Perceptions of values over time and why they matter

Colin M.G. Foad*, Gregory G.R. Maio, Paul H.P. Hanel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Objective: Extant research mostly treats values as being stable over time. Our research examined how people perceive values over time and whether or not these perceptions reflect motivational tensions between theoretically opposing values. We also assessed the viability of examining values over time to predict well-being and future intentions.

Method: Four studies (N = 934) asked participants to report their values across past, present, and future settings. These temporal trajectories were analyzed across the four types of higher-order values: self-transcendence, self-enhancement, openness, and conservation. Studies 3 and 4 assessed associations with well-being. Study 4 assessed associations with self-reported behavior over time.

Results: Across all four studies, participants perceived their values as being dynamic over time. Younger participants' trajectories did not reflect the motivational conflicts typically reported in values research, but Study 4 showed potential awareness in older age groups. Variability in temporal values correlated with well-being, particularly for openness values. Future values predicted future intentions, even when controlling for present values.

Conclusion: This novel method of examining values provides new understanding into how people perceive the pursuit of values over time. Additionally, we show two ways that a temporal values measure can offer new insights into well-being and future intentions.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Personality
Early online date21 Nov 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Nov 2020

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • behavioral intentions
  • value stability
  • value structure
  • values
  • values over time
  • well-being


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