Valuescope: a Three-Dimensional Value System


Hans L Zetterberg (1995) ,"Valuescope: a Three-Dimensional Value System", in E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 2, eds. Flemming Hansen, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 163-171.

European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 2, 1995      Pages 163-171


Hans L Zetterberg, City-universitetet, Stockholm

Every known society seems to have at least some market-like arrangement, however small it may be. A genuine market economy exists wherever people and organizations use markets as their major framework for carving out an existence. Markets are continuos exchanges of property rights until the properties end up with those who voluntarily pay best for them.

Markets are usually studied post factum. We record the signals of prices, supplies and demand. The consumers then find the best buys and the producers find the optimum level of supply and deliver them through the most appropriate marketing channels. Market researchers assist management in interpreting the many market signals. We have become good at the calculation of the future of a market for existing goods and services. In the profession of market research we have also learned to lift ourselves out of the post factum study of market statistics by using concept tests, product pre-testing, package testing, advertising tests, trial marketing, et cetera.

An ultimate driving force of markets may well be the values held by a population. Values are generalized, relatively enduring and consistent priorities for how we want to live. A market is one of the systems through which we can realize our values. Such simple considerations suggest that it may be very fruitful to incorporate value research into market research.


Our values may be more or less articulated. When we use survey research to measure values we assume that they are reasonably well articulated. When we use literary or cultural criticism to ascertain values we may also discover unarticulated or unconscious values.

It is of fundamental importance to distinguish between norms and values. This is not done in the most quoted of all definitions of values in the social sciences: "I consider a value to be a type of belief, centrally located within one's total belief system, about how one ought or ought not to behave, or about some end state of existence worth or not worth attaining" (Rokeach 1972, p. 124). The first part of this definition actually refers to norms ("how one ought or ought not to behave"). The second part refers to values in our sense ("some end state of existence worth or not worth attaining"). The norms (generalized prescriptive statements) attach themselves to positions such as "homeowner", "father", "employee" and to roles such as the "father-mother" role and the "father-son" role.

The norms, and the positions and roles to which they are attached, form the social structure. There are different expectations about consumption in different parts of the social structure; what may go for a teenager is not appropriate for an old man, what is fine for a women may be questioned for a man. In market research we refer to the structure every time we relate market data to the demographics in our questionnaires.

The values (generalized evaluative statements) refer to the ways in which we want to evolve and grow, for example, with a rich inner life or with a shining career to our credit. The values, and the symbolic environment in which they are articulated, are not social structure but culture. The purpose of this paper is to show a simple way in which we can relate to culture in our market questionnaires by including valuegraphic questions.

Norms and values are each fundamental to a major modality in which man may find himself.

The first is the compliant mode of "being" when you ask at every new turn:

What is the situation? Which position do I have and what roles am I expected to play?

The second mode is the actualizing mode of "becoming" when we ask at every turn:

What is the situation? Which values do I have? What can I do to realize them?

To people or organizations operating in the compliant mode of "being", the norms are most fundamental. To people or organizations in the actualizing mode of "becoming", their values are most fundamental. The first question (on being) is most appropriate to ask when you deal with persons in organizations designed for specific purposes as well as traditional primordial organizations. The second question (on becoming) is most appropriate when you deal with persons in networks and markets. In authoritarian and dictatorial societies with much central planning people are expected to ask only the first question. There you live a life to overwhelming extent designed by others. In democracies and market economies the second question is asked more often. Here you may live a life more designed by yourself. The constant asking of the second question promotes a more spontaneous order.


Value research is conducted in the liberal arts as history of mentalities, in anthropology as a part of the study of culture (e.g. Douglas 1982, Kluckhohn & Stodtbeck 1961), in political science (e.g. Inglehart 1990), in sociology (e.g. Sorokin 1937-1941). Psychologists have been very active in the neighboring field of psychographics with a focus on personality rather than culture. We lack a review of value research in marketing of the kind that is available for psychographics in market research (Gunter & Furnham 1992).

There are a variety of commercial models for value research. A brief critical review counted some 15 different systems of value segmentation of markets. (Sampson 1992). Many are closer to personality profiles than cultural values, and some mix demographics into their typologies. They usually use proprietary methods. A few are as advanced as the academic researches, perhaps ahead of them on practical scores.

