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1. Introduction

Socialization of children into well-adjusted members of their particular society is a process that is unquestionably worth exploring and important for the future of any society. Because of that, variability in socialization values held by parents and its relevance for parenting practices and child development is an old and widely studied topic among developmental psychologists (Harkness and Super 2006, Hirsjarvi and Perala-Littunen 2001, Hoff et al. 2002). Research has repeatedly found that parents with different educational level and cultural background, and from different social groups (majority vs. minority) differ with regard to their child-rearing beliefs and values, especially in the extent to which they attach importance to self-directive versus social conformity-related qualities and behavior in children (e.g. Cashmore and Goodnow 1986, Citlak et al. 2008, Hark-ness and Super 2006, Hoff et al. 2002, Kohn 1977, Tulviste 2013).

Cultural variation in socialization values has been explained by the degree to which independence/autonomy vs. interdependence/relatedness is stressed in child socialization (Greenfield et al. 2003, Kagitcibasi 2005). When great emphasis is placed on independence and autonomy, parents are likely to give priority to qualities related to self-direction values, such as creativity and self-confidence. When children are socialized toward interdependence and relatedness, parents would like to develop qualities related to social values, such as obedience, politeness, trustworthiness, and respect for others (Greenfield et al. 2003, Kagitcibasi 2005, Kohn 1977).

The questions to what extent and how socialization values change over time along with the societal changes started to attract the researchers' attention during the last decades (Boehnke 2001, Kagitcibasi and Ataca 2005, Lin & Fu 1990, Keller et al. 2005, Keller and Lamm 2005, Serek et al. 2014, Suizzo 2007). Several studies have found changes across time in socialization values of parents in the direction of stressing values of self-direction more highly (Alwin 1988, Arnett 1998, Serek et al. 2014, Tulviste et al. 2012).

More recent developmental theories describe socialization of children as a multidirectional process, where children themselves play an active role, and parents are the primary socialization agents, but not the only ones (Grusec et al. 2000, Roest et al. 2009). Moreover, value acquisition is also influenced by Zeitgeist--the prevailing value climate in a given society at a given time (Boehnke et al. 2007). The value system is consolidating in young adulthood, before that, in the formative period, adolescents and youth are selectively internalizing the values provided by people around them (Bardi and Goodwin 2011, Inglehart and Baker 2000). It is known that children internalize better the values about which different socialization agents--parents, teachers, peers, adults outside the family, media etc.--agree, but the value disagreement, in contrast, may interfere with the value acquisition of children (Cashmore and Goodnow 1985, Knafo and Schwartz 2001). Most empirical studies have been conducted on socialization values of mothers, less empirical studies have been conducted with fathers and teachers (Tulviste & Kikas 2010). There are presently no studies known to us that have specifically focused on socialization values held by respondents from different age and social groups over time using a representative sample.

The present study addresses in a population-based sample the consensus on socialization values--the extent to which respondents of different ages from the two main social groups (ethnic Estonians and Russian-speaking respondents living in Estonia) agree or disagree about the importance of qualities to develop in children. We are also interested in how stable or dynamic the similarities and differences of ethnic Estonians and Russian-speaking respondents would be across the three rounds of European Social Survey (6-year period), and to what extent the consensus and the importance placed on specific quality in children depend on the age and sex of respondents.

Today's Estonia presents a good opportunity to explore the issue. A quarter-century has passed since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Although the Estonian society has stabilized after the economic and political transformation in the 1990s, some important changes have also taken place during the years investigated in the current study (from 2006 to 2012). In 2004, Estonia became a member of the EU and NATO. Currently, educational reforms toward a child-centered democratic education are going on with the aim to rid schools from authoritarian teaching methods and to bring democratic relationships into classrooms. The purpose is also to minimize differences in the quality of education of children from different social groups, such as to improve the Russian-speaking pupils' official language proficiency. It is likely that the values of both ethnic groups are modified to fit the societal changes and educational reform. As the value change has been related to economic changes and to the need to adapt to life-changing events (Bardi et al. 2009), the consensus and the importance of certain socialization values might change even over this relatively short 6-year period.

