeals to their nancial interests,
cultivation of their public image, or their
desire for power and inuence. Indeed, this
is sometimes the case. But it’s likely to be the
case less often than most people imagine.
Moreover, regardless of whether or not these
assumptions provide an eective basis for
encouraging specic behaviours (e.g. buying
a product or donating to a charity) they will
create the ‘collateral damage’ of engaging
and strengthening selsh values.
Members of sta in any organisation should
ask of themselves: What are our assumptions
about what matters most to the people with
whom we interact? Are these accurate? What
are the wider social implications of relying
on these assumptions?
Common Cause Foundation has produced
resources to support members of sta in asking
these questions, in identifying these implicit
assumptions, and in developing alternative
ways of engaging people – with a view to
strengthening compassionate values. For
example, our recent publication Common
Cause Communication: A Toolkit for
Charities analyses the values implicit in the
ways that a wide range of dierent charities
communicate with their supporters.52 We
are committed to developing these resources
further to help people working in a wide range of
dierent organisations.
6.4 A FINAL NOTE OF
ENCOURAGEMENT
We conclude with a note of encouragement
for anyone working to strengthen
compassionate values. We’d urge people
working in this way to recognise the
importance of what they are doing – and the
likelihood that their work will have impacts
reaching far beyond those of which they
are aware. We have shown that people’s
values are shaped by a complex interplay
of feedback processes. Work to strengthen
compassionate values in one area is likely
to have positive and unforeseen impacts in
many others.
35
APPENDIX:
DEMOGRAPHICS
36
A.1. DIFFERENCES
BETWEEN MEN AND
WOMEN
igure 5 (p. 21) shows people’s values, and
people’s perceptions of a typical fellow
citizen’s values, broken down by gender.
Women hold signicantly higher adjusted
compassionate value scores than men.53
Women, we predict, are therefore likely
to express greater concern about a range
of social and environmental issues. It also
seems likely that womens values will tend to
lead them to be more motivated to engage in
various forms of civic action.
A.2. VARIATIONS WITH AGE
Figure 9 shows how people’s own adjusted
compassionate value scores, and perceptions
of others’ adjusted compassionate value
scores, vary across age groups in our sample
of one thousand UK citizens.
Young people (in the age range 18-24) have
the lowest adjusted compassionate value
scores. These means increase across age
groups, and are highest in the age-range
55-64. They then dip slightly among older
people.
There are two possible explanations for
variation in adjusted compassionate value
scores between age groups.
It’s possible that people who are older
today – for example people in the age
range 55-64 who have the highest adjusted
compassionate value scores – had lower
adjusted compassionate value scores
when they were in their late teens or early
twenties, some forty years ago. Perhaps
these people have come to develop higher
adjusted compassionate value scores as
they have grown older. If this pattern can
be expected to persist, then we can predict
that people who are in the age-range 18-24
today will come to hold greater adjusted
compassionate value scores, as they grow
older. There is certainly evidence that
people come to attach greater importance
to compassionate values as they grow
older.54
Alongside the eects of aging, it might
also be that people who are currently in
their late fties or early sixties have had
relatively high adjusted compassionate
value scores throughout their lifetimes.
F
2.5
2
1.5
1
0.5
0
-0.5
Own values
Perception of a typical fellow citizen’s values
-1
18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65-74 75+
Figure 9: Adjusted compassionate value scores by age
People’s own adjusted compassionate value scores (blue), and perceptions of others’ adjusted compassionate value scores
(yellow), shown for dierent age groups. Older people hold compassionate values to be signicantly more important
(and selsh values to be signicantly less important) than younger people. Older people also have a signicantly more
accurate perception of a typical fellow citizen’s values than younger people. Bars show 95% condence limits.
