The Value Structure in Socioeconomically Less Developed European Countries Still Remains an Ellipse

Micha Strack, Henrik Dobewall


Based on the 21-item Human Values Scale of the European Social Survey (ESS, 2002–2006), Bilsky, Janik, and Schwartz (2011) concluded that the quasi-circular model of Schwartz’s value theory “fits somewhat less well in less developed societies” (p. 16). This article focuses on their mitigating quantifier “somewhat” and proposes an impartial measure to evaluate Schwartz’s universality claim. European Social Survey data of four rounds 2002–2008 (33 countries, 98 samples) were analysed. Applying restricted confirmatory factor analysis (CFA), we partitioned the 21 items’ variance into an acquiescence part and the two diagonal axes of growth-protection and social-personal focused values. The variance in the growth–protection axis varied between 22.0% (Austria, in 2002) and 2.0% (samples from Romania, Turkey, Ukraine, Hungary, and Slovakia remain below 5%). Within rounds across countries (respective df = 94), the growth–protection axis’ variance strongly correlates (r = .76) with an index of socioeconomic development, aggregated from five indicators adopted from the World Bank. It also strongly correlates (r = .81) with a sample’s mean member’s location on the growth vs. protection value dimension. We interpret these results as a strong effect and conclude that in socioeconomically less developed countries the value structure remains elliptical or even one-dimensional. The discussion relates the results to Klages’ value synthesis theory.


universality of the value structure; European Social Survey (ESS); Restricted Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA)

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