Guiding Actions and Expressing Needs: On the Psychological Functions of Values
Values are often used to examine cultural variability. Yet, little research has focused on the functions that values fulfill and the implications of these functions for understanding cultural variability. This paper describes a theoretical analysis of the functions of values based on 2 widely accepted pan-cultural functions: values guide actions and express needs. The theoretical model proposes that the first function differentiates values according to the goals pursued (personal, central, or social goals), whereas the second function differentiates values according to the needs expressed (survival or thriving needs). A combination of these 2 functions yields 6 basic values (structural hypothesis) with specific marker values (content hypothesis). Support for the hypotheses was obtained in a large convenience national sample (N = 5,176) of Brazilian university students with confirmatory factor analysis and multidimensional scaling. Central values were located between personal and social values, and survival and thriving values separated into 2 regions. Theoretical and cross-cultural implications of the findings, especially the universality of the general structure of motivational aims, are discussed, along with interpretations of existing value scales from a functional perspective.