Royal Society Summer Science Exhibit

Discover Values: Smashing Stereotypes?

A logo of a flower made up of lots of different shades of blue, pink, orange, green, yellow and purple. The words "Discover Values" are on the right in black text.

Are we more united than divided?

We often hear stories about our differences on topics that divide people. We see news reports about conflicts between those who voted Remain or Leave in the Brexit referendum, or read internet articles about a gulf between Boomers and Millennials. Are these divisions real, or are they different from how they appear?

Play the Values Game

Our exhibit showcases research showing that people struggle to perceive these differences accurately. The issue boils down to difficulty in identifying our own values and those of others.  Our stereotypes can lead us wildly off-piste.

The problem starts with our values. Values are abstract ideals that people consider to be important guiding principles in their lives.  Examples include equality, security, or freedom.

Values guide our attitudes and our behaviour, and we infer our values from our attitudes and behaviours. The guidance and inference processes are not perfect.  For diverse reasons, we often make mistakes in estimating our own values and those of other people.

Our stereotypes of ourselves and others can interfere with accuracy.  We often assume that people differ in their value priorities. We might stereotypically assume, for instance, that older people find tradition or safety more important and that younger people find freedom and curiosity more important. We might assume that women value compassion and helpfulness, whereas men value wealth and power.

We have collected data that enables us to make some surprising discoveries about people’s values and the differences between people.  Our stereotypes can be mostly accurate in some cases and wrong in others.

As part of our Royal Society Summer Science exhibit we have created the Values Game, which will help you find out more about your values, and those of others around you. You can also read more about our research on political psychology in the Department of Psychology and in Social Cultural Cognition at the University of Bath.


We would like to thank Ste from Bare Knuckle Development for coding the game and Ben Taylor from the University of Essex for designing the logo and banner.

A logo of a flower made up of lots of different shades of blue, pink, orange, green, yellow and purple. The words "Discover Values" are on the right in black text.
Uncover your values

We've developed a game that will help you uncover the values that really matter to you, and show you how similar you are to people who you may think you have nothing in common with!

Play the game

About our research

People are often passionate about ideas that matter greatly to them – ideas like freedom, protecting the environment, equality, or tradition. Cross-cultural research in psychology refers to such ideas as values. They are the abstract goals or ideals that guide us in our opinions, decisions, and behaviour.

An important characteristic of values is that people differ in how important they find them.

For instance, one person might strongly value their independence or freedom, but care less strongly about traditions or self-discipline. Another person might feel the opposite and care less strongly about independence of freedom, but more strongly about traditions or self-discipline. In our research, we study people's beliefs about others' values or what other people and groups find important.

We also study people’s stereotypes of other people’s values. Stereotypes are beliefs and expectations that we hold about other groups of people.

Everyone has stereotypes – they help to deal with very complex interactions with other people – but sometimes our stereotypes exaggerate or misperceive differences. This oversimplification enables us to put less effort into interactions and to react more spontaneously.

An important question is whether our stereotypes of other people’s values are occasionally way off track. When we misperceive others’ values, we may feel there is a vast gulf between us and them that is unbridgeable.

In such cases, smashing these stereotypes may help to resolve conflict and improve relations with others, ultimately helping everyone be happier and more successful.

Our research is helping people discover their own values, the values of others, and when our stereotypes of others’ values are about right or not.

Play the Values Game
A private boat covered in flags supporting Donald Trump, being sailed across a lake with a city skyline in the background.
Podcast: Are We Really All That Different?

It's been called 'The Age of Outrage', often filled with hyper-partisan political debates on issues such as Brexit, immigration, systemic racism, and even on the brand of beans Americans choose to buy. But are the differences in our values and in our ideologies all that define us? In this podcast, Dr Paul Hanel discusses his research on values and political psychology.

Listen to the podcast
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