The World of Work Project

Personal Values: Rokeach’s Values Survey

Rokeach’s Values Survey is a tool created by Milton Rokeach to help individuals understand their values. By prioritizing a list of 18 terminal values (where you want to end up) and 18 instrumental values (how you want to get there) you can develop self awareness.

Summary by The World of Work Project

Terminal and Instrumental personal values

Milton Rokeach did some interesting work on personal values that is still relevant and popular today. In his research, he segregated personal values into two types: terminal values and instrumental values.

Terminal Values

Terminal values are values that reflect an individual’s desired stated of existence. These are end state values, reflections of how we would like the world to be and where we would like to end up. They are goals that we would like to see achieved.

Instrumental Values

Here’s a nice instrument…

Instrumental values are values that reflect how an individual wants to live their life. They capture a sense of behaviors and ways of interacting with and treating others throughout your life.

Discovering your Rokeach values

Rokeach also designed a values survey which can be used as a helpful tool for discovering your personal values. To complete this activity, simply review the schedules of 18 Terminal and Instrumental values below and priorities them. Once you’ve prioritized them, select the top three to five from each list, and these are your core personal values.

If you manage or lead others, using tools like this can help you support them with their personal development and self-awareness.

Reflecting on your values

Once you’ve been through the list of values and identified your core values, it’s important to spend some time reflecting on the exercise and what you’ve learned. The following questions may help that reflection process, and they can also form the basis of a group discussion

It’s important to reflect.
  • When you think of the word values what comes to your mind? Do your identified values fit this category?
  • Do you think your values are innate or learned?
  • Do you think your values will change over time? What are some of the reasons that your values might change?
  • Do you think it’s important to identify your values? If so, why?
  • What are your top three instrumental and terminal values? Why do they stand out to you? Do you feel that you currently living in line with them?
  • How could awareness of your values help you in choosing direction in your career, or in life in general?

The World of Work Project View

We believe that understanding your values is important, at least for some people, and that this tool is a useful way to get a high level view of what your values are. As with all such exercises, it’s not cut and dry and you, or others, might find it a bit frustrating to complete.

The things that you choose as your priorities and key values today may not be your key values tomorrow, but the larger groupings will probably be fairly accurate. It is important to step back and reflect on your values, as well as where they come from, if you’re looking to deepen your self awareness.

This exercise could be a useful starting point for coaches or leaders looking to help individuals develop their self awareness. It’s worth remembering, though, that the values in this tool are quite broad and life focused and that other, more career or work focused tools exist that may be more helpful in certain circumstances.

Sources and further reading

Where possible we always recommend that people read up on the original sources of information and ideas.

Most of the work in this post is loosely based on the work of Milton Rokeach. The best source is his book “The Nature of Human Values“.


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