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Honesty tops Australians' values list

Above all Australians value being open and honest with each other, according to the Australian Community Survey (ACS) project backed by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.

90% of Australians regarded honesty as 'very important'. 'Peace' and 'true friendship' were not far behind at 86%.

The ACS is a joint project of NCLS Research and Edith Cowan University. NCLS Research includes is a joint project of the Uniting Church NSW Board of Mission, Anglicare (Diocese of Sydney) and the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.

"The values of egalitarianism ... continue to be among the most cherished of Australian values," commented senior ACS researcher Dr Philip Hughes. "True friendship is deeply valued, as is 'a fair go', the equality of opportunity for all people."

Dr Hughes said most Australians place considerable stock in social justice, although there are many interpretations as to what this means.

When asked what they live for, the vast majority of Australians (84%) indicate they live for their spouses, children and other family members.

Dr Hughes said Australians' "value orientations" offer the best guide to understanding how the population thinks and acts. The four main sets of value orientations identified by the survey include:

Order - in national, social and personal life
Social well-being - through an emphasis on equality and freedom, tolerance and wisdom, social justice and environmental care
Spirituality - as distinct from an emphasis on material matters, and generally involving religious faith
Self-enhancement - through seeking enjoyment in life, excitement, success, wealth and social recognition.

Data was collected in 1998 from a national sample of over 6200 Australians. For this study, the ACS used an amended version of a value scale, developed by social psychologist S. Schwartz.

The complete findings have been published in a book - Exploring what Australians Value - which is available from the NCLS Research for $10.

Peace and honesty top list of what Australians most value, finds study (National Church Life Survey 12/3/04)

NCLS Research
Edith Cowan University Centre for Social Research

23 Mar 2004