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Introducing the voluntary sector
Introducing the voluntary sector

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2.1 Values and behaviour

Your work on Activities 1 and 2 might have got you thinking about how values could influence your behaviour and actions in the following areas:

  • where you work or volunteer
  • who your friends are
  • how you interact with others
  • why you might have been in conflict with another person, your team or your manager (if you have one).

You can build on this by thinking about statements such as ‘I like volunteering for the local hospital’. This is considered to be an ‘attitude’ rather than a value and stems from a desire to do some social good. Other factors may also influence actions: in this example, choosing to volunteer may also be about filling spare time or gaining useful skills for obtaining paid work. Therefore, theorists argue that values are the bedrock for attitudes, which guide people’s actions (see Figure 3). A caveat to this statement is that people do not always act in a rational way: human nature can be inconsistent and contradictory.

Described image
Figure 3 How values drive our actions

Thinking about how values and attitudes influence or drive your behaviour can be important in a work context. Imagine you are asked to carry out a task that does not fit with your values. Would this result in conflict?

For some people in the workplace, there is such a mismatch between their own individual values and what they are asked to do (or something they have witnessed), that they are driven to the practice of ‘whistle-blowing’. This means reporting an organisation to the media. There have been many high-profile examples of this in the health service (poor care, abuse and neglect in Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust) and in technological scandals (Julian Assange and Edward Snowden). Legislation now exists in many countries to protect whistle-blowers and in the UK a charity, Public Concern at Work, provides support.

Activity 3 Values and actions

Timing: Allow approximately 5 minutes

Using your work on the questionnaire in Activity 2, choose one of the value statements that was particularly important to you. Use the statement to write out your own version of Figure 3. It could be based on something you have already taken action on or something you would like to act on in the future.

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Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).


Did you find this activity difficult or straightforward? Sometimes it is difficult to take what might appear to be fairly ‘abstract’ or general statements and translate them into actions. If you are thinking about volunteering or working in a voluntary or community organisation, you could also use this activity for career planning.