The Stability and Change of Value Structure and Priorities in Childhood: A Longitudinal Study

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Abstract

This longitudinal study explores the stability and change of values in childhood. Children's values were measured in Poland three times (with one-year intervals) using the Picture Based Values Survey (PBVS-C; Döring, Blauensteiner, Aryus, Drögekamp, & Bilsky, 2010), developed to measure values differentiated according to the circular model of Schwartz (1992). 801 children (divided into 5 cohorts aged 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11 years at the first measurement occasion) completed the PBVS-C three times on a yearly basis. Separate analyses were performed for each cohort using the data of the three measurement occasions. Multidimensional scaling revealed that, in children, Schwartz's (1992) circular structure of values is stable and does not change over time. Although priorities of values displayed moderate stability over time, the means changed between the ages of 7 and 11 years. Specifically, latent growth curve modeling revealed changes in children's values hierarchy as indicated by the decrease in the mean level of conservation values and the increase in the mean level of openness to change values. Self-transcendence and self-enhancement also changed in different directions. As indicated by mean levels over time, self-transcendence first increased in importance, slightly decreased, and finally increased again. In contrast, self-enhancement first decreased in importance, then increased, and finally began to decrease again.

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