Past research has found that socialization values of parents and teachers in Estonia reflect autonomous-relatedness orientation as stated by Kagitcibasi (2005) in both family and school socialization: the qualities related to self-direction (e.g. independence, creativity) co-exist with those of social values such as politeness, hardworking, trustworthiness and respecting others (Tulviste and Ahtonen 2007, Tulviste and Kikas 2010, Tulviste et al. 2012). At the same time, social values were significantly more, whereas some self-direction values (e.g. self-confidence) less emphasized by parents living in Estonia relative to parents from Sweden, and Finland (Tulviste and Ahtonen 2007, Tulviste et al. 2012). Estonian and Russian mothers living in Estonia were observed to share rather similar child-rearing beliefs and values, although Russian respondents tended to attach more importance to achievement and other qualities that are related to school success both in their personal (Tulviste et al. 2014) and in child-rearing values (Tulviste et al. 2012) like immigrant parents in other studies (Citlak et al. 2008).

The research shows that parents consider individualistic values like hedonism and stimulation more important when talking about their own personal values than when talking about the values they want for their children to obtain (Benish-Weisman et al. 2013). Instead, they would like children to acquire social conformity-related values (Tam and Lee 2010). Moreover, socialization values are future-oriented depending on parental views what would be adaptive in the future. Despite the specificity of these two sets of values, the high similarity between them indicates that parents' personal values do shape their socialization values (Knafo and Schwartz 2003, Tam and Lee 2010, Whitbeck and Gecas 1988). A prior study made in Estonia addressed personal value consensus among ethnic Estonians and Russian-speaking minority in terms of the ten value types defined by Schwartz in the years 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2010, and found that the consensus was relatively high and stable, but was related to the age groups to which the respondents belonged. Contrary to the findings of studies made in other countries (Knafo and Schwartz 2001, Phinney et al. 2000, Citlak et al. 2008), it was bigger among older age groups than in younger ones. In the youngest age group (under 20 years) the consensus had significantly decreased after 2004, probably because people in formative years are more sensitive to concrete historical events and its interpretations (Tulviste et al. 2014). One might therefore expect also more consensus in socialization values among younger respondents from different social groups compared to the older age groups. In addition to general consensus, we were also interested in the role of the social group, age, sex, and change with time in the importance placed by respondents on different qualities in children. As prior studies have shown, there is a preference for some qualities related to self-direction among younger mothers (Tulviste, 2012), and mothers' socialization values differ from those of fathers by stressing more some of the social values (Diel, Owen, & Youngblade 2004; Tulviste & Ahtonen 2007).

2. Hypotheses

1. Based on the previous finding with personal values, we expect that the socialization value consensus between the members of ethnic Estonian and the Russian-speaking minority groups would be relatively high and stable, but be related to the age of respondents by being bigger in older people.

2. We expect that despite the social group the respondents belong to, the qualities from both types (self-direction and social values) would be chosen among the most important ones to be developed in children. However, Russian-speaking respondents are expected to want children to possess qualities related to social values more than Estonian respondents.

3. We expected that younger people and men would support qualities of self-direction values more and those of social values less than older respondents and women.

4. We hypothesize that some decrease in the importance of qualities related to social values, and some increase in those related to self-direction would be observable in both social groups even over this relatively short 6-year time period.

3. Method

Participants. Estonian participants' data from the European Social Survey (ESS), collected in three rounds (2006, 2006 and 2012) were used. The number of participants by year, age group, and mother tongue are given in Table 1.

Measures. The respondents filled out the Socialization Value Questionnaire (Tulviste 2013). Participants were given a list of 17 qualities that children might be encouraged to learn at home, and asked to mark five that they considered the most important (see Table 2 for a full list of items). The list is a modification of the list used by Xiao (2000). We added the qualities (e.g. smartness, self-confidence, ambitiousness) that have been frequently mentioned by Estonian parents in the prior studies (Tulviste and Ahtonen 2007, Tulviste et al. 2007). The list included social qualities related to interpersonal relations (e.g. politeness, hardworking, trustworthiness, respecting others) as well as those of self-direction (e.g. independence, creativity, self-confidence).