37
Own values
Perception of a typical
fellow citizen’s values
-0.2
0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
1
1.2
1.4
1.6
1.8
2
Liberals Conservatives
Liberals have higher
adjusted compassionate
values than
conservatives
But conservatives
have a more accurate
perception of others’
values
This could be the case, for example, if
people of this age developed higher
adjusted compassionate value scores
during formative years, as teenagers and
young adults in the 1960s and 1970s. By
comparison, today’s young people may
have lower adjusted compassionate value
scores than people of the same age in the
1960s and 1970s – perhaps because of
social and political changes in the UK over
the last few decades. If this is the case,
today’s young adults could be expected to
continue to have relatively low adjusted
compassionate value scores, even as they
grow older. This would suggest that, as a
society, the UK is headed towards holding
selsh values to be more important and
compassionate values to be less important.
It is important to ask which explanation is
most persuasive, because this is likely to
have implications for the trajectory of public
concern about social and environmental
issues in the UK, and for levels of civic
engagement. Unfortunately, data on how
British people’s values change over time
are sparse, and we can’t yet dierentiate
authoritatively between these two
possibilities.55
A.3. POLITICAL
PERSUASION
Participants in our survey were asked about
their political persuasion. We established
that there are dierences between liberals
and conservatives in the importance that
they place on compassionate and selsh
values – liberals tend to hold higher
adjusted compassionate value scores than
conservatives. See Figure 10.
But liberals and conservatives also dier
in their beliefs about the values of a
typical fellow citizen. Conservatives hold
signicantly more accurate beliefs than
liberals about a typical fellow citizen’s
values (although even conservatives still
signicantly underestimate the importance
that a typical fellow citizen places on
compassionate values and over-estimate the
importance placed on selsh values).56
Previously published research, conducted
in the US, has found that both liberals and
conservatives have skewed perceptions of
the other’s values. But liberal perceptions
of conservative values were found to be more
inaccurate than conservative views of liberal
values.57 Our results are consistent with a
similar phenomenon existing here in the UK.
Figure 10: Adjusted compassionate value scores by political persuasion
People’s own adjusted compassionate value scores (blue), and perceptions of others’ adjusted compassionate value
scores (yellow), shown for people of dierent political persuasion. Liberals have a signicantly higher adjusted
compassionate value score. Conservatives have a signicantly more positive assessment of the values of a typical
fellow citizen than liberals. Bars show 95% condence limits.
38
A.4. REGIONAL VARIATIONS
Figure 11 shows mean adjusted
compassionate value scores for people’s
own values, by UK region.
39
These data reveal signicant
regional dierences in adjusted
compassionate value scores for
both people’s own values, and
people’s perceptions of a typical
fellow citizen’s values.58
Figure 12 shows mean adjusted
compassionate value scores for
respondents’ perception of a
typical fellow citizen’s values.
40
ENDNOTES
41
1 Beleld, C., Cribb, J., Hood, A. & Joyce, R. (2015). Living standards, poverty and inequality in
the UK: 2015. London: Institute of Fiscal Studies. Available at: www.ifs.org.uk/uploads/
publications/comms/R107.pdf (Accessed 15/12/15).
2 NatCen (2014). 30 years of British Social Attitudes self-reported racial prejudice data.
Available at: www.natcen.ac.uk/media/338779/selfreported-racial-prejudice-datanal.pdf
(Accessed: 15 December 2015). The Guardian (2014) Racism on the rise in Britain, 27 May.
Available at: www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/may/27/-sp-racism-on-rise-in-britain
(Accessed: 15 December 2015).
3 Park, A., Bryson, C. & Curtice, J. (Eds.). (2014). British social attitudes: the 31st report. London:
NatCen Social Research. Available at: www.bsa-31.natcen.ac.uk (Accessed: 15 December
2015). See p.v.
4 BBC (2015). CO2 cuts claim sees minister challenged by experts, 19 March. Available at: www.
bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-31952888 (Accessed: 15 December 2015). MetOce
(2015) Studying the causes of extreme weather in 2014, 5 November. Available at: www.
metoce.gov.uk/news/release/archive/2015/BAMS-report (Accessed: 15 December 2015).
