Discussion: Values are established from a very young age and can be influenced by people and environments. Most would agree that our values drive our behavior and our communication with others. Our behavior can be influenced by internal value conflicts. These conflicts shape our ethical instinct and attitudes toward right and wrong behavior. Attitude choices include decisions to be happy, sad, optimistic, open-minded, pessimistic, etc. With this said, there are a variety of factors that influence one's attitude, such as psychological, emotional, cognitive, and social needs being fulfilled.
Based on your readings this week (see Content – Week 3 – Reading and Resources), it is clear that "Attitude" is a choice. Be creative in your answer! What responsibility do we have to ourselves and others in the workplace to ensure that our attitude and values have a positive and empowering effect in our personal and professional lives?
You may find appropriate articles at the end of each chapter, and/or identify articles through the APUS online Library. Finally, be sure that all discussions are answered in full, in order to ensure the best possible grade based on the work submitted.
English translation © 2010 M.E. Sharpe, Inc., from the Russian text, “Sotsial’nye ustanovki i tsennosti: vzaimodeistvie fenomenov i sootnoshenie poniatii.”
Bulat Saliamovich Alishev is a Doctor of Psychological Sciences and a professor in the Department of General Psychology, Kazan University. Address correspondence to [email protected]
Translated by Nora Seligman Favorov.
Journal of Russian and East European Psychology, vol. 48, no. 2, March–April 2010, pp. 11–30. © 2010 M.E. Sharpe, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN 1061–0405/2010 $9.50 + 0.00. DOI 10.2753/RPO1061-0405480202
Social Attitudes and Values How Phenomena Interact and Concepts Interrelate
The author presents the hypothesis that attitudes have a dual origin—bio- social and cultural—and a transitory character. Conversely, he proposes a close interaction between attitudes and values. He also proposes the integration of three main interpretations of the essence of value positivis- tic, transcendental, and subjectivist. The empirical study used five sets of questionnaires to reveal the relationship between attitudes and values.
Statement of the problem
The social attitudes and values of various groups have been a traditional field of interest for social psychologists for several decades. However, the interaction between these psychological phenomena and, correspondingly, the concepts that represent them is not yet sufficiently understood. In particular, Leon Festinger asserted that opinion, belief, attitudes, and values, while be- ing somewhat different, are all “elements of knowledge” (Festinger, 2000, p. 9). More recently, Gerd Bohner writes, “[A]ttitudes towards abstract entities . . . are frequently termed values” (Bohner, 2004, p. 241). The opinions of Russian psychologists are also characteristic. For V.A. Iadov attitudes and
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values are distinct from one another only in the degree to which they are generalized, being parts of an integral system of dispositions (Iadov, 1979, pp. 62–70).
It should be added that serious difficulties arise not only in separating at- titudes and values, but in distinguishing them both from motives, thoughts, personality traits, and so on. For example, D.A. Leontiev notes: “[M]otives are extremely difficult to distinguish from personalized meaning and semantic attitudes in experiments, since they only manifest themselves through these two phenomena. The same thing, but to an even greater extent, can be said of values” (2003, p. 130). A.G. Shmelev writes: “The term ‘attitude’ [ustanovka and otnoshenie] is increasingly used in place of the term ‘trait’ [cherta]” (2002, p. 56).
It would seem that this intertwining of concepts is no coincidence, but rather in the order of things, and the reason for this is that as soon as researchers begin to penetrate the essence of the specific phenomena they are studying more deeply, they discover that at their very basis, “at the very bottom,” is something common, integral, and inseparable. There, “in the depths,” it is revealed that the most fundamental attitudes turn out to be exceptionally robust and become indistinguishable from motives, personality traits, and values. Just as closely connected and tending to flow into one another are the other psychological phenomena mentioned above.
Nevertheless, in this article I attempt, first, to define certain differences between values and attitudes and, second, to demonstrate that there are close interconnections between them.
Initially, attitudes were seen as the result of previous experience. This under- standing was based on the idea that given repeated interaction with one and the same objects of the external environment in the same types of situations, their meaning gradually ceases to be fixed by consciousness in the form of an attitude arising at the moment and takes on the form of an enduring atti- tude. The formation of attitudes turns out to be very similar to the formation of conditioned reflexes in animals. In particular, in the famous definition by Gordon Allport (1935, p. 810), attitudes are interpreted as states of the nervous system and awareness that express a personality’s readiness for a particular sort of purposeful action.
