Analysing values, perspectives and decisions: view, values, and actions

Exploring people’s views, values and actions with reference to the head, heart, and hand helps students build a well-rounded picture of what someone thinks, why they think it, and an understanding of their action(s).

1. Views and actions

  • Identifying people's views:

Not only in the Social Sciences but in life generally, it is important to understand other people’s views. Other words we can use for view are: opinion, point of view, or viewpoint.

When looking for someone’s view follow these steps:

    1. Skim the information and look for anything with speech marks around it 'like this'.
    2. Also look for words like 'said' or 'stated' or 'claimed'.
    3. Are they talking about the issue?
    4. If they are then you have found their view.
  • Identifying people’s actions

Now you need to find that person’s action.  What did they do, what are they doing, or what will they do because of their view?

Sometimes this is easy because the article is about an action, or about something that has happened.

What if they don’t say what they did?

Remember: speaking to the media is an action. So is forming a group, or complaining to the local council or government, or writing lots of emails.

You can use the Taxonomy of Action resource to talk about different actions people can take as well as identify different types of actions. This resource can also help students think about what kind of social action they might take in response to a social issue. Note: for junior students you might want to simplify the Taxonomy by removing (or rewording) some of the more obscure actions.

When analysing people’s actions it is important to consider why someone took that action and not another kind of action.

Resource: Taxonomy of Action

Taxonomy of Action

Aric McBay, Lierre Keith, and Derrick Jensen, Deep green resistance : strategy to save the planet, New York: 2011.

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2. Values

The analogy of an iceberg when thinking about views, values and actions is helpful. Visible things include people’s actions, views and behaviours – what people say and do. Why people say and do things is not so obvious, they remain ‘hidden’ from view. Therefore, it is harder to analyse people’s values.

The Map of Human Values is useful for students to start identifying and describing people’s values. The diagram is divided into wedges and it can help students compare and contrast different people’s values. For example,

  • People whose values to do with [        ] are often in conflict with people whose values are to do with [          ] because…..  You can see this in other examples such as…
  • People with a values base of [     ] can sometimes work with people who are more focused on [       ] because….
  • It is hard to see these two groups being able to agreeing unless...

People are often a mix of value systems and change between them depending on the issue. This means it’s good to write: 'On this issue X draws on values to do with [      ].'

Resource: Map of Human Values

Map of Human Values

M. Harcourt, A. Milligan, B. Wood (eds.), Teaching social studies for critical, active citizenship in Aotearoa New Zealand, Wellington: 2016

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Head, Heart, and Hand: To help explain someone’s viewpoint, as well as to explain why an action was taken, it is useful to consider people’s emotions (the affective domain). The Wheel of Emotions can help students identify different emotional states and apply these to people/groups they are investigating.

Resource: Wheel of Emotions

Wheel of Emotions

Based on the work of Professor Robert Plutchik

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