Here is a rough sketch of three value systems and the three mindsets that seem to correlate with them. These value sets aren’t meant to be seen as ideological. But rather, values observed in practice. So they don’t necessarily go with specific ethical conclusions like “abortion is good” or “polluting is bad.” These are the ‘in practice’ values that people utilize to manage their lives. Because these clusters of values can be held by people of varying degrees of moral insight, they aren’t necessarily good or bad. They just identify how we operate. Some of the items here have moral consequences or underpinnings, but I’m not trying to talk about the moral value or individuals who operate in these ways. I’m just trying to categorize things practically. So these are the sorts of ideals that people consciously or unconsciously pursue and find ‘motivating.’
- Aspirational – Aspirational values include personal progress, results, information, effort, entrepreneurship, personal criticism, opportunity, non-interference from the government, ideological disagreement, and volatility. The aspirational mindset always asks, “How can I come out of this better than before?”
- Survival Values – Survival values include comfort, stability, tranquility, routine, entertainment, ideological ignorance, and protection. The survival mindset always asks, “How can I get through my circumstances intact?”
- Entitlement – Entitlement values include gifts, equality, free government services, authority, influence over authority, resource redistribution, sympathy, ideological hegemony, and public display of negative emotions. The entitlement mindset asks, “What can others do to improve my circumstances?”
People move in and out of these value systems and sometimes pursue values from each one. Actual victims or recipients of government aid may not hold to the entitlement mentality. People who are in actual survival situations do not always merely seek survival values as their highest goal. People who are very financially successful may not have apsirational values.
Of course, maybe these, like most personality tests, are bogus. But I think you can easily see individuals (yourself included) fitting into one of these categories in different life stages and you can probably also see how each value set confers advantages and disadvantages while somebody is in different stages of life.