[GOOD QUESTION] Where do values come from?


Catherine Hooley

In a world divided by personal beliefs, small differences in people’s everyday lives make big differences when it comes to a person’s wide array of values. Values influence every decision a person makes and shape the unique ways in which people live their lives.
A value is different from a belief. A belief is accepting something as true or real and can have a strong impact on a person’s values. A value is a principle or judgment of what is important in life.
Values are ingrained in people from birth. Geographical identity and cultural practices have a large impact, as well as a person’s family. Children learn things faster than adults and childhood is a time in someone’s life where they are taking in so much information without a lot of perspective of the world. Since children don’t know much about the world yet, it is easy for surroundings to rub off on them; therefore a child’s parents and close community has the most powerful impact on their initial values.
As people grow, they are better at determining what their true values are and can decide whether they value the same things as what they’ve learned.
“Some [values] I have adapted from my parents and others I have learned from different experiences in my life, like mistakes I’ve made. Also the people I’m surrounded with have a lot of influence on the way I think,” sophomore Naomi Kempcke said.
Day to day experiences help shape and determine what a person really values. Being around new people, doing new things, traveling to different places, and countless other experiences, all bring in a new perspective that can change a belief system dramatically.
Education makes a huge difference in the development of values. Going to school means being surrounded by new people, new cultures, gaining perspective of the world and more.
“I have developed a lot because of school. I’ve met so many people and learned about so many things bigger than myself that it would have been hard not to change,” said junior Maya Ketema.
A study by the World Economic Forum showed that in the United States, 56.94% of people reported that they derived their personal values from family and education.
As communication across the globe is becoming increasingly less difficult, pop culture and the spread of different cultures through media has increased the amount of international perspectives people encounter. “I value being a kind person, sharing when it is possible and always thinking about how my actions are affecting others. I think I got these main values from movies and TV shows and definitely my parents, too,” senior Judah Thomas said.
The study by the World Economic Forum also showed 3.4% derived their main personal values from popular culture.
Shared values that are relatively common include compassion, loyalty and honesty. Although these aren’t unanimous, they connect people from all different backgrounds. On the other hand, people also have values that others don’t share, or maybe just don’t value to the same extent, which is why humans are so unique. Values will most likely change the older someone ages, but the majority of where they form is from early life and personal experiences.