What are Social Values?


While the roots of the term ‘Social Values’ goes back centuries, today, we generally define them as the deeper motivations behind human behaviour. These values represent a person’s mental posture or fundamental world view and they set the context for someone’s reactions to situations, events, opportunities or challenges.

How are
Social Values

Environics Research has been measuring Social Values in Canada since 1983. In 2019, we surveyed over 5,000 Canadians and this allows us to precisely track changes in Social Values over time.

Each of these surveys are made up of a large battery of statements or ‘items’ that can be agreed with or disagreed with on a five-point scale. Together they build over 100 Social Values constructs that exist among the general population.

Understanding the framework

The Social Values framework plots trends on two axis; Authority & Individuality (y-axis) and Survival & Fulfillment (x-axis), which produces the following quadrant framework.

The four quadrants of the Social Values framework are: Exclusion and Intensity (EI), Status and Security (SS), Authenticity and Responsibility (AR) and Idealism and Autonomy (IA).

Where each individual Social Value construct lies in this quadrant structure gives us an understanding of the type of person that would most strongly hold that viewpoint and helps us recognize and group the type of individual whose values might co-relate.

Exclusion &
Idealism &
Status &
Authenticity &



Exclusion & Intesity

These individuals live on the edge and take risks for the thrill or for personal gain. They flaunt their success and crave constant attention, excitement and distraction while displaying anti-conformist behaviour.



Idealism & Autonomy

Those holding values residing in this quadrant are self-reliant and idealistic. They are open-minded and reject what they believe are “out-dated” institutions and norms.



Status & Security

Individuals with values and residing in this quadrant follow accepted rules and norms. They hold a strong work ethic, strive to achieve material success and demonstrations of social standing.



Authenticity & responsibility

These individuals hold a strong sense of duty and responsibility to others. They care deeply about ethics and fair mindedness and take care of mind, body and spirituality in the face of daily challenges.

Take our quiz to find out which Social Values segment you belong to

Discover our Social Values Cohorts

By looking at values through the lens of generational cohorts, we’re able to identify trends that have occurred over time. Understanding the values that drive shifts in behavior better equips us to understand the motivations and beliefs that are shaping current events, and predict future reactions.

Learn more about our Social Values Segmentation research

Applying Social Values to business problems

Values set the context for consumer choice. Two customers who might be demographically identical can be fundamentally different from a psychographic perspective. Social Values (or psychographics) relate to people’s values, motivations and attitudes. These reveal why consumers do what they do and helps to complement traditional demographics. They are the underlying driver for shaping brand perceptions, product needs and ultimately purchase behaviour and decision making in general.

Utilizing an understanding of these underlying values provides a wide range of applications when solving business problems for any organization, including:


Understand Trends


Segment The Market


Target Selection


Personify Targets


Develop Positioning


Messaging & Advertising


Product Innovation

Find out how Environics can help your organization

Explore more Social Values applications


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