5 RSPB (2013) State of nature 2013. Sandy, Bedfordshire: RSPB. Available at: www.rspb.org.uk/
Images/stateofnature_tcm9-345839.pdf (Accessed on 15 December 2015).
6 Ormston, R. & Curtice, J. (Eds.). (2015). British social attitudes: the 32nd report. London:
NatCen Social Research. Available at: www.bsa.natcen.ac.uk (Accessed on 15 December
2015) reported little change in similar forms of political and social action between 2004
and 2014. However, Fink, M.H. (2012) Political participation, democratisation and citizens’
values in Europe. Teorija in Praksa, 49(3): 544-565 found that levels of political participation
(comprising these behaviours: contacting a politician, government or local government
ocial; working in a political party or action group; working in another organisation or
association; wearing or displaying a campaign badge/sticker; signing a petition; taking part
in a lawful public demonstration; boycotting certain products) fell further in the UK over
the period 2002-2010 than in most other EU countries.
7 Park, Bryson & Curtice op.cit. 3. 24% of respondents are dissatised with how well the
government engages people (p. vi); Ormston, R. & Curtice, J. (2015), ibid. 57% of Britons
surveyed believe they have a duty to vote, down from 76% in 1987 (p. 122).
8 YouGov (2012). How much do you trust the following to tell the truth? Available at: cdn.
yougov.com/cumulus_uploads/document/syrhatyofp/Trust_trends_Nov_2012.pdf
(Accessed on 15 December 2015).
9 Rokeach, M. (1973) The nature of human values. New York: Free Press; Schwartz, S. H. (1992).
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10 See, for example: Sheldon, K. M., Nichols, C. P., & Kasser, T. (2011). Americans recommend
smaller ecological footprints when reminded of intrinsic American values of self-
expression, family, and generosity. Ecopsychology, 3(2), 97-104; Crompton, T., Weinstein,
N., Sanderson, B., Kasser, T., Maio, G. & Henderson, S. (2015). No cause is an island: How
people are attuned to values regardless of cause. London: Common Cause Foundation.
Available at: www.valuesandframes.org (Accessed on 15 December 2015); Chilton, P.,
Crompton, T., Kasser, T., Maio, G. & Nolan, A. (2012) Communicating bigger-then-self-
problems to extrinsically-oriented audiences. Godalming, Surrey: WWF-UK. Available
at: www.valuesandframes.org (Accessed on 15 December 2015); Maio, G. R., Pakizeh, A.,
Cheung, W. Y., & Rees, K. J. (2009). Changing, priming, and acting on values: eects via
motivational relations in a circular model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97(4),
699-715.
42
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Journal of Social Psychology, 28(4), 603-622; Thøgersen, J. (1996). Recycling and morality. A
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12 Readers are referred to a useful summary of such experimental work: Sanderson, R. &
McQuilkin, J. (2015) Summary of published research. London: Common Cause Foundation.
Available at: bit.ly/1P6Mofd (Accessed on 15 December 2015). For primary source material
see: Bauer, M.A., Wilkie, J.E., Kim, J.K., & Bodenhausen, G.V. (2012). Cuing Consumerism
Situational Materialism Undermines Personal and Social Well-Being. Psychological
Science, 23(5), 517-523; Bolderdijk, J.W., Steg, L., Geller, E.S., Lehman, P.K. & Postmes, T.
(2013). Comparing the eectiveness of monetary versus moral motives in environmental
campaigning. Nature Climate Change, 3(4), 413–416; Chilton et al. (2012) (op. cit. 10);
Crompton et al. (2015) (op. cit. 10); DeVoe, S.E. & Pfeer, J. (2010). The stingy hour:
how accounting for time aects volunteering. Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin,
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(2013). Self-interest and proenvironmental behaviour. Nature Climate Change, 3, 122–125;
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Ecopsychology 3(2), 97-104; Vansteenkiste, M., Simons, J., Lens, W., Soenens, B., Matos, L. &
Lacante, M. (2004). Less is sometimes more: Goal content matters. Journal of Educational
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importance. Personality, 2, 175 - 187.
