According to every social science dealing with the issue of motivation and behavior, from psychology to sociology to neuroscience, our decision making and action taking are determined and informed by our core values and beliefs.
The ranking of different values that we hold and how strongly we feel the need to cater to them will define how we behave in various contexts and situations.
But are values universally held, and if so, to what degree?
A very interesting and robust analysis by Valuegraphics of more than half a million surveys, conducted in 152 languages, has managed to give us a comprehensive look at what people care about the most around the world.
What are the top universally held values?
According to the analysis, the family holds the top importance in people’s values on a global level. People care about their own and work and act in a way that will benefit their family. That is something to keep in mind when communicating ideas to target audiences.
Relationships and Belonging
People’s sense of belonging to communities, having friendships, and maintaining connectedness with others is also of great importance in people’s values around the world. This need to form and keep connections alive and strong has been felt by all of us in high relief with the impact of the rules of self-isolation and distancing imposed globally due to Covid-19.
Loyalty, Religion, Spirituality
Humanity has always been allured and intrigued by existential questions. We have been seeking answers about what our place is in the cosmos since the beginning of history, and that has not changed in the slightest. Spirituality, religion, loyalty to communities or ideals, will always remain high on the list of strongly held values around the world.
Stability, Financial Independence, Job Security
People need to feel safe. It’s a universal need, and so it comes as no surprise that it is globally held high in the list of strong values, regardless of culture or race. In the form of general stability, of financial security and of income security (i.e. a steady job), people everywhere need to have a sense of stability in their daily lives and they will work towards achieving it.
According to Valuegraphics, here are the top 10 values we share across cultures.
3. Financial Security
6. Personal Growth
9. Employment Security
10. Personal Responsibility
What values emerge between cultures?
The effect of culture emerges when it comes to different types of values, yielding a fascinating motley of variation across the world.
For example, the value of possessing Patience scored very high in Africa, but only hovered around the middle on average in the Americas. Tradition is considered an important value the least in Europe, but is considered very high in the Middle East. Morality scores high in the Middle East, but very low in Europe, Central and South America. Self-control is another interesting value: held very low in Asia, Oceania, and just a little bit higher in Europe and the Americas, but quite high in the Middle East.
Authority on the other hand seems to hold a high rank in North America and the Middle East but drop a lot lower in Europe and other areas in the world.
Knowing the values that resonate with people globally, as well as across different cultures is of paramount importance for effective communication. It is also vital for understanding how people in different parts of the world make their decisions and plan their strategies for moving forward in their lives, setting their goals, and measuring success.