The Origins Of Values Assessment Theory

by | Values Assessment


You’ve probably heard, used, or experienced a DISC assessment that is designed to share insights into your behavior, but that only measures how you act. What others can see on the outside.

A Values assessment goes deeper, and takes a peek at what’s on the inside. It seeks to measure what motivates you to act the way that you do. It helps to answer the questions: ‘What lights your fire?’ and ‘What gets you out of bed in the morning?’

Core Values and Motivators

The first studies into values and motivators were undertaken back in 1914 by Eduard Spranger who was studying the psychology and ethics of personality. He believed that there were 6 core attitudes or values that were at the heart of all human actions. The 6 values he identified were:

Aesthetic – form and harmony
Economic – what is useful
Political – power and control
Social – love of people
Religious – unity and structure
Theoretical – discovery of truth

The First Values Assessment

Much like Dr. William Marston who laid down the original DISC personality assessment theory, Dr. Spranger never created an instrument to measure levels of engagement in each of these areas.

Enter Dr. Gordon Allport, the 1956 author of ‘The Nature of Personality.’ He took Dr. Spranger’s work, expanded on it, and created the first Values assessment. He rejected both Freud’s psychoanalytical approach to personality which he believed went too deep, and Marston’s behavioral approach which he thought didn’t go deep enough. He placed the most importance on the uniqueness of the individual and the importance of the present context rather rather than past history for understanding personality. Dr. Allport also reinterpreted Spranger’s terminology a bit, removed the Political and added a new dimension, the Individualistic.

The Modern Values Index Assessment

In creating the Values Index Assessment we use today, we examined the work of both Spranger and Allport, and sprinkled in some guidance from Equal Employment Opportunities Commission regulations. We felt both doctors had valid contributions and saw no need to remove the Political to replace it with Individualistic. Plus the EEOC frowns upon asking people about their Religious leaning, even though that wasn’t Spranger’s intent on using the word. The outcome is that this is the only Values profile that contains 7 categories of engagement and motivation:

Click on any one of the Values above to learn more.

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