Values and Ethics


Getting Acquainted with Ourselves and Others

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Myself I have to live with myself, and so I want to go out with my head erect, I want to be fi t for myself to know, I want to deserve all men’s respect; I want to be able, as days go by, But here in the struggle for fame and self Always to look myself straight in the eye; I want to be able to like myself. I don’t want to stand, with the setting sun, I don’t want to look at myself and know And hate myself for things I have done. That I’m bluster and bluff and empty show.

I don’t want to keep on a closet shelf I can never hide myself from me; A lot of secrets about myself, I see what others may never see; And fool myself, as I come and go, I know what others may never know, Into thinking that nobody else will know I never can fool myself, and so The kind of man I really am; Whatever happens, I want to be I don’t want to dress myself in shame. Self-respecting and conscience free.

Edgar A. Guest

Values and Ethics

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400 Chapter 9 Values and Ethics

T hings have the value that we ourselves have the capacity

to give them.


Think about this Th e Last Lecture

What wisdom would you impart to the world if you knew it was your last chance? At many colleges, professors are asked to give a hypothetical fi nal talk called “Th e Last Lecture.” In this talk, they ruminate on what matters most to them. In 2007, Randy Pausch, a professor in the computer science department at Carnegie Mellon University, agreed to give a last lecture. A few weeks later, he learned that he had only months to live—he was dying of pancreatic cancer.

A month aft er learning that his cancer was terminal, Randy Pausch gave his 76-minute speech, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.” He talked about what his childhood dreams had taught him about life and the lessons he had learned along the way, such as to show gratitude, don’t complain and don’t give up when faced by challenges, which he calls “brick walls.” He also discussed enabling the dreams of others, having fun, asking for what you want, daring to take a risk, looking for the best in everybody, dreaming big, making time for what matters, and living with integrity and joy. At the end, Pausch tells the audience that his talk isn’t for them—it’s for his kids. Th e lecture isn’t about dying—it’s about living. Ten months aft er giving the lecture, Randy died at the age of 47.

Randy Pausch’s last lecture has become an Internet sensation, a bestselling book, and inspiration to others who are going through cancer or other tough situations. As Randy said, “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.”

So, if you had to vanish tomorrow, what would you want to leave as your legacy?

We face a rapidly changing world in which old values give way to new ones or to none at all. Today, people are trying to make sense of the world in which we fi nd ourselves. Many who are fortunate enough to achieve power, fame, success, and material comfort nevertheless experience a sense of emptiness. It is no surprise that people are asking more value questions: What is the good life for me? What is really important to me? What is life all about? What are my personal ethics? How can I fi nd meaning and purpose in life? In order to begin to fi nd answers to these questions, we need fi rst of all to be able to identify what values are.

What Are Values?

For just a few minutes, consider the following analogy: If you were going to build a new home, one of the fi rst considerations would be to decide upon your house plan. Aft er having carefully studied your house plan and having made the necessary adjustments, you would have your house plan converted into a blueprint. Th is blueprint would serve as a guide for the construction of your new home. For example, the choices and decisions concerning the layout of the kitchen, the placement of doors and windows, the design of electrical outlets, and so on, would be in accordance with this blueprint—the plan or guide for your new home.

Could it be possible that we also have a blueprint or guide concerning the choices and decisions we make in our way of living? Is there a relationship between this blueprint or guide and our values?

Authors have written extensively about the meaning of the term value(s). For example, a value is the degree of importance we attach to various beliefs,

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Chapter 9 Values and Ethics 401

ideas, objects, or things (Mynatt and Doherty 2001). Hunter Lewis (2000) defi nes values in this way:

Although the term value(s) is oft en used loosely, it should be synony- mous with personal beliefs about the “good,” the “just,” and the “beau- tiful,” personal beliefs that propel us to action, to a particular kind of behavior and life.

We could conclude then that our values give rise to our personal goals and tend to place limits on the means we shall use to reach them (Rathus and Nevid 2007).

Because we have many values, it is, therefore, appropriate to speak of our set of values or our value system . A set of values is more than just a set of rules and regulations. Instead, it is the underlying system of beliefs about what is important in life to a person. Actually, our value system represents the blueprint or guideline for the choices and decisions we make through- out our life. Still true today, Kluckhohn (1956) explains these choices and decisions:

Every individual operates according to a system of values, whether it is verbalized and consistently worked out or not. In selecting goals, in choosing modes of behavior, in resolving confl icts, he is infl uenced at every turn by his conception of what is good and desirable for him. Although everyone’s value system is in some degree unique, an individ- ual’s values are usually grounded in the core values of his culture. . . . Depending on his conception of what is desirable and good in human life, he selects certain goals over others and patterns his behavior accord- ing to standards of what he believes to be right and worthwhile. Th e way a man carries on his business activity, the kind of relationships he has with his wife and children and with his friends, the degree of respect he has for other individuals (and for himself), his political and religious activity—all these refl ect the individual’s values, though he may scarcely have thought them through.

Actually, as Elliot (1991) explains, “everything we do, every decision we make and course of action we take is based on our consciously or uncon- sciously held beliefs, attitudes, and values.”

An excellent test to determine the intensity of your conscious or uncon- scious values is to notice how strongly you feel about an idea or thought. For example, how would you react to these issues: abortion, drug abuse, and euthanasia? If you have a strong conviction on any of these issues, it is highly likely that aspects of your value system are being revealed.

Types of Value Systems

In the 20 th century, Eduard Springer (1928) defi ned six diff erent types of people based on their types of value systems, or their frameworks for developing their own beliefs (Lamberton and Minor 2010). Do you fi t into any of Spranger’s Six Value Systems?

W hat is a value system? First of all, it is yours, and it is unique because you are one-of-a-kind. It is your code of ethics by which to live. It is your “behavior-bible.” It is what guides your life.


M orals and ethics are not a religion. They are logical, sensible principles of good conduct that we need for a peaceful, productive society.


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402 Chapter 9 Values and Ethics

1. Th e theoretical person. Th is individual seeks to discover truth. He or she observes happenings and thinks them through, trying whenever possible to put ideas into a system. He or she avoids judgments about the beauty or usefulness of ideas.

2. Th e economic person. Personal needs, production, marketing, credit, and wealth are more important to this type of person than are social or artistic values. Th ings in life that are useful are the most important.

3. Th e aesthetic person. Beauty, form, and harmony are most important to this type of individual.

4. Th e social person. Th is person values and loves other people. Kindness and unselfi shness are both very important values.

5. Th e political animal. Th is type is very power motivated. His or her values center on infl uence, fame, and power. Th ese individuals do well in careers that involve the use of power and control.

6. Th e religious person. To this individual, the highest value is unity. He or she tries to understand the universe as a whole and relate to it meaningfully.

Most people don’t identify with just one single type since a combination of two or more is oft en more accurate and descriptive. Which value system/s do you think are more closely related to your own personal value system?

How Do Values Develop?

Th roughout your life, you have, in all probability, heard many life messages: “Life is . . .,” “Success is . . .,” “Th e most important thing is . . .” transmitted to you by parents, peers, and society in general.

We are not born with values, but we are born into cultures and societ- ies that promote, teach, and impart their values to us. We learn to be what we are.

SHOULDS AND SHOULD NOTS. Basically, the years of adolescence are extremely important for the learning and development of values (Worchel and Goethals 1998). Most psychologists concur that we fi rst acquire the cognitive understanding of right and wrong by observing the behavior of the people most important to us, usually (and hopefully) our parents (Begley and Kalb 2000). Actually, our fi rst goals and ambitions will be drawn from this frame of reference. During the fi rst few years of our life, we lacked the knowledge and maturity to evaluate our value orientation (Freiberg 2009/2010).