13 Schwartz, S. H. (1992). Universals in the content and structure of values: Theoretical
advances and empirical tests in 20 countries. Advances in Experimental Social
Psychology, 25(1), 1-65.
14 See note 10.
15 See note 11.
16 Maio et al. op. cit. 10.
17 See note 11.
18 Schwartz, S. H. (2010). Basic values: How they motivate and inhibit prosocial behaviour,
in Mikulincer, M. E., & Shaver, P. R. (eds.) Prosocial motives, emotions, and behavior: The
better angels of our nature. American Psychological Association. pp.221-241; Vecchione,
M., Schwartz, S. H., Caprara, G. V., Schoen, H., Cieciuch, J., Silvester, J., ... & Mamali, C.
(2015). Personal values and political activism: A crossnational study. British Journal of
Psychology, 106(1), 84-106; Pacheco, G., & Owen, B. (2015). Moving through the political
participation hierarchy: a focus on personal values. Applied Economics, 47(3), 222-238;
Augemberg, K. (2008). Values and politics: Value priorities as predictors of psychological and
instrumental political engagement. Ann Arbor, MI: U.M.I.
19 Bernard, M. M., Gebauer, J. E., & Maio, G. R. (2006). Cultural estrangement: The role of
44
personal and societal value discrepancies. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32(1),
78-92.
20 Elements of this nexus are discussed at greater length in: Ferraro, F., Pfeer, J., & Sutton,
R.I. (2005). Economics language and assumptions: How theories can become self-
fullling. Academy of Management Review, 30(1), 8-24.
21 See note 11.
22 Bem, D. J. (1972). Self-Perception Theory. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in Experimental
Social Psychology, vol. 6 (pp. 1–62). New York: Academic Press.
23 Frank, R. H., Gilovich, T., & Regan, D. T. (1993). Does studying economics inhibit
cooperation? The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 159-171; Brunk, G. G. (1980). The Impact
of Rational Participation Models on Voting Attitudes. Public Choice, 35, 549-564; see also
Marwell, G., & Ames, R. E. (1981). Economists free ride, does anyone else?: Experiments on
the provision of public goods, IV. Journal of Public Economics, 15(3), 295-310. It’s important
to avoid lapsing into using ‘self-interest’ as a synonym for what we call ‘selsh values’ in
this report (see Box 1). But we believe that the eects described in these studies will serve to
strengthen selsh values, alongside norms of self-interest.
24 Sheldon, K. M., & Krieger, L. S. (2004). Does legal education have undermining eects on
law students? Evaluating changes in motivation, values, and well-being. Behavioral Sciences
& the Law, 22(2), 261-286.
25 Kasser, T. & Linn, S. (in press). Growing up under corporate capitalism: The problem of
marketing to children, with suggestions for policy solutions. Social Issues and Policy Review;
Schwartz, S.H. (2007). Cultural and individual value correlates of capitalism: A comparative
analysis. Psychological Inquiry, 18(1), 52-57.
26 Frank et al., op. cit. 23; Brunk, op. cit. 23.
27 Ferraro et al., op. cit. 20.
28 Miller, D. T. (1999). The norm of self-interest. American Psychologist, 54, 1053–1060.
29 Ibid, p. 1053.
30 The Portrait Values Questionnaire is widely used and forms the basis of part of the
European Social Survey, conducted at regular intervals across many European countries.
Schwartz, S. H. (2003). A proposal for measuring value orientations across nations.
Questionnaire Development Package of the European Social Survey, 259-319. Available at:
www.europeansocialsurvey .org/index.php?optioncom_docman&taskdoc_view&gid126&
Itemid80 (Accessed on 15 December 2015).
