Schwartz in his famous theory of basic values follows Parsons and Rokeach in arguing that human values are trans-situational or context free. For any individual, the same personal value priorities exist across different life contexts such as the workplace, the school or the home. This assumption influenced the design of Schwartz’s Portrait Values Questionnaire (PVQ), which is widely used in the measurement of values. There is a tendency in the literature on values measurement to take this assumption for granted, but some cross-cultural research questions it. In our quest to improve validity and reliability in the measurement of values we used a quasi-experimental two-wave panel study to test Schwartz’s assumption, in the design of his PVQ, that values are trans-situational. Data was collected from sociology classes at two universities: one in Austria (n = 52) and the other in South Africa (n = 61). In the first wave the respondents completed Schwartz’s context-free version of the PVQ, and thereafter they completed a second PVQ with their family/home context in mind. In the second wave, 2 weeks later, the respondents completed the PVQ with the university context in mind. We used various statistical methods in our analysis of the data including a modified Cronbach’s alpha, the Student t test, Wilcoxon signed-rank test, Stouffer’s z test and multi-dimensional scaling. Our overall findings support a scenario where respondents have a universal set of values, but the way they prioritise their personal values is somewhat influenced by the value priorities associated with the life context they are thinking about.
- Measurement error
- Schwartz’s Portrait Values Questionnaire
- Trans-situationality of values