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date: 08 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the role of personal values in adult development. Personal values can be seen as higher order goals that an individual personally endorses and as a more general attitude about what people ought to do or what is generally important in life. Research has repeatedly demonstrated a gap between expressed values and actual behavior; nevertheless, we maintain that values can serve as an overarching cognitive compass to evaluate one’s future as well as past behaviors and goals. On the basis of empirical research on goals we posit that personal values and their function change over the lifespan. We argue that personal values might be especially relevant for life planning in adolescence and early adulthood and for life review in later adulthood.

Keywords: adult development, personal values, behavior, behavior change, adulthood

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