Human Values and Sophistication Interaction Theory

Paul Goren, Brianna Smith, Matthew Motta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Political sophistication systematically affects the structure, crystallization, and use of political values, but it remains unclear if sophistication manifests similar effects on human values. This paper integrates Shalom Schwartz (Adv Exp Soc Psychol 25:1–65, 1992, J Soc Issues 50:19–45, 1994) theory of human values with sophistication interaction theory to examine the degree to which education and political interest condition the structure, crystallization, and use of an important subset of values. We theorize that human values are (1) identically structured and equally crystallized in sophistication-stratified populations and (2) that relationships between human values and ideological judgments grow stronger at higher levels of sophistication. Using data from a nationally representative sample of 10,765 Americans, we compare extremely sophisticated individuals (e.g., people with doctorates) and extremely unsophisticated individuals (e.g., high school dropouts) to demonstrate that neither education nor political interest affect value structure and crystallization. Sophistication has real, if somewhat limited, effects on value usage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-73
Number of pages25
JournalPolitical Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Data and code to replicate the analyses can be found at . This project was funded by a grant to the senior author from the Russell Sage Foundation (award number 83-15-28). GfK relies on a random sampling technique—address based sampling—to recruit respondents into its online panel. This stands in contrast to other online samples in which people self-select into the panel and are matched to population benchmarks via post-hoc weights.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Human values
  • Measurement invariance
  • Political sophistication
  • Symbolic and operational ideology


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