7400.362 - Family Life Management
School of Family and Consumer Sciences
Instructor: David D. Witt, Ph.D.
Topic 3 - Values, Attitudes and Goals
I. Introduction: Values, attitudes and goals underlie interpersonal
relationships and lifestyle choices, such as work, marriage, residence.
The three are interrelated in that values and attitudes affect the
goals we seek, and our perception and use of resources.
II. Values are principles that guide our
behavior. They are deep-seated psychological constructs that form the
foundation of our goal-seeking behavior.
A Value-Orientation resides within each person as an internally
integrated value system. These are expressed in the way we make
judgments - from the way we dress to the way we use language to the way
we manage money and other resources. Our V-O derives from two sources
of the mind:
Affective domain (feelings, emotions - often indescribable)
Cognitive domain (logical thought processes).
Both domains are based on our previous experience, making our V-O an
ongoing, never-ending, ever-changing process that forms our individual
personality and behavior. Let me amend this - the above is true
more for people who continue to grow intellectually and true less for
those of us who quit growing at some point.
There are four ways to distinguish between values:
Absolute vs. Relative Values
Absolute values are extreme and very black and white, no room for
in-between or gray zone. For people who hold honesty as an absolute
value (as In, "honesty IS the best policy), these people would seek
honesty in all situations. What do you hold most strongly? Do you have
any absolute values?
Relative values can vary from situation to situation; they are more
flexible and depend on the context in which you find yourself. So, a
person who holds honesty as a relative value may find that it’s not
necessary to be honest in all situations. What may be more important in
a particular situation is that it would hurt the person to be honest.
Such people tend to seek additional information before expressing
opinions or taking action. There is an Indian saying that justifies a
marriage even if it came through by telling a thousand (white) lies,
since the end goal apparently justifies the means! It is up to you if
you want to buy this, but this shows a relative value with
respect to lying, but an absolute value with respect to marriage.
Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Values
Intrinsic Values are ends in themselves, whereas extrinsic values
derive their worth or meaning from someone or something else. For
example, I'm putting together a bookshelf all by myself. I find this
activity intrinsically rewarding because I am demonstrating the values
of independence and self-reliance.
With extrinsic values, their worth is derived from something external:
the text's example of an Academy award is good. The award has no
meaning unless people ascribe a meaning to it; and a group of people
has awarded this to you. It would have no value if you went to the
store and bought a fake award.
Sometimes extrinsically rewarding a person may destroy intrinsic
motivation or the intrinsic value you derive from the activity in
question. This has been found when you shower undeserved praise or
money or other rewards for something that was of great intrinsic value
to the person already. Does this explain why some sportspersons fail to
perform once they get the limelight?
Traditional, Personal, and Professional Values
Traditional values are those that are commonly held by the predominant
society in which one lives. E.g.Children should begin going to school
at around age five or six. Personal values are those that individuals
hold for themselves, such as courage (standing up for one's beliefs)
and forgiveness. Professional values are related to jobs and careers.
e.g. ambition. One value can fall into all 3 categories (such as
politeness) -or- Societal, personal and professional values may be in
conflict, for example of you place a high value on integrity and
honesty, and your company is doing something illegal, and you expose
Instrumental vs. Terminal Values
Terminal values are preferences for end states of existence, such as
equality, freedom, or a comfortable life.
Instrumental values are preferences for general modes of conduct, such
as being helpful, loving, and intellectual.
Rokeach (1973) defines values as "global beliefs that guide actions
and judgments across a variety of situations; they are individual
that affect attitudes, motivation, needs and perceptions."
Values, Lifestyles and Consumption
Values are formed from our past experiences and are influenced by many
sources, including parents, siblings, friends, teachers, religions,
the media, etc
Shopping behaviors give us a good example of values in action: A person
who comparison shops has different values (and maybe different
than a person who buys the first thing she sees; choosing what to buy
where are also examples of decisions based on values. Ex: I have never
bought anything to wear at Sears; with food, I tend to compare prices
buy the more inexpensive items, except for a few things, like good
products, certain types of cereal.
Notes from VALS Research - VALS stands for Values
and Lifestyles. It is a research project designed
by Stanford University, the purpose of which is to track shifts in the
consumer values and lifestyles in the United States. Based on the V
findings, consumers were divided into four major groups:
VALSTM Research was conducted later in 1989; it was more
psychologically oriented than the original VALS and classified
consumers into 3 self-orientations:
- Need-driven consumers (11%) -these folks buy things mainly
to satisfy basic, subsistence needs.