Later, there was a move away from basing theories on the rigid conceptual model that saw attitudes as explaining behavior to the more flexible idea that attitudes make a given behavior possible. Social attitudes started to be
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interpreted as culturally assigned tendencies, the manifestation of which in the actual behavior of an individual was seen as a matter of statistical prob- ability. For example, Milton Rokeach saw them as a system of ideals about a social object or situation that is relatively stable over time and that inclines a person toward choosing a particular behavior (Rokeach, 1968). It was this sort of interpretation that led the concept to gradually lose its specificity and become almost indistinguishable from the concepts of relationship, stereotype, value, motive, meaning, personality trait, and so on.
From my perspective, these difficulties are associated with the fact that the term “attitude” (ustanovka) is used to denote psychological phenomena that differ in origin and each influence behavior in their own way. In this connection I would like to draw the reader’s attention to the idea described by O.M. Panfilov that a fixed attitude was the first form of relationship (otnoshenie) in human phylogenesis (Panfilov, 1995, p. 217). This idea suggests that the phenomenon of the fixed attitude appeared in primitive humans as an extension of instinctive, genetically conditioned regulators of behavior. For example, various prohibitions and taboos could emerge not as the result of a conscious imposition of limitations on certain forms of behavior by the community (culture). It might have been that, although there was no awareness of them as prohibitions, they existed in the form of fixed attitudes, being an “extension” of instinct. What I have in mind is the following. The gradual evolutionary development of consciousness forced people to find an explanation for everything they encountered. They could not have failed to notice that they themselves had something within them that forced them to do one thing and not do another thing. How, for example, were they able to explain to themselves certain psychological “forces” against committing incest? Or if they did not attempt to explain this, then might they at least have brought the existence of such a prohibi- tion to the cognitive level? Such a transference might have brought about the phenomenon of the taboo in primitive groups.
It is helpful to recall that according to Sigmund Freud the taboo is ancient in origin and is linked to the emergence of conscience. He writes, “[T]he under- standing of taboo also throws light upon the nature and origin of conscience. . . . Conscience is the inner perception of objections to definite wish impulses that exist in us; but the emphasis is put upon the fact that this rejection does not depend on anything else” (Freud, 1918, p. 113). Instinct, as is well known, also does not depend on anything else, but simply guides actions. Attitudes also do not require outside proof or arguments, nevertheless they are handed down from generation to generation via culture (including a system of taboos and sanctions) as a mandatory and natural template for behavior.
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Of course, I am far from asserting that attitudes are direct extensions of instincts. But the connection between instinctual and attitude-based forms of behavior are obvious, especially when it comes to the early stages of human evolution. Later, as consciousness became more developed, there were evi- dently lengthy evolutionary processes as a result of which consciousness, on the one hand, acquired the ability to suppress many instinctive reactions and, on the other, “reject” the regulation of those reactions that took shape due to a conditioned reflex—that is, as a consequence of learning. Thus, through this combination, the mutual imposition of two different mechanisms (biological and cultural), the mental phenomenon that psychologists call “attitude” was able to come into being.
On the level of consciousness, this phenomenon corresponds to belief—in essence, to the fact that a person believes in the impermissibility of certain forms of behavior and in the justifiability of others, in the impossibility of some events and occurrences and in the validity of others. Belief, in turn, is based on the psychological phenomenon called faith (here I do not mean faith in the religious sense, but faith in general). It is relatively easy to demonstrate that faith in a certain sense can also take the place of instinct. Animal instinct has the force of a categorical imperative and does not require decision making or cause hesitation. Because of consciousness, humans, as was previously noted, are capable of suppressing their own instincts, but this creates the danger of complete chaos in their interactions with the environment, including with other people. Consciousness greatly expands the number of degrees of freedom in decision making. Consequently, there must be a psychological mechanism that provides for not simply selectiv- ity of action, but for reasoned selectivity or, at least, selectivity channeled into a single direction. There must be a mechanism for “imposing order.” Beliefs and faith serve this very purpose.
So it is possible to build a chain linking “instinct–attitude–belief.” The first link in this chain is genetically conditioned, the last is entirely conditioned by consciousness, and the middle one is transitive. Transitivity means, first, that the phenomenon of the attitude is characterized by a complex interaction between the unconscious and the conscious that constantly changes from situation to situation and, second, that mental phenomena that differ in terms of origin can take the form of attitudes.
