Our beliefs and values drive our behaviours but knowing the difference between them can be a little confusing. People use both to guide all that they do in their actions and behaviour and they both help to form their attitudes towards different things, but essentially, they are different. Let’s take a look at how they differ.
Beliefs are the convictions that we generally hold to be true, usually without actual proof or evidence. Beliefs are assumptions we hold to be true.
They can be connected to religion as an example. Religious beliefs could include a belief that God created the earth in seven days. Other religions have their own set of beliefs.
Beliefs that are not religious could include: that all people are created equal, which would guide us to treat everyone regardless of sex, race, religion, age, education, status etc with equal respect. Conversely someone else might believe that all people are not created equal, which results in racist and sexist values and attitudes.
Our beliefs grow from what we see, hear, experience, read and think about. From these things we develop an opinion that we hold to be true and unmovable at that time. From our beliefs we derive our values, which can either be correct or incorrect when compared with evidence, but nonetheless hold true for us.
Beliefs are basically assumptions that we make about the world, many of which can be taught to us from parents, family, teachers, peers and coaches. Beliefs are contextual: They arise from learned experiences, resulting from the cultural and environmental situations we have faced.
Our values then stem from those beliefs. Our values are things that we deem important and can include concepts like love and connection, equality, freedom, honesty, health and wellness, education, perseverance, loyalty, faithfulness, conservation of the environment and many, many other concepts.
Values are not based on information from the past and they are not contextual. Values are universal. Values transcend contexts because they are based on what is important to us: They arise from the experience of being human.
Values are intimately related to our needs: Whatever we need—whatever is important to us or what is missing from our lives—is what we value. As our life conditions change, and as we mature and grow in our psychological development, our value priorities change. When we use our values to make decisions we focus on what is important to us—what we need to feel a sense of well-being.
It is possible for our beliefs and values to differ over time as we encounter evidence or have experiences that challenge our previously held views.
Conversely, our beliefs and values can also be strengthened or challenged by experience or evidence. For example, you may strengthen a belief that there is a greater spirit at play when you see someone you love recover from a life-threatening illness. But a belief in the greater good of humans could be shaken to the core if you experience something terrible.
We can see that everyone has an internalised system of beliefs and values that they have developed throughout their lives. These may stem from family, upbringing, different groups, peers, environment or religion.
1. Beliefs are concepts that we hold to be true.
2. Beliefs may come from religion, but not always
3. Values are ideas that we hold to be important.
4. Values govern the way we behave, communicate and interact with others
5. Beliefs and values determine our attitudes and opinions.
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