Motivational Properties of Values
The Values that we hold are essentially established in our early years from our teachers, friends, and parents and other near dear ones. It is first our parents that developed in us the basic idea of what is right and what is wrong. As we grow up, we get exposed to other values and this might motivate us to change our value system. However they are relatively enduring because any change in them would mean a change in existing behavior patterns and habits and we don’t change our established behavior patterns easily for they give us our identity and also enable us to acquire equilibrium with the environment. If however we happen to start the process of questioning our values and decide that underlying convictions are no longer acceptable then we might change our values. Thus value changes and related changes in attitudes and behaviors come either as a result of –
1. Changes in self-conception or definition of self.
2. Increase in self-awareness i.e. realization of hypocrisies and inconsistencies between self-conception and self-ideals on one hand and one’s value and behavior on the other.
In the former case the value changes are naturally occurring changes that come about as a result of changes in the individual needs, perceptions and societal goals and demands. In the latter case i.e. increases in self-awareness concerning internal contradiction the value changes are motivated by a need for maintenance and enhancement of self-esteem and by the need of consistency between one’s conception of self and one’s beliefs, attitudes, value and behaviors.
There is a sufficient body of evidence that suggests that values are important determinants of behavior. As and when we indulge in behavior that contradicts our value, it does cause us discomfort and therefore we try to retain the consistency between our attitudes, values and behavior.
People, Culture and Surrounding Environment have an impact on the individual’s value and values have impact on motivations. Values provide energy to our action by defining the gratification and sources of gratification. For example, in those societies where importance is stressed on economic well being, people value money more and is motivated to earn money likewise in cultures where priority is given to personal and social relations, people are motivated more towards affiliate behaviors rather than achievement oriented behaviors.
In ancient India, the psycho-philosophical foundation rest on four goals or Purusarthas i.e. Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. Dharma and Moksha are primary values. Kama (Passion) and Artha (Wealth) no doubt are vital for human existence but are less important for the well-being of the individual. These are the conceptions of the desirable and parsimonious behavior. Value regulate “impulse satisfaction” in accord with the whole array of hierarchical enduring goals of the personality, the requirements of both personality and socio-cultural system for the need for respecting the interests of others and of the group as a whole in social living. A value is anything of interest to a human subject. Therefore values motivate our behavior. Each individual has within himself, as a part of his personality, a rank order of value orientation which usually is laid down in the child’s socialization in a particular cultural tradition through the role expectations imposed on him. This rank order or hierarchy of values inspires our behavior. The more important values are more often and more likely to be displayed in our behavior and when we express behavior and attitudes that reflect our values it gives us self-satisfaction which in turn reinforces or motivates us for the same act again. One of the important functions of attitude is Value Expressiveness. They help us display our underlying values and this helps to establish a person’s self-identity. They have affective component. These values have in them an evaluative element. They influence our judgment. They serve as criteria for selection in action. We hold positive attitudes for all those items which we feel will help us in realization of our values on goals that we value.
The values motivate people in diverse ways to serve as an important determinants of behavior.