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Personal values in human life


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.

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Correspondence to Lilach Sagiv.

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Fig. 1: The content and structure of human values.