Values for a Happier World
Have you ever wondered what’s really important to you? Many of us have vague notions but we rarely pause for long enough to think it through. Does it matter after all?
In many ways it might seem relatively low down on our list of priorities, but last week a lecture organised by Action for Happiness made the audience see things in a completely different light.
Whether it’s done on a personal level or on a national level, taking the free values test devised by Richard Barrett will reveal a lot about you as an individual and can help you to fathom out where you are coming from, how you see yourself in the context of our wider society.
Firstly, the test reveals what is motivating you in your life. There are no right or wrong answers but it’s very interesting to find out what motivates you and it’s a step to recognising who you are and whether you want change on a personal or societal level.
It’s also a clue to finding out how you see society, and whether you feel that you have something to give to the wider world. Its author Richard Barrett writes about leadership and cultural evolution. He developed the concepts of personal and cultural entropy and created these assessment instruments, based on previous sociologists work, to map the values of individuals, organisations, communities and nations.
A ground breaking study, presented to the UK government last Thursday, reveals the answers to the value survey of 4000 people living in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It shows their personal values as well as the values they see in their local communities and in the nation as a whole.
The value tests are now widely used internationally for governments to find out the state of their people and their level of connection with their society. Far from being the first, the UK is the 24th country to have its values assessed using the Barrett model, and the results are fascinating. But don’t read any further if you plan to take the free value test yourself. Click here to do so.
It emerges that people living in the UK value meaningful, close relationships and operate with a strong sense of integrity. And when asked what values they saw as being important in their local community the responses were fairly close to their personal values.
In contrast, when asked about the values they see operating in the nation as a whole, the picture is very different. People believe the country is dominated by bureaucracy, crime and violence, uncertainty, corruption, blame, wasted resources, media influence, conflict, aggression, drug abuse and apathy.
The study also measured the level of dysfunction that people feel exists in the UK and their local community, described in the report as ‘cultural entropy’. The results show a 59% level of cultural entropy compared with a low level of community entropy at just 22%.
With a national level of 59% cultural entropy, the UK has one of the highest levels of cultural dysfunction recorded in nine European countries studied to date. France, Latvia, Belgium, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland and Denmark have all recorded lower scores than the UK.
As far as nations and organisations are concerned, there is no doubt at the Barrett Centre that change must come from the top. Only if leaders are willing to change can an organisation or society change.
Phil Clothier, speaking for Barrett Values Centre said: ‘The results of this study send a clear message to our leaders that business as usual can no longer be tolerated.’
The coalition government is keen to measure happiness like other countries, notably Bhutan. But in all previous studies, the level of cultural entropy has proved to be an important factor and determinant of overall happiness by citizens of those states.
Dr Mark Williamson, director of Action for Happiness, said: “Our values have a huge impact on the society we live in, so this first national assessment of UK values is very welcome. At a time when many people fear we are losing our moral foundations, this research shows that what people in the UK actually value most of all is caring for others. This is reflected both in their personal values and also the values they would most like to see at the national level.
“I find it very encouraging that, on the whole, we Brits have a deep concern for our fellow citizens and want to live in a society which is compassionate and fair. However, the research suggests that we need political leadership which better reflects the values of the UK people”.
To generate your own personal values report visit www.valuescentre.com/pva
Read the full UK values report here.