Difference Between Beliefs and Values

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: September 29, 2023


Difference Between Beliefs and Values

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In our day-to-day life, an individual observes a lot of things and also does specific work. An individual helping a senior citizen to cross the road or offering his/her seat to a pregnant woman on the bus. These behaviors or judgments tell oneself about who they are. These petty things and deeds reflect our inner sense of beliefs, values, attitudes, or behavior. These beliefs and values help an individual to set a goal in life. The beliefs and values can be understood by studying the working of both.

A belief is something that one believes and accepts to be true. It can be understood when a person believes something that is a fact or has no evidence behind it. He/she has no personal knowledge in favor of the assumption but still believes it to be true because of the belief of a specific group or majority as a whole. One uses beliefs to understand the world around oneself. An individual's idea of beliefs guide him/her to make better decisions and respond well to tough situations. Beliefs are not formed in a particular time or age. They are delved inside a person from childhood and any other unforgettable prior experience.

Values are the particular standards or principles carried by an individual throughout his/her life. They inform us about our views, thoughts, attitudes, and actions. Values are influenced and influence the existing society in which the individual resides. They motivate people to act one way or the other. Values serve as a guide to human behavior or attitude. They help us to inform our inner thoughts, actions, or beliefs. They prepare an individual to conduct himself/herself properly in social places or settings. However, values are not any sort of short-term or long-term goals, as goals are specific to a single situation for a lifetime.

Beliefs vs Values

Beliefs are the things that we truly believe without any strong evidence. They are the particular assumptions we make about the world and the people living in it. These beliefs influence an individual's thoughts, ideas, behavior, or attitudes significantly. For example- a person believing in ghosts, Santa Claus, or deity, or a person believing in democracy or capital punishment. Beliefs evolve from different sources from where we hear, see, read, and experience. They are generalized. It means some beliefs are not accepted or believed by every individual in society. Say, consuming alcohol is bad. But not every religion will accept this belief.

 Values are those principles that are not based on any information from the past life and are not contextual. It means they are not dependent or related to any other contexts or ideas. Values are universal and arise in a person from his/her experiences. They are specific sorts of beliefs that tell what is important to a person. For example- courage, honesty, freedom, innovation, etc. Good values in a person make them clear, rational, and consistent to make life-changing decisions. Everyone has their values in their life, which can be either considered good or bad for a community or society.

 The concepts of beliefs and values influence an individual in several ways. They govern the behavior and attitudes of oneself. Knowing the difference between them helps one to prepare for personal growth and make better decisions for the future.

Difference Between Beliefs and Values in Tabular Form

Parameters of ComparisonBeliefsValues
DefinitionBeliefs refer to the judgment or assumption that something is true without any sort of evidence.Values refer to the philosophies or standards of behavior with the judgment of one's life.
Semantic DifferentiationBeliefs represent the information an individual has about the thing or thinking.Values focus on abstract ideals and are more abstract than attitudes.
EffectBeliefs affect an individual’s morals.Values affect an individual's behavior and character.
ExamplesFor example- I believe that there is life after death.For example- I value freedom of religion or I value my family.
NatureMost of the beliefs are complex.Most of the values are universal.
ObservationBeliefs are subjective and are influenced by family, teachers, and friends.Values are objective and do not change in the whole life.
ConsistencyBeliefs are consistent when derived from the beliefs previously shared.The consistency of the values differs from person to person.

What are Beliefs?

A belief is an observation of an attitude that whether the assumption is true or not. When an individual believes something, then it means it is taken as a truth. For example- to believe the assumption that ice is cold is comparable to the truth of the simile 'as cold as ice'. Belief does not require any introspection or human self-reflection. For example- people assume if the sun will rise tomorrow or not with the belief of the assumption that it definitely will.

Many contemporary philosophers describe belief as a 'propositional attitude'. Propositions are the ideas or opinions expressed by somebody for something. This means if two of the sentences mean the same thing, then they express the same propositions. But if the two sentences mean different things, then they have different propositions. While a propositional attitude is a mental state of having some attitude about a proposition. When there are different attitudes of the individuals for a thing, then the propositions are the same.

