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Working paper

Basic human values of Russians: both different from and similar to other Europeans

Magun V., Rudnev M.
The basic values of the Russian population and the population of 31 European countries were compared with data obtained by the Schwartz Questionnaire, embedded into the fourth round of the European Social Survey. Conclusions about similarities and differences of basic human values between Russia and other European countries confirm the thesis that Russia is a country which shares a general logic of cultural and social development with the rest of the world and which has a lot in common with countries of a similar economic level and recent political history. In most value comparisons, Russia appeared to be closer to Post-Communist and Mediterranean countries than to Western European or Nordic countries. The fact that Russians are less committed than most Europeans to the values of caring, tolerance, equality, and ecology, and, conversely, more committed than most Europeans to the competitive “zero-sum” values of personal success, wealth, and power, confirms the validity of current moral criticisms of mass values and morals in Russia. The other disturbing fact is the relatively low commitment of Russians to the values of Openness to Change and, conversely, a strong focus on Conservation. So basic values of Russians create a cultural barrier to the development of an innovation-based economy and to the societal development as a whole. Thanks to a shift from country-level analysis to individual- and group-level analysis, we challenge the notion of the “average Russian” and demonstrate that the Russian value majority consists of two subtypes. Russia also has a sizable value minority and its members share values non-typical for most Russians. Two value minorities, which embrace 19% of the Russian population, are more committed to values of Openness and Self-Transcendence than the rest of the Russian population. These value groups are typical for European countries with more prosperous and happy populations and we can hypothesize that in Russia they are also resource groups for the country’s advancement.