Updating the alternatives in the Value Orientations Method

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					                      University of British Columbia Faculty of Forestry
                       Department of Forest Resources Management




             Updating the alternatives in the Value Orientations Method

                                                        By

                                              Ronald L. Trosper
                                              September 7, 2005

The literature on “nation-building” advocates cultural match between governing institutions and
the people who legitimize a government. The process of environmental impact assessment
requires attention to input from different cultures. How can one talk about and measure cultural
match and differences in cultures? This set of notes addresses some issues in a very brief format,
tied to the questionnaire that everyone in class has filled out.

The Florence R. Kluckhohn Center (http://www.valuescenter.org/home.html) has taken over the use and
updating of the original questionnaire that Florence Kluckhohn and Fred Strodbeck developed in
the 1950s.1 Kurt Russo, director of the Center, has summarized the method in the introduction to
an excellent book that presents current uses of the original questionnaire.2

As explained by the Kluckhohn Center in its web site:
        The model is based on three primary assumptions:
        1. There is a limited number of common human problems for which all peoples at all times must find some
        solution, including:
                 W hat is the character of innate human nature?
            ·
                 W hat is the relation of man to nature (and super-nature)?
            ·
                 W hat is the temporal focus of human life?
            ·
                 W hat is the modality of human activity?
            ·
                 W hat is the modality of humankind's relationship to other people?
            ·



        1
          Florence Kluckhorn and Fred Strodtbeck, Variations in Value Orientations (W estport, CT: Greenwood
Press, 1973). This is a reprint of an earlier work.

        2
          Kurt Russo, “Value Orientations Method: The Conceptual Framework,” From W . Russo, editor, Finding
the Middle Ground: Insights and Applications of the Value Orientations Method (Yarmouth, Maine: Intercultural
Press, 2000) pp. 3-19

                                                              1
       2. W hile there is variability in solutions of all the problems, it is neither limitless nor random but is
       definitely variable within a range of possible solutions.

       3. All alternatives of all solutions are present in all societies at all times but are differentially preferred.



Dimensions of Orientation: Original and Revised
The original questions of the Value Orientations Survey were designed and validated using
communities in Arizona and New Mexico. Two teams worked in the communities; one
performed standard ethnography trying to determine the patterns of preference which guided the
life of a population. The other team developed the questionnaire, and validated it by disclosing
the same set of orientations. Other researchers have used the questionnaire without changing it; a
considerable comparative literature has resulted. The Kluckhohn Center located on the Lummi
Indian Nation has resisted changing the questionnaire very much, insisting that its validity and its
cross-cultural success is established.3

Although I agree with these two points, I also think that the questionnaire should be revised to
recognize advances in the literature and advances in understanding the alternatives in the
questions. As the following examples will show, my proposed change expand the number of
alternative positions within each value orientation. Kluckhohn and Strodbeck had budgetary
limitations that restricted their ability fully to develop the ideas that motivated their work. They
also worked within an intellectual tradition that may have had its own unstated assumptions that
informed both the ethnography and the questionnaire, thus undermining the validation process. I
think this is the case with regard to the “Time” orientation, as explained below.

I used as an exercise for one of my classes that students rewrite the questions to take into account
what we now know. I asked them to change the questions in two parts of the questionnaire to
reflect more recent literature on the nature of the alternatives which cultures seem to face. The
result is a revised questionnaire uses additional alternatives they developed; I have selected
among the examples that my students have provided. The two orientations that are changed are
the Person-Nature and Relational.




Person-Nature Orientation




       3
        Kurt Russo, personal communication.

                                                            2
The original alternatives for the Person-Nature Orientation4 are described as follows by the
Kluckhohn center:
    Mastery Over: The individual or group can and should exercise total control over the forces of, and in,
    nature and super-nature
    Harm ony With: The individual or group can and should exercise partial but not total control by living in a
    balance with the natural forces around them.
    Subject To: The individual or group cannot and should not exercise control over these forces but, rather, is
    subject to the higher power of these forces.


These questions stress control over nature; they do not explicitly address another issue that is
now recognized as important: whether or not humans are part of or separate from nature. The
“harmony with” orientation seems to stress that humans are part of nature; the assumption is
explicitly laid out in Kluckhohn’s original work, although not in the above quotation. The
following three questions should be taken as the ones that define the alternatives:

        Is humanity part of or separate from nature?
        Can humanity control nature?
        Should humanity control nature?

