Monday, January 22, 2018

What are young people’s values and how are these different from older generations’ values in Georgia?

[Note: This blog post summarizes the findings of an article written by CRRC-Georgia researcher Tamar Khoshtaria and published in The Journal of Beliefs and Values in August, 2017.]

As Georgian society is going through social and cultural changes, it is important to understand people’s beliefs and values. Comparing the values of young people to those of the older generations is also important. This blog post summarizes the findings of a study that examined the values of young people aged 18 to 25, and analysed how these values are different from the values of older people in Georgia, based on both quantitative (World Values Survey, 2014) and qualitative data (40 in-depth interviews conducted in 2016). The study looked at values, perceptions, attitudes and tolerance towards different minority groups in Georgia. It concludes that in many cases, the younger generation shares more modern views and values, while the older generations are more inclined to support traditional values and hold conservative points of view.

The study used Shalom H. Schwartz’s theory of basic values, which identifies ten basic values:

  1. Self-direction: Independent thought and action-choosing, creating, exploring; 
  2. Stimulation: Excitement, novelty, and challenge in life; 
  3. Hedonism: Pleasure and sensuous gratification for oneself; 
  4. Achievement: Personal success through demonstrating competence according to social standards;
  5. Power: Social status and prestige, control or dominance over people and resources;  
  6. Security: Safety, harmony and stability of society, of relationships, and of self; 
  7. Conformity: Restraint of actions, inclinations, and impulses likely to upset or harm others and violate social expectations or norms;  
  8. Tradition: Respect, commitment and acceptance of the customs and ideas that traditional culture or religion provide the self; 
  9. Benevolence: Preservation and enhancement of the welfare of people with whom one is in frequent personal contact; 
  10. Universalism: Understanding, appreciation, tolerance and protection for the welfare of all people and for nature. 

In his empirical work, Schwartz used short verbal portraits which describe a person as having a certain goal, aspiration or wish and point implicitly to one of the ten value types. After hearing a verbal portrait, respondents had to evaluate to what extent the person described was like or not like him or her. These verbal portraits were used during the 2014 World Values Survey (WVS) conducted in Georgia. During qualitative interviews (conducted independently from the WVS), respondents could provide detailed accounts of their attitudes. 

The quantitative and qualitative data show similar results. Quantitative data analysis suggests that Schwartz’s higher-ordered values ‘conservation’ (which includes the basic values of ‘security’, ‘conformity’, and ‘tradition’) and ‘self-transcendence’ (which includes the basic values of ‘benevolence’ and ‘universalism’) are very important for people of all age groups in Georgia. Over 70% in all age groups evaluated the persons described in the verbal portraits representing these five basic values as being ‘very much like them’ or ‘like them.’ When it comes to these basic values, the young generation, in general, does not differ much from the older generations.

On the other hand, there are some values which were assessed quite differently by people in different age groups. When looking at the basic values ‘self-direction’, ‘stimulation’, and ‘hedonism’ (representing the higher-ordered value of ‘openness to change’), there are differences by age group. Compared to older generations, a larger share of young people identified themselves with a person to whom it is important to think up new ideas, take risks, and have a good time.

Similarly, the basic values of ‘achievement’ and ‘power’ (representing the higher-order value of ‘self-enhancement’) have been assessed differently by young people and people of older generations. While being successful is important for 66% of young people, the share is lower among older people. In addition, while ‘being rich, and having a lot of money and expensive things’ was not reported as an important value in Georgia, the share of those valuing this kind of ‘power’ is slightly larger among young respondents than it is among the older ones.

The second part of the study focused on tolerance towards different minority groups, measured by a question about which groups of people respondents would not want as their neighbours. The least tolerated group in Georgia is homosexuals. People of all generations would not like to have them as their neighbours. Still, the answers of young people suggest more tolerance and openness to different minority groups.

Note: A show card was used for this question. Respondents could name as many answer options as they wanted. 

While some values (e.g. ‘security’, ‘conformity’, ‘tradition’, ‘benevolence’, and ‘universalism’) are almost equally important to young and old people in Georgia, the young generation identifies more with values like ‘self-direction’, ‘stimulation’, ‘hedonism’, and ‘achievement’. In addition, the young generation is slightly more tolerant towards different minority groups.

For detailed results, see the full article in the Journal of Beliefs and Values.

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