Rokeach Values Survey

Rokeach Values SurveyThe Rokeach Values Survey (RVS) was originally developed in 1973 by Milton Rokeach. The RVS is one of the most extensively used measures of human values and is utilized by career counselors to assess clients’ values as they relate to the world of work. The RVS is a 36-item inventory consisting of 18 terminal values or end states (e.g., happiness, an exciting life, world of peace, world of beauty, national security, social recognition) and 18 instrumental values (e.g., logical, cheerful, imaginative, honest, broad-minded, ambitious, clean). This instrument was initially designed for rank-order scaling, but more recent studies have provided evidence that ratings on a five-point scale yield similar results, if higher ratings are limited to a small number of the values.

Rokeach developed the RVS based on interviews and in-depth reviews of language and of the existing literature on values. Unfortunately, Rokeach was unable to identify an underlying structure for his value system. Later research by Shalom H. Schwartz provided evidence that the RVS contains 10 motivational types, each of which incorporates two or more of the terminal and/or instrumental values. For example, the motivational type Power includes the end states of social power, wealth, authority, and the instrumental value of preserving public image. The motivational type Achievement contains the instrumental values of successful, capable, and ambitious. The motivational type Universalism incorporates the instrumental values of broad-minded and protecting the environment and the terminal values of social justice, wisdom, world at peace, a world of beauty, unity with nature, and equality.

Schwartz presented evidence that the 10 motivational types are arranged in a circumplex, with more highly related values placed contiguously. From the top right position, moving clockwise, the motivational types are as follows: Universalism, Benevolence, Conformity and Tradition (the preceding two motivational types occupying the same wedge), Security, Power, Achievement, Hedonism, Stimulation, and Self-direction. Furthermore, the motivational types located on opposite sides of the circumplex represent opposing values and thus can be conceptualized as being positioned along two underlying dimensions of the circumplex. These dimensions are described as follows: (1) values emphasizing independent thought and action and openness to change versus values placing more emphasis on submissive self-restriction, stability, and tradition; and (2) values emphasizing acceptance of others and concern for others’ welfare versus values highlighting the pursuit of one’s own success and dominance over others. In short, motivational types related to openness to change are found on the opposite side of the circumplex as those related to conservation. Similarly, motivational types related to self-transcendence are located opposite those related to self-enhancement.

Values can be conceptualized as learned beliefs about preferred ways of behaving or being, which act as guiding principles in one’s life. Understanding the structure of personal values systems is a vital part of comprehending the motivational foundation to all behavior, including work-related behavior. To this end, the RVS is used by career counselors to access and bring to awareness a client’s hierarchical organization of work-related needs, desires, and goals. The importance of assessing values lies in deepening the self-awareness of the career client and allowing the client to access underlying motivations for career-related decisions. In addition, when this information is considered in conjunction with other work-related variables such as interests, self-efficacy, and abilities, the result is a more complete and multidimensional view of the career client and the relevant career choices.

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  1. Bilsky, W. and Schwartz, S. H. 1994. “Values and Personality.” European Journal of Personality 8:163-181.
  2. Olver, J. M. and Mooradian, T. A. 2003. “Personality Traits and Personal Values: A Conceptual and Empirical Integration.” Personality and Individual Differences 35:109-125.
  3. Rokeach, M. 1973. The Nature of Human Values. New York: Free Press.