The Main Differences Between Values ​​and Principles, With Examples

Differences between values ​​and principles

It is not at all uncommon for multiple words in our language to end up being used as if they were synonymous concepts, despite the fact that there are often key nuances that differentiate them and give them distinctive value.

A clear example of this is found in the assumption of values ​​and principles, since both refer to guides and heuristics through which every human being conducts himself in society.

In this article we will delve into the differences between values ​​and principles using examples from each other with the purpose of clarifying an issue of great importance to understand what motivates people to act and feel in a certain way.

Differences between values ​​and principles

Both values ​​and principles summarize ideal, intangible concepts that have a close relationship with the way we feel and act.

We all harbor within ourselves an ethical system from which we develop intra and interpersonal behaviors, being fundamental for understanding the goals that we forge as appropriate. And although it may seem that they have a relationship of equivalence, the truth is that they are clearly different.

From now on we proceed to define each of them, proposing examples that facilitate the understanding of their differences.


Values ​​have a deep subjective charge, and They define the importance that each person gives to specific aspects of life and/or their relationships with others. They are, for this reason, unique for each person. When consistent behavior is carried out with them, the person feels satisfied; but when he does not act according to what they propose, he experiences intense emotional distress. They are generally abstract elements, as we will see later, and can be modified over the years.

Values ​​are usually acquired from early childhood and are imbued with tremendous social and cultural connotations, since they largely depend on the context in which one lives. The education provided by both parents and the educational system, and also the precepts that emanate from religion or the legal framework, can have their influence on the values ​​that are definitively adopted as their own. In any case They cannot be understood as universal and immutable laws but are subject to the historical moment and may vary.

Below we review the most relevant ones, summarized in general categories that include those that frequently occur together in the same individual.

1. Industriousness

Industriousness is a value that is oriented to the scope of work and the relationships established within it. it implies the willingness to develop relevant skills and abilities in the chosen professional field (“be a good worker”). People who make it their bastion dedicate a lot of time to the activities that are related to their position, since they consider that high productivity is the foundation that builds the perception they have about themselves.

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This dedication pursues the pursuit of excellence and is achievement-oriented. The industriousness implies a motivation towards autonomy but it also tries to establish relationships of mutual growth when they are profitable (in economic terms and/or in terms of acquiring influence).

2. Socialization and collaboration

Socialization is a value that implies a concrete motivation to relate to other people, and to do so honestly, showing loyalty and a sense of cooperation. Those who hold it They seek to establish close relationships and make them a vehicle for their personal development, using balance and social reciprocity as basic tools. It implies the belief that “unity is strength”, but as long as the result of the synergies resonates with a shared benefit.

3. Dedication and friendship

This value subsumes the willingness to give of oneself to others, prioritize the well-being of those around one and ensure their happiness. It supposes the antagonism of individualism and advocates directing efforts to satisfy the needs of the environment beyond those that are their own.

In this regard, it adds the sense of altruism and prosociality, since both seek to provide help in clear situations of need. Those who include this value in their repertoire experience other people’s difficulties with compassion, which is why empathy is one of their central qualities.

It is a value characterized by the deliberate search for goodness and kindness in social relationships, which is why it upholds in a particularly powerful way the role of friendship and advocates for relationships in which there is no hint of violence or coercion. Generosity, as well as the intense desire to share what you have or what you know are the most obvious signs that it is part of a human being’s system.

4. Openness and optimism

This value promotes an attitude of openness towards the uncertainties of life, and a willingness to learn from the difficulty that the future may bring. It implies the vision of an existence focused on the present moment, which seeks stillness and calm as the foundations through which to build stability of mind and body. It does not imply docility in the face of chance or circumstances brought about by fate, but rather an optimistic position about what will happen.

This value involves the search for positive emotions and the acceptance of negative ones, which stand as legitimate experiences subject to transience.

5. Consistency

Consistency is a value associated with the struggle to achieve one’s goals despite the impediments that may arise over time, without giving up the effort. It is associated with a sense of personal responsibility not guilt, assuming one’s own acts as dependent on the will.

