The key difference between terminal and instrumental values is that terminal values are the highest values in a person’s value system, whereas instrumental values are the ones that are often used.
Both terminal and instrumental values affect people’s personal as well as professional lives alike – for example, a person with a strong stimulation selecting risky occupations (police officer, firefighter) and a person who prefers achievement becoming an entrepreneur. The priorities of values differ among these groups of people in society.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What are Terminal Values
3. What are Instrumental Values
4. Terminal vs Instrumental Values in Tabular Form
5. Summary – Terminal vs Instrumental Values
What are Terminal Values?
Terminal values are the goals that a person would like to achieve during his or her lifetime. They signify the final goals and objectives of a life of a person, and they are his/her destination. Therefore, they are also referred to as the end-state of existence. Terminal values are the highest values in a person’s value system. Therefore, they are very important. These values are shared by a group as a whole.
Examples of Terminal Values
- A world at peace (free of war and conflict)
- Family security (taking care of loved ones)
- Freedom (independence, free choice)
- Equality (brotherhood, equal opportunity for all)
- Self-respect (self-esteem)
- Happiness (contentedness)
- Wisdom (a mature understanding of life)
- National security (protection from attack)
- True friendship (close companionship)
- Salvation (saved eternal life)
- A Sense of accomplishment (a lasting contribution)
- A World of beauty (beauty of nature and the arts)
- A Comfortable life (a prosperous life)
- An Exciting life (a stimulating active life)
- Social recognition (respect, admiration)
- Mature love (sexual and spiritual intimacy)
- Inner harmony (freedom from inner conflict)
- Pleasure (an enjoyable leisurely life)
What are Instrumental Values?
Instrumental values are modes of behaviour in achieving the terminal values. These values are used often in the day to day lives. These values lead to conflicts since they differ within a group. Generally, these values show ways an individual would follow to achieve the aims in his life.
Examples of Instrumental Values
- Cheerful (light-hearted, joyful)
- Love (affectionate,tender)
- Honest (sincere, truthful)
- Self-Control (restrained, self-discipline)
- Capable (competent, effective)
- Ambitious (hard-working, aspiring)
- Polite (courteous, well mannered)
- Imaginative (daring,creative)
- Independent (self-reliant, self-sufficient)
- Intellectual (intelligent, reflective)
- Broad-Minded (open-minded)
- Logical (consistent, rational)
- Courageous (standing up for your beliefs)
- Obedient (dutiful, respectful)
- Helpful (working for the welfare of others)
- Responsible (dependable, reliable)
- Clean (neat, tidy)
- Forgiving (willing to pardon others)
What is the Difference Between Terminal and Instrumental Values?
Terminal values are the goals that a person would like to achieve during his or her lifetime, while instrumental values are modes of behaviour in achieving the terminal values. The key difference between terminal and instrumental values is that terminal values are the highest values in a person’s value system, whereas instrumental values are the ones that are often used.
The following table lists the differences between terminal and instrumental values in detail.
Summary – Terminal vs Instrumental Values
Terminal values are the goals that a person would like to achieve during his or her lifetime. They are considered the highest values in a person’s value system. Terminal values are about the life goals and objectives of a person or his destination. Often, the terminal values of people are the same. Instrumental values, on the other, are the modes of behaviour in achieving the terminal values. They are about the behaviour of a person while achieving his objectives or terminal values. People use these values often in their lives, and they differ from person to person, which sometimes even leads to conflicts. Thus, this is the summary of the difference between terminal and instrumental values. Both terminal and instrumental values differ among the various social groups in the society, and the priorities of their values differ.
1. Williams, Yolanda. “Terminal Values: Definition & Examples.” Study.com.
2. Williams, Yolanda. “Instrumental Values: Definition & Examples.” Study.com.
1. “1093801” (CC0) via Pxhere
2. “Whole-complete-human-qualities-1837685” (CC0) via Pixabay
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