Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: May 28, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963930 | Print ISBN: 9781412941655 | Online ISBN: 9781412963930| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Maria de Lourdes Villar
Values are constructs that guide human behavior, helping people distinguish between the desirable and undesirable. On the individual level, they are conceptions that motivate personal action. On the aggregate level, they reflect collective experience and provide general orientation to a society. Values have emotional connotations. We feel when something is unacceptable and undesirable even when we don't know what is wrong with a situation. Values cannot be simply empty axioms. To have directive force, they must be embodied in concrete individual and social practice. We can talk of “family values,” but these are meaningless unless actualized in living experience. Researchers cannot observe values, but they can study their behavioral impact. Virtually all disciplines concerning human affairs use and propose definitions for values because evaluative standards are fundamental to human existence. Homo sapiens are evaluative animals that exhibit few innate, invariant, complex behavioral patterns. Our species has a very open Homo ...