These questions then define six alternatives, each of which can be identified with clearly
articulated positions in current debates about the environment. There are only six, not eight,
alternatives because if humanity cannot dominate nature, trying to do so makes no sense



                              Humans can dominate nature.                 Humans cannot dominate nature.
                        Humans should           Humans should           Humans should          Humans should
                        dominate nature         not dominate            try to dominate        not try to
                                                nature                  nature                 dominate nature
 Humans are             Capitalism              Conservation                                   Some
 separate from                                  Biology                                        environmental
 nature                                                                                        organizations
 Humans arepart         Natural                 Restoration                                    Traditional
 of nature              Capitalism              Ecology                                        Knowledge ?




        4
          Originally, this was the Man-Nature Orientation; changes in awareness since the 1950s suggests the change
in terminology to Person-Nature or Humanity-Nature. “Human-Nature” won’t work because that is another
orientation’s name.

                                                          3
In order to simplify the choices, the revised questionnaire, however, assumes only four
alternatives, as follows:

                              PERSON-NATURE ORIENTATIONS

                         Humans can dominate nature.            Humans cannot dominate nature.
                     Humans should        Humans should       Humans should       Humans should
                     dominate nature      not dominate        try to dominate     not try to
                                          nature              nature              dominate nature
 Humans are          Mastery-Over-                                                Subject to
 separate from       Nature                                                       Nature
 nature
 Humans are part                          Stewardship                             Harmony With
 of nature                                With Nature                             Nature


Inspection of the table shows that such a division does not exactly fit all of the possibilities. The
six boxes can be combined in different ways. For instance, another division of positions might
be as follows:

                              PERSON-NATURE ORIENTATIONS

                         Humans can dominate nature.            Humans cannot dominate nature.
                     Humans should        Humans should       Humans should       Humans should
                     dominate nature      not dominate        try to dominate     not try to
                                          nature              nature              dominate nature
 Humans are          Mastery-Over-        Stewardship                             Subject to
 separate from       Nature               Over Nature                             Nature
 nature
 Humans are part     Stewardship          Harmony With
 of nature           With Nature          Nature


In this last table, the word “over” connects to humans being separate from nature and “with”
connects to humans being part of nature.




                                                  4
Human Relations Orientation

The original alternatives in the human relations orientation are presented as follows in the
Kluckhohn Center’s description:

    Collaterality: Emphasis is placed on consensus within the laterally extended group.
    Lineality: Emphasis is placed on hierarchical principles and deferring to higher authority or authorities
    within the group.
    Individualism: Emphasis is placed on the individual or individual families within the group who make
    decisions independently from the others

Sociologist/Anthropologist Alan Page Fiske has worked extensively in comparing works in many
disciplines to see how the relational orientation is handled.5 He proposes that four alternatives
are better at capturing the range of choices made by cultures around the world. In defining the
four alternatives, he places in the foreground the method of distribution of goods, power,
authority or other important social “things.” He calls his categories “Elementary Forms.” Two
of his four categories are very similar to those of Kluckhohn:

       Communal Sharing replaces Collaterality: “Communal Sharing is a relationship of
equivalence in which ... members of the group are undifferentiated with respect to the dimensions
to which people are attending.”6

        Authority Ranking replaces Lineality: “Authority Ranking is a transitive asymmetrical
relationship. It is a relationship of inequality. If the particular hierarchy extends to three or more
people, they are ordered in a linear hierarchy, although rank is not transitive across different
systems of ranks.”7

The category, “Individualism” is divided into two. Both of these place emphasis on the
individual. But they differ:

        Equality Matching is an egalitarian relationship among peers who are distinct but
        coequal individuals... The social presence (shares, contributions, influence) of each
        person balances and corresponds one to one.. Everyone is equal and things come out
        equal”8



        5
        Alan Page Fiske. 1991. Structures of Social Life: The four elementary forms of human relations. New
York: The Free Press. Pp. 13-25, 41-49 provide the core ideas.

