What is wrong with me? Are values really like this?

I am just no good at those ‘values’ questionnaires. Whenever I’m asked a question about values my only answer is “it depends”. I don’t think this is very clever, but there you go.

Here is the first page of 120 questions in a questionnaire I’m supposed to fill out about an organisation I’m involved with.

In your preferred culture, to what extent should people be expected to…?
Not at all To a slight extent To a moderate extent To a great extent To a very great extent
point out flaws
show concern for the needs of others
involve others in decisions affecting them
resolve conflicts constructively
be supportive of others
stay on people’s good side
be a “nice guy”
do things for the approval of others
“go along” with others
win against others
work to achieve self-set goals
accept goals without questioning them
be predictable
never challenge superiors
do what is expected
stay detached and perfectly objective
oppose new ideas
help others to grow and develop
be a good listener
give positive rewards to others

But in each and every case the only answer is not ‘more or less’ but in some circumstances more, in some less. I expect these kinds of questionnaires can do more good than harm. But I’m no good at them.

What thinkest thou Oh Troppodillians? (I wonder why my spellcheck doth say that ‘thinkest’ is not a word?)

In conclusion, please tell me whether values are really like this? (And where is Dr Troppo when you need him?)

Not at all To a slight extent To a moderate extent To a great extent To a very great extent
This entry was posted in Philosophy, Political theory. Bookmark the permalink.
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
15 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Marek
Marek
9 years ago

I hate these

desipis
9 years ago

I agree, to a moderate extent.

Patrick
Patrick
9 years ago

It depends.

Alexander
Alexander
9 years ago

I agree to a great extent, unless I’ve misunderstood the directionality of the question. I think by and large there’s a rule, and then there’s an exception. So for instance I think it’s wrong (“to a very great extent”) to kill other human beings, but if they’re trying to kill you or someone else then it’s okay to kill them. It’s not that “it depends”, it’s that there’s an exception which you can’t specify in multi choice, so I don’t fret about it.

But also, you should have trusted your spell checker! “Thou” is a singular pronoun, so “What thinkest thou Oh Troppodillians” is ungrammatical, as well as having a spelling error. Thus, “What think ye, O Troppodillians” would be quite brilliant. (“Oh” is for surprise or acknowledgement or other more “emotional” words that aren’t part of a sentence; “O” is used when you’re addressing someone.)

Sorry, I know you were being funny. I’ll try better next time. It’s just one of the values I hold to a very great extent is that people should stick to the styles of language they know!

Tel
Tel
9 years ago

I think the correct answer is to leave all the questions blank and write at the bottom, “I don’t make moral calls based on a 5 word description of the situation”.

Colin
Colin
9 years ago

Of course it depends on the specifics of the situation. But the question is asking you to predict how often various situations arise.

conrad
conrad
9 years ago

“How sd they be calibrated?”

I’m not sure what the survey is supposed to be measuring (I must admit to not being a fan of surveys at all), however, I think the basic idea is that you could look for validity by getting people to fill in the survey and then comparing those results with actual empirical data. So, for example, I could probably get quantitative data on some of the above questions (or construct that I assume they’re supposed to measure) in two different cultures. Hopefully, the survey and the quantitative data would show values in a similar direction. Thus, even if they arn’t calibrated at any particular level, the difference itself might be interesting (e.g., “people at IBM are more resistant to change than at Apple”). Of course, a lot of these surveys arn’t validated at all, and another rather large subset is validated by comparing their results with other equally as crappy surveys (often with samples of convenience, otherwise known as university students and their friends), but managers with nothing better to do seem to love them.

Colin
Colin
9 years ago

I’d treat it as relative – I like flaw-pointing-out much more than opposing new ideas.

conrad
conrad
9 years ago

I think your suggestions are perfectly reasonable, which means it is probably a bad survey, at least for what it was used to measure. That being said, it may well be that the original creator designed it to measure something else entirely (e.g., “what is your idea of an ideal workplace” or “what is your idea of an ideal society”), and then some sloppy management person incorrectly thought that it could be used mutatis mutandis for their situation (I wonder if someone else can recognize the questions and where they come from?). This happens all the time incidentally — where I work, for example, they expect students to fill in about 250 questions for each subject they do, and these questions are ripped off from another survey that wasn’t designed to measure individual courses at all, and so many of them are rather odd things to ask. Not surpisingly, no-one fills them in and you just end up with stuff from 5 students with OCD or who hate/love you for some reason. Now, as it happens, you could probably condense everything down into about 5 questions that might be useful, but obviously no-one in the army of edu-babble people they employ for all this crap knows how to do this (why use simmple statistics when you can have theories stories of human behavior based on qualitative analysis?) or perhaps some level of management just needs to find stuff to make themselves look busy.

Colin
Colin
9 years ago

I read the question you’ve quoted as solely an “ought” question. I don’t see where you get the “is” bit from. It’s asking about your personal preferences – your druthers.

JMB
JMB
9 years ago

And that, my friends, is why I exited the “Managing People” unit of a master’s degree and substituted a subject which seemed to have a purpose.

Long ago, I decided that I would not fill in nonsense questions, even if they are part of a job application or in some other way are stated to be mandatory. That might have cost me a raise or two, but it never cost me any sleep.