Values as truisms: Evidence and implications

Gregory R. Maio, James M. Olson
1998 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology  
Three experiments tested the general hypothesis that values are cultural truisms--that is, beliefs that are widely shared and rarely questioned. Experiment 1 examined specifically whether people lack cognitive support for their values. It was predicted and found that analyzing one's reasons for particular values caused the values to change, a finding that would be expected only if individuals lack cognitive support for their values. Experiment 2 verified that analyzing reasons caused value
more » ... e only when participants were not provided with cognitive support for their values. Experiment 3 found that the effect of analyzing reasons generalized across a range of individual-differences variables. Experiment 3 also showed that analyzing reasons resulted in value ratings that were less predictive of relevant attitudes than pre-reasons-analysis value ratings, but only for high self-monitors. We deliberate not about ends but about means. For a doctor does not deliberate whether he shall heal, nor an orator whether he shall persuade, nor a statesman whether he shall produce law and order, nor does anyone else deliberate about his end. They assume the end and consider how and by what means it is to be attained. - -Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics Helpfulness and law and order can be considered examples of values, which are abstract goals that people consider to be important guiding principles in their lives (Rokeach, 1973; Schwartz, 1992) . Values are cited in discussions of a variety of important social issues, such as child rearing, criminal punishment, education, equal rights, health care, immigration, and social welfare. Values have even been used to justify war. During war, the enemy is often portrayed as lacking morals and threatening basic values (e.g., freedom), and this threat to values becomes a rallying cry. Such appeals to values suggest that people attach great importance to their values and that people will vigorously defend their values. Consistent with this idea, many social psychologists consider values to be among people's most important evaluative
doi:10.1037//0022-3514.74.2.294 fatcat:6bm3eni4zbawjnbss7i4miwf6u