What is a Value System?

A value system is the complete collection of things you care about in life. We have many opinions and preferences. Some we hold strongly, others not so much. Each of these things holds some level of value to us. Taken as a whole, we can call them our value system.

All of what you do in life can be set into the paradigm of value system. For instance:

From these examples we can observe several things:

The concept of a hierarchy of values is important. This is because an over-arching value has the potential to bring consistency to a value system; this reduces internal conflict. And it becomes accurate to describe the whole of a value system by the over-arching value.

Why consider Value System?

The paradigm of value system is an excellent model of human motivations and actions. The concept is easily grasped, and is self-validating because we see it all around us, and we use it subconsciously every day.

The value system perspective is a good analysis tool. Translating the behaviors of people into value system concepts is usually easy. Sometimes the exact values in play aren't immediately obvious. However, there are related tools that can be used (the three areas of desire, and how they are related to emotions - more info). Once we understand the motivating values, we understand why people do things.

The value system perspective is a good communication tool. Talking about behaviors in terms of values is often non-threatening. And therefore it can facilitate changes that produce better outcomes.

Value systems are not just abstract concepts. They are also an excellent model for taking action. Changes in value system will immediately produce changes in behavior. Therefore they can be practical, functional models for living.

The most important aspect of the value systems model is that it helps us see the root causes of relationship successes and failures. This also then provides guidance for making positive change. Through value system thinking we can learn how to make any relationship better.


The ideas on this page are based on the work of Darren Twa, author of several books including God's Value System. He is pastor at Life Fellowship. His audio messages teach the biblical and practical basis of God's Value System.