As we entered school, however, parental infl u- ence was combined with the infl uence of peers, teach- ers, and public media. We had one set of shoulds and

should nots from our parents. Th e church oft en suggested a second. Our friends and “peer group” off ered a third view of values. And then, the chaos of value confl icts: values from opposing political groups; militancy of left or right; the values of diff erent cultures and social classes; the infl uence of Hollywood, popular magazines, television, the “net,” and advertising claims (Grasha and Kirschenbaum 1999). As a side note, with recent research indicating that many young people spend thirty to forty hours a week in

I t is easier to fi ght for one’s principles than to live up

to them.


T he strength of a nation derives from the integrity of

the home.


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Were your parents the biggest infl uence on your value system?

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Chapter 9 Values and Ethics 403

front of the TV set and the Internet, there continues to be great concern about the infl uence of television, the “net,” and advertising claims on values formation (Reece and Brandt 2008).

With all of this additional information, we began to question and reeval- uate our original value orientation. Much of this questioning was revealed through testing the shoulds and should nots. Th erefore, actual experience became very real in the forming of our value system. For some people, this reevaluation period occurred during the adolescence period, early adulthood, or maybe even later.

INDIVIDUATION. How old were you when you reevaluated your original value system? Were you 18, 20, 25, or . . .? Regardless of the exact time, examining and acquiring your personal set of values was, or is, the birth of your own individuality. In fact, Carl Jung (1923), one of the early psychoanalysts, called the process of becoming an individual— individuation.

Individuation refers to the separation from our family system and the establishing of our identity based on our own experiences, rather than merely following our parents’ dreams. Although individuals may accept many of their parents’ values, to genuinely individuate they must choose these values freely rather than automatically incorporating them into their personality.

Th e values we place upon diff erent aspects of our environment have an eff ect upon how we view things and how we function. In other words, an act viewed as right or wrong, moral or immoral will depend upon the frame of reference of the perceiver. As a result, something that one person considers worthwhile and desirable may appear exactly the opposite to another person. Do we, therefore, tend to judge other people’s actions by our own standards— our values?

What else infl uences the development of our values?

The Infl uence of Other Factors

Other important factors are infl uential in the formation of our value system. Some of these are religious beliefs, attitudes, prejudices, and stereotypes.

RELIGIOUS BELIEFS. What is a belief ? A belief is the acceptance of some thought, supposition, or idea. Th is belief may be in a God, or in Gods, or even in some form of spirituality. Studies show that most Americans want spirituality, but perhaps not in religious form. Th e desire to explore and celebrate beliefs and teach treasured values to the next generation is still with Americans, even if they don’t call it religion (Elkins 1999). In fact, M. Scott Peck (2002), in Th e Road Less Traveled, 25th Anniversary Edition , notes that he likes to speak of “spirituality” rather than “religiosity.” Peck goes on to indi- cate that every major religion of the world has similar ideas of love, the same goal of benefi ting humanity through spiritual practice, and the same eff ect of making their followers into better human beings. However, in an interview with Robert Epstein (2002) for Psychology Today , Peck reminded readers that one person’s experience with spirituality would be diff erent than another person’s experience.

In some form or another, religion and established moral codes are found in all cultures and societies. A commitment toward a chosen moral code helps individuals gain a sense of meaning and purpose in their lives, and thus, becomes an integral part in shaping their value system (Compton 2005).

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404 Chapter 9 Values and Ethics

ATTITUDES. Attitudes are positive or negative orientations toward a cer- tain target. For example, you have attitudes toward specifi c persons (parents, children, teachers), as well as toward groups of people (blacks, whites, male ministers, female ministers). You also have attitudes toward things or targets such as food, movies, holidays, or marriage.

The attitudes you have today have been acquired throughout your life. How did you acquire them? You may have acquired some of your attitudes by hearing parents, family, friends, and teachers express positive or negative attitudes toward certain issues or people. The mass media, including advertising, may also be responsible for shaping some of your

Consider this . . . Consider this . . .

Possible Life Messages

“Life is to have things: your own home, enough money for an emergency, security for old age.” “Life is to get ahead, to prove yourself, to make people respect you.”

“Success in life is judged by how popular you are—by how many people love you.” “You are worth only what you are worth in God’s eyes.” “Success in life is spelled: M-O-N-E-Y.” “Life is for having good times.” “If you’ve got your health, you’ll be all right.” “Education is what is important. They can take everything away from you except your mind.” “Life is for loving and sharing with others.”

What messages did you hear about the nature and purposes of life? Have you had any confl icts between what you heard and in what you now actually believe?








Peer Group

Values come from many sources. What source has had the greatest influence in

the development of your value system?

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Chapter 9 Values and Ethics 405

attitudes. The attitudes you have formed through your own direct experi- ence are strongest, however, and they are also more resistant to change (Hetherington 1996).

More than likely, your positive attitudes are a result of positive expe- riences, and your negative attitudes are a result of negative experiences. Whatever you learned in these experiences is likely to take the form of expectations later in life. It is just natural to expect the same or similar results from similar situations. Consider these statements:

I’m not going to get married again; if I did, it would just probably end in another divorce.

Tom’s mother is so diff erent from Frank’s mother—certainly not what I expected from a mother-in-law.

I’m sure I can work for Mrs. Jones; I’ve worked for another female, and we got along just great.

As you can see in these examples, the attitudes were formed from prior experiences and expectations. Is it possible that your prior experiences and expectations are shaping the attitudes and values you presently hold? If so, do you need to reevaluate these attitudes and values? Remember, the stronger an attitude is, the more diffi cult it is to change. Why? Because your emotions are involved.

PREJUDICES. A prejudice is a preconceived opinion, feeling, or attitude, either positive or negative, that is formed without adequate information. For example, you may have a negative prejudice towards the black English teacher who is going to teach your class next semester. Although you have not had this teacher before, you have heard statements made by other students, and you have already formed your opinion. It is only when you are actually in this teacher’s class that you can make a justifi ed opinion. Why? Prejudices are oft en unjustifi ed attitudes. And, sometimes these attitudes extend to entire groups of people.

Actually, there are three components to a prejudice (Myers 2006). Th ey are as follows:

To hold certain beliefs against members of a group— “Indians are mostly alcoholics.”

To feel negatively toward them— “I despise Jews.” To be inclined to act negatively toward them— “I wouldn’t hire a Mexican.”

It is interesting to note that our strongest negative emotions are oft en reserved for groups rather than individuals. As Gordon W. Allport (1979) commented in his classic book, Th e Nature of Prejudice, “anger is customarily felt toward individuals only, whereas hatred may be felt toward whole classes of people.”

STEREOTYPES. When we allow our prejudiced attitudes to make generaliza- tions by categorizing an object, person, or situation, we are guilty of stereo- typing . As psychologist Jack Dovidio of Colgate University notes: “we create stereotypes to explain why things are the way they are and stereotypes don’t have to be true to serve a purpose.” For example:

T he meaning of things lies not in the things themselves,

but in our attitude towards them.


R eject and condemn prejudice based on race, gender,

religion, or age.


P rejudice is being down on what we are not up on.


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406 Chapter 9 Values and Ethics

A ll I’ve ever tried to tell anyone is that I’m not a black man or a white man or anything else. All I’ve been was American.


