Unlocking the potential of

human values

Common Cause is a non-profit that works to champion and reflect the human values that underpin our care for one another and our living planet in mainstream culture. 

What do we
mean by
human values?

WHAT ARE VALUES?

Values are the principles or standards that we each carry through our lives and that guide and inform our thoughts, attitudes and actions. They influence, and are influenced by, our experience of the society in which we each live. Our values help determine what is important to us and shape how we interact with other people and the more-than-human world.

WHY ARE VALUES
IMPORTANT?

Values are important influences in many aspects of our lives, such as how and if we vote, what we buy, our choice of friends, our ecological footprints, and our personal wellbeing. They also influence how we act on about social and environmental issues, such as climate change, global poverty and racism. If we are to overcome the world’s most pressing challenges, we need to foreground the human values that underpin our care for each other and the wider world.

WHAT DO WE MEAN BY INTRINSIC AND EXTRINSIC VALUES?​

Some values are referred to as extrinsic values. These values rely on external approval or rewards - such as wealth, power or public image. Other values are referred to as intrinsic values. These values are more inherently rewarding - such as community, love for friends and family and creativity. There is no such thing as a good or a bad value - to live well-rounded lives we need to be able to draw on a wide range. But it is also important that these values are kept in balance.

How can values lead to a better world?

When we look at some of the key sources of influence in mainstream culture - for example, government, the media, advertising - we can see that these emphasise some values more than others. Through a celebration of wealth, celebrity and consumerism, our culture has become skewed towards extrinsic values. Although most people still prioritise intrinsic values more than extrinsic values, this constant reminder of the importance of extrinsic values undermines social and environmental care. Building our social institutions, business and public services in ways that reflect intrinsic values would deepen our care for one another, strengthen responses to social and environmental issues, and improve personal wellbeing.

Our
resources

Our work draws on collaboration with some of the world’s leading social psychologists. Learn more about values and the ways in which values-led thinking is being applied in practice in our resources section. 

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The Common Cause Handbook

An accessible overview of some of the key ideas and social science behind the work of Common Cause.

Perceptions Matter

Common Cause surveyed 1000 adults across Britain to find out what they value and what they think their fellow citizens value.

Promoting positive values in arts and culture

This guide draws on learning from a year-long collaboration between Manchester Museum and Common Cause Foundation.

Work with us

To help build a society in which key social institutions validate and reflect the values that most people prioritise, we work with the diverse networks and organisations that help to shape and sustain the mainstream culture in which we live. This includes NGOs, arts and culture organisations, artists, community groups, government departments and many more. We carry out research, host workshops, provide bespoke training and work directly with partners to bring values of community, equality and environmental conservation to life.  

The Common Cause newsletter

Sign up below to receive our monthly newsletter with updates on our work and opportunities, as well as the latest in values research and projects towards a more just and sustainable world 

NEW
RESOURCES

BLOGS

TRAINING
OPPORTUNITIES

PROJECT
UPDATES

NEWS FROM
THE VALUES COMMUNITY

Oct
12

Living our multi-issue lives

How could an understanding of shared values transform the way we, as civil society actors, understand our work?
Oct
06

The Activist, and why we must consider the cultural footprint of our work

What can we learn from CBS' axed show, The Activist?
Jun
01
blog Instrumental use erodes sacred values

Instrumental use erodes sacred values

A guest blog exploring recent research on sacred values and the ways that people’s commitment to them can be eroded when they see them invoked for financial or reputational gain.
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