This approach to analyzing the problem permits discussion of attitudes with differing levels of fundamentality: for example, attitudes that take shape on the basis of individual experience, attitudes that are cultural in origin, at- titudes conditioned by instinctive forms of behavior. However, these three levels can be identified only in theory, because in reality it is exceptionally
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difficult to isolate them. In reality, everything comes together in a great heap and individual experience grows from the “fertile ground” that has been laid by biology and culture. Culture, in turn, also does not take shape and develop in a vacuum, but has roots in human sociobiological evolution. This idea, al- though far from universally recognized, has been supported and is supported by many major scholars, beginning with Charles Darwin.
Therefore we have every basis to assert that people have fundamental social attitudes that, on the one hand, have their source in biosocial instincts and, on the other, are conditioned by cultural development, but, in the case of the individual personality, both (depending on the extent to which they are expressed) largely depend on individual life experience and the individual level of cognitive development.
If we again turn to the “instinct–attitude–belief” chain, it appears at first glance that values are associated with the third link. This is exactly how Rokeach understood their essence, labeling values “abstract ideas . . . not associated with a specific object or situation” in which a person’s beliefs and goals are expressed (Rokeach, 1973, p. 5). But is it really the case that people assign priority to values because they believe they are true? Could it be the other way around, could it be that people believe that their priorities are right simply because these are the priorities they have? If this is the case, then we cannot simply link values to the conscious sphere of mind; just as with attitudes, they turn out to be only partially conscious. Furthermore, I think that values relate to all three elements of this chain.
This last phrase demands some clarification, which I now provide. I begin by pointing out that three approaches to understanding the essence of values have gained popularity within certain sciences: the positivist approach, which sees a value as an object possessing meaning or as the meaning an object holds for someone; the transcendental approach, which rests on the idea of the absolute character of values and that they belong to a third world—a world of neither objects nor mind; the subjectivist approach, which sees values as the most important element of culture, as constituting its nucleus, and on the individual level sees values existing as mental intentions.
While at first glance it might appear that this last approach would be most appealing to psychologists, many of them are adherents of the first two views. Suffice it to consider G.V. Sukhodolsky and M.I. Bobneva. For Sukhodolsky, values are the useful results of activity—that is, the utility scale also turns
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out to be the value scale (Sukhodolsky, 1988, p. 102), and from Bobnev’s perspective, they are absolute and no “price” can be put on them (Bobneva, 1978, p. 94). Similar differences in approach can be found among Western psychologists (e.g., compare the views of Julian Rotter and Abraham Maslow on this problem).
From my perspective, it is possible to overcome the contradictions between existing interpretations of the essence of values and propose an integrating theory. In essence, values are not localized within the world of objects and do not form a separate “third” world, but neither are they concentrated in the world of the mind. Rather, they “are found” in the links between subject and object, their interaction. Such an understanding has been proposed by other psychologists as well. In particular, E.A. Klimov has written, “values do not exist outside the ‘subject–object’ relationship and they should not be equated with something existing outside of and in- dependent from the subject” (1994, p. 133). However no detailed analysis of this idea has been offered.
Detailed explanations of this idea have been presented in my other works (Alishev, 2002, 2005), and therefore, here I will only spell out the essence of the question. My analysis is based on the assumption that people are in a constant state of interaction (real or virtual) with the external environment. In this interaction they constantly encounter uncertainty (it is simply not possible for all parameters of a given interaction or the consequences of a particular action to be known). However, uncertainty must be overcome because oth- erwise a person’s existence becomes impossible. Any life, in essence, is the perpetual overcoming of uncertainty.
Humans overcome uncertainty by determining the meaning of everything they encounter, everything they come into contact with and everything that takes place around them. They then use this meaning to make decisions about their own actions and perform (or refrain from performing) them. It goes without saying that the certainty that they achieve through this process is subjective. In other words, it exists purely in consciousness. It can there- fore be asserted that the concept of meaning is (or should be considered) a fundamental psychological category. But does this mean that value and meaning can be reduced to the same thing? Probably not. Meaning is prob- ably just that—meaning—while an object is an object. There is no need to call them by any other name. Values cannot be reduced to objects or to their meanings, but common sense tells us that they are tied to the process of defining meaning. Tied how? The answer to this question can be found by examining the process involved. Here at least two analytical approaches can be taken.
