The circular structure of values: The case of China

Eva Heim, Holger Steinmetz, Matthew D. Zeigenfuse, Andreas Maercker, Juergen Margraf
Published Online:
06 Oct 2016
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 53 Issue 5

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This study examined the circular structure of values in China. The circular structure is a central element of Schwartz value theory and visualises the idea that some values are similar while others conflict with one another. Whereas numerous studies addressed the question whether the circular structure of values can be generalised cross‐culturally, results for China are inconclusive. In this paper, we argue that taking a closer look at China provides a challenge to the circular structure and allows for drawing conclusions regarding the limits versus generalizability of Schwartz' theory. For this purpose, we first conduct a re‐analysis of Chinese data from a former meta‐analysis (Study 1) and second, present results from a large study of 10,652 Chinese college students (Study 2). Results of Study 1 revealed that graphical representation of the circular structure matched theoretical expectations but five out of six samples showed relatively bad fit to the theorised structure. By contrast, data in Study 2 showed a good model fit. As an overall conclusion, the circular structure is well supported in the Chinese context, and small sample sizes in previous studies might have caused the imperfect match to the prototypical circular structure.

© 2016 International Union of Psychological Science