Values are abstract notions of what is important in one’s life. In common language, the term values is often used interchangeably with morality and ethics. In psychology, however, values refer to desirable goals that motivate behavior, apply across situations, and are found in the level of individuals, organizations, and societies. Values differ in their importance, depending on culture and even the individual. For example, East Asian cultures are traditionally regarded as fostering values that emphasize the group’s needs, whereas Western cultures are considered as fostering values that emphasize the individual’s needs. These differences in values lead to differences in behavior, therefore, making values important factors in understanding human behavior and social phenomena. Even within cultures, there are substantial individual differences in values. This entry describes ...

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