- Outer-directed consumers (67%) are influenced by a desire
to impress other people (who tend to buy expensive shoes and clothes,
partly because they fit best, but only partly)
- Inner-directed consumers (20%) -motivated by a desire for
- Combined inner- and outer- directed consumers integrate
social and self-orientations. (2%).
- Principle-oriented: These individuals are guided in their
choices by their beliefs and principles rather than by feelings,
events, or desire for approval.
- Status-oriented: These individuals are heavily influenced
by the actions, approval, and opinions of others
- Action-oriented: These individuals desire social or
physical activity, variety and risk taking.
- These 3 orientations determine the types of behaviors and
goals that you might pursue For example, actualizers have the most
abundant resources and strugglers have the least resources.
Societal and Cultural Values
An individual’s and/or a society’s values can change through an
process influenced by:
Cultural values are conceptualizations that a society holds as right or
wrong – customs, gestures, socialization practices, and so on. Learning
about cultural differences that are historical, religious or political
in origin will help us interact in an increasingly global environment.
Look around you in campus today, look at the stats about 9/11: 83
different nationalities were represented among the dead!
- Family or societal upset (loss of a leader prompting social
- Technological, economic or cultural changes (the Great
Depression changing the value of money)
- Dramatic events, like war, famine, disease (fear of AIDS
induce safe sex)
- Environmental threats (legislation in favor of environment
changes factories’ polluting practices)
Families, Values, Standards and Households
The way we maintain our homes is an expression of our family’s values.
Examples: Lawn care on my street; my definition of "on time" may be
different from yours; my definition of a "clean kitchen" is quite
from my husband's. Americans have a general feeling that the
in the U.S. is falling apart, but that their family is not. This may
the “I’m OK you’re not” phenomenon.
Value Formation and Socialization
Values are passed down from one person to another through families,
especially parents. A fundamental role in forming children's
is the ability to cope and adjust to life's challenges. Psychological
provided by this early family experience are important. So, a positive
family experience leads to positive attitudes and greater sense of
over one's life.
Parents influence their children according to
what the parents believe
is important in the society: we teach our children to be clean, to
appropriately, to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, and to get an
Interestingly a study was done in 1989 that looked at how values in
had changed from 1964 to 1984. Parents in more recent years desired
children to have more autonomy or self-direction (having good sense and
sound judgment, being honest, responsible, and considerate) and were
concerned with conformity or obedience (obeying parents, having
manners, being neat and clean, and acting according to sex-role norms).
The process by which children learn is called
socialization. The family
is the primary socialization agent of children, but parents are not the
only influence. Other sources are: media, friends, extended family,
church, books, among others.
The New Traditionalism - There is a sense in our
culture that Americans
are becoming conservative and more traditional when compared to recent
decades. New Traditionalists are characterized as follows:
- About 29% of Americans can be called Heartlanders or
Traditionalists, since they believe in the traditional values of small
town and country life (Ray, 1997).
- 47% of Americans are Modernists, placing value on personal
success, consumerism, materialism and technological rationality
- About 24% are Cultural Creatures, emphasizing new
experiences, attuned to global and social causes.
- The New Traditionalists are brand conscious, take
environmental concerns seriously, are “family enthusiasts”, young,
optimistic and law-abiding.
a. Definition – Attitudes express values, evaluate
or show feeling about some idea, person, object, event, situation, or
relationship. They are likes or dislikes involving some degree of
evaluation and some action-preparedness too. Psychologists talk about
the A,B,C of Attitudes: Affective (feeling),Behavioral and Cognitive
(thinking) aspects are all present.
Attitudes are learned in childhood, and may be modified as we grow into
new roles, behaviors and belief systems. Once learned, attitudes
influence behavior, but not as simply as one may assume.
Theory of Planned Behavior
The Theory of Reasoned Action (later modified into the Theory of
Behavior) proposed by Ajzen and Fishbein (1980) states that humans are
rational analyzers of the situation and one’s intention is actually
mediates (comes between) attitude and behavior. Graphically, the Theory
of Planned Behavior is represented thus:
Prejudice and Discrimination
Prejudice is the evaluative component of an attitude - a fundamental
belief about a person's race or ethnicity. Discrimination is a behavior
that favors or disfavors a person by virtue of their race or ethnicity.
