What is the purpose and methodology of the Rokeach Value Survey?

The Rokeach Value Survey, created by social psychologist Milton Rokeach in the 1960s, is a widely used tool for measuring individual values. This survey aims to identify and rank an individual’s core values, or beliefs and principles that guide their behavior and decision-making. The purpose of the Rokeach Value Survey is to gain a better understanding of an individual’s values and how they prioritize them. This information can be used in various fields, including psychology, marketing, and organizational development. In this essay, we will explore the purpose and methodology of the Rokeach Value Survey in more detail, and discuss its relevance in today’s society.

The Rokeach Value Survey (RVS) is a classification system of values. Developed by social psychologist Milton Rokeach, the system consists of two sets of values, 18 individual value items in each. One set is called terminal values the other instrumental values.

RVS is based on a 1968 volume (Beliefs, Attitudes, and Values) which presented the philosophical basis for the association of fundamental values with beliefs and attitudes. His value system was instrumentalised into the Rokeach Value Survey in his 1973 book The Nature of Human Values.

Terminal Values refer to desirable end-states of existence. These are the goals that a person would like to achieve during his or her lifetime. These values vary among different groups of people in different cultures.

The terminal values in RVS are:

  • True Friendship
  • Mature Love
  • Self-Respect
  • Happiness
  • Inner Harmony
  • Equality
  • Freedom
  • Pleasure
  • Social Recognition
  • Wisdom
  • Salvation
  • Family Security
  • National Security
  • A Sense of Accomplishment
  • A World of Beauty
  • A World at Peace
  • A Comfortable Life
  • An Exciting Life

Instrumental Values refer to preferable modes of behavior. These are preferable modes of behavior, or means of achieving the terminal values.

The Instrumental Values are:

  • Cheerfulness
  • Ambition
  • Love
  • Cleanliness
  • Self-Control
  • Capability
  • Courage
  • Politeness
  • Honesty
  • Imagination
  • Independence
  • Intellect
  • Broad-Mindedness
  • Logic
  • Obedience
  • Helpfulness
  • Responsibility
  • Forgiveness

The task for participants in the survey is to arrange the 18 terminal values, followed by the 18 instrumental values, into an order “of importance to YOU, as guiding principles in YOUR life” (Rokeach, 1973, p. 27).

The Rokeach Value Survey has been extensively used in empirical work by psychologists, sociologists and marketers. There have been a number of attempts to reduce the 18 instrumental values and 18 terminal values into a set of underlying factors (see for example Feather and Peay, 1975; Johnston, 1995) but without consistent success.

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