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What is Value Theory?

Nicole Madison
Updated May 23, 2024
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Value theory is a concept concerned with the value or worth of people or things. Worth may be considered in terms of usefulness or economic value. This concept can also involve legal, moral, aesthetic, or quantitative value, and it can involve just one type of worth, or a combination of different types.

It is generally accepted that values are at the root of all types of behaviors, including those that are morally, politically, or economically motivated. Values may be held individually, socially, or both. In some cases, however, individual values may seem worthless without social understanding and acceptance. Value theory deals with examining their individual and social repercussions.

In psychological terms, this analysis involves the examination of the development and assertion of human values. It also concerns the study of the ways in which human beings act on values or fail to act on them. Psychology-related value theory focuses on determining the reasons behind human preferences and choices in relation to values. Studying it also includes attempting to develop plausible explanations for the ways in which values may or may not govern behavior.

In sociological terms, value theory deals with the types of personal values that are commonly held within a community. It also examines ways in which certain conditions or situations may change those values. Additionally, it's concerned with how different groups of people may believe in and prioritize values that influence how they behave in social situations.

When considered in terms of ecological economics, it is categorized into donor-type value and receiver-type value. Many ecological economists hold the belief that, in order for wealth to exist, a value, as determined by a donor, must be present. This donor-determined value provides a measurement of things that are necessary to make something or to provide a service. By contrast, receiver-type value is often concerned with market value and related concepts.

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Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison , Writer
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a Language & Humanities writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.

Discussion Comments

By SilentBlue — On Jan 25, 2011

It seems that what people buy and invest in is also determined indirectly by their moral system. If people value charity and good-will toward the poor, they will tend to invest in churches and charitable organizations. It seems that we tend to see a disconnect between being frugal with our economic endeavors and being generous in charity. They are interconnected, however, and in helping to foster a prudent economy we can enable the world to have incentives and means to work and do well.

By JavaGhoul — On Jan 24, 2011


So, in a way, it seems that according to value theory, the American value system runs the world economy. It is too bad that Americans don't value saving money or being frugal as much as they used to, or this recent economic crash may have been prevented. In a frenzy to created incentive and risky innovations, the world was stretched too far. America should learn from China in terms of long-term focus and savings.

By FitzMaurice — On Jan 21, 2011

People who assign value to comfort will naturally want to spend money on improving comfortable things. In the US, people tend to value the latest trend or cutting-edge invention so they can get an edge on everyone else. Nobody wants to be left out of the loop in terms of the popular new gadgets that are constantly coming out. These are buttressed by advertisement and tend to trickle over to other nations who buy American innovations, as well as benefit from the outsourcing to make them.

By anon127262 — On Nov 15, 2010

Thanks a lot for your effort. Please keep it up.

Nicole Madison

Nicole Madison


Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a Language & Humanities writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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