Philosophers have described belief in different ways. American philosopher and writer Jerry Fodor argued that beliefs and desires are relations between individuals and mental representations. According to Chrisholm, 'justified belief depends on what is practically right for the person to believe.' Daniel Dennett and Donald Davidson defined that it is a prior truth that there is no gap between our best judgments of a subject's beliefs and desires and the truth about the subject's beliefs and desires. Paul Churchland believes that beliefs are not ontologically real; i.e. that a future, fully matured neuroscience is likely to not need beliefs.

There are various conceptions of the beliefs that have been proposed. Some of them are:-

  1. Representationalism- According to representationalism, to believe some proposition is to have a representation with the content stored in one's mind, available to be deployed in relevant reasoning. For example- if an individual wants to drink a cold drink, then he/she will retrieve the representation that a cold drink is in the refrigerator, engage in some practical reasoning, and walk toward the kitchen to get a cold drink.
  2. Functionalism- Functionalism is a doctrine that what makes something a mental state of a particular type does not depend on its internal constitution. It depends on the way it functions or the role it plays in the system. For example- watching a traffic light turn into a red signal usually associates it with the belief that the signal is red, which causes the driver to stop the car.
  3. Interpretationism- Interpretataionism is a physiologic or materialist view. The existence of minds in the world does not involve the existence of any nonphysical matter. Some interpretations also endorse the stronger claim that each mental event is a physical event.
  4. Historical – In Ancient Greek, three concepts related to belief, pistis,doxa, and drama were identified. Pistis means trust and confidence, doxa means opinion and acceptance, and drama refers to the positions of a philosopher.

Beliefs are categorized into five major types, which affect our lives accordingly:-

  • Religious Belief – A religious belief is the attitude towards a religious center of faith. For example – Christians believe that Jesus is the son of God. While all religions have perceived beliefs, not all individuals adopt all the beliefs who are identified by the religion.
  • Political Belief – Political belief is a belief or view that has some bearing on issues dealt with by the government. For example – John is active in a local political organization. His manager does not support his political views and warns him to be fixed if he continues to be involved with the group. John believes it to be discriminatory and files a complaint of discrimination based on his political beliefs and activity.
  • Societal Belief – Societal beliefs are the beliefs that constitute the fundamental conceptual knowledge of society. These beliefs must be relevant to the present conditions and state of the society. For example – More than one society may hold a belief that we are democratic or we are engaged in violent conflicts.
  • Philosophical Belief – A Philosophical belief is a strongly and genuinely held belief rather than an opinion or viewpoint. It concerns an important aspect of human life and is worthy of respect. For example – atheism, pacifism, humanism, or the existence of climate change.
  • Spiritual Belief – Spiritual beliefs are the beliefs that include the relationship to a superior being and are related to an existential perspective on life, death, and the nature of reality. For example – Hinduism, polytheism, Taoism and deism.

Nespos (1987) suggested four features of beliefs:

  1. Existential Presumption – Pajares defined existential presumption as "the incontrovertible personal truths everyone holds." They are deeply personal and formed by chance, an experience, or an event. For example – a teacher has beliefs about students' ability, maturity, or laziness, which are labels for entities about the students rather than descriptive terms.
  2. Alternativity – Beliefs are sometimes referred to as alternative worlds or alternative realities which are different from reality.
  3. Affective and evaluative loading belief systems depend on effective and evaluative components more than knowledge systems. Nespor suggested that feelings, moods, and subjective evaluation based on personal preferences may significantly influence one's belief system.
  4. Episodic Structure – A knowledge system is stored in semantic networks, whereas belief systems consist of episodically stored material influenced by personal experiences or cultural and institutional sources.

What are Values?

Value means the importance of anything or action to determine the best ways. It is a system with prospective and prescriptive beliefs. Values affect the ethical and social behavior of an individual. It is the basis of their intentional activities. Values are defined as broad preferences concerning appropriate courses of outcomes or action. They reflect a person's right or wrong sense values influence the behavior and attitude of the people.

Values motivate people to act one way or another and serve as a guide for human behavior. They are essential to ethics, which is concerned with human actions and their choices. Ethics evaluate those actions and the values underlying them. The value specifies the relationship between a person and a goal. For example – a person who values honesty might blow the whistle on financial wrongdoing by a superior, but another person who values loyalty may remain silent. This symbolizes values conflict.

