The Science Behind

Universal Continuum of Human Values

The universal continuum of human values is a representation of human values across countries. It was developed by Professor Shalom Schwartz starting in 1992 (Schwartz, 1992).

The continuum is derived from intercultural studies in more than 80 countries (Schwartz, 2012). The original model in 1992 had 10 distinct values (Schwartz, 1992). The model has been refined in the last years through empirical studies. It now compromises 19 different human values (Schwartz et al., 2012; Cieciuch, Davidov, Vecchione, & Schwartz, 2014). In addition, the 19 values are categorized through higher-order values such as self-transcendence on the first level, social focus on the second level, and growth/anxiety-free on the third level.

The measurement instrument that is used is the refined Portraits Values Questionnaire Revised (PVQ-RR, Schwartz & Butenko, 2014). It measures the importance of 19 distinct values with 57 items. Each value’s importance is measured through three items (Schwartz & Butenko, 2014).

The 57 items represent statements about a person (e.g., item 1: “It is important to her to form her views independently”; one of three items that measure self-direction thought). Participants are asked to rate on a Likert scale from 1 (not like me at all) to 6 (very much like me) how much this person is like them or not.

What are core values?

What are core values?

Adapted Version

A study of Heblich & Terzidis (2016), indicates based on the method of multidimensional scaling that the value of health seems to be a separate concept and not part of the value of personal security. Therefore, the value of health was added as a 20th value to the model. To measure health, three additional items were integrated (based on Grouzet et al., 2005; Schwartz & Butenko, 2014). Thus, the refined version includes 60 items to measure 20 human values.

As the continuum was developed with the method of multidimensional scaling, neighboring values are rather compatible with each other. Whereas values that lay on the opposite sites of each other tend to lead to decision conflicts.

In addition to that, we adapted the model with additional higher-order values of intrinsic/extrinsic values. This categorization was done in line with theoretical discussions (e.g. Kasser, 2002) and also empirical studies that analyze the relationship of the importance of the different personal values with different types of well-being such as subjective well-being (Bobowik, Basabe, Páez, Jiménez, & Bilbao, 2011, Haslam, Whelan, & Bastian, 2009, Joshanloo & Ghaedi, 2009; Sagiv & Schwartz, 2000; Sortheix & Schwartz, 2017), mental health (Sagiv & Schwartz, 2000), psychological well-being (Bilbao, Techi, & Páez, 2007; Cohen & Shamai, 2007; Joshanloo & Ghaedi, 2009), and social well-being (Bilbao et al., 2007; Joshanloo & Ghaedi, 2009).

The final categorization can be found in your personalized evaluation.

Personalized Visualization

Based on the existing research we created the Core Values Finder that illustrates the personalized results of a person in form of a sunburst diagram. The border of the grey-layered circle represents a person's average. The colored bars that go beyond the edge of the grey shaded circle indicate that the related values seem to be relatively important to a person.

Based on answering the questions of the adapted Portraits Values Questionnaire Revised (PVQ-RR, Schwartz & Butenko, 2014 in the adapter version of Heblich & Terzidis, 2016) your personal results are calculated and visualized. The illustration exemplifies different values profiles that a person can have as a result of the Core Values Finder.

If you are interested in using our research to get one step closer to your heart, you are encouraged to take the test.

What are core values?


Bilbao, M. Á., Techio, E. M., & Páez, D. (2007). Felicidad, cultura y valores personales: estado de la cuestión y síntesis meta-analítica. Revista de Psicología (Lima), 25(2), 135-276. 

Bobowik, M., Basabe, N., Páez, D., Jiménez, A., & Bilbao, M. A. (2011). Personal values and well-being among Europeans, Spanish natives and immigrants to Spain: Does the culture matter?. Journal of Happiness Studies, 12(3), 401-419.

Cieciuch, J., Davidov, E., Vecchione, M., & Schwartz, S. H. (2014). A hierarchical structure of basic human values in a third-order confirmatory factor analysis. Swiss Journal of Psychology, 3.

Cohen, A., & Shamai, O. (2010). The relationship between individual values, psychological well-being, and organizational commitment among Israeli police officers. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, 33(1), 30-51.

Grouzet, F. M., Kasser, T., Ahuvia, A., Dols, J. M. F., Kim, Y., Lau, S., Ryan, R. M., Saunders, S., Schmuck, P., & Sheldon, K. M. (2005). The structure of goal contents across 15 cultures. Journal of personality and social psychology, 89(5), 800.

Haslam, N., Whelan, J., & Bastian, B. (2009). Big Five traits mediate associations between values and subjective well-being. Personality and Individual Differences, 46(1), 40-42.

Heblich, B. & Terzidis, O. (2016): Enhancing autonomy and intrinsic aspirations of entrepreneurs by creating awareness about their personal values - A psychological perspective from Self-Determination Theory. 20th Annual Interdisciplinary Conference on entrepreneurship, innovation and SMEs (G-Forum). Leipzig, Germany. October 6th-7th 2016.

Joshanloo, M., & Ghaedi, G. (2009). Value priorities as predictors of hedonic and eudaimonic aspects of well-being. Personality and individual differences, 47(4), 294-298.

Kasser, T. (2002). Sketches for a self-determination theory of values. Handbook of self-determination research, 123, 40.

Sagiv, L., & Schwartz, S. H. (2000). Value priorities and subjective well‐being: Direct relations and congruity effects. European journal of social psychology, 30(2), 177-198.<177::AID-EJSP982>3.0.CO;2-Z

Schwartz, S. H. (1992). Universals in the content and structure of values: Theoretical advances and empirical tests in 20 countries. In Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 25, pp. 1-65). Academic Press. 

Schwartz, S. H. (2012). An overview of the Schwartz theory of basic values. Online readings in Psychology and Culture, 2(1), 11.

Schwartz, S. H., & Butenko, T. (2014). Values and behavior: Validating the refined value theory in Russia. European Journal of Social Psychology, 44(7), 799-813.

Sortheix, F. M., & Schwartz, S. H. (2017). Values that underlie and undermine well‐being: Variability across countries. European Journal of Personality, 31(2), 187-201.