4. Results

Value consensus. The profile agreement between Estonian and Russian respondents was indexed by the double-entry intraclass correlation ([ICC.sub.DE], McCrae 2008). Standard errors and confidence intervals for the ICC were computed using a nonparametric bootstrap (the percentile method).

Figure 1 shows the similarity of socialization value profiles of Estonian and Russian-speaking respondents across years in different age groups. The socialization value consensus has been relatively stable and high in the three rounds, and depends on the age groups to which majority and minority group members belong. There was a higher consensus among older age respondents. For instance, consensus (double-entry correlations) in year 2012 was: r =.0,73 in 15-20 yrs., r = 0.86 in 21-40 yrs., r = 0.92 in 41-60 yrs., and r = 0.93 in 61-99 yrs. old respondents.

Socialization values of majority and minority groups. Table 2 presents the proportion of Estonian and Russian-speaking respondents choosing each item among the five most important qualities to develop at home in children in three years of survey. The two social groups were similar in selecting hard work, politeness, trustworthiness, respecting others, and independence among the most important qualities. Russian-speaking respondents chose self-confidence, creativity, and politeness less frequently, and independence, determination, trustworthiness, and religiousness more frequently than ethnic Estonians.

Socialization values, the age and sex of respondents, and year of the survey. Multiple logistic regression analyses were performed to see how the preference for each quality depends on respondent's sex, age, and the year of the survey. The analyses were performed separately in groups of Estonian and Russian speakers. All possible two-way interactions between the predictors were also initially considered but as there were only 14 (out of 130 possible: 5 interaction parameters by 2 languages by 13 dependent variables) "significant" (p < .05) interactions, and none of them were present in both social groups, and as we had no specific hypotheses about interactions, we decided to drop them from the models. The regression results are shown in Table 3.

The hypothesis according to which younger people and men would support qualities related to self-direction more and those of social values less than older respondents and women, found support with respect to age. The age of respondents was a significant predictor of most socialization values (except obedience in both samples, and independence in the Russian sample). For a 10-year increase in age, there were increases in the odds of selecting politeness, hard work and respecting others, thrift/saving, unselfishness, and religiousness in both samples. For a 10-year increase in age, the odds of selecting self-confidence, creativity, smartness, and determination decreased in both samples, and the odds of selecting independence decreased in the Estonian (but not in Russian) sample (see Table 3).

The expected sex differences were found only in the Russian-speaking sample. Women in both samples had higher odds of mentioning such social values as respecting others and religiousness, and women in the Russian sample were more likely to mention politeness. Women in the Estonian sample had higher odds than men of selecting trustworthiness, but also some self-direction values (creativity and independence) among the first 5 most important values than their male counterparts. Women in both subgroups had lower odds of mentioning determination and smartness, women in the Estonian sample hard work, thrift/saving, obedience, and women in the Russian sample self-confidence (see Table 3).

As expected, some changes occurred in the importance of socialization values over the 6-year period. When comparing the responses given by respondents in 2012 to those given in 2006, the importance of creativity and politeness has increased in both, obedience and determination only in Estonians, and unselfishness in the Russian subsample. The importance of smartness has decreased in both subsamples, and hard work only in the Estonian subsample (see Table 3).

5. Discussion

The study investigated in a representative sample what values people of different age want to socialize in children, and the extent to which the respondents of different ages from the two social groups--ethnic Estonians and Russian-speaking respondents living in Estonia--share socialization values.

