9/11 Impact on Teenage Values

Abstract

Did the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S. cause the values of teenagers in the U.S. to change? Did their previously important self-esteem and self-actualization values become less important and their survival and safety values become more important? Changes in the values of teenagers are important for practitioners, managers, marketers, and researchers to understand because high school students are our current and future employees, managers, and customers, and research has shown that values impact work and consumer-related attitudes and behaviors. Further, studies that compared higher to lower performing for-profit and not-for-profit companies have found that higher performing organizations had strong values that permeated their organizations [Collins J. C., and J. I. Porras: 1994, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies (New York, Harper Business); O’Reilly, C. A. and J. A. Chatman: 1996, in B. M. Staw and L. L. Cummings (eds.), Research in Organizational Behavior, vol. 18 (JAI Press, Greenwhich, CT), pp. 157–200; O’Reilly, C. A.: 1989, California Management Review 31(4), 9–25; Posner, B. Z., and W. H. Schmidt: 1996, Public Personnel Management, 25(3), 277–298; Rousseau, D.: 1990, Group and Organization Studies 15(4), 448–460; Schein, E. H.: 2004, Organizational Culture and Leadership. San Francisco, Jossey Bass)]. While one study of adults found value changes, no known studies have explored if the values of teenagers also changed post-9/11. This study filled that research gap by exploring the values of a random sample of 1000 U.S. teenagers in grades 9 to 12 pre- and post-9/11, using a demographic questionnaire and the Rokeach Value Survey. The research results indicated that teenage survival, safety, and security values (a world at peace, freedom, national security, and salvation) increased in importance while their self-esteem and self-actualization values (a sense of accomplishment, inner harmony, pleasure, self-respect, and wisdom) decreased in importance, mirroring the changes for adults. The meaning of these findings for practitioners, managers, marketers and researchers was discussed.

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Acknowledgements

The researchers would like to thank the anonymous reviewers at the National Academy of Management, Dr. Regina Greenwood of Kettering University and anonymous reviewers at the Journal of Business Ethics, and Astrid Huizer, Editor at the Journal of Business Ethics for their invaluable comments that significantly improved this research study and the presentation of the research results.

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Murphy, E.F., Woodhull, M.D., Post, B. et al. 9/11 Impact on Teenage Values. J Bus Ethics 69, 399–421 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-006-9098-1

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Keywords

  • emotional or traumatic events
  • 9/11 Impact
  • value change
  • teenage values