Of the global brands of commercial value research The Yankelovich Monitor and the RISC system rely on long questionnaires. The researchers include any item that might catch the relevant values of contemporary times. Data reduction and analysis are performed by statistical techniques similar to cluster, correspondence, or factor analyses. Pioneering methods have been invented for the tracing of the bifurcation of values. New items are added to their questionnaires from time to time to keep up with changes in the value climate. The ad hoc nature of these systems have made them undogmatic and always of interest for those who have to cope with marketing implications of the Zeitgeist. By contrast the VALS system is based on fixed categories derived from developmental psychology, albeit brilliantly modified by the widespread experience in the 1970s of an innerdirected way to mature values in contrast to Maslow's outerdirected staircase of stages of human development (Mitchell 1979,1983).



What criteria can be used for valuegraphic items in a questionnaire that can serve as easily as demographic items as background for analysis?

1. The items must be few. This rules out the ambition of the great RISC and Yankelowich value monitors to reveal what is new on the value front. Instead of listing the great variety of specific values found in the real world they should only reveal a few general attributes of values.

2. The items shall provide is a calibration, not a definition, of the dimensions of value space that are given in theoretical social science. In other words, the general attributes of values must be anchored in theory and shall not be obtained pragmatically from the items by means of a factor analysis or similar method. This requirement is met by the VALS approach. However, the use of demographic items in the calibration should be ruled out.

3. The items should preferably relate directly to the definition of values. If values are priorities how we want to live, then the questions used should present situations of choice in which some alternatives are chosen and others rejected. The pioneering measurement of materialism-postmaterialism (Inglehart 1970) required only one interview question and a choice of two out of four alternatives. This might have been too sparse to represent a modern value space (Hellevik 1993), and the alternatives used might have been too abstract. Since choices are legion, the items used for calibration of value dimensions must be typical of a universe of everyday choices. But the widespread use of the materialism-postmaterialism measure nevertheless represents a scheme for asking about priorities that is entirely in accord with to our definition of values.

Let us present dimensions and then calibrating items for a three-dimensional system of value measurements that we have called "Valuescope".


The value space is multi-dimensional. Already in the 1940s it was clear that at least three dimensions are needed, a Dionysian, a Promethean, and a Buddhist one (Morris 1942). We will follow this lead in our own way, keeping in mind that the dimensions refer to formal attributes of values, not the actual contents of the values. (Figure 1).

The first dimension, depicted from south to north in our diagrams, runs from being to becoming. At one pole we have traditionalism, where one upholds the stability, at the other pole we have to modernism, where one welcomes change.

Since the eighteenth century Western modernism has been associated with the belief in reason, but during the 1900's modernism also came to be equated with the affirmation of one's drives and with self-realization. The prominent figures of this modernism are Descartes and Voltaire (belief in reason), Freud (affirmation of the existence of drives and of unconscious desires) and Nietzsche (creative self-development).

Modernism is and always has been a movement without a definite end. The direction change to modernity, as we labeled the northern end of our axis, thus may have somewhat different contents at different points in time, but they always include a strong element of becoming and a weak element of being.

The second dimension, which runs from west to east, spans the field from value fidelity, to pragmatism. At one pole one upholds principles, dramatizes one's values, and believes in an ethic of principles in which the content of one's actions matter more than their consequences. At the other pole one has instrumental outlooks, compromises one's values, and embraces an ethic of responsibility in which the consequences of one's actions matter more that their content.

Value fidelityCwhich can be called idealism if you approve of the value or dogmatism if you disapprove of itCembraces values that one will not compromise. They typically include matters of conscience, such as loyalty toward one's family, solidarity with the weak, compassion for the ill, saving planet earth for future generations. InstrumentalityCthat can be called pragmatism if your approve of it or opportunism if you disapproveCincludes values that we can experiment and compromise with to obtain an optimal result; they typically include practical deliberations and calculations in business or politics and the selection of technical solutions. The distinction between value fidelity and pragmatism was drawn by Max Weber in the early 1900s. A wertrational action, with value rationality, was separated from a zweckrational action, with instrumental rationality (Weber 1956, pp. 12-13). The uniqueness of Western capitalism is its high level of instrumental rationality.