This way of understanding them gives the person a great sense of control over their individual circumstances This internal attribution helps to keep alive the effort to develop potential, and also to take charge of internal experiences.

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Patience is also a key component of this value, understood as the ability to delay receiving rewards and/or to actively persevere in their pursuit.

6. Respect and balance

Respect is a value consisting of protecting one’s own dignity as a human being and acting in the same way with respect to that of others, defending one’s own and others’ integrity against any attempt at humiliation or degradation. At this value attention to diversity is included and the consideration that rights or duties are common to all by virtue of existing. Thus, a basic balance would be sought from which we would all be depositaries of an incoercible honor.


Principles connect directly with values, although generally translate into much more operational terms from which we can evaluate the consequences of our own actions.

For example, if one of the values ​​on which we base our lives is respect, we will forge principles that align with it, such as “treating people in a kind and honest manner”; while if it is dedication that has a central position reserved, we will consider “not exercising any form of violence on others” as valid.

As can be seen, they are presented in the form of specific behaviors that allow us to act in coherence with the values ​​that guide us, considering that to the extent that we adjust to them we will be able to act consistently with what we consider important. Therefore, they guide decisions about what we consider right or wrong, standing as “laws” that govern the part of life that unfolds on a daily basis and that has an impact on others.

The principles refer to much more basic and universal aspects than the values ​​themselves. These are essential issues that are part of the very nature of the human being, and that contrary to what is stated regarding values, make up a set of rules shared by all societies (so the individual does not deliberately choose them).

Let’s see below the great transversal principles whose deep knowledge is basic to choose values ​​consistent with our authentic existential goals.

1. Life

The right to life It is a universal principle shared by all organized human societies, to the point that they usually consider their potential violation in the legal system that articulates the laws and regulations that promote coexistence. In this case, it is explicitly stated that the very fact of existence merits guarantees aimed at safeguarding dignity, physical or emotional integrity; and the possibility of accessing all the development opportunities that time and place allow (education, health, etc.).

This principle is, with absolute certainty, the most basic of all those that will be described below. In one way or another, others are subsumed within it.

2. Goodness and evil

The principle of good and evil is a dilemma inherent to the human condition. About him what is correct and what is not correct for a specific society at a given time is established and it has been the scenario in which religion has traditionally been deployed (taking advantage of the space on which emotion and behavior are built).

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Also the practical aspects of philosophy, such as ethics, have sought a universal delimitation of these opposites. Thus, both extremes of the balance occur in all cultures, they are just explained in a different way.

3. Humanity

The principle of humanity is that by which a person is distinguished from the rest of the animals that populate the earth, assigning to each one the attributes that characterize them as a member of their very extensive fraternity. It supposes the implicit recognition of what differentiates it from the rest ; although at the same time attributing to it the condition of absolute equality, belonging and assimilation.

Every human being is recognized as having the ability to reason, the right to seek happiness and the ability to express their uniqueness within the framework of coexistence.

4. Freedom

Freedom is a universal principle, through which It is expected that each human being can develop their maximum potential and express their individuality without pressures or limitations. It is associated with the possibility of choosing what is considered appropriate for oneself from among all the available options, to the extent that the rights of other people who may be involved in the decision are safeguarded. Freedom is also linked to the responsibility of assuming errors that arise from actions.

Human societies can reserve the extraordinary resource of depriving a subject of his freedom when he commits acts contrary to any of the principles that have been described so far, being one of the most severe penalties that can be applied.

5. Equality

The principle of equality is based on the conviction that every human being, regardless of where they come from, their circumstances or their beliefs, has a symmetrical relationship with others in relation to the rights that protect them and the duties required of him. Thus, vehemently Any discriminatory act based on sex, appearance, ethnicity, sexual orientation is considered unfair creed or health condition.

Equality is an ideal principle to which all society aspires, although it is not always easy to achieve. The very roles that are assigned to some or others based on various attributes (sex, place of origin, aptitudes, etc.) constrain development opportunities following arbitrary criteria. The fight for equality is the eternal demand of human groups that perceive themselves as oppressed or hurt.