Definition of ‘Values’
Hyde & Williamson (2000) have provided for, a working definition of “values” derived from Milton Rokeach’s pioneering work on the matter (Rokeach, 1973) that reads “the underlying and relatively stable dispositions which people use to guide their actions and decisions and to help them make judgements about what is right and wrong”. Rokeach (1973) separates values into terminal values that are self-sufficient end-states of existence that a person strives to achieve (e.g., equality, wisdom, comfortable life) and instrumental values that are modes of behaviour (e.g., honesty, helpfulness) that facilitate the attainment of terminal values. Schein (1985) proposed that modes of behaviour (instrumental values) have more in common with values as they are used by researchers and practitioners to describe an organization’s culture. Therefore, this essay will concentrate on values that indicate modes of behaviour.
How do values affect individual behaviour?
Values affect an individual’s behaviour directly as they lead them to act in accordance with their values (Williams, 1979), across situations and over time (Epstein, 1979). A simple example of this is if an individual possesses the value of ‘polite’ or being polite, classified under instrumental values (Rokeach, 1973). This value will be translated externally in the form of their behaviour, where they will be seen to express behaviour associated to being well mannered or courteous.
Next, values can affect an individual’s behaviour but depending on their environment, individuals engage in either social (public) or private behaviour. Kluckhorn (1951) states that because values indicate modes of conduct that are socially desirable, social sanctions such as punishment or shame will cause them to conform to overriding social values in their public actions, even if the internalised values do not conform to these social values. For example, a modern Chinese couple living in Malaysia may possess the...