Universal Values Types and Sets
What kinds of values motivate these three types of thinkers, and how culturally universal are they? The social psychologist Shalom H. Schwartz, surveying more than 25,000 people in 44 countries, proposed a model of ten types of universal values that seem present in all human cultures, and fifty-six specific subtypes of these general types. If the evo devo model outlined in Chapter 8 is valid, we should find some universal values clustering around the three poles of evolution, development, and adaptation (evo devo). Furthermore, two of the three clusters, evo and devo values, should appear to be opposites in tension with each other in the creation of the adaptive third cluster, as we see in the Hegelian dialectic (thesis and antithesis, in opposition to each other, create the synthesis).
Fortunately it is easy to propose this inner structure to universal values. Schwartz’s values, with one category edition, Understanding, that we will see shortly, serve well as one such introduction to evo devo values sets, with little need for redefinitions. We can group Schwartz’s ten types into Three Evo Devo Values Sets as in the picture above.
For individuals who self-identify at each of the three poles in the Kirton test, these three values sets should be among their most commonly preferred types. Those who favor the Evo values pole are Innovator-Creators, those who favor the Devo values pole are Protector-Predictors, and those favoring values at the Evo Devo pole are Adaptor-Manager-Learners, in their primary motivations. If evo devo theory is true, some version of these three values sets should be found not only in all cultures on Earth, but on all planets with intelligent life. We are working toward something truly universal here.
All of these values are quite useful and necessary to humanity at times. Notice that there are different values motivators for a Creative who is driven primarily by the value of Self-Directedness (individuation, curiosity, experimentation, diversity) versus Stimulation (input, variety) versus Hedonism (freedom, pleasure, recreation, humor, beauty). Likewise, consider the difference in an Anticipator who is driven more by Conformity (truthseeking, law, social obedience) versus Security (defense, stability, health, resilience) versus Tradition (historical respect, duty). Consider also how a Manager-strategist-learner can be driven by Power (authority, dominance), Achievement (success, capability), Benevolence (compassion, helpfulness, goodness), or Universalism (wisdom, justice, universality) each as drivers toward greater adaptiveness.
Good leaders can be motivated by any combination of these values, and they thrive in all three corners of the evo devo triangle. But if leaders also wish to be great managers of others, they should also cultivate one or more of the evo devo values, so they can speak to both the anticipators and the creatives (the two most fundamental types) through one of the common adaptation languages of Power, Achievement, Benevolence, or Univeralism.
Which of these ten values types would you say are your top three, most often? Which are your weakest three? In which values set or sets do you tend to cluster, or are you balanced across all three?
Using evo devo thinking, as we’ll see in Chapter 8, I think we can simplify Schwartz’s universal values still further, into a set of eight, a model with just four fundamental evolutionary and four fundamental developmental values, as the Eight Goals of Adaptive Systems, as follows (picture right):
In this classification, Tradition, Conformity, (Self-discipline, Loyalty, Duty), and Security are combined as different versions of the same basic value, to Protect, to seek to provide Immunity from disruption. Likewise, Hedonism and Stimulation are proposed as different versions of the same basic value, evolutionary Freedom (Indeterminacy). The Universalism value is considered both Truthseeking and Inertia (Prediction, Optimization). Schwartz’s Achievement value includes both Risktaking and Innovation, as a good opposite to Tradition/Security/Immunity. Self-Directedness (Individuation, Specialization) creates Diversity, and is a good opposite to Interdependence (Other-Directedness, Love, Benevolence, Ethics). Power is a concise description of Densification, as greater STEM density and efficiency gives greater Capacity, Ability, Wealth, or Power to any system that gets it.
Interestingly, our model argues that Schwartz missed one fundamental value in his surveys. We’ve called it Dematerialization in Chapter 2, but as we’ve seen, we could also call it by a number of other more popular labels, including Understanding, Learning, Intelligence, or Mind. I am convinced Understanding, growing the mental component of our lives, is a fundamental value for all people, though it can be a subtle value, easy to miss if you aren’t looking for it.
This isn’t a perfect model. We could have easily added a few more values categories, as sets of opposing evo devo pairs. But there is a declining return to adding more categories, and at some point, you have a model that is useful enough to mentally internalize and use it in various environments as a predictive, universal approach to adaptive values. I think this model fits that bill, and we’ll see it again in Chapter 8.
For more on values, you may enjoy Milton Rokeach’s The Nature of Human Values, 1973, and his successor works. Rokeach found eighteen terminal values (ends, goals) and eighteen instrumental values (means, methods) in a great variety of cultures and social classes. We leave it to the future to classify Rokeach’s and other values systems into the Three Evo Devo Values Sets, and into the Eight Goals.
What have we missed in the above analysis? Each of these values/goals models are evidence-poor and preliminary at present. But if better understanding of goals and values that you are likely to encounter in the workplace, in society, and in future intelligent systems comes from any of this work, it will have been well worth the effort.