Breaking Down Barriers

To reduce your prejudices and use of stereotypes, these steps may be helpful:

1. Admit your prejudices and biases and try to understand them.

2. Identify the stereotypes that refl ect your prejudices and attempt to modify them.

3. Identify the actions that refl ect your prejudices and modify them.

4. Avoid judging differences; view diversity as a strength.

5. Attempt to learn about cultures that differ from your own. Try to understand their values.

Are you willing to test, adapt, and change your perceptions?

Johnson (2008); Corey and Corey (2008); and Henslin (2006).






Women are emotional. Latin Americans are a hot-headed race. Mothers-in-law are bossy and interfering people. Th ere are just a bunch of hypocrites at that church.

According to these examples, if you are a woman, a Latin American, a mother-in-law, or if you go to that church, you have now been given a label. You are not thought of as an individual—you are a member of the group and, of course, you have their similar characteristics.

Pause for a minute and just ask yourself these questions: What prejudices and stereotypes do I have? What are they based on? Do I really want to have these values?

At this point, you may fi nd it helpful to review Focus on Diversity, Breaking Down Barriers, for some suggestions on dealing with prejudices and stereotypes.

What things are most important in your life?

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What Are My Values?

At the present time, what things are most important to you in your life? Is your career of primary importance? How about your school work and/or the training for your future career? How about the time you spend with your family? Do you have outside leisure interests, community activities, or volunteer work?

As Shames (1991) confi rms, there are always many factors in your life that compete for your time and attention. Actually, what you value most oft en determines how you will spend your time. When you decide to work late on a repeated basis rather than go home to dinner, this is a value decision. If you gave up a movie in order to study for a test, this is also a value decision. When you decide to go out with some friends rather than attend your son’s baseball game, this is another value decision.

You are always making value decisions, and an awareness of what values are most important to you can help you to live a more harmoni- ous and less stressful life. When you know which values have a higher

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Chapter 9 Values and Ethics 407

priority, you can more easily make life’s major and minor decisions. We’ll have more to say about prioritizing values a little later, but for now, think of your own values as you read the following results of a Personal Value Assessment Survey.

GENDER AND YOU. 1183 students in human relations/psychology of adjust- ment classes at Tarrant County College-Northeast Campus were asked to complete the Personal Value Assessment in the activities section at the end of this chapter. Th ey were then asked to prioritize their top fi ve values. Values frequently mentioned, but not prioritized by the students, were as follows:

Happiness Good health A stable marriage Close family and close friends Living according to strong moral values Happy love relationship Stable life Fulfi lling career Religion Children

From the more commonly-mentioned values, the fi nal results above actually reveal the top six prioritized values. You will also be given an oppor- tunity to complete this activity, and you might want to compare your results with these fi ndings.

DO VALUES CHANGE? Your values do change as you go through the various life stages. As children, your highest value might have been play and having fun; as adolescents, perhaps it was peer relationships; as young adults, it may be relationships with the opposite sex, and as adults your highest value may be your family and the work you do. For many older people, service to others and enjoying leisure time is oft en the highest value.

If you are currently seeking some change in your career or lifestyle, it may be due in part to the fact that some of your values may have changed. What was important to you in the past may be less important now. You may want to devote greater attention in your life to new things or to some of the things you did not have as much time for in the past.

I t’s good to have money and the things money can

buy, but it’s good to check once in a while and make sure you haven’t lost the things that money can’t buy.


W hat do I believe? To what extent am I ready to live up to my beliefs? How far am I ready to support them? We all create the person we become by our choices as we go through life.


Top Six Personal Values In human relations/psychology of adjustment classes at Tarrant County College, Northeast Campus, 1183 students—52% females and 48% males—reveal their top personal values:

Males Females

1. Close family and friends 1. Close family and friends 2. Happiness 2. Stable marriage 3. Stable marriage 3. Happiness 4. A fulfi lling career 4. Good health 5. Financially stable 5. Financially stable 6. Good health 6. A fulfi lling career

How do your top fi ve values compare with what the male and female students said?



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408 Chapter 9 Values and Ethics

Do you see any changes in your personal set of values over the past five or ten years? Has there been any change in the kinds of values you con- sider to be important in your life? You will be given several opportunities in the activities at the end of this chapter to review your values—past and present.

We have already stated that because we are unique individuals, something that one person considers a value might not be a value to another person. For

Consider this . . . Consider this . . .

Your Values—Some Hard Questions

You probably do not have the answers to these questions on the tip of your tongue. They require some thought and discussion. They will lead you to a better understanding of your values.

1. If you were independently wealthy, what would you do with your life?

2. What issues are of deep concern to you regarding your home, campus, community, church, state, country, or world?

3. If you were independently wealthy, to what causes would you contribute?

4. After your death, what would you like people to say about you? How would you like to be remembered?

I t is a law of human life, as certain as gravity: To live

fully we must learn to use things and love people . . . not love things and use people.


Th e most interesting thing about any human being is the values by which he or she lives. Unfortunately, most of us never take the time to sit down and really think through the moral precepts that consciously or unconsciously guide our lives. Th e following “daily dozen” constitute the personal creed of writer Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–1894).

1. Make up your mind to be happy. Learn to fi nd pleasure in simple things. 2. Make the best of your circumstances. No one has everything, and

everyone has something of sorrow intermingled with the gladness of life. Th e trick is to make the laughter outweigh the tears.

3. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Don’t think that somehow you should be protected from misfortunes that befall others.

4. You can’t please everybody. Don’t let criticism worry you. 5. Don’t let your neighbor set your standards. Be yourself. 6. Do the things you enjoy doing, but stay out of debt. 7. Don’t borrow trouble. Imaginary things are harder to bear than the

actual ones. 8. Since hate poisons the soul, do not cherish enmities, grudges. Avoid

people who make you unhappy. 9. Have many interests. If you can’t travel, read about new places. 10. Don’t hold postmortems. Don’t spend your life brooding over sorrows

and mistakes. Don’t be one who never gets over things. 11. Do what you can for those less fortunate than yourself. 12. Keep busy at something. A very busy person never has time to be


Robert Louis Stevenson’s Daily Dozen

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Chapter 9 Values and Ethics 409

example, we all want a feeling of security. However, your idea of what makes you feel secure may diff er remarkably from that of other people. Some people may equate security primarily with money; others may equate security with education, religion, or close family relationships. Sometimes a combination of all these types of security are desired. Th e order of importance then becomes a matter of value.

Clarifying Your Personal Values

Clarifying our values is a crucial aspect of self-development (Rathus and Nevid 2007). Sometimes important choices in life are made on the basis of peer pressure, unthinking submission to authority, or the power of propaganda. We may even guide our lives by what others expect of us, instead of what we truly believe is right. Many times, thoughts and expectations of society and others largely infl uence our value sys- tem. Th us, our value orientation becomes other-directed rather than self-directed. Th e obvious result is a feeling of being very insecure and easily threatened in our valuing process.

When we become conscious of our own personal value system and how it functions, we can begin to manage our own value system rather than allowing others to manage it. Hunter Lewis (2000), in his thought- provoking book A Question of Values, emphasizes the importance of managing our own value system:

People need to think about their own values, think hard about them, think for themselves. Personal values really do matter. With- out functioning values, we can hardly live at all, much less lead a purposeful and satisfying life.

How do we discover what our true values are? Values clarifi cation is a process that helps people arrive at an answer.

Simon et al. (1995) share this thought:

It is not concerned with an ultimate set of values (that is for you to decide), but it does stress a method to help you determine the content and power of your own set of values. It is a self-audit, and an inventory of soul and spirit. It is a tool to help you freely decide between alternatives or among varied choices. It is a methodology to help you make a decision, to act, to determine what has meaning for you.