31 We dened these types of institutions more specically, as follows: “By Arts and culture
we mean the galleries, museums, theatre and music that you experience”; “By the business
sector, we mean companies that operate for prot”; “By the education system we mean
nurseries, primary schools, secondary schools and universities”; “By the media we mean
newspaper, television, radio and social media”; “By government we mean local and
national governments”.
32 Cozzarelli, C., & Karafa, J. A. (1998). Cultural estrangement and terror management
theory. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 24(3), 253-267; Bernard et al., op.cit. 19.
33 We asked respondents about six attitudinal factors taken from the Civic Engagement
Scale. Doolittle, A., & Faul, A.C. (2013). Civic Engagement Scale. SAGE Open, 3(3),
2158244013495542.
45
34 Schwartz, S. H., Verkasalo, M., Antonovsky, A., & Sagiv, L. (1997). Value priorities and social
desirability: Much substance, some style. British Journal of Social Psychology, 36,3–18.
35 We used the 16-item version of Paulhus’ Balanced Inventory of Desirable Responding
(BIDR). Bobbio, A. N. D. R. E. A., & Manganelli, A. M. (2011). Measuring social desirability
responding. A short version of Paulhus’ BIDR 6. Testing, Psychometrics Methodology in
Applied Psychology, 18, 117-135.
36 In fact, self-deceptive enhancement was related to participants’ perceptions of others’
values, but in an unexpected direction. People who scored more highly in self-deceptive
enhancement were likely to view a typical fellow citizen as holding selsh values to be less
important, and as holding compassionate values to be more important. The eects that we
report, related to a person’s perception of other people’s values, might therefore be even
stronger were it not for this form of bias.
37 Abed, N. & Pakdaman, S. (2013). Value structures among Iranian and British students.
Psychology and Behavioral Sciences, 2(6), 202-205; Schwartz, S. H., & Bardi, A. (2001).
Value hierarchies across cultures taking a similarities perspective. Journal of Cross-cultural
Psychology, 32(3), 268-290.
38 op. cit. 18.
39 Relationships with compassionate values: Voting behaviour – r=0.093, p<0.01. Other
behaviours – r=0.217, p<0.001. Attitudes to civic behaviour – r=0.246, p<0.001.
Relationships with selsh values: Voting behaviour – r=-0.137, p<0.001. Other behaviours –
r=-0.080, p<0.05. Attitudes to civic behaviour – r=-0.098; p<0.01.
40 Key statistics: r=0.254, p<0.001.
41 Note that results for civic behaviours other than voting (e.g. volunteering, joining a
demonstration) do not reach statistical signicance. We predicted that we would nd
similar results for civic behaviours other than voting to those that we found for voting
behaviour and attitudes towards a range of civic behaviours. This failure to reach statistical
signicance is perhaps attributable to the higher barriers to entry associated with some
forms of non-voting behaviour. These are likely to mean that a range of other factors
intervene between a person holding values that orient them positively towards a particular
behaviour, and actually engaging in this behaviour. This is also likely to mean that we
simply nd fewer participants who have engaged in these behaviours over the last ve
years – making it more dicult to detect these eects statistically. We examined the data at
the level of individual items making up this part of the survey, requiring higher signicance
levels to safeguard against possible random occurrences of signicance. Here we found a
signicant and positive association between participants’ report of having “got in touch
with a local government ocial about a local issue” and their perception of fellow citizens’
self-transcendence values (r=0.088; p<0.001).
42 Relationships with perceptions of other’s compassionate values: Voting behaviour – r=0.106,
p<0.001. Attitudes to civic behaviour – r=0.117, p<0.001. Relationships with perceptions of
others’ selsh values: Voting behaviour – r=-0.130, p<0.001. Attitudes to civic behaviour –
r=-0.100; p<0.01.
43 This nding corroborates other published research. See, for example, Bernard et al., op. cit.
19.