Using a 2 by 2 table we can see that prejudiced people are not always
||a bigot or racist
both in theory and
|one who practices discrimination
but has no prejudicial feelings
i.e., "just good business"
| No Discrimination
||no opportunity to
|a fair and just person
To test the correlation between prejudice and
were done in the 1960s in which hotel reservations were made for a
country trip. The desk clerk was asked if the hotel had a policy on
African Americans - of course, no hotel admitted this - but instead
sometimes remarked that they "had no rooms available".
Among the hotels that had no reservations
available - a black couple
and a white couple were used as part of the experiment. As the two
traveled across the country, when arriving at a hotel that reported "no
vacancy". First the black couple tried to get a room anyway (and were
turned away). Next the white couple tried for a room (and got one about
1/2 the time). The point? - if neither couple got a room, that
was likely just telling the truth about having no vacancy - No
If the white couple got a room after the black
couple was turned away,
it shows either Both Prejudice and Discrimination - or - Just
for business' sake. If the black couple got a room despite the No
story, it shows prejudice (on the phone) but No Discrimination.
Attitude Change and Dissonance
Attitudes involve a cognitive or evaluative component and a behavioral
component. Since what we do (behavior) and what we believe (values) may
often conflict, this gives rise to tension, a state that psychologists
call “Cognitive Dissonance”. In order to reduce this tension, people
change their attitude to fit the behavior, since it is easier than
change. Advertisers may capture this principle, as do smart parents!
In a classical social psychology experiment,
experimenters got some
people to actually believe that an absolutely mind-numbing 45-minute
was very exciting, by paying them only $1, whereas those who got paid
did not change their beliefs. The $1 group needed more justification
their behavior, so they changed their attitude into “I loved that
whereas $20 was more than enough justification to engage in the
so that group did not have to change their attitude!
IV. Values and Attitudes
Attitudes and values are often used interchangeably, and the do share
some characteristics. They both can be held at the conscious level and
readily verbalized, or they can be more subconscious. But there are
Values and Goals are related, since values provide the impetus or drive
to accomplish goals that have been set. Seeking and achieving goals
motivation, commitment and energy, as well as constant re-evaluation
Goals versus Habits
Habits are repetitive, often unconscious patterns of behavior. Some
behavior may not be goal-directed, though it is unique to individuals –
these are habits, since they are ‘overlearned’ and are related to
behavior, not necessarily a grand goal-seeking activity. This
is important or else, every one will start trying to figure out what
habitual behavior is trying to seek in terms of a goal!
Goals vary in intensity, complexity, priority and timing, and influence
action in 4 ways (Locke,1968):
c. Types of Goals: Goals can be categorized in the following ways:
- by directing attention
- by fostering strategy development
- by mobilizing effort
- by increasing persistence
By time: is the goal short term, intermediate, or long term?
By role: is this a personal goal, a professional goal, a societal goal,
or a familial goal?
- Short term goals usually take less than 3 months to
(i.e., finishing your Family Research paper by week 14, when it’s due)
- Intermediate goals can usually be achieved in 3 months to
(finishing out the semester; finishing out your junior year, etc.)
- Long-range goals usually take more than 1 year to
(striving to be the clinical psychologist)
- Personal goals mean things like learning the piano, going
bicycling, exercising 4 times a week, etc.
- Professional goals are related to your job or career:
learning how to use a computer; obtaining licensure to enhance your
professional credentials, etc.
- Societal goals are commonly held by the greater society,
things like having a full-time job by a certain age, marrying, having
children, retiring. These things can also be personal goals.
- Familial goals are related to being a son, daughter,
husband, wife, or other family member. I'm not going to be so stressed
because that affects my marriage; I want to expose my daughter to more
children; I'm going to get this extra job because the family needs the
- Primary Goals – formed to influence process and progress
(like getting a college degree)
- Secondary Goals – motivate the individual and eventually
lead to and complement the primary goal (like choosing a major that you
enjoy and will get you your dream job)
In psychology, a field of contradictions and few proved principles, an
overwhelming majority of studies (90%) found that goal setting has
positive (at least partially) effects on task performance. A study of
survivors of concentration camps found that those who had a purpose for
living and well-defined goals were able to withstand greater
deprivation including starvation and torture than those without goals.
