Review Article

Personal values in human life

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The construct of values is central to many fields in the social sciences and humanities. The last two decades have seen a growing body of psychological research that investigates the content, structure and consequences of personal values in many cultures. Taking a cross-cultural perspective we review, organize and integrate research on personal values, and point to some of the main findings that this research has yielded. Personal values are subjective in nature, and reflect what people think and state about themselves. Consequently, both researchers and laymen sometimes question the usefulness of personal values in influencing action. Yet, self-reported values predict a large variety of attitudes, preferences and overt behaviours. Individuals act in ways that allow them to express their important values and attain the goals underlying them. Thus, understanding personal values means understanding human behaviour.

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This paper was partly funded by a grant from the Israel Science Foundation (847/14) to L.S. and S.R.; grants from the Recanati Fund of the School of Business Administration and the Mandel Scholion Interdisciplinary Research Center, both at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, to L.S.; and a grant from The Open University Research Fund of the Open University of Israel to S.R. The work of J.C. was supported by the University Research Priority Program Social Networks of the University of Zurich.

Author information


  1. School of Business Administration, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Mount Scopus, Jerusalem, 91905, Israel

    • Lilach Sagiv
    •  & Shalom H. Schwartz
  2. Department of Education and Psychology, The Open University of Israel, P. O. Box 808, 1 University Road, Raanana, 43107, Israel

    • Sonia Roccas
  3. University of Zurich, URPP Social Networks, Andreasstrasse 15, CH-8050, Zurich, Switzerland

    • Jan Cieciuch
  4. Institute of Psychology, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw, Wóycickiego 1/3 bud. 14, 01-938, Warsaw, Poland

    • Jan Cieciuch
  5. Department of Psychology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Mount Scopus, Jerusalem, 91905, Israel

    • Shalom H. Schwartz


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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Lilach Sagiv.