According to Simon et al. (1995), the process of clarifying values involves choosing, prizing, and acting. See How To on the next page.

Before something can be a full, true value, it must meet all seven of the following criteria. Simon et al. (1995) suggest that there are three levels involved in the criteria: choosing relies mainly on the cognitive or thinking area; prizing relies on the aff ective or feeling area; and acting relies on the behavioral areas. When we have a full value , our thoughts, feelings, and actions are in agreement; what we think, say, feel, and do are in agreement and are evident in our lives.

Let us look at the seven criteria a little more closely. Choosing freely means we consciously and deliberately make the choice

ourselves. Th ere is no pressure to believe what our parents taught us. An example of choosing freely would be when you have been raised and taught

T o describe a man’s philosophy is to say how he

orients himself to the world of his experiences, what meanings he fi nds in events, what values he aspires to, what standards guide his choices in all that he does.


T he cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life

which is required to pay for it, immediately or in the long run.


Are you a people-oriented person?

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L ife is an endless process of self-discovery.


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410 Chapter 9 Values and Ethics

How To Clarify Values Choosing: Freely; from alternatives; after thoughtful consideration of the consequences of each alternative.

Prizing: Cherishing, prizing, and being happy with the choice; willing to affi rm the choice publicly.

Acting: Doing something with the choice, taking action; acting repeatedly, in some pattern of life.

Simon et al. (1995).

that there is only one religion worthy of your belief, and you later decide that your beliefs are more in line with another religious faith. Even if you end up choosing the same religious faith which your parents hold, that becomes a full value for you because you make the personal choice to follow that faith.

Choosing from alternatives means there are options. If there are no alter- natives, there is no freedom of choice. For example, you really cannot value breathing, of itself, because there is no choice involved; a person must breathe to live. However, you can value mountain air, or a special breathing technique, such as yoga.

Choosing aft er considering the consequences means you ask yourself, “What would be the result of the alternatives of my choice?” Th is gives you the opportunity to choose with thoughtful consideration, and not on impulse. Many of the problems which we have are the result of impulsive, poorly thought-out decisions, or action taken without regard for ourselves or others. For example, sometimes people impulsively decide to get a divorce and then later realize they are not happy with their “quick” decision.

Cherishing and feeling happy about the choice means that it infl uences your behavior in some way, and you do not mind spending your time on this value. For example, if you value being thrift y and you need to buy a new VCR, you will spend a considerable amount of time researching and comparing prices. When you fi nally get your VCR, you will be satisfi ed and content that you “got the best buy.”

Publicly affi rming a value means you are willing to tell others about it. Some people even crusade for their values. For example, if you value a particular political ideology, you may be seen campaigning for the politician who holds the same value. Remember, you have the right to publicly affi rm your values, but you do not have the right to impose your values on others. Th is interferes with their freedom of choice.

Doing something about a value means taking action. Full values are those things which we work for, do something about, and take action on. Th us, what a person does refl ects his or her values. For example, you will read literature that supports your values; you will join clubs or organizations

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Chapter 9 Values and Ethics 411

whose members share your values and whose goals correspond to your values.

Acting repeatedly means there is a life pattern that is evident, and the stronger the value, the more it infl uences your life. Th ere is a consistency of action which manifests itself in all aspects of your life: in dress, in friends selected, in the place you live, in leisure time, in what you read, in your career, in the selection of your spouse, and how you spend your time and money.

In summary, a value that is freely chosen from alternatives whose con- sequences have been thoughtfully considered, of which we are proud and happy to the point that we publicly take a stand, and that we act upon with repetition and consistency is a full value.

Some authorities add an eighth criterion as the natural outgrowth of the other seven: A value enhances a person’s total growth . If a value has been affi rmed as a full value by having met the seven preceding criteria, it follows as a matter of course that value will contribute to and enhance the person’s total growth toward the goals and ideals that he has chosen for himself. We are more likely to continue choosing, prizing, and acting upon those values that help us to grow in our lives and that help us to achieve the goals which we have set for ourselves.

What about those values we simply say are important to us?

Value Indicators

Most of us have partial values that are in the process of being formed. Partial values, or value indicators , include desires, thoughts not acted on, opinions, interests, aspirations, goals, beliefs, attitudes, feelings, convictions, activities, day-dreams (Rokeach 2000). For example, we may say that we have a certain goal, but we are not working toward it. Also, we may say that we have an interest in learning to play bridge, but we have never taken the time to act on that interest.

We have already stated that the way we use our money and time is a strong value indicator. For example, John may say he values very highly the importance of reading and keeping up in “his thinking.” However, if you asked him how much time he spends reading each week or when he last bought a good book, you may be surprised to discover that he does not even remember. It has been said before that a simple process in determining the strength of a value is to ask a person or family to describe how they spend their money. Generally speaking, the more money they spend on something, the greater the value is to people.

From the preceding, it is easy to see that we can fi nd out what our real values are by examining our actual behaviors—the way in which we invest our time, money, energies, and resources. Consequently, in order to better under- stand your real values, you might want to apply the following four tests to your value orientation (Rokeach 2000):

1. Th e Choice Test. What do I do in situations involving a choice? 2. Th e Time Test. How much time and energy am I willing to spend on

the value? 3. Th e Sacrifi cial Test. What satisfaction am I willing to forego on behalf

of the value?

I f you can bring your actions and the time you spend in

your life more into harmony with your values, you will feel more in control of your life and more satisfi ed with the decisions you make.


W hen you walk your talk, people listen. GERMAN PROVERB

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412 Chapter 9 Values and Ethics

4. Th e Emotion Test. How much satisfaction or guilt do I experience when I am true to my value or when I violate it?

Th e most important thing to remember is that to claim a value, you must act in accordance with what you say you believe. Otherwise, you will be on a seesaw, going up and down and back and forth between “what is” and “what should be” in your life.

We Learn to Value What We Suffer For

Why does a child who has to work to earn money value his or her bicycle more than the child who is given a bicycle? Why are members of cults so dedicated to their organizations? Th ese questions and many others may be answered by taking a look at cognitive dissonance, the mental pain of incon- sistency, and justifying a sacrifi ce.

COGNITIVE DISSONANCE. What is cognitive dissonance, and how does it aff ect our values, beliefs, and attitudes? We are all motivated to maintain consistency within ourselves. We do not normally hold values, beliefs, or attitudes that are mutually incompatible or dissonant with each other, nor do we behave in ways contradictory to our values or attitudes. Although people diff er in the amount of inconsistency they can tolerate, a basic assumption of cognitive dissonance theory is that inconsistency is intoler- able to an individual.

Th e concept of cognitive dissonance was introduced by Leon Festinger (1957) to account for reactions to inconsistencies in attitudes and beliefs. According to this theory, when two or more cognitions such as beliefs, opin- ions, and the things we know about various types of behavior, people, objects, or circumstances are in disagreement (dissonance), a state of tension results. Th is inconsistency (dissonance) motivates the individual to adjust these cognitions so as to reduce the dissonance and thereby reduce the tension (Aronson et al. 2006).

THE MENTAL PAIN OF INCONSISTENCY. When there is dissonance between attitudes and behavior, the individual may modify attitudes rather than behavior.

To illustrate these points, suppose that a cigarette smoker is aware of the dangers of smoking to his or her health but continues to smoke. Th e indi- vidual is faced with two dissonant cognitions: “I enjoy smoking, or smoking is harmful.” Th e dissonance theory predicts that such an inconsistency would produce an uncomfortable state that would motivate the individual either to give up smoking or change his or her ideas about the risks involved in

W e write our own destiny . . . we become what we do. MADAME CHIANG KAI-SHEK

What sh ould be

. What is

.Life is a series of choices!

