Measuring Needs

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Needs are abstract and the basic process for measuring needs is the same as that described in Measuring Abstract Concepts.

Multiple different multi-item scales have been developed for measuring needs. One of the more popular is Schwarz’s Human Values Scale, which is used to understand differences between people in their values (i.e., their central goals in life). The scale contains ten different dimensions, as Schwarz’s theory is that almost all differences between cultures can be explained using these ten dimensions. Each dimension is measured with two or more items, where people are asked to indicate whether the people described are:

Very much like me
Like me
Somewhat like me
A little like me
Not like me
Not like me at all 

The items below are a version of the scale used in the European Social Survey:

VALUE and central goal Items that measure each value
Power: Social status and prestige, control or dominance over people and resources. It is important to him to be rich. He wants to have a lot of money and expensive things.

It is important to him to get respect from others. He wants people to do what he says.

Achievement: Personal success through demonstrating competence according to social standards. It is important to him to show his abilities. He wants people to admire what he does.

Being very successful is important to him. He hopes people will recognize his achievements.

Hedonism: Pleasure and sensuous gratification for oneself. He seeks every chance he can to have fun. It is important to him to do things that give him pleasure.

Having a good time is important to him. He likes to "spoil" himself.

Stimulation: Excitement, novelty, and challenge in life He likes surprises and is always looking for new things to do. He thinks it is important to do lots of different things in life.

He looks for adventures and likes to take risks. He wants to have an exciting life.

Self-direction: Independent thought and action choosing, creating, exploring. Thinking up new ideas and being creative is important to him. He likes to do things in his own original way.

It is important to him to make his own decisions about what he does. He likes to be free and not depend on others.

Universalism: Understanding, appreciation, tolerance and protection for the welfare of all people and for nature. He thinks it is important that every person in the world should be treated equally. He believes everyone should have equal opportunities in life.

It is important to him to listen to people who are different from him. Even when he disagrees with them, he still wants to understand them.

He strongly believes that people should care for nature. Looking after the environment is important to him.

Benevolence: Preservation and enhancement of the welfare of people with whom one is in frequent personal contact. It is very important to him to help the people around him. He wants to care for their well-being.

It is important to him to be loyal to his friends. He wants to devote himself to people close to him.

Tradition: Respect, commitment and acceptance of the customs and ideas that one's culture or religion impose on the individual. It is important to him to be humble and modest. He tries not to draw attention to himself.

Tradition is important to him. He tries to follow the custom handed down by his religion or his family.

Conformity: Restraint of actions, inclinations, and impulses likely to upset or harm others and violate social expectations or norms. It is important to him always to behave properly. He wants to avoid doing anything people would say is wrong.

He believes that people should do what they are told. He thinks people should follow rules at all times, even when no-one is watching.

Security: Safety, harmony and stability of society, of relationships, and of self. It is important to him to live in secure surroundings. He avoids anything that might endanger his safety.

It is important to him that the government ensures his safety against all threats. He wants the state to be strong so it can defend its citizens.