44 In other words, if a person holds compassionate values to be important, then a relatively
small change in this person’s perceptions about the compassionate values of a typical
fellow citizen tends to have a greater eect on his or her sense of cultural estrangement
than a comparable shift in perception for someone who holds compassionate values to be
46
less important.
45 Miller, op. cit. 28.
46 Key statistics: r=0.230, p<0.001. We also found that those who perceive institutions as
encouraging selsh values relatively more strongly attach signicantly more importance to
selsh values themselves (r=0.360, p<0.001).
47 Key statistics: r=0.230, p<0.001. We also found that those who perceive institutions as
encouraging selsh values relatively more strongly perceive a typical fellow citizen as
attaching signicantly greater importance to selsh values (r=0.292, p<0.001).
48 Rokeach, M., & McLellan, D. D. (1972). Feedback of information about the values and
attitudes of self and others as determinants of longterm cognitive and behavioral
change. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 2(3), 236-251.
49 Grube, J. W., Mayton, D. M., & BallRokeach, S. J. (1994). Inducing change in values,
attitudes, and behaviors: belief system theory and the method of value selfconfrontation.
Journal of Social Issues, 50(4), 153-173; Rokeach, M., & Cochkane, R. (1972). Self
confrontation and confrontation with another as determinants of longterm value
change. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 2(4), 283-292.
50 Schroeder, C. M., & Prentice, D. A. (1998). Exposing pluralistic ignorance to reduce
alcohol use among college students. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 28(23), 2150-2180;
Wenzel, M. (2005). Misperceptions of social norms about tax compliance: From theory to
intervention. Journal of Economic Psychology, 26(6), 862-883.
51 ibid.
52 Crompton, T. & Weistein, N. (2015) Common Cause Communication: A Toolkit for Charities.
London: Common Cause Foundation. Available at: www.valuesandframes.org (Accessed on
15 December 2015).
53 The mean adjusted compassionate value score for women is 1.63; for men it’s 0.94. Our data
on gender corroborate other published research. See, for example: Schwartz, S.H., & Rubel,
T. (2005). Sex dierences in value priorities: cross-cultural and multimethod studies.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89(6), 1010.
54 Schwartz, S.H. (2006). Basic Human Values: An Overview. The Hebrew University of
Jerusalem.
55 Henrik Dobewall, personal communication, 18 September 2015.
56 Recall that, for all participants, the mean adjusted compassionate value score for
perceptions of a typical fellow citizen’s values is 0.30. Among conservatives, the mean
adjusted compassionate value score for perceptions of a typical fellow citizen’s values is
0.43; among liberals this is 0.08.
57 Graham, J., Nosek, B. A., & Haidt, J. (2012). The moral stereotypes of liberals and
conservatives: Exaggeration of dierences across the political spectrum. PLoS ONE, 7(12).
58 It is important to note here that participants in the survey were asked to think about the
values of a “typical British person”. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, but not
Great Britain. Respondents in Northern Ireland may therefore have excluded others who
live in Northern Ireland when prompted to think about a typical British person.
4747
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48
... This means there is a perception gap where the majority of people think others are more selfish and less compassionate than they are themselves. 10 Similar results have been found across the UK (Crompton 2016). ...
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Publisher Summary Individuals come to “know” their own attitudes, emotions, and other internal states partially by inferring them from observations of their own overt behavior and/ or the circumstances in which this behavior occurs. Thus, to the extent that internal cues are weak, ambiguous, or uninterpretable, the individual is functionally in the same position as an outside observer, an observer who must necessarily rely upon those same external cues to infer the individual's inner states. This chapter traces the conceptual antecedents and empirical consequences of these propositions, attempts to place the theory in a slightly enlarged frame of reference, and clarifies just what phenomena the theory can and cannot account for in the rapidly growing experimental literature of self-attribution phenomena. Several experiments and paradigms from the cognitive dissonance literature are amenable to self-perception interpretations. But precisely because such experiments are subject to alternative interpretations, they cannot be used as unequivocal evidence for self-perception theory. The reinterpretation of cognitive dissonance phenomena and other self-perception phenomena have been discussed. The chapter highlights some differences between self-perception and interpersonal perception and shift of paradigm in social psychology. It discusses some unsolved problems, such as the conceptual status of noncognitive response classes and the strategy of functional analysis.