Establishing your real values involves balancing “what is” with “what should

be” in your life.

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Chapter 9 Values and Ethics 413

continuing to smoke. In cases such as this, we typically fi nd the individual expressing one of the following ideas:

“I enjoy smoking and it is worth it.” “No one in our family has ever had cancer.” “A person can’t always avoid every possible dangerous situation and still

continue to live an enjoyable life.” “Perhaps if I stopped smoking I would put on weight, which is equally as

bad for one’s health.”

Th us, Festinger suggests that continuing to smoke is, aft er all, consistent with the person’s ideas about smoking.

Although the individual may have stated that he or she would like to give up smoking, the person’s inability to do so resulted in rationalizing some facts to support his or her belief system and to match the person’s behavior. Now the tension is somewhat relieved. However, it has been suggested by some authorities that the individual may have to deal with his or her true feelings and behavior again.

Can you think of ways cognitive dissonance and the mental pain of inconsistency might apply to diffi culties in losing weight or in breaking a substance abuse habit?

JUSTIFYING A SACRIFICE. To answer the questions asked earlier, as we have observed through cognitive dissonance, an individual is motivated to justify his or her behavior. A child who has to work to earn money to buy a bicy- cle will value it more because he or she put more eff ort into getting it. Cult members, just as other members of groups and organizations, will generally experience some type of initiation process that will take a lot of eff ort on the individual’s part. Aft er putting in all this eff ort, the individual has to justify why he or she suff ered or worked so hard in order to be a member of the cult or organization. As a result of all this, the individual will generally become a very dedicated member of this group as a means of justifying why he or she went through this process.

As a student, most of you would admit that you value a class you succeed in that takes more eff ort than a class you succeeded in that was considered “easy.” As you can see from these examples, we learn to value what we suff er for (Aronson 2007).

Making Ethical Choices

Th is is a confusing world to live in. At every turn, we are forced to make choices about how to live our lives. Consider these questions: What is your philosophy of life? What would be included in your system of personal ethics? What do you do when you are confronted with confusion and con- fl icts regarding your values and ethics? How do your decisions aff ect your character and integrity? As you think about these questions, one thing is certain, your personal system of ethics is based on the values and attitudes you practice in your daily living. Actually, your system of personal ethics becomes an attempt to reconcile what ought to be with what is. Each of us, relying on our set of personal ethics, must decide what is right or wrong for us. Th ere are many alternatives, but each of us can choose our direction in life.

I f you do not live the life you believe—you will believe the

life you live.


I t’s important for people to know what you stand for. It’s

equally important that they know what you won’t stand for. Above all, you better not compromise yourself; it is all you got.


I t’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important.

You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.


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414 Chapter 9 Values and Ethics

CHARACTER AND ETHICS . Stephen Covey (2004), in his highly popular book, Th e 7 Habits of Highly Eff ective People, is concerned about some of the choices currently being made. He indicates that prior to World War I, people gov- erned their lives by values like “integrity, humility, fi delity, temperance, cour- age, justice, patience, industry, simplicity, modesty, and the Golden Rule.” He calls these attributes the character ethic because they are basic principles of eff ective living, and true success depends on integrating these principles into one’s character. Covey is concerned that we have made a distinct shift away from the character ethic toward the personality ethic, where success is based more on image, personality, technique, appearance, and having a positive mental attitude. Covey says:

We have become so focused on building ourselves up we have forgot- ten the foundation that holds it up is that of character and integrity. Many are focused on reaping the goods without the need to sow the fi elds. And, if there is no integrity, the challenges of life will reveal one’s true character .

Former U. S. senator Al Simpson said, “If you have character, that’s all that matters; and if you don’t have character, that’s all that matters, too.” So what is character? Character is composed of personal standards of behavior, includ- ing honesty, integrity, and moral strength (Reece and Brandt 2008). Can this be learned?

Ethics educator Michael Josephson (1994) of the Character Counts Coali- tion has developed a Character Counts! model for educational institutions and organizations throughout the country to teach the “six pillars of character” : (1) trustworthiness, (2) respect, (3) responsibility, (4) fairness, (5) caring, and (6) citizenship. Th e coalition has developed the following list of 10 key guide- lines as a foundation for character development: (You will have an opportu- nity to evaluate your own standing on these character traits in an exercise at the end of the chapter—See Guidelines for Character Development).

Be honest. Tell the truth; be sincere; do not mislead or withhold informa- tion in relationships of trust; do not steal.

Demonstrate integrity. Stand up for your beliefs about right and wrong; be your best self; resist social pressure to do wrong.

Keep promises. Keep your word and honor your commitments; pay your debts and return what you borrow.

Be loyal. Stand by family, friends, employers, community, and country; do not talk about people behind their backs.

Be responsible. Th ink before you act; consider consequences; be account- able and “take your medicine.”

Pursue excellence. Do your best with what you have; do not give up easily.

Be kind and caring. Show you care through generosity and compassion; do not be selfi sh or mean.

Treat all people with respect. Be courteous and polite; judge all people on their merits; be tolerant, appreciative, and accepting of individual dif- ferences.

Be fair. Treat all people fairly; be open minded; listen to others and try to understand what they are saying and feeling.

Be a good citizen. Obey the law and respect authority; vote; volunteer your eff orts; protect the environment.

W atch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words;

they become actions. Watch your actions;

they become habits. Watch your habits;

they become character. Watch your character;

it becomes your destiny.


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Chapter 9 Values and Ethics 415

Andrew Dubrin (2008) defi nes character trait as an enduring charac- teristic of a person that is related to moral and ethical behavior that shows up consistently. For example, if an individual has the character trait of being untruthful, he or she will lie in many situations. However, the char- acter trait of honesty leads to behaving honestly in most situations. It is believed by Durbin that if you develop, or already have the ten charac- ter traits, it will be easy for you to behave ethically in your dealings with others.

INTEGRITY AND ETHICS. If ever in doubt when trying to understand the ethics of a situation and fi nd the proper solution, it might be helpful to review and consider your responses to the following questions (Vandeveer and Menefee 2006):

1. Is it legal? 2. How do I feel about this? Am I feeling unusually anxious? Am I fearful? 3. Will any rules, policies, or regulations be violated? 4. Is the proposed action consistent with past practice? 5. Does my conscience bother me? 6. How would I feel if the details of this situation appeared on the front

page of the local newspaper? 7. Does the situation require that I lie about the process or the results? 8. Do I consider this to be an extraordinary situation that demands an

unusual response? 9. Am I acting fairly? Would I want to be treated this way? 10. Would I be able to discuss the proposed situation or action with my

immediate supervisor, my family, my minister, my closest friends, my company’s clients, or the president of the company?

11. What would I tell my child, sibling, young relative, or close, valued friend to do in this situation?

12. Will I have to hide or keep my actions secret? Has someone warned me not to disclose my actions to anyone?

While you may not need to ask yourself all 12 questions in every situation, your honest answers to perhaps even half of the questions may give you guidance in diffi cult situations.

Psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg (1981), who studied moral develop- ment and elements of the character ethic for many years, reminds us that

1. Keeping promises 2. Punctuality 3. Ethics and honesty 4. Demeanor 5. Respect 6. Gratitude 7. Sincerity 8. Feedback 9. Enthusiasm 10. Initiative

10 Things That Matter to People Who Know You T here is a choice you have to make,

In everything you do. And you must always

keep in mind, The choice you make,

makes you .


