Current Psychology

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 81-92

First online:

Values and Messages Conveyed in College Commencement Speeches

  • Jenifer J. PartchAffiliated withMental Health Services, Arizona Department of Corrections
  • , Richard T. KinnierAffiliated withCounseling Psychology Program, Arizona State University Email author 

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Using content analysis, values and messages were extracted from 90 American university commencement speeches delivered between 1990 and 2007. Overall the most frequent messages in descending order were: Help Others, Do the Right Thing, Expand Your Horizons, Be True to Yourself, Never Give Up, Appreciate Diversity, Cherish Special Others, and Seek Balance. Two messages were delivered more often at women’s colleges than at coeducational universities, and more often by female speakers than male speakers. These were: Be True to Yourself and Cherish Special Others. Discussion focuses on these messages in light of contemporary American societal values and sex role expectations.


Values Content analysis College commencement addresses