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Bronfenbrenner's ecological model of development suggests that children are affected by the economic system under which they live. Corporate capitalism is one such economic system, and evidence suggests that the focus on profit and power characteristic of deregulated, competitive forms of capitalism can suppress how much citizens prioritize the values that support the nurturing of children. One manifestation of this capitalist ideology is the practice of marketing to children, a practice known to be associated with a variety of negative outcomes for children. We present empirical evidence supporting these claims and conclude by proposing numerous policies aimed at reducing children's exposure to marketing. The policies, many of which have widespread public support, can be implemented in a number of types of institutions that directly or indirectly affect children, including professional organizations, schools, businesses, and all levels of government.
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There is wide agreement that global sustainable development can only be achieved if human lifestyles are changed. These changes will be required to address the ecological, social and economic challenges of today. In this article, we examine people who are living sustainable lifestyles. I refer to these people as lifestyle pioneers. The reported study examines the motivational and developmental factors that are important for adopting sustainable lifestyles.
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The self-interest motive is singularly powerful according to many of the most influential theories of human behavior and the layperson alike. In the present article the author examines the role the assumption of self-interest plays in its own confirmation. It is proposed that a norm exists in Western cultures that specifies self-interest both is and ought to be a powerful determinant of behavior. This norm influences people's actions and opinions as well as the accounts they give for their actions and opinions. In particular; it leads people to act and speak as though they care more about their material self-interest than they do. Consequences of misinterpreting the "fact" of self-interest are discussed.
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The aim of this research was to devise a short version of the BIDR 6 scale, a well-known measure of the two main dimensions of socially desirable responding: self-deceptive enhancement and impression management. Three correlational studies are described, all conducted with Italian respondents. In the first, a sample of non-student adults and a sample of university students were involved. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses and reliability analysis were applied. Invariance of the factor structure was tested via the multi-sample procedure. A 16-item reliable version was achieved and the factor structure, comparing both non-student adults vs. university students and male vs. female samples, turned out to be invariant. Differences for age, gender, and level of education were addressed. In the second study, data were collected by means of a Web-based questionnaire. Factorial structure and reliability of the BIDR 6 short version scale found support. Gender differences were addressed and discussed. In the third study the scale was administered in an organizational context along with internal Locus of Control, Self-Efficacy, Alienation, Hopefulness scales, and a short version of the Crowne and Marlowe's Social Desirability scale. Again, the 16-item BIDR 6 turned out to be reliable, the two-latent factor structure was endorsed by data, and the correlations with all the other measures supported its validity.
Article
The aim of this research was to devise a short version of the BIDR 6 scale, a well-known measure of the two main dimensions of socially desirable responding: self-deceptive enhancement and impression management. Three correlational studies are described, all conducted with Italian respondents. In the first, a sample of non-student adults and a sample of university students were involved. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses and reliability analysis were applied. Invariance of the factor structure was tested via the multi-sample procedure. A 16-item reliable version was achieved and the factor structure, comparing both non-student adults vs. university students and male vs. female samples, turned out to be invariant. Differences for age, gender, and level of education were addressed. In the second study, data were collected by means of a Web-based questionnaire. Factorial structure and reliability of the BIDR 6 short version scale found support. Gender differences were addressed and discussed. In the third study the scale was administered in an organizational context along with internal Locus of Control, Self-Efficacy, Alienation, Hopefulness scales, and a short version of the Crowne and Marlowe's Social Desirability scale. Again, the 16-item BIDR 6 turned out to be reliable, the two-latent factor structure was endorsed by data, and the correlations with all the other measures supported its validity.