Difference Between Values and Principles

Values vs Principles

As a human being, it is impossible to live in isolation. We live in a society of which we are a part and follow the unwritten rules, mores, customs, and traditions deemed right for the individuals. These rules can be about morality as to what is right and what is wrong or they can be religious in nature. There are two concepts of values and principles that become a guiding force in the lives of most of us. Though closely related and almost intertwined, values and principles have differences that will be talked about in this article.


Values are sets of beliefs about good and bad, right and wrong, and about many other aspects of living and interacting in the society with others. Though there are universal values like love and compassion, it is found that values vary from culture to culture, and there are also personal values that are dear to people. Values are beliefs and opinions that people hold regarding issues and concepts such as liberty, freedom, love, sex, education, relations, friendship etc. Most of the times, values tend to have a religious sanction and people hold them without knowing much about them. They consider some things as sacred and some others profane just because it is written in their sacred texts.

Values serve as a guiding force in life and provide a sense of direction to an individual in a society. There are times when there is a lot of confusion in the minds of people regarding an issue or a feeling. At times like these, clear cut values help an individual to come out of dilemma and move ahead in life. For example, abortion may be prohibited and disapproved by a religion, but the modern government in a country may allow it to allow women to decide their family size. If a woman holds positive views about abortion, she will not have any dilemma, and there will be no battle between her own value about abortion and what her religion says about this issue. In the case of contradiction between values, there can be a lot of mental conflict that can torment an individual.


Principles can be described as rules or laws that are universal in nature. These principles are about human behavior and set or govern the interaction between people in a society. Principles are unwritten laws that are expected to be followed and those seen flouting these principles are looked down upon in a society. People also make their own guiding principles in life. Whenever they are in doubt, they can take recourse to these principles, and all doubts are cleared. Having a set of principles is like having a compass in the journey of life when we feel that we are lost or unable to find the right path.

As described above, principles are always about universal truths or standards. One must have clear cut principles about concepts such as fairness, justice, equality, truthfulness, honesty, etc so as to be able to take a stand on any social issue or event. Having a principle allows one to have a stand that is a comforting thought as he is not groping in the dark as to what he feels about important issues and concepts.

What is the difference between Values and Principles?

• Both values and principles serve important roles in the life of an individual while dealing with others and social issues and concepts.

• Values are sets of beliefs about subjective traits and ideal while principles are universal laws and truths.

• Principles serve the role of an anchor for a ship in its journey when confronted with conflicting issues, while values allow us move ahead with confidence expressing our beliefs.

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