The study found evidence for a high consensus in socialization values between the members of the Estonian majority and Russian-speaking minority. As expected, bigger consensus emerged in older age-groups than in younger ones. High congruence is likely produced by the fact that respondents, especially those from the same age groups, have been raised, grown up and lived in the same sociopolitical and economic contexts. The lower consensus among younger respondents might be a reflection of democratization that has taken place in Estonian society over the last decades, and the plurality of accepted views about what to consider important in socialization of children. Older respondents have lived behind the iron curtain in the totalitarian Soviet Estonia. They were sheltered out from the Western value plurality and liberal child-rearing, Estonian and Russian schools had the same curriculum, used the same textbooks, the language barriers were smaller because ethnic Estonians had better Russian language competency than today, etc. All these factors might lead to having a little more contact than today between the members from different social groups and, in turn, to a remarkable consensus among older respondents in desirable qualities in children. Value theories suggest that young adulthood is a formative period of values (Schwartz and Bardi 1997). Thus, the bigger discordance of socialization values between younger respondents might be typical of the life stage when value systems are not yet stabilized and they are struggling with different values. It might also reflect that younger respondents have been in the formative stage when experiencing societal changes.

Nevertheless, the links between age and socialization value consensus of respondents were similar to those found in a prior study that addressed personal value consensus between ethnic Estonians and the Russian-speaking minority in Estonia (Tulviste et al. 2014): the bigger consensus emerged in older than in younger age groups. The similar findings of these two studies correspond to the general view according to which socialization values are shaped by personal values people held (Tam and Lee 2010, Whitbeck and Gecas 1988).

The results of this population-representative study indicated that the age of respondents was most strongly related to qualities (except obedience in both samples, and independence in the Russian sample) valued in children. Being 10 years older increased the odds of selecting social qualities like politeness, hard work, respecting others, thrift/saving, unselfishness, and religiousness in both samples. Being 10 years younger increased the odds of selecting self-direction values like self-confidence, creativity, smartness, and determination in both samples, and independence in the Estonian (but not in Russian) sample. The findings of significant age-related differences are in accordance with findings of personal value studies (Tulviste et al. 2017), and may stem from the value change toward prioritizing individualistic values in a changing society.

Contrary to the prediction that both types of socialization values (self-direction and social values) would be among the most desired qualities, we found that respondents from two social groups similarly prioritized social values such as hard work, politeness, trustworthiness, and respecting others. Qualities of self-direction (except independence) were considered less important to develop in children at home. The finding that participants considered qualities related to self-direction less important than found in previous studies (Tulviste and Ahtonen 2007, Tulviste and Kikas 2010, Tulviste et al. 2012) might be caused by differences in the samples. In prior studies with a smaller and more homogeneous samples--with parents of preschoolers or adolescents--, the real characteristics of their own children might have had an impact on answers. The present study used a representative sample--the respondents of European Social Survey in Estonia, despite how old their children were or whether they had children at all. It is likely that their choices of desirable qualities were influenced by their views about children and family socialization in general rather than by strengths and difficulties of their own kids. The emphasis on social qualities by representative samples from both social groups shows that people in Estonia seem to be more relatedness-oriented in their socialization values than concluded based on studies with parents or teachers (Tulviste and Ahtonen 2007, Tulviste and Kikas 2010, Tulviste et al. 2012).

Moreover, it is also possible that the qualities wished for their own children differ from those wanted for children in general. Nevertheless, the findings about the importance placed on social values correspond to the results of Tam and Lee (2010) stating that parents do not tend to stress individualistic values when socializing children even when in their personal values they consider such values important. It is also possible that the finding that social qualities of children are believed to be the most important to develop at home is a reaction to the liberalization in child-rearing and teaching that has brought with it too much freedom and also some problems in child behavior.

In accordance with the assumption that Russian-speaking respondents put more emphasis on social values than ethnic Estonians, they chose independence, determination, trustworthiness, and religiousness more frequently, and self-confidence, creativity, and politeness less frequently than ethnic Estonians. Russian women placed more importance on social values (politeness, respecting others, and religiousness), and less importance on self-direction (self-confidence, smartness, and determination) than Russian men did. Differences between Estonian men and women did not emerge in the extent to which they emphasized either self-direction or social values in children. Specifically, women in the Estonian subsample selected not only trustworthiness, but also creativity and independence more frequently, and not only hard working, thrift/saving, obedience, but also smartness and determination less frequently than Estonian men. Thus, expected sex differences were found only in the Russian-speaking subsample.

