Human values: Understanding the Harmony in existence

Human values

Human values have been employed in so distinctively different ways in human discourse. It is often said that a person has a value or an object has a value.

Value is “a concept explicit of implicit, distinctive of an individual or characteristics of a group of those desirable traits which influence the selection from available modes and ends of action.”

value is an abstract term which is commonly regarded as an economic conception. In the words of John Dewey, “Value means primarily, to price, to esteem, to appraise, to estimate. It means the act of cherishing something holding it clear and also, the act of passing judgement upon the nature and amount of its value as compared with something else,”

According to Rokeach, “Value is an enduring belief, a specific mode of conduct or an end state of existence, along a continuum of relative importance.”

Values are part and parcel of philosophy. Hence, aims of education are naturally concerned with values. Ail education is, in fact, very naturally value-oriented. Each educational goal, whether originating in a person, a family, a community, a school or an educational system, is believed to be good. ‘Good’ is intended to mean here ‘avoidance of bad’

The guiding social aims and beliefs which are regarded as the important aspects of a culture, then, the different aspects of culture are also ‘valued’ by the people; and the ideas lying behind which they think worthwhile, are called as VALUES! A value is a preference as well as conception of the preferable. According to Kluckohn a value is a conception of the desirable and not something “merely desired”.  Values are defined as something which are desirable and worthy of esteem for their own sake. Human values are defined as those values which help man to live in harmony with the world.  Values that may be included in the general definition of human values are love, brotherhood, respect for others — including plants and animals — honesty, sincerity, truthfulness, non-violence, gratitude, tolerance, a sense of responsibility, cooperation, self-reliance, secularism and internationalism.

Nature of Values

  • Values are not feelings, but they are concepts.
  • Values are express feelings but they are more than feelings.
  • Values exist in the mind, and, are independent of Public affirmation.
  • Values are absolute but they are dimensional. That is, values are a criteria for judging the degree of goodness of badness, Tightness or wrongness.
  • Values are concepts heavily weighted with emotions and influence the child’s selection from variable modes, means and ends of action.
  • alues are primarily, ethical, social and subjective. Therefore, they are strong dispositions of human behaviour than concepts with less heavy emotional weightage.
  • Values are based on respect for human dignity. They assume that personal integrity is the nucleus around which ethical community and global stewardship resolve.
  • Values are the very essence of human life.
  • Values are essential for a fair and equitable community which reflects our respect as well as responsibility for the global environment.
  • Values are cross-cultural and are essential for the development of community and global citizenship.
  • Values are that in which people are interested.
  • Values are the things of worship.
  • Value is the product of feeling, set and action.

Basic human values and behavior

Value activation : Values affect behavior only if they are activated. Activation may or may not entail conscious thought about a value. Much information processing occurs outside of awareness. The more accessible a value, i.e., the more easily it comes to mind, the more likely it will be activated. Because more important values are more accessible, they relate more to behavior.

Values as a source of motivation: People’s values, like their needs, induce valences on possible actions. That is, actions become more attractive, more valued subjectively, to the extent that they promote attainment of valued goals. People who value stimulation would likely be attracted to a challenging job offer whereas those who value security might find the same offer threatening and unattractive. High-priority values are central to the self-concept. Sensing an opportunity to attain them sets off an automatic, positive, affective response to actions that will serve them. Sensing a threat to value attainment sets off a negative affective response. This often occurs without our consciously weighing alternative actions and their consequences.

Influence of values on attention, perception, and interpretation in situations: High priority values are chronic goals that guide people to seek out and attend to value-relevant aspects of a situation. One woman may attend to the opportunities a job offers for self-direction, another to the constraints it imposes on her social life. Each defines the situation in light of her own important values. Each interpretation suggests that a different line of action is desirable. Value priorities also influence the weight people give to each value issue. Even if both women recognize the same value-relevant opportunities and constraints, the weight they give them will differ depending on their value priorities.

Influence of values on the planning of action: More important goals induce a stronger motivation to plan thoroughly. The higher the priority given to a value, the more likely people will form action plans that can lead to its expression in behavior. Planning focuses people on the pros of desired actions rather than the cons. It enhances their belief in their ability to reach the valued goal and increases persistence in the face of obstacles and distractions. By promoting planning, value importance increases value-consistent behavior.


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