Different Sociologists use the term value in many ways. According to M.Haralambos," a value is a belief that something is good and desirable". According to R.K.Mukherjee, "Values are socially approved desires" and goals that are internalized through the process of conditioning, learning or socialization and that become subjective preferences, standards, and aspirations." According to T.W.Hippie, "Values are conscious or unconscious motivators and justifiers of the actions and judgment."

Values have been studied in various disciplines. Some of them include:-

  1. Political Science – The term value is used in two interrelated senses. In the first sense, it is used by political actors for desirable or undesirable things like democracy, justice, power, freedom, etc. In the second sense, it is a basis of evaluation that a person, group, or society uses to accept or reject some goals, means to achieve them, ideals, procedures, etc. In the latter sense, it reflects political behavior.
  2. Business Ethics – Values and ethics in business are the principles or the code of conduct followed by an individual during his/her day-to-day business transactions. It also covers the individuals working in an organization and an organization as a whole.
  3. Theology – Theology offers the opportunity to focus on religious belief in detail through the study of scriptures, the history of religious thought, critical thinkers, influence on ethical debates, and the actions of its believers.
  4. Sociology – In Sociology, values are the beliefs that an individual has about what is important both to him/her and to society as a whole. They can be implicit or explicit.
  5. Anthropology – The primary aim of anthropological theories of value is to repose the question of what value is by embracing the complexity of ethnographic accounts of value.

Values are divided into various categories. Some of them are:-

  • Personal Value – Personal Values are an individual's central beliefs and tenets that guide his/her actions. These principles influence their behavior and personality traits and guide them toward success, Personal values inform an individual's decision-making, aspirations, and relationships with loved ones.
  • Positive and Negative Value – Positive ethical value correlates with something that is pursued or maximized. Negative ethical value correlates with something that is avoided or minimized. Examples of Positive values include honesty, obedience, and good moral life. Examples of Negative values include idleness, fraud, and disorderliness.
  • Universal Values – Universal Values are an Act of Lose Principles or beliefs shared by people of different cultures, societies, and historical periods. They often serve as the foundational free moral and ethical judgments, helping people differentiate between right and wrong or good and bad.
  • Intrinsic and Extrinsic Value – Intrinsic value is the value that a thing has in itself or for its own sake or in its right. Extrinsic value is the value which is not intrinsic. For example – how much money you make or how many friends you have. Examples of Intrinsic value include truth, beauty, goodness, courage, etc.
  • Protected Value – According to the economist Alexander Wagner, "Protected Values are where you are willing to pay the price to uphold the value---- to withstand the temptation to give in."

These values drive a person's ethical behavior.

Main Difference Between Belief and Value In Points

  • A belief is something that we truly believe without any strong evidence, while value is a particular standard or principle that is not based on any information or context.
  • The word belief is derived from two letters "Be" which means being, or state of existence, and 'lief' from the Indo-European word leubh, which means love. On the other hand, the word value is derived from the Latin word "Valerie" which means to be strong and vigorous.
  • Beliefs can teeter into prejudice, whereas, values can manifest prejudice.
  • Beliefs are mostly related to religion, while values are related to day-to-day life.
  • Beliefs are contextual and arise from learned experience. On the other hand, values transcend contexts and are based on the things important to an individual.
  • A belief links an object to some attribute in a generic sense. Whereas values are a latent guide for evaluating other observable objects.
  • Beliefs like dying is bad, God created the world, and cheating is immoral are some examples of beliefs. While loyalty, fairness, compassion, and respect are examples of value.
  • Beliefs grow from a human's experience and thinking. On the other hand, values are things a human deems important.


In short, both beliefs and values influence our decision-making and impact how we perceive others and how others perceive us. People often use these terms indifferently to describe their actions in life. However, beliefs and values are not similar. Belief is a concept that we hold to be true, and value is a long-lasting belief about what is important to a person.


  • betterup.com
  • valuescentre.com
  • www.ethicsage.com


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"Difference Between Beliefs and Values." Diffzy.com, 2024. Mon. 26 Feb. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-beliefs-and-values>.

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