6. Conclusion

The present study adds to the previous studies the knowledge about the dynamic nature of socialization values. Namely, some changes in what qualities were considered important to develop in children were observable over the relatively short 6-year period. Specifically, creativity and politeness had gained its importance in both, obedience and determination only in Estonians, and unselfishness only in the Russian subsample. The importance of smartness had decreased in both subsamples, and the importance of hard work only in the Estonian subsample. We expected that the qualities of self-direction would become more desirable over time, and those related to social values less desirable. Results indicated that the stability vs. change credited to the specific qualities rather than to the socialization value type (self-direction vs. social). Some socialization values were prone to change, others exhibited stability over the 6-year period.

Although the study used a representative sample, it is limited due to being carried out in a single country--Estonia--, which is a country where several societal changes are going on, including those in child-rearing and education. Future cross-cultural studies are needed to find out how universal our findings are, because it is well known that socialization values vary across cultures (see above). Thus, one might expect differences from more stable welfare countries but also from those with a similar recent history such as East European countries. Another limitation is that the cross-sectional nature of the study does not allow to make any causal conclusions. Third, a study that would follow changes in socialization values over a longer period than in the present study (2006-2012) would give a better picture about the relationships between value change and society change.

The study, however, does provide new information indicating that the age of the socialization agents is strongly related to socialization values they hold. The findings have important implications for understanding socialization values, especially in changing societies. This knowledge may be used for the sake of better coping with extensive changes in socialization of children such as ongoing school reform toward child-centered democratic education. For instance, according to Talis-2013 (OECD, 2014), teachers in Estonia are relatively old (M age = 47.9). Based on the current findings, they might value the qualities (social values over self-direction) in children which make it difficult to adapt to the new school requirements. Moreover, values, especially those of older people, are rather resistant to changes. Anyway, the finding based on a representative sample that both members of ethnic Estonians and Russian-speaking minority are likely to manifest relatedness orientation (not autonomous-relatedness orientation as found in prior studies with parents and teachers in Estonia) in socialization of children is interesting in the light of ongoing societal changes like the educational reform.

To sum, our data imply that despite some differences regarding the relative importance put on some specific qualities desired in children, ethnic Estonians and Russian-speaking minority do share predominant socialization values by considering social qualities as the most desirable. Moreover, the study highlights the need to pay more attention to the age when examining socialization values of members from different social groups, because the age of respondents turned out to be strongly related to general socialization value consensus as well as to the extent social qualities are valued over those of self-direction.


Research for this article was supported by the Estonian Research Council (grants ETF9033 and PUT1359).


Tiia Tulviste (corresponding author)

University of Tartu

Naituse 2-218

50409 Tartu, Estonia E-mail:

Tel.: +3727375906

Fax: +372 7376152

Kenn Konstabel

University of Tartu

Naituse 2-221, 50409 Tartu, Estonia


Tel.: +372 7376365

Fax: +372 7376152 52


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Tiia Tulviste and Kenn Konstabel

University of Tartu

Table 1. Sample size by year, age group, and first language

Age group   Estonian     Russian
           Men  Women  Men   Women

15-20       42    51    35    26
21-40      125   143    83    75
41-60      117   171    84    94
61-99      101   187    48    79
15-20       55    59    18    23
21-10      174   188    52    73
41-60      160   204    73    92
61-99      112   200    48    91
15-20       69    60    16    20
21-40      232   273    95    89
41-60      224   302   104   139
61-99      189   348    68   147

Table 2. Proportion of respondents choosing each quality by year, age
group, and language

