Political Behavior

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 899–930 | Cite as

Basic Personal Values Underlie and Give Coherence to Political Values: A Cross National Study in 15 Countries

  • Shalom H. SchwartzEmail author
  • Gian Vittorio Caprara
  • Michele Vecchione
  • Paul Bain
  • Gabriel Bianchi
  • Maria Giovanna Caprara
  • Jan Cieciuch
  • Hasan Kirmanoglu
  • Cem Baslevent
  • Jan-Erik Lönnqvist
  • Catalin Mamali
  • Jorge Manzi
  • Vassilis Pavlopoulos
  • Tetyana Posnova
  • Harald Schoen
  • Jo Silvester
  • Carmen Tabernero
  • Claudio Torres
  • Markku Verkasalo
  • Eva Vondráková
  • Christian Welzel
  • Zbigniew Zaleski
Original Paper


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.


Political values Basic personal values Value coherence Structure of political thought 



This paper was partly supported by the HSE Basic Research Program (International Laboratory of Socio-cultural Research).


This research complies with the laws of the countries in which it was conducted.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shalom H. Schwartz
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Gian Vittorio Caprara
    • 3
  • Michele Vecchione
    • 3
  • Paul Bain
    • 4
  • Gabriel Bianchi
    • 5
  • Maria Giovanna Caprara
    • 6
  • Jan Cieciuch
    • 7
    • 8
  • Hasan Kirmanoglu
    • 9
  • Cem Baslevent
    • 9
  • Jan-Erik Lönnqvist
    • 10
  • Catalin Mamali
    • 11
  • Jorge Manzi
    • 12
  • Vassilis Pavlopoulos
    • 13
  • Tetyana Posnova
    • 14
  • Harald Schoen
    • 15
  • Jo Silvester
    • 16
  • Carmen Tabernero
    • 17
  • Claudio Torres
    • 18
  • Markku Verkasalo
    • 19
  • Eva Vondráková
    • 20
  • Christian Welzel
    • 21
  • Zbigniew Zaleski
    • 22
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyThe Hebrew University of JerusalemJerusalemIsrael
  2. 2.Laboratory of Socio-cultural ResearchNational Research University—Higher School of EconomicsMoscowRussia
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Rome “La Sapienza”RomeItaly
  4. 4.School of PsychologyUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  5. 5.Department of Social and Biological CommunicationSlovak Academy of SciencesBratislavaSlovakia
  6. 6.Universidad a Distancia de MadridMadridSpain
  7. 7.Faculty of PsychologyUniversity of Finance and ManagementWarsawPoland
  8. 8.University of ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  9. 9.Department of EconomicsIstanbul Bilgi UniversityIstanbulTurkey
  10. 10.Swedish School of Social ScienceUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  11. 11.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of Wisconsin-PlattevillePlattevilleUSA
  12. 12.Department of PsychologyPontificia Universidad Católica de ChileSantiagoChile
  13. 13.Department of PsychologyUniversity of AthensAthensGreece
  14. 14.Practical Psychology DepartmentChernivtsy Yuri Fedkovych National UniversityChernivtsiUkraine
  15. 15.Department of Political SociologyUniversity of BambergBambergGermany
  16. 16.Department of PsychologyCity University LondonLondonUK
  17. 17.Department of PsychologyUniversity of CordobaCordobaSpain
  18. 18.Institute of PsychologyUniversity of BrasiliaBrasiliaBrazil
  19. 19.Institute of Behavioral SciencesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  20. 20.Faculty of Social Sciences and Health CareConstantine the Philosopher UniversityNitraSlovak Republic
  21. 21.Institute of Political Science and Center for the Study of DemocracyLeuphana University LueneburgLüneburgGermany
  22. 22.Department of PsychologyCatholic University of LublinLublinPoland

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