What are values?

A value is a belief, a mission, or a philosophy that is meaningful. Whether you are consciously aware of them or not, everyone has core set of personal values - judgements made about what is important in life. They generate our behaviour - telling us what is good, beneficial, important, useful, beautiful, desirable, appropriate etc. Your values help to determine your tastes, your way of life, your career path, your social and political interactions among others.

Two types of values

  • Objective values which are common to everyone (the desire to avoid physical pain, seek pleasure and comfort, etc)
  • Subjective values which vary across individuals and cultures and are in many ways aligned with our personal beliefs systems

What do you value most?

Here is a list of values (both work and personal). Read through the list, select the ones that are important to you. Feel free to add more values that are important to you and that are not shown in this list

Achievement Fun Physical challenge
Advancement and promotion Growth Pleasure
Adventure Having a family Power and authority
Affection (love) Helping others Privacy
Arts Helping society Public Service
Challenging problems Honesty Purity
Change or variety Independence Quality of what I take part in
Close relationships Influencing others Quality relationships
Community Inner harmony Recognition
Competence Integrity Religion
Competition Intelligence Reputation
Cooperation Involvement Responsibility and accountability
Job stability Security Creativity
Knowledge Self-respect Decisiveness
Leadership Serenity Democracy
Efficiency Openness in others Wisdom
Excitement Working under pressure Working with others
Excellence Money Truth
Knowledge Professionalism Supervising others

Values and assumptions

Values have a key role to play in assumptions. An important concept in understanding our assumptions is "perception". The process of perception is as follows:

  1. Sensory input (eg someone's appearance).
  2. Selective attention. You cannot pay attention to everything, so you filter out a lot of things that you do not consider important.
  3. Perceptual organisation. You look for order, pattern, meaning based on your individual set.
  4. Interpretation.
  5. Behavioural response.

The halo effect

When you meet a stranger you tend to "size them up" to make judgements about the kind of person they are and whether you like them or not. If your judgement is favourable, you tend to give the person a positive halo and if your judgement is unfavourable, you tend to give the person a negative halo, sometimes called the horn effect.


Stereotypes are over-generalisations, but they can be convenient - providing a short cut in the evaluation process and often giving a good indication of likely behaviour.