What Are Universal Values And How Many Are There?

Complex topics often have complex answers, and we need time to process them. Sometimes, time isn’t enough, so we need context, we need more words, more knowledge to better understand a topic.

Universal values are a hard topic to master. They can be approached from many perspectives, despite their name. It is hard to make anything universal, but we can try to explain it so that it is better understood.

Here is more about universal values, what they are, and how many there are.

What Are Universal Values

Universal values are values that have the same worth to most humans, if not all of them. Such values may encompass morality, aesthetics, traits, endeavors, the social order, and more. They are still explored from many perspectives and sciences, namely sociology, philosophy, and psychology.

Philosophy focuses on whether universal values actually exist and whether they are meaningful or not. Sociology obviously focuses on how such values are formed within society and what impact they might have.

Psychology focuses on what such values might actually be, and the study by S.H. Schwartz and colleagues has shown us a lot, namely the ten universal values.

Schwartz’s Ten Universal Values

The study by Schwartz and colleagues found fifty-six specific universal values and have categorized them in ten distinct categories. They are as follows:


Power includes leadership, authority, social power, wealth, and dominance.


Achievement includes self-respect, intelligence, success, ambition, influence, and capability.


Hedonism is simpler and includes pleasure and enjoying life.


Stimulation includes an exciting life, daring activities, and a varied life.


Self-direction includes choosing your own goals, freedom, curiosity, independence, and creativity.


Universalism includes inner harmony, protecting the environment, unity with nature, a world of beauty, a world at peace, social justice, equality, wisdom, and broadmindedness.


Benevolence includes honesty, helpfulness, forgiveness, loyalty, friendship, and responsibility.


The tradition includes respect for tradition, moderation, humility, and accepting one’s portion of life.


Conformity includes obedience and self-discipline.


Security includes health, a sense of belonging, reciprocation of favors, stability of social order, national security, family security, and cleanliness.

Spirituality was considered as an eleventh universal category, however, it was not found to be universal in all countries tested.

What Do They Mean?

They can mean a lot in the world of advertising, for example. These values and models are used to entice buyers and customers to choose a product or service. People gravitate toward the value that they identify with the most. 

They have also been used in recent studies to do economical research as to why some countries are doing better than others and how their businesses operate. 

Universal values are a complex topic but hopefully, they are now easier to understand.