World Values in an Assessment Context

March 10, 2009 at 3:31 pm 2 comments

clip_image002Last week a good friend of mine, Eugene Burke of SHL, introduced me to the Values Map, developed by The World Values Survey (WVS).  The map shown to the right came from the PhD work of John Sponney that was shared with Eugene some years ago.

Divided by categories like Self-Enhancement, Individual Dynamics, Group Dynamics, and Consideration for Others, the diagram clusters countries together in cultural patterns to explain educational standards, which directly affect the value systems of individuals.

It was great to have my friend reveal to me the potential impacts of culture in the assessment context.  No perfect models exist for cultural analysis, especially in the context of current migration patterns, but consider the following possibilities:

  • Folks with Anglo-Saxon tendencies might have more of an analytical approach to the individual.  In regard to testing, organizations and individuals may draw more comfort from the results of an assessment of knowledge/skills/aptitude/attitudes that from an interview or knowledge of a person’s family background.
  • Whereas, in a Latin European context, tests are given less credibility and face-to-face interview and confirming that an individual can stand behind their presentations, thesis, etc., holds more credence in the eyes of the beholder.  An individual might undergo a series of face-to-face interviews that allows the interviewee to express themselves, which also gives the interviewer room to establish an opinion based on an emotional connection.

Try judging which is right and which is wrong and enjoy the barrage of comments!  Some people passionately believe in a measured/testing approach and others in a personal connection/interview/q&a approach.  From my point of view value comes from considering the knowledge, skills, abilities and attitudes required and the context of the assessment (couching, decision making, diagnostic, prescriptive, etc) and then using the right balance of one-on-one and testing approaches.

Within the diagram it’s easy to see the intuitive differences that might drive us to use different kinds of assessments. An example that jumped out at me relates to a contrast in the values system. Cheating, it could be concluded, is wrong.  But the minute we take into consideration the cultural context we might discover that cheating may be thought of as solidarity within a culture that promotes collectivism and loyalty.  This adds the nuance that “helping” is not “cheating”.

The clusters represented within the diagram are oversimplified based on location and migration patterns will cause some cultural traits to commingle, which will cause further challenges to conducting multi-lingual assessments of knowledge, skills and abilities that are valid and reliable.  But let’s not give up; let’s reminded ourselves of the differences in order to provide the right stimulus in the right context in order to track the right measure in a timely fashion and then provide the right feedback to the right person at the right time!

Every cloud has a silver lining and every silver lining has a cloud!


Entry filed under: Assessment, Professional Life, Types Of Assessments. Tags: , , , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Stefanie  |  March 12, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    Great blog. Very interesting read! Keep it up!
    I liked the comment on cheating, might use that in a presentation 😉

    • 2. Eric Shepherd  |  March 13, 2009 at 1:38 am

      Yes, you and others are welcome to use anything that I post on my blog. Enjoy!


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