Values Americans Live By  (L. Robert Kohls) *


* L. Robert Kohls, Meridian House International, Washington, D.C. 1984

  1. Personal Control Over the Environment

We believe we have the right to alter nature for our own purposes and to exert control over the natural world to the extent we are able; fate is in our hands.

  1. Change is good

Change is good and is associated with progress and improvement and is considered essential to development.

   3. Time & Its Control is important

Time is considered an important commodity and needs to be used wisely, leading to emphasis on time management and adhering to schedules.   

  1. Equality & Egalitarianism

There is a central belief in the basic equality of opportunity for human beings and equal protection under the law, as well as equal social treatment. 

  1. Individualism & Privacy

Each person is considered a unique individual and a high value is placed on personal style and action. Privacy is valued as necessary time to one’s self and is often jealously protected against intrusions. 

  1. Self-help

Accomplishment is based upon what one does for oneself, and getting ahead requires individual effort. 

  1. Competition & Free Enterprise

Competition is viewed as natural and positive and free enterprise is the preferred economic system to facilitate this process. 

  1. Future Orientation

Belief that “the best is yet to come” makes Americans stress the future rather than the past or present; we generally have optimistic  expectations

  1. Action/Work Orientation

Active engagement and planning is seen as useful. “Don’t just stand there, do something” is a basic American attitude. One’s identity is derived significantly from what one does for a living. Busy is good.

  1. Informality

Emphasis is on a casual approach to many things including social interactions, clothes, and communication styles.  

  1. Directness, Openness, Honesty

Sincerity is thought to be demonstrated by the degree of open and frank discussion involved. Honesty is equated with a certain bluntness and directness. Little ritualism is tolerated and “telling it like it is” admired.

  1. Practicality & Efficiency

“What works” is valued, realistic assessments preferred to philosophic speculations, and making things "better" and "faster" applauded. 

  1. Materialism & Acquisitiveness

Acquiring goods and services is a natural reward for hard work, and doing so seen as a reasonable goal.