Values research

“Is there value in values research?”


Ronald Fischer, Ph.D.

delivered as the first in the Virgilio G. Enriquez Culture & Psychology Lecture Series

University of the Philippines, Department of Psychology

Room 309, Palma Hall Annex, 2 August 2010


Dr Ronald Fischer received his PhD from the University of Sussex in the UK, studying values and organizational justice.  He is a Senior Lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington and a Fellow of the Centre for Applied Cross-Cultural Research.  He is an Associate Editor of the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology and received an Early Career Research Award from the International Academy for Intercultural Research.  He is working in applied cross-cultural psychology, focusing on various social, organizational and political issues as well as developing cross-cultural and multi-level research methods.  Much of his current research focuses on cultural norms and practices as well as functions and correlates of values at individual and societal level-of-analysis.


His program was as follows:

  • What are values?
  • Theory of Human Values (e.g., Schwartz Value Survey)
  • What are the various questions/issues related to Values research?
  • What are the applications? Do values matter? Can Values research be used to predict how people behave or think about life? Can it be used to help produce positive social change?

Theory on Human Values:

Schwartz (1992, 2005a) identifies five main features of values:
(1) Values are beliefs linked to emotions. People for whom independence is an important value become aroused if their independence is threatened, for example, despair when they are helpless to protect it, and
are happy when they can enjoy it.
(2) Values refer to desirable goals that motivate action. People for whom social order, justice, and helpfulness are important values are motivated to
pursue these goals.
(3) Values are abstract goals that transcend specific actions and situations,
a feature that distinguishes them from narrower concepts like norms and attitudes.
(4) Values serve as standards or criteria that guide the selection or evaluation of actions, policies, people, and events.
(5) Values are ordered by importance, with each person characterized by his/her own distinctive system of value priorities.

Based on Schwartz Value Survey, the structure of human/personal values can be reduced the following 10 values:

These values can, in turn, be placed on a 2-dimensional plane, as follows:


Some observations:

  • although this structure may be different depending on the national culture (of a given individual), the structure basically remains the same;
  • an interesting finding from Dr Ronald Fischer’s recent research is that the “conflict” between “opposing” values is reduced with economic development;
  • Also, in recent work among physicians in Brazil, they’ve found out that

Economic development –> Crowded living conditions –> Merging (of Materialistic and Idealistic values)


The application I found extremely interesting in subsequent research work done by Dr Fischer is the merging of Values research with Computer Science (“Persuasive Technology” or designing computer games to persuade people to behave well) with Marketing…to answer the following questions:

Can Values research be used to predict how people behave or think about life? Can it be used to help produce positive social change?

The case was the development of a Computer Game to get youths in New Zealand to QUIT SMOKING! 🙂

The results/findings of this study can be found on the ABSTRACT of the paper:



Dr. Ronald Fischer’s email is available here:


Dr Ronald Fischer receiving Certificate of Recognition from new Dean Dr Michael Tan, after lecture “Is there value in Values research?” at Palma Hall Annex Rm309, U.P. Diliman, 2 Aug. 2010, 10am-12nn.