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:
            -the Affective domain (feelings, emotions - often indescribable)
            -the 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 your company.

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 attributes 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, organizations, 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 resources) than a person who buys the first thing she sees; choosing what to buy and 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 and buy the more inexpensive items, except for a few things, like good dairy 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 VALS findings, consumers were divided into four major groups:

  • 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 self-awareness
  • Combined inner- and outer- directed consumers integrate social and self-orientations. (2%).
VALSTM Research was conducted later in 1989; it was more psychologically oriented than the original VALS and classified consumers into 3 self-orientations:
  • 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 evolutionary process influenced by:

  • Family or societal upset (loss of a leader prompting social change)
  • 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)
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!

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 different from my husband's.  Americans have a general feeling that the family in the U.S. is falling apart, but that their family is not. This may reflect 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 values is the ability to cope and adjust to life's challenges. Psychological foundations provided by this early family experience are important. So, a positive family experience leads to positive attitudes and greater sense of control 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 dress appropriately, to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, and to get an education.  Interestingly a study was done in 1989 that looked at how values in children had changed from 1964 to 1984. Parents in more recent years desired their children to have more autonomy or self-direction (having good sense and sound judgment, being honest, responsible, and considerate) and were less concerned with conformity or obedience  (obeying parents, having good 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, school, 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.
III. Attitudes
    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 Planned Behavior) proposed by Ajzen and Fishbein (1980) states that humans are rational analyzers of the situation and one’s intention is actually what 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 discriminators:

 Prejudice   No Prejudice 
Discrimination    a bigot or racist
both in theory and
in practice
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 discrimination, studies were done in the 1960s in which hotel reservations were made for a cross country trip. The desk clerk was asked if the hotel had a policy on admitting African Americans - of course, no hotel admitted this - but instead they 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 couples 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 usually 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 hotel was likely just telling the truth about having no vacancy - No Prejudice/No Discrimination

If the white couple got a room after the black couple was turned away, it shows either Both Prejudice and Discrimination - or - Just Discrimination for business' sake. If the black couple got a room despite the No Vacancy 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 often change their attitude to fit the behavior, since it is easier than behavior 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 task was very exciting, by paying them only $1, whereas those who got paid $20 did not change their beliefs. The $1 group needed more justification for their behavior, so they changed their attitude into “I loved that task!” whereas $20 was more than enough justification to engage in the behavior, 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 differences.

Values and Goals are related, since values provide the impetus or drive to accomplish goals that have been set. Seeking and achieving goals needs motivation, commitment and energy, as well as constant re-evaluation with flexibility

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 survival behavior, not necessarily a grand goal-seeking activity. This distinction is important or else, every one will start trying to figure out what every habitual behavior is trying to seek in terms of a goal!

Goal Attributes
Goals vary in intensity, complexity, priority and timing, and influence action in 4 ways (Locke,1968):

  • by directing attention
  • by fostering strategy development
  • by mobilizing effort
  • by increasing persistence
c. Types of Goals: Goals can be categorized in the following ways:
By time: is the goal short term, intermediate, or long term?
  • Short term goals usually take less than 3 months to accomplish. 
    (i.e., finishing your Family Research paper by week 14, when it’s due)
  • Intermediate goals can usually be achieved in 3 months to 1 year 
    (finishing out the semester; finishing out your junior year, etc.)
  • Long-range goals usually take more than 1 year to achieve 
    (striving to be the clinical psychologist)
By role: is this a personal goal, a professional goal, a societal goal, or a familial goal?
  • 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 extra income.
By type:
  • 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)
    Setting goals
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:

  1. 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.
  2. Goals should be clearly formed and simply stated. They need to be clear and specific.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.)
  5. Forecast possible future events and the resources that will be needed to deal with them.
  6. Implement the plan!!
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.
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 your goal.

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 individual 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. High achievers will carefully calculate the appropriate distance to stand from the peg that will challenge their abilities, yet still give them a chance for success.

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 generation or decade as shown below:

  • 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 values
  • 1980’s – egocentric, back to material goals, less committed to sociopolitical change
  • 1990’s – strong economy and good labor market meant more moneyed students
  • the millennium kids? – we'll have to wait and see.
Women and men in college have similar values and goals. They span the following categories:
  • relationships with members of opposite sex – high value
  • family-career balance – 2/3rd stress this.
  • 90% believe spouses should share duties
Research finds that:
  • 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 physician.

Intrinsic motivation -the example above is a good example of someone 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 something. Intrinsic motivation is about the value and pleasure you gain from engaging in a certain activity (exercise, studying hard for an exam, etc.).

Extrinsic motivation -the example above would be extrinsically motivated if the person was feeling pressure from others to stop smoking. Extrinsic motivation involves forces external to the individual that provide the motivation, like getting a raise, promotion, or other form of reward. For students, the extrinsic motivation for studying would be getting an “A” , and the intrinsic motivation for studying would be the sense of satisfaction that you did it. It’s about feeling good about learning (intrinsic) and having your efforts recognized by others (extrinsic}.