Why Values Are Changing
“What matters most in life?”
That question was posed to 50,000 people in 60 countries. The Gallup pollsters report that the most frequent response from nearly every part of the world was “to have a happy family life” and “good health.”
AT FIRST glance, it would seem that people around the globe share a noble set of values. Yet, the picture is not quite so rosy. In times past, people’s values were based upon traditional religious and moral principles. Things are changing fast, however. Researcher Marisa Ferrari Occhionero says regarding Italy: “The young manifest values that are less and less influenced by parental, traditional and religious influences.” The same can be said of people—both young and old—all over the world.
Professor Ronald Inglehart, coordinator of a research project called the World Values Survey, says: “A growing body of evidence indicates that deep-rooted changes in world views are taking place.” What is driving such changes? Inglehart claims: “These changes reflect economic and technological changes.”
The Gallup survey, for example, revealed that in affluent lands employment was “rated quite low” among the things that mattered most in life. But in developing lands, having a job ranked as high as number one! Yes, when people are poor, day-to-day survival takes priority. As countries develop economically, people then give priority to such things as health, happy family life, and self-expression.
Because of technological advancement, these emerging values are sure to impact developing lands. The magazine The Futurist observes: “Our beliefs and values are shaped by what we see and hear.” The mass media have thus had an enormous impact on Western values. Says The Futurist: “These media are achieving global reach.”
What changes are we therefore seeing in attitudes and behavior? How are these changing values affecting you and your family?