Head’s Corner

What Does Society Value? 

In my last blog post, I wrote about Family Groups and the critical work they do in reinforcing essential character traits. Likewise, a few months ago, I posted a piece that shared research stating that there is often a disconnect between the character traits we want our children to develop and what our children think we want them to possess. In that post, I talked about the fact that most parents want their children to be honest, compassionate people, but most children believe the adults in their lives want them to get good grades. Well, the people over at Gallup just released a study that demonstrates that this “values disconnect” is pervasive in our society.


In Gallup’s Success Index study, they show how Americans’ definitions of success are different from perceptions of how society defines success. Moreover, we often underestimate how inline our definition of success is with the rest of American society.

Some examples of this “values disconnect”:

  • 97% percent of respondents said, “pursuing one’s interest and talents” meets their definition of what leads to a successful life. Conversely, 92% of the same respondents believe society values fame and fortune over all else.
  • 96% of us personally believe that success is not comparative, that we can be successful regardless of what others do, but we believe only 14% of the rest of society thinks like this.
  • Out of 76 attributes, individuals ranked trustworthiness as number 3 but thought society ranked it at number 30.
  • We believe being a parent and having a strong family connection is essential to a successful life, but think society places that value towards the bottom of the scale.

According to the study, there is a significant variance between what we believe society values and what we value. But a deeper dive into data seems to reveal that what we value as individuals and what society values are more closely aligned than we think. More importantly, though, sometimes we feel like we are fighting societal tides when we talk to kids about the values that are important to society. Maybe those tides are not as strong as we think.


Author: The Saklan School Friday Blog

The Saklan School is a private Pre-K through 8 school located in Moraga, CA. Our mission is to think creatively, act compassionately, and live courageously.

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