Many of the survivors said that their main goal was to see their
families again. Explain why this would happen.
Aids to setting goals:
Remember, goals provide the person with a sense of direction and
purpose. If you don't have this sense of direction, you may find
yourself allover the place and your goals may be unstable: you may find
that you vacillate and change goals frequently without reason.
- Goals need to be reasonable, affordable, and you need to
have the resources to achieve the goal. This doesn't necessarily mean
that goals need to be too easy to accomplish. In fact, goals should be
somewhat challenging. Example: if you want to buy a house, you need to
have the down payment and be able to make the monthly payments.
- Goals should be clearly formed and simply stated. They
need to be clear and specific.
- The individual should be optimistic toward achieving that
goal and also needs to be flexible. Martin Seligman, who did
groundbreaking work on the effects of optimism, says that flexible
optimism offers limitless benefits. According to him, the most
important psychological research finding is that people choose the way
they think! Studies have linked optimism to a favorable approach to
achieving reasonably set goals and to health and overall well-being.
- Set specific goals and prioritize them. State the goals
clearly and positively. (Example: I will be a non-smoker by Christmas.
Not, I will stop smoking.)
- Forecast possible future events and the resources that
will be needed to deal with them.
- Implement the plan!!
Obstacles to goal achievement
Pursuing goals require energy, monitoring, frank evaluation and courage
to overcome obstacles. Crises happen. This is when flexibility really
is important. Obstacles to achieving goals include, but are not limited
to, the following:
Time-demands, parents, imagination, family, money, rules, health,
peers, natural disasters, social customs. Remember, these obstacles
alone will not determine the fate of your goal. It’s how you perceive
and react to the obstacle that will determine whether you will reach
N Ach Factor
In a classic study by David McClelland, a Harvard psychologist, found
that individuals vary in their need for achievement and that each
has a different level of motivation for overcoming obstacles, desiring
success, and expending effort to seek out difficult t asks and do them
well as quickly as possible. He called this "n-ach".
Interestingly, a person possessing high n Ach
takes moderate risks,
not high risks as one might assume. For instance, in a ring toss game,
low achievers will either stand very close to the peg or will stand an
unrealistically far distance from the peg and wildly throw the ring.
achievers will carefully calculate the appropriate distance to stand
the peg that will challenge their abilities, yet still give them a
College Students’ Values and Goals
College is a transitory phase, so it is not
unusual to have goal instability.
Though college students may actually share values with the rest of
the world, media and social scientists tend to portray them by
or decade as shown below:
Women and men in college have similar values and goals. They span the
- 1950’s – rule-bound, law-abiding, ‘the organization man’
- 1960’s and early 1070’s – unrest and change, the peace
movement, women’s lib, end of curfews, tradition and blind following of
- 1980’s – egocentric, back to material goals, less
committed to sociopolitical change
- 1990’s – strong economy and good labor market meant more
- the millennium kids? – we'll have to wait and see.
Research finds that:
- relationships with members of opposite sex – high value
- family-career balance – 2/3rd stress this.
- 90% believe spouses should share duties
- men value achievement and prestige more than women
- close personal relationships with parents (esp. mom in a
study by Miller and Lane) associated with later well-being
- Flanagan found a connection between parents’ careers and
children’s goals – e.g parents who were laid off had children whose
goals were limited
Motivation may refer to movement towards goals or to the drive,
persistence and energy this involves. It is a process not an end state.
Traditionally, it has been common to think of motivation as involving a
goal/direction, a move to it and persistence.
Example: you would like to stop smoking. One day, you feel immense
discomfort over this so you finally get motivated to quit by exercising
4 times per week and wearing a nicotine patch prescribed by a
Intrinsic motivation -the example above is a good example of
who is intrinsically motivated. It’s about a person's internal need to
stop smoking. Or your internal need to succeed or be competent in
Intrinsic motivation is about the value and pleasure you gain from
in a certain activity (exercise, studying hard for an exam, etc.).
Extrinsic motivation -the example above would be
if the person was feeling pressure from others to stop smoking.
motivation involves forces external to the individual that provide the
motivation, like getting a raise, promotion, or other form of reward.
students, the extrinsic motivation for studying would be getting an “A”
, and the intrinsic motivation for studying would be the sense of
that you did it. It’s about feeling good about learning (intrinsic) and
having your efforts recognized by others (extrinsic}.