Human Values Overview

Our mission:

To enable practitioners to put human values at the heart of their product or service.

What are Human Values?

Human values are the link between deep seated needs and outwardly behaviours. Values are informed by deeper needs and then shape our behaviour, drive our actions and form our thoughts. If you think of an iceberg, as in our image below, you’ll see human values sitting in the middle. 

Needs, behaviours and values are all linked. Human needs have been extensively represented by a number of psychological models, e.g. Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs, Schwartz, and Deci and Ryan, and support our own research. Human behaviours are the result of a person’s needs but the important factor is that they are shaped by the context of their environment. Because behaviour is easy to observe and measure, it might be easy to assume needs based on behaviour. In reality, it can be difficult to describe why a person acted in a certain way.  Two people might behave in the same way but have different motivations or needs, and the reverse is true too. Research shows that people are generally able to explicitly describe personal values, which take into account the environment and context as well as those needs. 

In this way, we describe a human value as a personal judgement of importance but one that expresses a deeper need and a psychological motivation shaping behaviour. We have researched people on this deep level to understand what is fundamentally important in life.

A gateway to understanding needs and motivations is to understand core values.