        6
            Fiske, p. 13.

        7
            Fiske, p. 14.

        8
            Fiske, pp. 14-15.

                                                          5
       Proportionality (Fiske calls this “Market Pricing”) asserts that things should be divided
       up within a group using a principle of proportionality, using a numerical ratio. People
       would be paid according to the amount of effort expended, for instance, letting people
       select the amount of effort, with no requirement that effort be equal across individuals.
       Fiske expresses this as follows: “Market Pricing is a relationship mediated by values
       determined by a market system...In a market pricing relationship, people typically value
       other people’s actions, services, and products according to the rates at which they can be
       exchanged for other commodities.”9
 These distinctions can be sorted out with a two by two box 10 One dimension is attitude toward
hierarchy: the other dimension is whether or not the differences are not measured numerically
(Ordinal) or are measured numerically (Cardinal). Here is the resulting table:

                                                              Type of Comparisons made
 Position on Hierarchy and              Ordinal (quantatitive                   Cardinal (quantitative
 Difference                             dimensions are not precisely            dimensions are precise and
                                        measured–just orders)                   subject to arithemtic.)
 Accepts Hierarchy and                  Authority Ranking                       Proportionality
 difference
 Rejects Hierarchy and                  Communal Sharing                        Equality Matching
 difference

 The one box that seems to fit poorly is Communal Sharing–the only ordinal issue there is in or
out of the group that has open access to the resource, or has a right to participate in the decision-
making process. Because the key factor in Communal Sharing is that amounts are not compared
across individuals, it is correctly classified by this table. That each person has some amount,
however, is shown by the rule of consensus, which states that everyone must participate, agree or
abstain, and have some share in decision-making.



         9
          Fiske, pp. 15-16.Fiske’s terminology, “Market Pricing,” while evocative, imposes an assumption that
market prices would be used in determining the principle of proportionality. As Fiske uses the term, he does not
need to assume the presence of markets; he means proportional division. But market prices are the best and most
frequently occurring example of the use of proportionality, as each market price expresses a ratio of exchange of one
good for another.

         10
           “Cultural Theory” with grid and group attempts a different kind of box but does not generate these four
alternatives. See Richard J. Ellis and Michael Thompson, Editors, Culture Matters: Essays in Honor of Aaron
Wildavsky (Denver: W estview Press, 1997). I have replaced “grid” with attitude toward hierarchy, a small change,
and made the big change of replacing (group/individual) with (Ordinal, Cardinal). This typology assumes that all of
the ways of distributing things occurs within defined groups; this is a rejection of the group/individual dimension
used in Cultural Theory. Cultural Theory makes other errors: it combines person-nature and relational into
categories labeled with relational names, and it omits attention to the time, activity, and spatial orienations.

                                                          6
Note that all of Fiske’s terms carry with them evocative connotations (“sharing,” “authority,”
“market”) which may or may not be appropriate. Although tThe evocative terminology aids
recollection and use of the terms, less laden terminology perhaps should be developed.




Time Orientation

The following are the definitions of each of the time orientations:

   Past: The temporal focus is on the past (the time before now), and in preserving and maintaining traditional
   teachings and beliefs.
   Present: The temporal focus is on the present (what is now), and in accommodating changes in beliefs and
   traditions.
   Future: The temporal focus is on the future (the time to come), planning ahead, and seeking new ways to
   replace the old.


The time orientation is about change in traditions and ways of doing things, and the acceptance
or rejection of such change. It is not about how time is defined; it is about how tradition is
treated. Many have commented that some cultures view time as “linear” and others as “circular”
or “cyclical”. The Kluckhohn categories all seem to fit within a linear view. In a cyclical view
of time, the ideas of present, past and future become problematic, because the past reveals the
future and the present expresses the past as well. The following table may capture this; a person
with a cyclical view of time answers the value orientation questions to reveal that the
acceptability of change varies with the circumstances presented and no particular position is
favored. If distinctions are created within the cyclical view regarding the acceptability of change,
a major change in terminology is needed

                                                         Acceptability of Change
 View of Time                          Low                         Medium                         High
 Linear                                 Past                       Present                       Future
 Cyclical                                                 Past = Present = Future


                                                        7
       Activity Orientation

The original Kluckhohn work identified three alternatives; the final questionnaire, however, had
only two alternatives. The two are currently described as follows by the Kluckhohn Center:
   Doing: The locus of meaning for self-expression is external to the individual, with an emphasis on activity
   that is valued by both the self and sanctioned by others in the group.
   Being: The locus of meaning for self-expression is internal to the individual, with an emphasis on activity
   valued by the self but not necessarily others in the group.


The position between Doing and Being could be “Being-in-becoming,” and would stress activity
that is valued for its developmental benefits to the individual. It is internal to the individual, like
Being, but has a different purpose, growth, than simply enjoyment or self-satisfaction.
Kluckhohn and Strodbeck defined the Being in Becoming alternative as follows:

       “The Being in Becoming orientation emphasizes that kind of activity which has as it goal
       the development of all aspects of the self as an integrated whole.”