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First, the interaction between subject and object always has a certain content. There is no such thing as abstract generalized meaning, there is only specific meaning, and everything that is done is done for something and everything has certain meaningful results and consequences. It follows that for defining meaning, modalities that differ depending on content must exist. Any object and situation is always evaluated from a particular angle, and this angle depends on what a person’s needs, interests, and goals are at a given moment. One and the same object at different moments in time can take on equally great meanings, but in one case it is for one reason, and in another, for another reason: the content of meaning will differ. At yet another moment in time the object will have absolutely no meaning, but some other object will turn out to be important. This is the case because there is no universal need and no universal object. There are no objects or situations that could satisfy all of a subject’s needs (the only object that could do this would be the world as a whole). Therefore, the question of the content of meaning is the question of the functionality of objects and interactions with them.
In this context I am using the concept function to mean a connection between subject and object that has a particular content (the connection could have any content and not simply one associated with economic util- ity). It is clear that the objects themselves cannot possess any functions. Their functions “appear” only because and only to the extent that a person interacts with them. People have needs and interests and objects have physiochemical parameters that can to some degree correspond or fail to correspond to these needs. People thus have an opportunity to judge the properties and qualities of objects.
But there is something else of greater interest and importance. One and the same object “possesses” a multitude of properties: a stone can be used to build a wall or to be thrown in the water to create a display of ripples. Look- ing at it from another angle, a given property can be found in a multitude of objects: a multitude of different stones and not only stones can be used to build walls. This leads us to two corollaries. First, there is no hard and fast connection between objects and functions. And this means that people do not, for the most part, depend on specific objects. Objects are interchangeable. The only thing people need from them is that they be functional. Functions and objects thus form a gigantic, multidimensional matrix.
I presume that there exists a rather small number of ultimate functions that are realized through interaction within the subject–object system, and they relate to the most fundamental connections between humans and their environment. These “ultimate functions” can be appropriately called functional modalities
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for determining meaning. Among them can be included, for example, that which in language is denoted by concepts of utility, beauty, goodness, justice, freedom, and so on. It is not objects that underlie each of these concepts, but specific functional connections between subject and object.
Second, humans do not simply determine meaning within the framework of functional modality. They determine the priority of the meanings themselves. They are forced to do this because the specific situations in which interaction takes place are often multifaceted: meanings can and must be determined in these situations in several modalities. In assigning priority they are solving a problem: what is more important in this situation? In the case of objects pos- sessing one and the same functionality, the problem takes on another aspect. In this case, a multitude of objects is evaluated on a certain continuum in terms of the extent and measure of their actual functionality. For example, a shop- per selecting a stool finds one that seems to him to be more (measure) sturdy (function); someone in a café selects certain items from among a multitude of dishes because he likes them more (measure) in terms of taste or because they are less expensive (function). In real life situations both of these problems are solved simultaneously: the person simultaneously determines the content of possible meanings and their measure.
For people to determine the measure of meaning (or measure of functional- ity) of an object, action, or situation, they must have scales. Without scales, the problem is fundamentally unsolvable. There should be as many scales as there are functional modalities for determining meanings. If we consider that objects’ meanings are determined more often than not in terms of sev- eral modalities and that objects are brought together in complex situations, forming a certain integrality, then the problem of measuring meaning turns out to be no simple task.
Evidently scaling mechanisms exist that are common to all people (and, in this sense, objective) and are used by the mind and brain in such situa- tions for determining meanings where it is not possible to determine an exact quantitative correlation. The field of statistics uses nominal, ordinal, interval, and ratio scales. However, none of these are mere mathematical abstractions, but rather real procedures and operations for juxtapositions and comparisons that are constantly being carried out, not even by thinking, most likely, but by the mind overall. A huge number of measurements and comparisons are being generated intuitively and even involuntarily. It is impossible to place all responsibility for this on thinking, even if we are just talking about rank- ing. Ranking is a more complex procedure than, for instance, calculating the coefficient of a ranking correlation, because in calculating there is no need to make any choice.
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Just what are values? If we understand them to be “pure” content, and if we limit this understanding to content that has a high level of generalization (goodness, justice, love, power, etc.) and abstract ourselves from everyday human life, they begin to look like eternal absolutes, cast in some “heavenly light.” This is how they appear to transcendentalists. However, if values are indeed absolute, it is only in the sense that they exist for very long periods— centuries and millennia—that are incomparable to the lifetime even of many generations coming one after another (which is why we have “eternal” prob- lems and “eternal” themes).
