Scott Bristol's Values at Hand.

Five Characteristics of Values

Summary: When studying values five characteristics standout as being verifiable based on universal human experience. These five characteristics create the parameters fundamental to  the Life Journey Map's® values theory and measurement methodology. They also represent a face validly litmus test for of any values measurement methodology.

1. Values are different states of intentionality that when activated guide behavior and create meaning.

'Intend-adapt' better describes the human experience than 'stimulus-response'. Freemen (2000) asserts that it is not the working of the single neuron, as studied for the past century by neurobiology and characterized by 'stimulus-response', but the working and analysis of neuron populations (AM patterns) that is providing a new scientific basis for intentionality-the foundation of human behavior. 

Skilled behavior involves a low degree of consciousness but a high degree of intentionality.

Intentionality has three components: 

  1. Experience starts with the actor moving towards and attending to a goal or stimuli,  
  2. Values describe the range of different orientations an actor can manifest when acting, and
  3. Meaningful states are goal oriented activity patterns with a significant affective valence.

States of intentionality (values) exist within the electro-chemical dynamics of the brain as a measurable ‘readiness potential’ (Libet,1999). 

Preafferences, a central brain process, provides the basis for what we experience as attention and expectation. Initiated by the limbic system, it provides an order parameter that shapes the attractor landscapes of the brains global AM patterns, making it easier to capture expected, desired, or attended stimuli.  “The preafferences precedes feedback by proprioception and interoception loops from the secondary receptors in the muscles and joints to the spinal cord, cerebellum, thalamus, and somato-sensrory cortex. The corollary discharges convey information about what is to be sought by looking, listening, and sniffing, and the returning afferent discharges convey the current state of the search. When an expected stimulus is present, we experience it. When it is not we imagine it” (Freeman,2000,p.108). 

"In preparation for the execution of intended action the limbic system also includes states of emotion and affect that are implemented by the neuromodulatory nuclei of the brain stem." (Freeman,2000,p.114).

“Perceptual awareness is not determined solely by the stimuli impinging on our senses, but also by which of these stimuli we choose to attend" (Driver & Vuilleumier,2001,p40).

Intentionality has two sides: first intentionality includes how the system construes the world to be (preafference) and second, intentionality includes how the world satisfies or fails to satisfy this construal (perceived information) (Searle,1983; Varela, Thomson & Rosch,1991).

The 'intend-adapt' model of human behavior depicts 'humans as decisions or values waiting to happen'. We actively look for stimuli to adapt our actions to. Stimuli do not determine our actions. Our values determine our actions. Values are the different orientations we activate in 'search of'  and in 'adapting to' a stimuli. As we all know, there are times when we apply values, decisions, solutions to situations that have little to do with the stimuli and mostly to do with our history of habit- our internal, per-conscious, intentionality- our values.

2. When we practice, actualize, or embody our priority values we experience our lives as meaningful, significant, and important. 

 'Meaning', not 'pleasure', is our prime motivator. Viktor Frankl has asserted that when we practice, actualize, or embody our priority values we experience our lives as meaningful, significant, and important (Frankl,1955,1959).

Damasio's (1994,1999) research with clients who have had the affective or feeling area of their brains damaged has shown that the inability to feel results in the inability to choose. All choices, all action, has an affective or feeling element. Meaning is a consequence of practicing values that we most identify with in an affective or feeling manner. 

Tomkins’ cross-cultural work asserts that ‘affect as amplification’ is the primary innate biological motivating mechanism, more urgent than drive deprivation, pleasure, and physical pain. The human ‘affect amplification system’ combines generality and urgency. Without 'affect amplification' nothing else matters… there is no meaning (1991,1992).

“Value may be defined not only as any object of any affect but also as any experience of any pure affect per se, as its own object” (Tomkins,1991,p.404). 'Meaning' is an experienced consequence of ‘affect amplification’. It can coincide with: 

The inability to practice values that are meaningful, important, and significant leads to depression (Frankl,1955). One maintains ones values through spontaneous speech and dialog with others who participate in the same values.

Consequently, the dynamics of meaning indicate that continuous and sustainable change is only realized in practicing and embodying values of personal meaning, significance, and import.

3. Values are a dynamic set of choices that we continuously prioritize or rank relevant to the situation at hand.

Values as an image schema, describe both 1) a unique orientation toward acting, and 2) a dynamic relationship to a range of other unique and possible orientations. 

Scheler (1913), Perry (1926), Hartman (1967) and Rokeach (1968,1979) all described values as being in a 'rank order relationship'- one higher than the other. The significance of an image schema is that its logic is based on a embodied or physical metaphor-it is intuitive, not deductive (Johnson,1987). When we manipulate a set of value words into a preferred rank order we are activating an image schema to which we have an immediate affective experience. It is this immediate affective experience that facilitates our preferring process.

"The 'height of a value" is "given" not "prior" to preferring, but in preferring" (Scheler,1913,p.221).

Consequently, a values measurement  methodology must include a values ranking process, or ranking schema, to take full advantage of the image schema tacit in the concept of values. Methodologies that utilize 'Likert scales' and 'polarity scales' represent other image schema's and are incompatible and inappropriate when applied to values measurement. 

4. Values when expressed verbally or in writing, create an expectation that guides, impels, and legitimizes a range of behaviors. 

Values exist as verbal and written language.

Language is action. “An utterance, spoken or written, is always expressed from a point of view… Utterance is an activity that enacts differences in values.” (Clark and Holquist,1984,p10)

“Given that the major function of language is to manipulate the attention of other persons- that is, to induce them to take a certain perspective on a phenomenon-we can think of linguistic symbols and constructions as nothing other than symbolic artifacts that a child’s forebears have bequeathed to her for this purpose” (Tomasello,1999,p151). These ‘different perspectives’  are ‘values’. They are intentionally directional and are enacted in the words we chose to describe the phenomena we are attending to.

Language as written text is an ‘authoritative voice’ that

Implicit in all text is a value advocacy based on 1) the range of different value words and 2) the frequency of value words utilized (Rokeach,1979).

5. We use ‘values self-awareness’ to evaluate the appropriateness of our behavior as well as others'.

Self is a linguistic process sustained by the reconciliation of values implicit in our internal and external dialogues. 

Lakoff and Johnson identify five common experiences from which we construct metaphors to reason and talk about 'self' based on our 'inner-lives'- our self-awareness. These metaphors appear to be linguistically cross cultural. 

  1. There are ways in which try to control our bodies and in which they get 'out of control'.
  2. There are cases in which our conscious values conflict with the values implicit in our behavior.
  3. There are disparities between what we know or believe about ourselves and what others know or believe about us.
  4. There are experiences of taking an external viewpoint, as when we imitate others or try to see the world as they do.
  5. There are forms of inner dialog and we engage in. (Lakoff and Johnson,1999,p.267)

Fundamental to our sense of self is our inner dialog. Implicit in this dialog are value words that we use to reconcile our internal-external experience and awareness, especially 

  • Our conscious vs. unconscious behavior,

  • Congruency of our intentions vs. our actions,

  • Congruency of others intentions vs. their actions, and

  • Differences and similarities between our self and others.

  • Consequently the value words used to reconcile this continuous dynamic of self-awareness and difference creates a meaning system that we call 'self'. As such 'self' is not a self-sufficient construct but is dialogic, a relation.  According to Bakhtin a dialogue is composed of  1) an utterance, 2) a reply, and 3) a relation between the two. It is in the relation, the dynamic process between utterance and reply, where self and meaning reside. (Holquist,1990).

    Copyright 2002 by Scott Bristol