With regard to the Doing orientation, Kluckhohn and Strodbeck emphasized the presence of
“measurable accomplishments” which the external group would approve. With regard to the
Being orientation, they stressed sponteneity

Try these questions: Is the locus of evaluation internal or external to the individual? Is the nature
of the activity spontaneous or planned?

                                                                 Locus of Evaluation:
 Degree of planning:                    External                               Internal
 Planned (self-conscious?)              Doing                                  Being-in-Becoming
 Spontaneous                                                                   Being

This way of analyzing the alternatives also generates a fourth alternative, externally evaluated-
spontaneously created.. As the alternatives are defined, however, it would appear that the
classification is as follows:

                                                                 Locus of Evaluation:
 Degree of planning:                    External                               Internal
 Planned or Developmental               Doing                                  Being-in-Becoming
 Spontaneous                                                                   Being



                                                          8
Kluckhohn and Strodbeck did not succeed in writing alternative positions in the Activity
Orientation that captured the Being-in-Becoming alternative to Being and Doing. One
interpretation of a response that is equally Being and Doing is that it may be Being-in-Becoming.
This interpretation is not satisfactory if one accepts the tables just given, because Being in
Becoming accepts internal evaluation and Doing involves external evaluation.
.

Human Nature

The difficulty in writing questions which succeed in differentiating different positions for a
value orientation prevented the Kluckhohn-Strodbeck team from producing questions which
work for the Human Nature value orientation. Their schema is complicated, involving six
different alternatives, defined by a Good-Evil continuum and the issue of whether or not innate
human nature is fixed:

               Evil                            Neutral or                               Good
                                        Mixture of Good and Evil
 Mutable           Immutable         Mutable              Immutable       Mutable           Immutable


The Kluckhohn Center has presented a few questions that attempt to address the differences. But
these attempts also seem suspect. Consider the following ones:

H N 2: PEO PLE IN G ENER AL

Som e people w ere discussing their view s on “hum an nature.”

(1) O ne said: “H um an beings are entirely m otivated by self interest, and w ill often do things which
inconvenience or even harm others, if it is to their ow n interest.”

(2) Another said, “H um an beings are not distinctly good or bad, but an unpredictable m ix of
possibilities.”

(3) The other one said, “H um an beings are essentially good at heart and trustw orthy. M ost people
w ould not usually do things that are harm ful to others, even if it were to their ow n advantage.”




H N 3: UN SUPER VISED YO U N G CH ILDR EN

W hen young children (pre-school age) are playing am ongst them selves, and they believe adults are
not watching them , here are three different ways in which they m ay behave:

(1) They are m ost likely to play in selfish ways, which m ay upset or even hurt their playm ates

(2) They m ay be just about as likely to be either kind or hurtful to each other.

(3) They are m ost likely to be considerate of each other’s feelings, playing kindly even when adults


                                                      9
are not w atching.


Both of these questions assume that acting in “self interest, . . . even if it harms others”
successfully describes belief in an evil human nature. This seems to me like a description of evil
which assumes self-interest is the motivation–the problem is harming others.


Spatial

In a footnote, Kluckhohn and Strodbeck remarked that a sixth dimension might be important:
orientation to space. With some rewording, their question could be posed as follows:

!       What are people’s conception of space and their place in it?

Kluckhohn and Strodbeck did not present positions illustrating answers to the question, citing a
lack of available analysis to provide guidance.11

Recent literature on possible mathematical conceptions of space suggests the following three
alternatives:12

        Flat: Space can be described with a three-dimensional grid in which each dimension is at
right angles to the other and is measured along straight lines. (This is the description common in
high school textbooks in teaching graphs in two dimensions.)

        Curved: Space is best described with circles and spheres; it is inherently curved, as with
the surface of a sphere such as the earth; the key directions are north, south, east and west, which
describe directions on a sphere.

        Nested: Space is best described by layers of different scales, each of which has shapes
that are similar but are of different size. The shapes may use lines or curves; the key issue is the
movement up and down in scale or size.

Each of these brief statements fails to capture the mathematical richness and complexity of each
of the alternatives. But this is true also of the brief statements of the other value orientation
positions.