If we understand values as something that can be quantified, then the per- fectly well-understood possibility of “identifying” them in objective reality, outside the person, emerges. Everything quantifiable can be, in one way or another, measured, and humans have become accustomed to the fact that all of this exists in external reality. Thus, objects began to be defined as values, and then the entire problem moves to the plane of quantitative comparisons and juxtapositions of individual objects to one another. Given such a strategy for thinking, the next logical step has to be the essential equating of value and cost. This did indeed happen at some point in the economic sciences, and since the economic sphere of life is truly one of the most important, this way of understanding it was transformed into a paradigm for sociology and sociologized philosophy, and then made its way into psychology.
The brief analysis of the problem offered above suggests the following definition: values are the functional connections between a person and the objective world that are reflected in that person’s mind and consciousness and that have a specific modality conditioned by their content. “Within” each of these modalities (values) it is possible to perform measurements, although by no means is there always an objective scale for this (e.g., there are no scales by which to measure beauty, love, etc.). If we are dealing with different modalities for defining meanings, then it is only possible to define subjective priorities.
The relationship between attitudes and values
It is obvious that functional connections in a “subject–object” system exist whether or not there is awareness of it. It is also apparent that such connec- tions exist even if there is no awareness whatsoever (although in this case, of course, we would be unlikely to use the word “subject”). I am saying that animals, like people, have to determine meanings and, in so doing, over- come uncertainty. In the animal world, overcoming uncertainty is achieved through the system of instincts and unconditioned and conditioned reflexes.
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What I define as values are thus realized in instincts over many millions of years, over several million years they are manifested in attitude-type phe- nomena, and for many thousands of years they are manifested in people’s beliefs and creeds.
It therefore becomes clear why in empirical research statements or other expressions of how people relate to, value, or foresee their own behavior can be interpreted as manifestations of either attitudes or values. In any case, what is being referred to here in general is a certain type of priority (furthermore, instinctive forms of behavior are also based on certain pri- orities that were “determined” by nature itself). It is therefore evident that if we are talking about attitudes and values that are at the same level of generalization (e.g., the level of “abstract ideas”), then there are bound to be close ties between them.
Our research investigated the connection between four social attitudes forming along the continuums: “authoritarianism–democratism,” “individ- ualism–collectivism,” “altruism–egoism,” and “internalism–externalism,” on the one hand, and how values were prioritized, on the other. Attitudes along these continuums, from my perspective, are biosociocultural in origin and in aggregate encompass the main aspects of interaction between the individual and the group. Due to their origin they are among the deep ele- ments in the structure of mind. They can be viewed as underlying cultural patterns that are unconsciously passed down from generation to generation, changing very slowly within a particular community. It goes without saying that not every bearer of a particular culture necessarily possesses them. A useful concept here is “modal personality,” proposed many years ago by Cora DuBois, which she understood to be the most common personality type in a given culture (1944). These attitudes can be expressed, first, in different ways and, second, are associated with one another in different ways in individual people and groups.
As for values, I relied on the model of their structure that is based on the theoretical ideas outlined above and described in detail in my works cited above. This model provides for four value clusters: (a) the primary value correlation, within the framework of which people determine the correla- tive value “self” and “not self,” the latter being the complex objects that are increasingly removed from the “self”—loved ones, the place one grew up, people in general, animate and inanimate nature, and so on; (b) primary functional values encompassing the main aspects of the interaction between a person and the World and signifying fundamental concepts such as utility, truth, beauty, freedom, goodness, and so on; (c) values from the sphere of one’s vital activities, which would include, for example, concern for one’s
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own body and health, family, work, friendship, and so on; (d) values tied to the goals of vital activities, including the main driving forces of human activity—material well-being, harmony in relationships, self-development, and so on. I presuppose that every value cluster is independent from the others, that people define their value priorities within these clusters, but the values of completely different types cannot be compared and chosen between.
Surveys were conducted in 2006–7 in Kazan on a sample of 245 students from intermediate professional schools and postsecondary schools, aged sixteen to twenty-three, applied five measurement instruments.1
1. A measurement instrument developed in collaboration with R.F. Bai- azitov (2005) was designed to measure the level of authoritarian stereotyp- ization. Thirty questions were designed to determine the extent to which subjects support or reject the building of social relations on three levels based on the principles of authoritarian domination (interpersonal, organizational, and sociopolitical authoritarianism scales). A nine-point scale was used for responses, ranging from –4 to 4. In this study only responses based on the first and third scale counted (twenty questions). Individual results ranged from –80 to 80 with a theoretical mean of zero. Responses in the positive range signified expressed authoritarian attitudes.
2. Another measurement instrument was developed in collaboration with G.I. Kashapova (Kashapova and Alishev, 2006) to measure attitudes along the collectivism–individual
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