Levinson and Godin (1997), Get What You Deserve.

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416 Chapter 9 Values and Ethics

“the highest level of moral functioning requires us to use ethical principles to defi ne our own moral standards and then to live in accord with them.” Ideally, our choices will be made on the basis of our values and ethics —our standards of conduct or behavior—what we do (DeCenao and Silhanek 2002). In short, ethics determines where you draw the line between right and wrong.

It is important to note that integrity is exhibited when you achieve con- gruence between what you know, what you say, and what you do. When your behavior exhibits your beliefs, you have integrity. When you say one thing but do something else, you lack integrity. When your behavior is in tune with your professed standards and values—when you practice what you believe in—you have integrity (Reece and Brandt 2008).

CONFUSION AND CONFLICT. Being human, sometimes we may experience confusion and confl ict and, we may even have a value confl ict, a clash between values that encourage opposing actions (Wyer 2004).

Perhaps one of the most diffi cult things to do is to establish for ourselves a consistent set of values (Pojman 2005). If we go against a value, we feel bad. Inconsistencies in our values make us unhappy; they make us feel guilty. If we usually live up to our values, we are happy, satisfi ed people with consistent value systems.

It is true that we cannot always satisfy our values; many compromises must be made, because value confl icts are likely to appear when two or more people get together. Th erefore, we need to learn when we can aff ord to give up and compromise values and when we cannot. It is best not to compromise values of high priority. Values that are not so important may be compromised without destroying our self-concept, as well as our personal ethics. Actually, satisfi ed, happy people are people who do not compromise their most impor- tant values but are willing to compromise their less important values.

Perhaps the question is really— What is most important to me? In making value compromises, therefore, it is very important that we understand our priorities. It is this understanding that helps us defi ne our purpose and give meaning to our life. Controversial radio icon, Dr. Laura Schlessinger (2008), puts it quite simply: “ultimately, we decide the course of our lives by the ethical decisions we make.”

The Importance of Meaning and Purpose

Viktor Frankl, a European psychiatrist, dedicated much of his professional life to the study of meaning in life. According to Frankl (1997), what distin- guishes us as humans is our search for purpose. Th e striving to fi nd meaning in our lives is a primary motivational force. Humans are able to live and even die for the sake of their ideals and values. Frankl (1997) is fond of pointing out the wisdom of Nietzsche’s words: “He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how.” Drawing on his experiences in the death camp at Auschwitz, Frankl asserts that inmates who had purpose or a meaningful task in life had a much greater chance of surviving than those who had no sense of mission (Corey and Corey 2008).

Someone might reasonably ask what having a sense of meaning and pur- pose gives to a person. Crystal Park and Susan Folkman (1997) defi ne mean- ing as simply “perceptions of signifi cance.” Th ey argue that meaning gives life

C haracter is what you are in the dark. DWIGHT MOODY

S omething to do, someone to love, and something to hope for, are the true essentials of a happy and meaningful life. No matter how rich you are, if you lack one of these essentials, life’s true fulfi llment will not be yours. No matter how poor you are, if you possess all three of these, you can build a satisfying existence for yourself.


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Chapter 9 Values and Ethics 417

signifi cance. Irwin Yalom (2000) reviewed a number of studies of the role of meaning in people’s lives and described the following results:

A person’s lack of a sense of meaning in life is related to the existence of emotional and behavioral disorders; the less the sense of meaning, the greater the degree of personal disturbances.

A positive sense of meaning in life is associated with having a set of religious beliefs.

A positive sense of meaning is associated with possessing values relating to the betterment of humanity and an interest in the welfare of others.

A positive sense of meaning is associated with a dedication to some cause and with having a clear set of life goals.

Meaning in life is not to be seen as a static entity but should be viewed in a developmental perspective. Th e sources of meaning diff er at various stages in life, and other developmental tasks must precede the development of meaning.

In Tuesdays with Morrie (Albom 2002), the dying Morrie shared a thought worth refl ecting upon: “Learn how to die, and you learn how to live.” Morrie makes some perceptive comments that go to the heart of fi nding purpose and meaning in life:

So many people walk around with a meaningless life. Th ey seem half- asleep, even when they’re busy doing things they think are important. Th is is because they’re chasing the wrong things. Th e way to get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.

Dr. Barry Schwartz (2000), professor of psychology at Swarthmore College, in his review of social psychologist David G. Myer’s latest book, Th e American Paradox: Spiritual Hunger in an Age of Plenty , discusses additional insights about the importance of meaning and purpose. He notes that in some respects freedom and opportunity have simply made us more miserable than ever. For example, even though wealth is at an all time high, we have less happiness, more depression, more fragile marital relationships, less communal content- ment, more crime (even aft er the recent decline), and more demoralized children. It seems that we walk aimlessly through life—searching, searching, searching for “what’s the meaning” (Rogers 2005). Incidentally, we will dis- cuss the research on happiness in the next chapter.

Corey and Corey (2008) summarize the importance of meaning and purpose:

Humans apparently have a need for some absolutes in the form of clear ideals to which they can aspire and guidelines by which they can direct their actions.

Do you have clear ideals to which you can aspire and guidelines by which you can direct your actions? Do you have meaning and purpose in your life?

As human beings, it is our challenge and our task to create our own mean- ing. No one can do this for us. We encourage you to take some of the wisdom from William Ward’s “Life” and begin to practice these thoughts each day.

W e make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.


E verything can be taken from a man but one thing: The last

of his freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.


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418 Chapter 9 Values and Ethics

Life The adventure of life is to learn. The purpose of life is to grow . The nature of life is to change. The challenge of life is to overcome. The essence of life is to care. The opportunity of life is to serve. The secret of life is to dare. The spice of life is to befriend. The beauty of life is to give. The joy of life is to love.

William Arthur Ward

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Chapter 9 Values and Ethics 419

Chapter Review

A well-defi ned value system is basic to personal motivation, self-determination, and a lifestyle with meaning. Actually, our value system should be the control point of our life, helping us to choose the direction and course we will take.

■ A value is the degree of importance we attach to various beliefs, ideas, objects, or things. ■ Eduard Springer defi ned six diff erent types of people based on their types of values systems: the

theoretical, economic, aesthetic, social, religious and political. ■ We are not born with values, but we are born into cultures and societies that promote, teach, and impart

their values to us. We fi rst gain our value orientation from the “signifi cant others” in our lives, with the years of adolescence being extremely important for the learning and development of values. Dur- ing this time, we test the shoulds and should nots coming from peers, school, media, and advertising infl uences.

■ Individuation is the separation from our family system and the establishment of our own identity based on our own experiences and values.

■ Other factors infl uencing the formation of our value system include religious beliefs, attitudes, prejudices, and stereotypes. Th e three components to a prejudice are: to hold certain beliefs against members of a group, to feel negatively toward them and to be inclined to act negatively toward them.

■ Because we live and work in a multicultural world, it is extremely important that we be willing to view diversity as a strength and to test, adapt, and change our perceptions as we interact with others.

■ Our values do change as we go through various stages of our life. ■ Values clarifi cation is a process that helps individuals discover their true values. Th e process of clarify-

ing values involves choosing freely from alternatives, prizing and or affi rming the choice publicly, and acting repeatedly in some pattern of life.

■ Value indicators or partial values are values still in the process of being formed. How we use our time and money are oft en strong value indicators. Four tests to apply to your value orientations include: 1) the choice test, 2) the time test, 3) the sacrifi cial test, and 4) the emotion test.