The Flat alternative originated with Greek geometry under Euclid; and is often called Euclidean.
It was reproduced by Descartes and Newton. Often the example of the grid pattern of American



        11
             Kluckhohn and Strodbeck, p. 10.

        12
            This classification occurred to me while reading Ron Eglash, African Fractals: Modern Computing and
Indigenous Design (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1999). He distinguishes Euclidian and Fractal as his
classification; this understates the big differences between conceiving of space as flat or curved.

                                                       10
cities is presented as an example of the cultural application of the Euclidean preconceptions of
how to think about and describe space.

Once a grid is applied to the surface of a sphere, however, complications arise. As anyone
familiar with the township and range coordinates used in the United States to define property
lines knows, the curvature of the Earth forces the grid to be adjusted every few townships in
order to make the grid fit. Hence geometry that is valid on the surface of a sphere would be a
logical and useful alternative to the grid approach. This is often called “non-Euclidean”
geometry, a confusing term because other geometries can also be non-Euclidean. While
“curved” is not perfect either, I use it because it connects to a whole set of ideas that eventually
connected to Einstein’s conception of space as “curved space-time.” (Including time in the
concept of space might require re-examination of the time value orientation.) Curved concepts
were common among the peoples of North America, and Vine Deloria has emphasized this
aspect of ideas of space.13

The nested alternative is probably the least familiar to us today. People studying landscapes in
recent years have come to use “fractal geometry,” and Ron Eglash has demonstrated that the use
of fractals was common throughout Africa in architecture, village and city layouts, mathematics,
and art.14 He has found scattered examples in other cultures. Eglash regards fractals as a cultural
phenomenon, a way that people conceive of space. As a result of these conceptions, buildings
and cities take on shapes consistent with the underlying assumptions. In both the flat and curved
concepts, scale is a continuous variable that does not involve large changes in the structure of
analysis. In nested analysis, the repetition of forms at different scale produces distinct changes as
scale changes. The strict application of fractal geometry, however, retains great similarity of
shape in different scales. If entirely new properties are seen to emerge as scales change, then the
concept of space may be “hierarchical” not “nested.” D. Bltiz has summarized recent biological
literature on emergence and mathematician Nils Baas has dealt with this possibility.15 A
difficulty with this interpretation is that emergent properties belong to what is in space, not what
space itself is.

These three alternatives are logically distinct. Each has been applied by different cultures
(Europe, North America, Africa). Each is useful and captures part of how “nature” really relates
to space around us. Perhaps further investigation of alternative ways to describe space will turn
up a fourth alternative, such as hexagons used in China, or triangles in India. I think hexagons
and triangles are special cases of Euclidean geometry. Spirals, which also occur widely, are a


        13
             Vine Deloria, Jr., . . .

        14
          Ron Eglash, African Fractals: Modern Computing and Indigenous Design (New Brunswick: Rutgers
University Press, 1999).

        15
           David Blitz, Emergent Evolution : Qualitative Novelty and the Levles of Reality (Dordrecht: Kluwer
Academic Publisher, 1992). Baas, Nils A. 1994. Emergence, Hierarchies, and Hyperstructures. Artificial Life III,
Santa Fe Studies in the Sciences of Complexity, Proc. Volume XVII. Editor Christoper G. Lanton, 515-37. Redwood
City, CA: Addison-W esley; and Baas, Nils A., and Claus Emmeche. 1997. On Emergence and Explanation.
Intellectica 25, no. 2: 67-83.

                                                       11
special case of nested geometry, with ever larger repeats of the same basic form that starts the
spiral.

Continuing the pattern of imposing a 2x2 sytem on the value orientation, the following is a
possibility:

                                  Type of change as scale increases
 Type of Coordinate System           Continuous/Aggregation         Hierarchical/Emergence

 Flat                             Euclidean, Cartesian              Fractal–lineal
 Curved                           Non-euclideian, Rhiemann          Fractal–curved


There may also be some other completely different way to generate different positions in a Space
value orientation.


Number of Alternatives.

With these six orientations, a great number of alternative configurations are possible. Kluckhohn
and Strodbeck emphasize that the order of positions within an orientation matters. If Mastery-
Over-Nature is in first place, there is a difference between having Subject to or Harmony with in
Second place. It is possible to have two positions tie for first place. In the Time Orientation,
some cultures equate Past, Present and Future.

Fiske further complicates his four Elementary Forms by applying them in different domains:
Things, Choices, Orientations, Judgements. I have used them here only in Things and Choices.
The Kluckhohn instrument could be examined for its selection among the domains in which to
apply choices among the Elementary Forms.




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