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Adolescents’ Values and Value Based Reasoning in Intercultural Dilemma Situations

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Abstract Values and religious orientations are traditionally considered as fostering guidelines for individual life perspectives and choices. The present paper attempts to find out whether this is still true for Swiss adolescents. Hedonism, benevolence, self-direction and universalism are their preferred values, as data from a survey of 748 adolescents (aged 12-16) shows, tradition and conformity the least important. 25 of the surveyed adolescents were selected for an interview and confronted with the story of a young Muslim woman who has to decide whether she wants to wear a headscarf at school or not. The adolescents activate general knowledge about comparable situations in order to find a solution for the dilemma and they also refer to value-oriented rationales. Only five of ten possible values were used (universalism, benevolence, self-direction, tradition, conformity), self-direction being the most important value. Although the dilemma could be understood as a religious dilemma, adolescents rarely refer to religious concepts when discussing it.

Affiliations: 1: Email:, URL:; 2: ; 3: University of Bern Switzerland


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