The third dimension runs from the valleys to the mountains in our diagrams. It separates a concern with material things from a concern with human beings, thus bridging the poles of materialism and humanism. Such labels have many connotations and there are several other designations that can be used, for example "values of production" such as order, punctuality, ambition, efficiency and other values promoting economic growth as opposed to "values of reproduction" such as self-exploration, empathy, sensitivity to and concern for others, and other qualities necessary for personal inner growth and a genuine understanding of other people. Arnold Mitchell (1983, ch 3) redefined and relabeled the materialistic poles of this dimension as "outer-directed", including under this umbrella all values that appeal mostly to external cues. Values that appeal to internal cues he called "inner-directed". This terminology, however, is not consistent with Riesman's (1950) more well-known usage of these terms.

For a hundred years, sociologists and others have had an understanding that society has moved from Gemeinschaft to Gesellschaft (T÷nnies 1887). The three-dimensional view of values proposed here shows that this is not the only possible path. Gemeinschaft is traditional stability, value fidelity, and humanism. Gesellschaft is change to modernity, pragmatism, and materialism. But a modern society may embrace humanism rather than materialismCthis is one message from the feminist movement. And it may embrace fidelity rather than pragmatismCthis is one of the messages from the environmentalist movement. And the peace movement often claims that a change to modernity is compatible with both humanism and value fidelity.


Any population can be divided into types depending on their high or low position on each of the three dimensions of value space. We then get eight types of value carriers. Figures 2-9 are labels and thumbnail sketches of the types filled with illustrative contents from advanced countries in the 1980s and 1990s.

Figure 2

The Upright in southwest Valleys of the value space: stability, fidelity, materialism.

This segment consists of people who are rural or small-town in their minds if not always in their actual residence. "You must!" and "You must not!" are important words in their vocabulary. The Upright are patriotic and often suspicious of strangers and immigrants. They hate inflation and love law and order. As consumers they are cautious and apprehensive about experimenting. They like tried and true products, reliability is essential.

Figure 3

The Folks in Southwest Mountains of the value space: stability, fidelity, humanism.

This segment emphasizes where you as a person come from, your ancestry. The Folks are more concerned with family and relatives than with the material base of existence; old-fashioned religion thrives here. Love of the home community and the preservation of its traditions and surrounding nature are important concerns. Service to the next of kin is self-evident. The Folks are particularistic: nothing is as fine as one's own garden and nothing beats mother's cooking. When buying they often ask the advice of the local retailer.

Figure 4

The Matter-of-Fact in Southeast Valleys of the value space: stability, pragmatism, materialism.

In this segment one seeks practical and technical rather than traditional solutions. Prescription medicine and obedience to doctor's orders are evident. Your car and residence, not your family, signal who you are. Cheers resound for the hometown sport team as it tries to advance in the league. Union membership is common. As consumers The Matter-of-Fact are more ambitious than their southwestern neighbors. More than others, they go for big brands and standard products. They do not mind products that radiate technology.

Figure 5

The Belongers in Southeast Mountains of the value space: stability, pragmatism, humanism.

These joiners believe that friends and clubs, not only possessions, signal who you are. In joint efforts they have learned to influence their conditions. They have others than relatives and old schoolmates as dinner guests but are usually uncomfortable with cosmopolitans and foreigners. As consumers they are also joiners; many shop in coop stores. More than others, they look for value for money.

Figure 6

The Advocates in Northwest Valleys of the value space: modernity, fidelity, materialism.

The advocates are very active in promoting material rights such as consumer rights. They may be the first to recycle products. The typical Advocates in modern countries are committed to egalitarian values which they equate with democracy and anti-commercialism. They are convinced of the merits of their values and want to change society to correspond to their values, not to adjust themselves to society. The plight of the environment of the Third World is on their minds. The Advocates often prefer single issue groups to political parties. They are fairly big consumers but they are usually suspicious of advertising. Functionality in products is important.

Figure 7

The Zealous in Northwest Mountains if the value space: modernity, fidelity, humanism.

The Zealous promote human rights such as feminism, peace, racial equality, gay rights. The Zealous also embrace animal rights. They are seekers in touch with their inner selves. Emotion and intuition are meaningful words for them. They engage in various forms of self-development. Like their neighbors in the northwest valleys they question tradition, hierarchy, and authority. And they get personally involved. They are very critical consumers who tend to look for personal experiences rather than material things in the market place.

