Do the political values of the general public form a coherent system? What might be the source of coherence? We view political values as expressions, in the political domain, of more basic personal values. Basic personal values (e.g., security, achievement, benevolence, hedonism) are organized on a circular continuum that reflects their conflicting and compatible motivations. We theorize that this circular motivational structure also gives coherence to political values. We assess this theorizing with data from 15 countries, using eight core political values (e.g., free enterprise, law and order) and ten basic personal values. We specify the underlying basic values expected to promote or oppose each political value. We offer different hypotheses for the 12 non-communist and three post-communist countries studied, where the political context suggests different meanings of a basic or political value. Correlation and regression analyses support almost all hypotheses. Moreover, basic values account for substantially more variance in political values than age, gender, education, and income. Multidimensional scaling analyses demonstrate graphically how the circular motivational continuum of basic personal values structures relations among core political values. This study strengthens the assumption that individual differences in basic personal values play a critical role in political thought.
- Basic personal values
- Political values
- Structure of political thought
- Value coherence
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science