■ According to the cognitive dissonance theory, when two or more cognitions such as beliefs, opinions, and the things we know about various types of behavior, people, or circumstances are in disagreement (dissonance), a state of tension results. Th is inconsistency (dissonance) motivates the individual to adjust these cognitions so as to reduce the dissonance and thereby reduce the tension. Oft en, atti- tudes, rather than behavior, are modifi ed. Quite simply, we are motivated to justify our behavior. We frequently learn to value what we suff er for.

■ One of the most diffi cult tasks we face is living with our values—there are so many choices to make. Since World War I, there has been a focus on behavior and personality—the personality ethic— having the right kind of personality defi ned by the right techniques. Prior to World War I, there was a focus on the character ethic—a style of living based fi rst and foremost on prioritized principles and values.

■ Th e six pillars of character include trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship.

■ Character is composed of personal standards of behavior, including honesty, integrity, and moral strength.

■ Character trait is an enduring characteristic of a person that is related to moral and ethical behavior that shows up consistently.

■ Some guidelines for character development are to be honest, demonstrate integrity, keep promises, be loyal, be responsible, pursue excellence, be kind and caring, treat all people with respect, be fair, and be a good citizen.

■ Ethics is our standards of conduct or behavior—what we do. ■ Integrity is exhibited when you achieve congruence between what you know, what you say, and what

you do. ■ In making value compromises, it is extremely important that we remember our priorities.

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420 Chapter 9 Values and Ethics

■ As human beings, we have a need for clear ideals to which we can aspire and guidelines by which we can direct our actions. Th us, it becomes our challenge and our task to create our own meaning and purpose.

Th e real values in life are those we have actually experienced. Th us, what we say we believe in is sometimes signifi cant; what we really do is where the signifi cance lies.

Test Review Questions: Learning Outcomes

1. Explain what the term “value” means. 2. Name and explain Spranger’s six value systems. 3. Explain how we develop values. Defi ne the term individuation and explain its signifi cance in the

development of our value system. 4. List and give examples of the three components to a prejudice. 5. Explain at least three things you can do to break down barriers in dealing with prejudices and

stereotypes. 6. Defi ne character. 7. Name and discuss the 10 guidelines for character development. 8. Defi ne values clarifi cation, and explain the process of clarifying values. 9. List and give examples of the four tests to apply to your value orientations. Explain at least two

strong value indicators. 10. Defi ne character trait and discuss the 10 guidelines for character development. 11. What are the 12 questions to ask yourself when trying to understand the ethics in diffi cult

situations? 12. Explain the cognitive dissonance theory, using a personal example, if possible. How does justifying

a sacrifi ce relate to the concept of cognitive dissonance? 13. Distinguish between the personality ethic and the character ethic. 14. What are the six pillars of character? 15. Defi ne and discuss what contributes to a person having integrity. 16. What is the most important thing to remember when considering whether to make value

compromises? 17. Explain the role and signifi cance of meaning in an individual’s life.

Key Terms

Acting Attitudes Belief Character Character Ethic Character Trait Choosing Freely Cognitive Dissonance Ethics

Full Value Individuation Integrity Personality Ethic Prejudices Prizing Spranger’s Value Systems Stereotyping Th e Aesthetic Person

Th e Economic Person Th e Political Animal Th e Religious Person Th e Social Person Th e Th eoretical Person Value Value Indicators Value System Values Clarifi cation

Refl ections

1. What have been some of the factors that have infl uenced the development of your value system? Which factor has been of the greatest signifi cance?

2. What are some diff erences between your value system of today and that of fi ve or ten years ago?

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Chapter 9 Values and Ethics 421

3. Two strong value indicators were discussed: how we spend our money and how we spend our time. Which one is a greater indicator?

4. Discuss any prejudices and stereotypes you have personally experienced. 5. How can we minimize prejudice and stereotyping in our society? How would you compare prejudicial

attitudes today compared to 10–20 years ago? 6. What is your perception of the value assessment survey of college students discussed in this chapter? 7. What are some of your partial values or value indicators which are in the process of being formed? 8. Have you ever applied the cognitive dissonance theory to one of your stated values? If so, explain how you

changed your belief system to “match” your behavior. 9. How would you describe your personal ethics? How would you describe your philosophy of life? 10. Some social observers believe that our nation is in moral decline. How do you feel about this? 11. What are your thoughts about the six pillars of character being taught in the schools? 12. Can you think of other questions to consider when contemplating the ethics of diffi cult situations?

Web Resources

Various links on creating a world where decisions and behaviors are guided by ethics. Numerous articles on developing character education in companies and schools. Dedicated to promoting ethical action in a global context. Numerous articles on Viktor Frank and the importance of meaning and purpose.

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Self-Inventory Purpose: To understand and evaluate your value system for personal goal setting.


I. For each statement below, indicate the response that most closely identifi es your beliefs and attitudes. Use this code:

5 = Strongly agree

4 = Agree in most respects

3 = Undecided

2 = Disagree in most respects

1 = Strongly disagree

________ 1. Because of the demands and expectations of others, it is diffi cult for me to maintain a true grasp of my own identity.

________ 2. At this particular time, I have a sense of purpose and meaning that gives me direction.

________ 3. I have evaluated and questioned most of the values I now hold.

________ 4. Religion gives a source of meaning and purpose to my life.

________ 5. I generally live by and proclaim the values I hold.

________ 6. I have a close idea of who I am and what I want to become.

________ 7. I let others infl uence my values more than I’d like to admit.

________ 8. The majority of my values are similar to those of my parents.

________ 9. Generally, I feel clear about what I value.

________ 10. My values and my views about the meaning of life have changed a great deal during my life- time.

________ 11. The way I use my time right now refl ects my personal values.

________ 12. I have a clear picture of “my philosophy of life.”

________ 13. I must admit that I have some prejudices and stereotypes that are currently part of my value system.

________ 14. The way I spend my money right now refl ects my personal values.

________ 15. The values that I presently believe in are the ones I want to continue to live by.

II. Responses may be shared in small groups or just viewed as a personal inventory.



Name Date

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Discussion 1. Would you like to change your responses to any of the questions? Which ones, and to what numerical degree?

2. What goals would you like to set to ensure that the desired responses occur?


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Guidelines for Character Development Purpose: To determine how you rate on guidelines suggested by Michael Josephson of the Character Counts Coalition as a foundation for character development.


I. Rate yourself with a check mark as either completely satisfi ed, moderately satisfi ed, or needs improvement on the following character traits:

1. Be honest. Tell the truth; be sincere; do not mislead or withhold information in relationships of trust; do not steal.

Completely satisfi ed______ Moderately satisfi ed______ Needs improvement______

2. Demonstrate integrity. Stand up for your beliefs about right and wrong; be your best self; resist social pressure to wrong.

Completely satisfi ed______ Moderately satisfi ed______ Needs improvement______

3. Keep promises. Keep your word and honor your commitments; pay your debts and return what you borrow.

Completely satisfi ed______ Moderately satisfi ed______ Needs improvement______

4. Be loyal. Stand by family, friends, employers, community, and country; do not talk about people behind their backs.

Completely satisfi ed______ Moderately satisfi ed______ Needs improvement______

5. Be responsible. Think before you act; consider consequences; be accountable and “take your medicine.”

Completely satisfi ed______ Moderately satisfi ed_____ Needs improvement______

6. Pursue excellence. Do your best with what you have; do not give up easily.

Completely satisfi ed______ Moderately satisfi ed______ Needs improvement______

7. Be kind and caring. Show you care through generosity and compassion; do not be selfi sh or mean.

Completely satisfi ed______ Moderately satisfi ed______ Needs improvement______

8. Treat all people with respect. Be courteous and polite; judge all people on their merits; be tolerant, appreciative, and accepting of individual differences.