Figure 8

The Dare Devils in Northeast Valleys of the value space: modernity, pragmatism, materialism.

The Dare Devils are a breed of individualists who are less afraid of the complexity of life than those in other segments. They look for and enjoy challenge, e.g. entrepreneurship, modern, risky lifestyles in sports such as those centered around the surfboard, the parachute, the hangglider - and in the financial markets. (From this segment "the yuppies" of the 1980s were recruited.) Their bonds to products, causes, and people may, however, be short-lived. They continually ask "What works for me?" and are ready to discard anything that is no longer flashy or profitable or useful. They are very interested in the technical features of the hardware they buy, but volatile in their pursuit of fashion in clothing, of cars, and of interior design.

Figure 9

The Minglers in Northeast Mountains of the value space: modernity, pragmatism, humanism.

In this segment we find networkers thriving on cosmopolitan contacts and markets. Eating a foreign or ethnic dish a day is a matter of course. Interest in new expressions of personal life is intense. In their way of living they combine fragments in unexpected ways as in a music video. The minglers are sophisticated consumers, more interested in software than hardware.
















Our calibration of the value space is based on priorities revealed in situations which require that respondents determine their priorities in the choice of a TV program, the choice of a weekend companion, and the choice of wishes from a good fairy. The original Consumer Valuescope Questionnaire dates from 1990 and asks the following questions:

1. One evening you have the time to look at two TV programs. You can choose among these programs:

a) National news

b) Local news

c) Program about conservationists' demonstration

d) Documentary about politics in other countries

e) Religious songs

f) A film about love and friendship

g) A program on health and fitness

h) Rock video

i) Sports, national teams playing soccer

A. Which two programs do you chose?

B. Which two of the other programs being aired would you be most reluctant to watch?

2. Suppose that you have to spend a few days together with two people. You can choose among these people, all of whom are equally pleasant:

a) A person who knows a lot about your family and the neighborhood where you grew up

b) A person who knows a lot about foreign countries

c) A person who can recount a lot about big, profitable business ventures

d) A person who knows a lot about technological advances

e) A person who knows a lot about nature and the environment

f) Someone who has a lot of contacts with all kinds of different people

A. Which two people would you chose?

B. Of the above people, whom are you least interested in spending time with?

3A. If a good fairy came and gave you three wishes, which of the following would you chose?

a) To gain greater security in life

b) To be able to create something new

c) To gain appreciation and fame

d) To experience something new and exciting

e) To achieve greater self-actualization

f) To obtain pleasure without guilt

g) To have a good family life with children and grandchildren

h) To start up and run your own business

i) To travel abroad and see the world

j) To be an uncompromising champion for the environment


To obtain a calibration of the value space we ask the above multi-item questions in a telephone or face-to-face omnibus or we include them in an ad hoc survey. The answers are scaled and factor analyzed with the number of desired factors set to three. In all tests so far, by the Gallup International affiliates in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Japan, The Netherlands, and New Zealand and by Demoskop in Sweden, we have found that the resulting three factors correspond to our three dimensions of value space. In Sweden these measurements have also been carried out five years in a row (1990-1994), and the procedure is proven stable.

The factor scores are cross-tabulated to obtain the eight-fold typology. We refrain from classifying those who have nearly equal scores on all three dimensions into one of the eight groups. They form instead a ninth group we call "Centerites". Methodologically they are uncertain to classify, and in real life they represent the minority who have average values on all dimensions.


The nine categories Folks, Uprights, Joiners, Matter-of-Fact, Zealots, Advocates, Minglers, Dare Devils, and the Centerites are proposed as valuegraphics in parallel to demographics of age, sex, socioeconomic status, etc. in interviews using questionnaires. And, once established they are as easy to use.

We tabulate and chart, as an example from EMNID, the use of cars in Germany in 1994. Among Uprights, Folks and Advocates there are fewer car drivers. Knowing their values we understand that they abstain from driving for rather different reasons. The Uprights and Folks because they live with the traditional idea that only males do the driving, the Advocates because they want to live a modern, ecologically sound life relying more on public transportation.

The chart in Figure 10 shows the shares of car drivers in each segment and the location of the segment in value space. The figures in the bar chart are percentages of the value groups.

Let us proceed and ask the German drivers: "What make is the car you drive?" We summarize the main findings in Table 1. The numbers in parentheses are target group indices (TGI).

