The concept of value : a theoretical and developmental study
This thesis explores the idea of adopting the 'value point of view', from which value is seen as playing a central role in human affairs, and the study of value is regarded as a distinct subject area. The field of value is reviewed and analysed, an empirical approach is developed, and exploratory studies of children's values are conducted. The involvement of values in psychology is examined, and the scope of the field of value is illustrated through a wide-ranging review of the philosophical and social psychological work that falls within it. An outline sketch of the field is made in which four branches are identified, and the main issues are discussed. The empirical branch is explored in more detail through the development of an empirical approach to the study of value. The relationship of this approach to the main issues in the field is examined. The focus is then narrowed on to the development of values. The potential benefits of seeing child development from the value point of view are discussed, and previous studies of children's values are reviewed. Some aspects of the empirical approach are put into practice through a series of exploratory studies. These illustrate the usefulness of the approach in guiding and supporting studies of children's values. It is suggested that the approach, allied to the appropriate techniques, is capable of identifying 'values attached', 'criteria applied', and 'ultimate values', thus providing insights into children’s value networks and into the process of evaluation. The approach points the way to an area of research of considerable size and diversity. Some of the ways in which this area can be explored are suggested, along with the methodological problems that might be encountered. The main implications of the exploratory studies are outlined. These include the observation that while values are greatly influenced by shared factors, the particular ways in which people's values are organised and conceptualised represent important differences. This is one reason why both idiographic and nomothetic studies of value are required for a full understanding of values. Criticisms of the approach and of the techniques used are considered. The theoretical assumptions underlying the criticisms are examined, and compared with those of the approach. It is suggested that the issues involved should not hold back the development of the approach.