Completely satisfi ed______ Moderately satisfi ed______ Needs improvement______

9. Be fair. Treat all people fairly; be open-minded; listen to others and try to understand what they are saying and feeling.

Completely satisfi ed______ Moderately satisfi ed______ Needs improvement______

10. Be a good citizen. Obey the law and respect authority; vote; volunteer your efforts; protect the environment.

Completely satisfi ed______ Moderately satisfi ed______ Needs improvement______

II. Now make a list of those traits where you feel improvement is needed.

Name Date



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Discussion 1. What do you think you can do to improve the traits you checked as needing improvement?

2. Do you agree that if you have developed all of the above character traits it will be easy for you to behave ethically in your dealings with others? Why or why not?


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What Do You Value? Purpose: To identify what you “really” value in everyday life.


I. Write down the three things that you most value in life, such as your family, education, religion, money, boyfriend or girlfriend, and so on.




II. Identify at least two days within a week, a normal work or school day and a day that you have more freedom to choose what you like to do, such as a weekend day. During each of those two days, write down what you do every two hours within a 24-hour day, including sleep.

Day One _________________________________________________________________________________________

Name Date



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Day Two ___________________________________________________________________________________________

III. Review your daily diary. How much time did you spend doing those things you stated that you value in Instruction I?


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Discussion What you do in your everyday life demonstrates what you really value in life. Did you spend only ten minutes with family and fi ve hours watching television? What does that tell you about your values?

1. Based on your diary, time-wise, what do you value most (list 1, 2, 3, and 4)?





2. How do the activities in your daily diary compare to what you stated your values to be?

3. What can you do in order to allow your behavior to follow your values (change your values or your behavior)? How are you going to change?

4. What did you learn from this activity?


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Personal Value Assessment Purpose: To identify your values through priority ranking.


I. The following is a list of personal values. Go through this list and rate the personal values in terms of their importance to you. Place a check (✓) mark in the category that best represents your feelings about how important the personal value is to you. (Exercise continues through the next 3 pages.)

Name Date

Fred Hecklinger and Bernadette Black, Training for Life (Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall Hunt Publishing Co., 2009). Used with permission.




Good health

Having close friendships

Having a close family

A fulfi lling career

A long life

A stable marriage

A fi nancially comfortable life


Being creative

Participating in an organized religion

Intimacy with another

Having children

A variety of interests and activities

Freedom to create my own lifestyle

Having a house

A happy love relationship

Fulfi lling careers for me and my spouse

Contributing to my community

Abundance of leisure time


Ability to move from place to place

A life without stress

Strong religious values

A chance to make social changes

To be remembered for my accomplishment s

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Helping those in distress

Freedom to live where I wish

A stable life

Time to myself

Enjoyment of arts, entertainment and cultural activities

A life without children

A life with many challenges

Opportunity to be a leader

Opportunity to fi ght for my country

A chance to make a major discovery that would save lives

A good physical appearance

Opportunity to establish roots in one place

Opportunity for physical activities

An exciting life

A chance to get into politics

To live according to strong moral values

Opportunity to teach others

To write something memorable

A chance to become famous

To help others solve problems

To make lots of money



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II. In the space below, list at least ten of your most important personal values from your Personal Values Assessment.

1. _____________________________________ 6. _____________________________________

2. _____________________________________ 7. _____________________________________

3. _____________________________________ 8. _____________________________________

4. _____________________________________ 9. _____________________________________

5. _____________________________________ 10. _____________________________________

III. In the space below, list your top fi ve personal values in order of priority, with number one as the most important.

1. _____________________________________ fi rst priority

2. _____________________________________ second priority

3. _____________________________________ third priority

4. _____________________________________ fourth priority

5. _____________________________________ fi fth priority



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Discussion 1. Does your life right now refl ect your values? Is the time you spend consistent with your priorities?

2. If the time you spend in your life right now does not refl ect your personal values, how can you change your life so that the time you spend is more in keeping with your values?

3. Are there some parts of your life that you would like to change but that you cannot right now? If so, what is your timetable for bringing your lifestyle more into harmony with your values?


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Name Date



Values in Eight Broad Areas of Life Purpose: To help you identify your values in eight broad areas of life.

Instructions: Below are 16 items. Rate how important each one is to you on a scale of 0 (not important) to 100 (very important). Write the number 0–100 on the line to the left of each item.

Not Important Somewhat Important Very Important

0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100

________ 1. An enjoyable, satisfying job.

________ 2. A high-paying job.

________ 3. A good marriage.

________ 4. Meeting new people, social events.

________ 5. Involvement in community activities.

________ 6. My relationship with God/my religion.

________ 7. Exercising, playing sports.

________ 8. Intellectual development.

________ 9. A career with challenging opportunities.

________ 10. Nice cars, clothes, home, etc.

________ 11. Spending time with family.

________ 12. Having several close friends.

________ 13. Volunteer work for not-for-profi t organizations like the cancer society.

________ 14. Meditation, quiet time to think, pray, etc.

________ 15. A healthy, balanced diet.

________ 16. Educational reading, TV, self-improvement programs, etc.

Below, transfer the numbers for each of the 16 items to the appropriate column, then add the two numbers in each column.

Professional Financial Family Social

1. _______ 2. _______ 3. _______ 4. _______

9. _______ 10. _______ 11. _______ 12. _______

Totals _________ __________ __________ __________

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Community Spiritual Physical Intellectual

5. _______ 6. _______ 7. _______ 8. _______

13. _______ 14. _______ 15. _______ 16. _______

Totals ___________ ___________ ___________ ___________

The higher the total in any area, the higher the value you place on that particular area. The closer the numbers are in all eight areas, the more well-rounded you are.

Discussion 1. Think about the time and effort you put forth in your top three values. Is it suffi cient to allow you to achieve the

level of success you want in each area? If not, what can you do to change?

2. Is there any area in which you feel you should have a higher value total? If yes, which, and what can you do to change?

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Multicultural Panel Discussion Purpose: To learn to value and respect fundamental differences among cultures and ethnic groups.

Instructions: Using the diverse populations within your classroom, your instructor will select multicultural, ethnic, and gender-mixed members from the class to participate in a panel discussion of the topics below. Instructors are encouraged to allow time for questions from the class members.


I. Attitudes, beliefs and values concerning:

Dating/personal relationships

Marriage (within culture; outside of culture; interracial marriage)


Family life (including extended families)

The purpose and meaning of life



Social involvement

Religion, worship, spirituality, moral codes

Death and funerals

Government enforced laws

Leisure time

Male roles/female roles

II. Customs and practices about:

Holiday celebrations (religious and other)

Weddings and funerals

Appearance (clothing, shoes, or other attire)

Gift-giving and charity

Food, alcohol, or drugs (differences in types, use or misuse of)

III. Miscellaneous concerns:

What would you like the class members to understand most about your culture or ethnic group?

Name Date


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Discussion 1. What did you learn as a result of this panel discussion?

2. Explain any prejudices or stereotypes you may have previously held that you perceive differently as a result of this panel discussion.

3. Are there any questions that you would have liked to ask but didn’t feel comfortable asking? If so, what are the questions?

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Name Date

Meaning and Values Learning Journal

Select the statement below that best defi nes your feelings about the personal value or meaning gained from this chapter and respond below the dotted line.

I learned that I . . . I was surprised that I . . .

I realized that I . . . I was pleased that I . . .

I discovered that I . . . I was displeased that I . . .

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