Study title
Value socialization in early adulthood. A 10 years comparison of career patterns and quality of life
Ref study 5827
Study language English
Contributing institutions
  • Evaluation
  • Arbeit
  • Jugend
  • Wertewandel
  • Lebenslauf
  • Laufbahnmuster
Geographical space
Regionen: Aarau, Basel, Bern, St. Gallen, Zürich
  • Switzerland
In the project, value orientations are studied in the context of the initial years of the work career. The question raised is how and what training and work biographical experiences in adolescence and young adulthood codetermine the development and socialization of value orientations. We examine whether, and how, value orientations, as well as vocational training and work experience, affect a young person’s career, both in work and outside of work. In addition, the project examines whether there has been a shift in values among business trainees in the period from 1987 to 1997. The issue studied is how such a shift in values is related to changing conditions affecting job training and training experiences.
In order to differentiate life-cycle and cohort effects, both a quantitative longitudinal study over a time span of ten years and a cross-sectional study of trainees (1987 and 1997) were carried out. In addition, work is currently in progress on an in-depth, qualitative interview study with approximately 20 persons selected from the ten-year panel. The transition phase from training to life on the job can also be studied using longitudinal data from Core Project AEQUAS (3 years, 3 questionnaires).
The (partly identical) questionnaires serve to tap the following characteristic areas: value orientation, expectations with regard to work, identification with company values, evaluation of work conditions, satisfaction with training or job, well being, achievement motivation, control beliefs (internal/external), factors in one’s life situation – both at work and outside of work, biographical facts with regard to job and training, stereotypes of the roles of men and women, models of the ideal family and job, expectations with regard to future work career, and future job plans.
(1) Longitudinal study: In 1987, all 16- to 18-year-old bank and office apprentices in a large Swiss bank in German-speaking Switzerland (N = 980) filled out a written questionnaire. In 1992, the same persons (N = 444, response rate 55%) were surveyed. In 1997, the third survey took place (sent to 660 addresses of persons in the original 1987 sample, N = 352, response rate 55%). And in the fall of 1998, qualitative interviews will be conducted with a sub-sample of approximately 20 persons.
(2) Cross-sectional study: In a large Swiss bank, surveys of all business bank apprentices were carried out in 1987 (N=980) and in 1997 (N=758). We now have data from both German-speaking and French-speaking Switzerland.
(3) Longitudinal study of the Core Project: The first survey was conducted in 1997 with approximately 1500 Swiss youth in 5 skilled trade areas at the end of their apprenticeships at their vocational schools (bank business employee, electronics, sales, nursing, cook). The second survey, by mail, is in progress now in the summer of 1998. The third survey is planned for 1999.
Initial findings of the studies (1) and (2) above indicate that there has been little change in the relative importance of individual value orientations, both longitudinally and in the cross-section. Good social relationships are the most important to young employees, followed by (in descending order of importance) partnership and family, training and job career, social adaptation and security, material well being, social participation and change, social prestige and power. Young employees rated artistic-creative self-development as the least important. Thus, changes in the periods of five and ten years show only relative shifts within a value system that is on the whole quite stable.
Some of the questions have already been examined in more detail. Unpublished congress manuscripts and journal contributions have been prepared.
Longitudinal study (10 years, 3 waves, panel study)
In the fall of 1997, the third survey was conducted by mail with the former bank and office apprentices. In all, 352 persons between the ages of 26 and 28 responded (response rate 55%, whereby 660 addresses of the original 980 had been found). Data from all three waves of the study is thus available on 236 (24%) of the former apprentices. In 1997, 90% of those questioned were employed, of these 56% in the banking industry.
To construct the scales, the data were analyzed using different methods (factor and reliability analyses, among others). Value orientations show very similar factor structures in 1987, 1992, and 1997. The 29 value orientation items may be reduced to eight factors (factor scores scales). The scales were named as follows: (1) personal autonomy and identity, (2) high socioeconomic status, (3) training and career success, (4) social adaptation and security, (5) societal participation, (6) cultural participation and creative activity, (7) good social relationships, (8) partnership and family. Three additional sum scales were constructed for orientation towards: (a) adaptation to society, (b) autonomy and self-development, and (c) social relationships.
Evaluation of the data on changes in value orientation in the period between 1987 and 1997 shows a steady increase in the significance of personal identity and autonomy for orientation. A steady decrease in importance is found for orientation to adaptation and security, cultural participation and creative activity, as well as for good social relationships. Changes in the remaining value orientations show a less linear course. For example, an orientation towards high socioeconomic status decreases from 1987 to 1992 and then shows a slight rise from 1992 to 1997. Training and job career, societal participation and family and children show an initial increase in importance from 1987 to 1992 - only to decline between 1992 and 1997. A reasonable interpretation of these statistical changes would be premature at this point in the investigation. Additional data evaluation is needed which will take objective features of the job and life situation and job career into consideration and also include
subjectiveaspects, such as job experiences, quality of life, well being, and more. It has already been established, however, that both the individual values of value orientations and the total pattern of values show considerable changes. Stability coefficients, which are lower than those found for the "classical" personality traits, indicate that value orientations showed comparatively stronger dynamics in the developmental and socialization context of the last ten years following entry into the work force.
Cross-sectional study
In the same large bank that was surveyed in 1987, a complete survey of all apprentices in bank business apprenticeships was conducted in June of 1997. The two cohorts, of 1997 (N=786) and of 1987 (N=982), are being compared.
A first step in evaluation investigated value orientations of the two cohorts in terms of dimensionality. Comparison of factor structures yielded a large degree of structural identity of the value orientations with seven factors (factor score scales; ranking reflects mean value of importance): (1) personality development and identity, (2) partnership and family, (3) training and job success, (4) social adaptation and security, (5) high socioeconomic status, (6) societal participation, and (7) cultural participation and creative activity. In addition, sum scales were constructed.
