Conceptual Beliefs About Human Values and Their Implications: Human Nature Beliefs Predict Value Importance, Value Trade-Offs, and Responses to Value-Laden Rhetoric

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Abstract

Beliefs that may underlie the importance of human values were investigated in 4 studies, drawing on research that distinguishes natural-kind (natural), nominal-kind (conventional), and artifact (functional) beliefs. Values were best characterized by artifact and nominal-kind beliefs, as well as a natural-kind belief specific to the social domain, “human nature” (Studies 1 and 2). The extent to which values were considered central to human nature was associated with value importance in both Australia and Japan (Study 2), and experimentally manipulating human nature beliefs influenced value importance (Study 3). Beyond their association with importance, human nature beliefs predicted participants' reactions to value trade-offs (Study 1) and to value-laden rhetorical statements (Study 4). Human nature beliefs therefore play a central role in the psychology of values.

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