Sex Roles, Vol. 53, Nos. 9/10, November 2005 (
Are Gender Differences in Basic Human Values
a Generational Phenomenon?
and Christopher Higgins
The Schwartz Value Survey (SVS) was administered to 979 Canadian knowledge workers to
determine whether differences in value priorities between men and women differed signif-
icantly between members of the Baby Boomer generation and members of Generation X.
Multivariate analysis of covariance controlling for education, income, and scale use revealed
a signiﬁcant gender-by-generation interaction, which signiﬁes that the patterns of differences
between men’s and women’s value priorities were different for Baby Boomers and Genera-
tion Xers. Four of the 10 SVS value types (i.e., power, tradition, universalism, and achieve-
ment) were associated with both gender and generation. A number of other value types were
associated solely with generation. The ﬁndings suggest that both gender and generation are
important variables in the study of values and should not be considered in isolation of each
KEY WORDS: gender; human values; generation.
Human values are a core element of human psy-
chology and are therefore key to the understand-
ing of both individuals and social groups (Mayton,
Ball-Rokeach, & Loges, 1994). It therefore makes
inherent sense that values should be considered
a fundamental construct in the study of psycho-
logical gender differences. In the 30 years since
the publication of Rokeach’s (1973) groundbreak-
ing work on values, a number of researchers, includ-
ing Rokeach himself, have endeavored to determine
whether there are identiﬁable gender-related pat-
terns in basic human values. Though early studies in
this area with the Rokeach Value Survey (RVS) (e.g.,
Feather, 1984; Rokeach, 1973) showed promisingly
consistent results, recent research with the Schwartz
Value Survey (SVS) (e.g., Feather, 2004; Schwartz
et al., 2001) has not shown consistent gender pat-
terns. It is likely that the inconsistency of these re-
St. Francis Xavier University.
Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada.
University of Western Ontario.
To whom correspondence should be addressed at Sprott School
of Business, Carleton University, 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa,
Ontario K1S 5B6, Canada; e-mail: Linda
sults is at least partly attributable to the different
measurement approaches employed in the RVS and
the SVS (the former is a ranking measure and the
latter a rating instrument). Nonetheless, both instru-
ments aim to identify the value priorities held by in-
dividuals and groups. As these two measures share
25 value items in common, one would expect that any
gender-related differences in value priorities that ex-
ist should be observed as signiﬁcantly higher ratings
or rankings by one gender or the other if both mea-
sures are valid.
Another possible explanation for the inconsis-
tency of these ﬁndings is that changes in society
over the past 30 years have resulted in a shift in the
value priorities expressed by men and women from
one generational cohort to the next. Given the in-
creased educational and occupational opportunities
afforded to the younger generation of women and
the continued evolution of gender roles in both the
realms of work and family (Orenstein, 2000), it is
no longer considered taboo for women to hold and
express traditionally masculine value priorities such
as achievement and power. Similarly, it is becoming
increasingly acceptable for men to hold and express
2005 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.