The main drift of the original table crosstabulating the nine value groups with 16 makes of cars can also be represented by a correspondence analysis. In correspondence analysis we do not obtain information on the distribution of an attribute (such as preference for a certain brand) in the various segments. We obtain instead its average, or gravity, position in value space. The information in such a complex table may thus be reduced to one single point in value space for each make, showing where it has its point of gravity. (Figure 11).

If the gravity points of two makes are close, they compete for attention among people with similar values; if the points are at a distance they appeal to people with mutually different values. It is a common experience that executives very quickly grasp the meaning and content of these types of graphs.

The correspondence analysis returns us to our original value space. We are returned there with the ability to place in value space the gravity points of any product, service, media, retail channel, nay, anything we can crosstabulate against our value groups. This return to value space is a mathematical necessity due to the way in which we have defined and measured our value groups.


There are clear correlations between the demographic categories and the value groups. For example, the young generally support the change to modernity more than do the old. Men tend to be more materialistic than women. The rural-urban-metropolitan scale is seen as a road from the lower left corner of the value space to the upper right corner.

We shall not join here the great debate between Hegelians who argue for the primacy of values and Marxists who argue for the primacy of social structure. In our data both are partially right, one more than the other depending on the concrete issue at hand. In every country we have studied there are correlations between demography and values but demographics and valuegraphics each contribute a unique piece of market information, small or large, to the concrete issue at hand. The conclusions about the interplay between demographics and valuegraphics, however, belongs to a separate paper.




Douglas, Mary 1982. In the Active Voice, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London.

Gunter, Barry and Adrian Furnham 1992. Consumer Profiles: An Introduction to Psychographics, Routledge, London & New York.

Hellevik, Ottar 1993. "Postmaterialism as a Dimension of Cultural Change", International Journal of Public Opinion Research, vol. 5, no. 3, pp. 211-233.

Ingelhart, Ronald 1971. "The Silent Revolution in Europe: Intergenerational Change in Post-Industrial Societies", American Political Science Review, vol. 65, pp. 991-1017.

Ingelhart, Ronald 1990. Culture Shift in Advanced Industrial Society, Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ.

Kluckhohn, Florence Rockwood and Fred L Stodtbeck 1961. Variations in Value Orientation, Row Peterson, Evanston, Ill.

Merton, Robert K 1957. Social Theory and Social Structure, Revised and enlarged edition, Free Press, Glencoe, Ill.

Mitchell, Arnold 1979. Social Change: Implications of Trends in Values and Lifestyles, SRI, Menlo Park, (proprietary).

Mitchell, Arnold 1983. The Nine American Lifestyles, Macmillan, New York

Morris, Charles 1942. Paths of Life, New York.

Riesman, David, Nathan Glazer, and Reuel Denny, The Lonely Crowd, Yale University Press, New Haven, Conn.

Rokeach, Milton 1972. Beliefs, Attitudes, and Values, Jossey-Bass, San Fransico.

Sampson, Peter 1992. "People are people the world over: the case for psychological market segmentation", Marketing and Research Today, vol. 20, no 4, pp. 236-244.

Sorokin, Pitirim A 1937-41. Social and Cultural Dynamics, (4 vols.), American Book Company, New York.

T÷nnies, Ferdinand. 1887. Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft, Fues Verlag, Leipzig.

Weber, Max 1956. Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, 1. Halbband, J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), Tnbingen, 1956.


Valuescope is a tradename of ValueScope AB, Stockholm, Sweden. The Consumer Valuescope method of measuring and presenting values is their property. Academic researchers are, however, granted free use of the methods in return for normal footnote credits.

Market research organizations and other commercial researchers may want to use the method for large-scale and routine inclusion among background items in questionnaires. Please write for a license and service agreement to ValueScope AB, Essinge Brogata 6 (2nd floor), 112 61 Stockholm, Sweden, phone and fax +46 8 133307, e-mail: Licensees will obtain up to date questionnaires, computer programs for analysis and graphic presentations, a safe method for over-time analysis, reference surveys for use in international comparisons, annual updates on commercial experiences with the system, and a bibliography of the public uses of the system. Every effort is made to make results comparable across borders and languages so that it can be used effectively by multinational corporations and organizations.



Hans L Zetterberg, City-universitetet, Stockholm


E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 2 | 1995

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