The structure of intraindividual value change

Anat Bardi, Julie Anne Lee, Nadi Hofmann-Towfigh, Geoffrey Soutar

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Values are assumed to be relatively stable during adulthood. Yet, little research has examined value stability and change and there are no published studies on the structure of value change. Based on Schwartz’s (1992) value theory, this paper proposes that the structure of intra-individual value change mirrors the circumplex-like structure of values, so that conflicting values change in opposite directions and compatible values change in the same direction. Four longitudinal studies, varying in life contexts, time gaps, populations, countries, languages, and value measures supported the proposed structure of intra-individual value change. An increase in the importance of any one value is accompanied by slight increases in the importance of compatible values and by decreases in the importance of conflicting values. Thus, intra-individual changes in values are not chaotic, but occur in a way that maintains Schwartz’s value structure. Furthermore, the greater the extent of life-changing events the greater the value change found whereas age was only a marginal negative predictor of value change when life events were taken into account. Implications for the structure of personality change are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)913-929
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2009


  • values
  • value change

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