Point of interest: I often quote from episodes of The Simpsons. They offer priceless, true-to-life lessons that, although bitter to learn, are wrapped in a deliciously funny coating – kind of like Milk Duds.
One of Homer Simpson’s many, many odd jobs included playing the maracas in a mariachi band at a Mexican restaurant.
Band leader: “Le pagamos en naranjas” (We pay him in oranges)
Homer (smiling happily): “Si! Naranjas! (Yes! Oranges)
I’ll be honest with you: I wouldn’t work for oranges. (Hello Rogers? So I was thinking of paying my bill this month in oranges. What? What do you mean you don’t accept oranges? Who doesn’t love oranges? Let me talk to your manager. Hello? Hello?)
What’s great about this lesson though was how blissfully happy Homer was being a member of the band. He valued his love for the job, not the recompense.
What do people value these days? I’ll answer your thoughts. It’s not what you’re thinking – it’s not money. In fact, according to our recent analysis of results from our Values Profile, money didn’t even crack the top ten. It was social values that matter the most.
Now let’s think about this in light of the following:
On a network news station I won’t name (but whose anchors are known for their over-dramatizations), there was a recent debate about whether Facebook should come with a warning label due to its addictive nature and exacerbation of asocial behavior. In fact, a Nielsen’s consumer report reveals that on average, people spend 6 and ½ hours on social media sites. Does this mean that actual face-time with friends and family has become unimportant? Not so, at least according to our study.
Based on data we collected from 2,163 people of different ages, socio-economic status, and ethnicity, the value of money and power on a personal level is only moderate at best, and has actually taken a backseat to other, less tangible values. This revelation comes on the tail end of another study we conducted on career motivation, which also showed a drop in the desire for money and power. Much like the decreasing impact of financial compensation as a motivator, our analysis of people’s values indicates that money and even power are becoming less important.
Here’s the breakdown: We assessed 6 categories of values: Social, Aesthetic, Theoretical, Traditional, Realistic, and Political, and broke them down into 34 different facets. The top five values, according to our data, include the following (on a scale from 0 to 100, with a higher score indicating that the value is of great importance):
- Empathy (score of 78): Importance of understanding others by seeing the world through their eyes. Putting oneself into other people’s “shoes” in order to grasp and appreciate their feelings and opinions.
- Family and Friends (score of 74): Importance of relationships with loved ones. Desire to devote a great deal of time and attention to the important people in one’s life.
- Appreciation of Beauty (score of 73): Importance of seeing and appreciating the beauty in one’s surroundings – and an understanding that beauty comes in many forms. (Wow!)
- Hard work/Diligence (score of 73): Importance of being productive and putting the effort and dedication into accomplishing something great.
- Altruism (score of 72): Importance of helping others. The desire to make the world a better place.
Out of 34 values, Financial Security came in 24th place overall (score of 54) and Power in 29th (score of 51). In addition, while Religion/Spirituality only ranked 31st on the list of values, the Ethics/Morals value was considered important, placing 10th with a score of 67.
So the decrease in importance of money is notable. Granted, our sample was only 2,163 people, but money and power was irrelevant, or at least undervalued, across the board. Now, one would think that the personal value of money would vary depending on whether a person is financially well-off or not, but this wasn’t the case at all. In fact, when we compared the value scores of people with upper and lower socio-economic status, their results on the Financial Security value was exactly the same, with a score 54 – indicating that this value is only of moderate importance in people’s lives, regardless of their income tax bracket. In fact, there was very little difference in scores as it relates to socio-economic status. Both groups placed high importance on social values. Refreshing, isn’t it?
Now, this isn’t to say that social media doesn’t have its disadvantages. It has several. No matter where you go, you’ll likely see people with their heads down, glued to their phones. I’ve walked into restaurants where couples are on a date, but both of them are busy with their phone and not interacting. I’ve seen parents and children having a ‘family’ meal, where at least one member of the party will be engaged with their phone rather than actual conversation. Social media does, however, have its benefits (and I’ve made practical use of them, I won’t deny) – it allows people to cross distance barriers more than ever before. That doesn’t mean, though, it should replace one-on-one contact – only enhance it.
Here are additional tidbits from our values study:
- Women in general had stronger social values, particularly Family & Friends (score of 79 vs. 68 for men), Altruism (77 vs. 65), Socializing (71 vs. 61), and Empathy (81 vs. 71).
- Men placed a higher value on Scientific Exploration – the importance of discovering new technologies, inventions, etc. (59 vs. 50 for women).
- Women placed a higher value on developing a career than men did (61 vs. 56).
- In terms of social values, younger age groups valued Family & Friends (77 vs. 71) and Socializing (71 vs. 62), while older age groups valued Altruism (76 vs. 72) and Empathy (81 vs. 76).
- In terms of aesthetics, younger age groups valued creativity and the ability to express themselves creatively (57 vs. 48).
- Younger age groups had stronger political values, particularly in terms of Competitiveness (50 vs. 31), Recognition (50 vs. 31), and developing a sense of Pride (50 vs. 31).
Those who are happy with their job outscored their less satisfied counterparts on every value assessed, including:
- Intellectual Creativity (Aesthetic value) – score of 62 vs. 55
- Knowledge (Theoretical value) – score of 66 vs. 59
- Ethics/Morals (Traditional value) – score of 71 vs. 65
- Hard work/Diligence (Realistic value) – score of 78 vs. 70
- Career Life (Political value) – score of 63 vs. 54
- Power (Political value) – score of 53 vs. 46
- Recognition (Political value) – score of 50 vs. 42
- Pride (Political value) – score of 54 vs. 47