The two cohorts show the same basic overall pattern of the scores measuring value orientations: interest in training and job success remains one of the most important in life. Even more significance is attributed to the development of a stable personality, or identity, and to partnership and family. In contrast, distinctly lower priorities are placed on societal and cultural participation in both cohorts. In the foreground, then, stand value orientations that aim to achieve the maintenance and development of important economic, personal and social resources. They may be seen as basic factors determining quality of life in adulthood.
The patterns of value orientations have thus shown no fundamental changes in the last ten years. Even so, differentiated cohort comparisons do indicate that there are clear tendencies towards value changes in the 1990’s. To reveal these tendencies, gender and language regions have to be distinguished in most cases as well.
Initial results: Apprentices today clearly place more importance on personality-related values such as independence, sincerity, tolerance and equal chance than in 1987. Partnership and family, on the other hand, take clearly less priority for both young men and women, but particularly for men. In contrast, training and job career have gained in importance in German-speaking Switzerland, while for French-speaking apprentices, they have become less important. The role of social adaptation and security has also declined for French-speaking youth, but for German-speaking youth, this has clearly increased. There has been a distinct increase in an orientation towards high social and economic status (power and money) for male apprentices, while for females, from either language region, this has decreased. Societal participation (in politics, church, social institutions, etc.) now plays a less important role in German-speaking Switzerland, but has become clearly more important in French-speaking regions.
Cultural participation (artistic activity in the public sphere and creative self-development) is less important to the apprentices of today than to those in 1987, particularly in French-speaking Switzerland. Young women in German-speaking regions are an exception here, however. For them, this form of cultural participation has become more important.
All in all, the following change in values has occurred among business apprentices in the last ten years: It appears that the direction of the classical shift in values from 1965 to 1985 has not continued. Instead, our initial results indicate that there is now an opposite tendency. There is an increased orientation towards material and conventional values (mainly work and job success, adaptation and security, high socioeconomic status for men) concurring with the decreased importance of self-development related values (particularly societal and cultural participation). This shift in values during the last ten years does not appear to apply equally to young men and women, which suggests that there are relationships here to changing gender roles and gender-specific aspects of quality of life.
For further evaluation, changes in value patterns were investigated using cluster analyses. Two value groups are shown to have central importance: (a) orientation towards social adaptation, security, career achievements and material well being, and (b) orientation towards autonomy, self-development, enjoyment and societal change. The apprentices were assigned to four different categories, or types, that differ in their orientation towards adaptation or autonomy: conventionalists, realists, idealists, and the resigned.
For the young men studied, is interesting to note that both in 1987 and in 1997, conventionalists (35%) and realists (34%) made up the most frequent types. However, the relative proportion of conventionalists and realists has increased greatly. In 1997, there are fewer idealists and resigned men than in 1987. This development suggests that the orientation towards security, adaptation and career achievements is on the rise. Self-development, in contrast, is less important today.
The young women present a different picture. Their values have hardly changed in ten years. Conventionalists are the least represented (15%). The largest group is made up of realists, followed by idealists and the resigned. It appears that women continue to hold different values from their male colleagues. In 1997, we find only half as many conventionalists among women than among men, while the proportion of idealist or resigned women is greater than that of men.
In total, the results indicate that there has been a change in values in the last ten years that does not apply equally to men and women. Men’s reactions seem to be more sensitive to the changing demands and opportunities in the world of work. The increase in conventionalists can be interpreted as a reaction to uncertainties in the world of employment, the future of jobs and a secure livelihood. The high stability of value types among women raises some questions as to why women may be reacting differently to these changes in the world of work and training. Do they see their work careers as less critical because they can switch to roles in the private and leisure-time spheres? No conclusive answers may be given at the current stage of the project.
Methods (description)
This project should be a contribution partially to overcome this shortcomings by a "10 years panel": Young people who participated in surveys in 1987 and 1992 at their age of 16-18 years during their vocational training (apprentices) and at their age of 21-23 years during their early stage as trained employees will participate a third time in 1997 at their age of 26-28 years. This longitudinal study aimes at a description and explication of individual changes in values during the life course of the early adulthood. Additionally, a new cohort of apprentices at their age of 16-18 years during their vocational training will be investigated also in 1997 and will be compared with the 1987 cohort of apprentices. This cross-sectional study aims at a description and explication of generational changes in values of young employees during the last decade. A sub-sample of this new cohort will be a part of the first panel of the total sample of young people (apprentices) investigated in the core project.
Erhegungsverfahren: Qualitatives Interview; Standardisierte Befragung schriftlich
Methods (instruments)
Replicated study No
  • Rimann, M.; Frei, S.; Udris, I.. 1999. Vorstellungen über die zukünftige Arbeitswelt beim Übergang von der Ausbildung ins Berufsleben. In: Hansen, H.; et al. (Hrsg.), "Bildung und Arbeit. Das Ende einer Differenz? / Formation et travail. La fin d’une distinction?" Aarau: Sauerländer, pp. 101-118.
  • Rimann, M.; Frei, S.; Udris, I.. 1998. Jugend heute: nicht nur genussorientiert. ETH Bulletin, Nr. 270, S. 60-61.
  • Rimann, M.; Udris, I.. 1994. Wertorientierungen bei jungen Bankangestellten. Panorama Berufsbildung, Nr. 30, 6-8.
Financed by
Ethical approval No
Study type
Data availability
Source (Updates) Web
Date created 27.04.2018
Date modified 27.04.2018
Start - End date 01.02.1997 - 28.11.1999