                           2006                2008          2012

                     Est         Rus     Est          Rus     Est
politeness           70.8  >>>   43.6    67.2  >>>    57      77.1
independence         58.3  <<<   76.2    58.4  <<<    67.4    55.7
hardworking          76.8        79      68.9  <<<    78      66.6
trustworthiness      63.6  <<<   74.5    68.3         69.3    65.5
creativity           17.4  >>>    8.8    24    >>>    11.9    21.4
respecting others    62.3        61.1    57.1         55.7    64.4
thrift/saving        10.1        12.8    11           12.9    11.8
determination        34.6  <<<   55.4    33.6         33.5    41
religiousness         3.1  <      5.3     5.1          6.6     2.5
unselfishness         7.9  >      5.1     8.2  <<     12.9     7.1
obedience            13.9        16.6    18.7         17.4    18.9
smartness            43.2        40      42.5  <<<    56.1    29.3
self-confidence      38.1  >>>   21.5    32.7  >>>    19.5    38.7
Min N               938         525    1154          472    1698


politeness                >>>   57.2
independence              <<<   74.5
hardworking                     81.1
trustworthiness           <<<   69.8
creativity                >>>   15.6
respecting others               59.3
thrift/saving                   12.8
determination             <<<   52.1
religiousness             <      4.7
unselfishness             >      8.6
obedience                       15.5
smartness                       31.7
self-confidence           >>>   17.1
Min N                          678

Note: 'Less than- and 'greater than' signs (>;<) show significant mean
differences between Estonian and Russia speakers within a given year.

Table 3. Results of multiple linear regressions predicting
socialization values from age, sex, and year of the survey.
Coefficients in the table refer to odds (for intercept) or odds rations
(all other columns)

                             (Intercept)  Age          Sex
                                          (10 years)   female

Estonian speakers
politeness                   1.732 (***)  1.007 (***)  1.035
independence                 1.939 (***)  0.989 (***)  1.380 (***)
Hard work                    1.059        1.030 (***)  0.735 (***)
trustworthiness              1.25 (*)     1.00 (**)    1.19 (*)
creativity                   0.339 (***)  0.987 (***)  1.204 (*)
respecting others            0.945        1.006 (***)  1.560 (***)
thrift /saving               0.066 (***)  1.015 (***)  0.707 (***)
determination                0.886        0.993 (***)  0.707 (***)
religiousness                0.008 (***)  1.021 (***)  1.728 (**)
unselfishness                0.056 (***)  1.009 (**)   0.932
obedience                    0.165 (***)  1.002        0.820 (*)
smartness                    1.116        0.995 (**)   0.787 (***)
self-confidence              2.078 (***)  0.974 (***)  1.003
Russian speakers politeness  0.478 (***)  1.007 (**)   1.355 (**)
independence                 3.720 (***)  0.997        0.996
hardworking                  0.975        1.033 (***)  0.993
trustworthiness              2.653 (***)  1.001        1.072
creativity                   0.253 (***)  0.975 (***)  1.177
respecting others            0.637 (**)   1.016 (***)  1.452 (***)
thrift /saving               0.096 (***)  1.008 (*)    1.090
determination                2.576 (***)  0.987 (***)  0.794 (*)
rehgiousnessh                0.021 (***)  1.014 (*)    1.653 (*)
unselfishness                0.037 (***)  1.012 (*)    0.715
obedience                    0.168 (***)  1.005        0.906
smartness                    1.391 (*)    0.986 (***)  0.807 (*)
self-confidence              0.842        Q.977 (***)  0.766 (*)

                             Survey year  Survey year
                             2008         2012

Estonian speakers
politeness                   0.856        1.381 (***)
independence                 1.002        0.915
Hard work                    0.665 (***)  0.563 (***)
trustworthiness              1.24 (*)     1.08
creativity                   1.498 (***)  1.323 (**)
respecting others            0.814 (*)    1.089
thrift /saving               1.108        1.172
determination                0.941        1.319 (**)
religiousness                1.745 (*)    0.770
unselfishness                1.055        0.875
obedience                    1.427 (**)   1.442 (**)
smartness                    0.964        0.545 (***)
self-confidence              0.761 (**)   1.061
Russian speakers politeness  1.649 (***)  1.642 (***)
independence                 0.652 (**)   0.930
hardworking                  0.839        0.973
trustworthiness              0.765        0.784
creativity                   1.514        2.205 (***)
respecting others            0.738 (*)    0.834
thrift /saving               0.963        0.959
determination                0.426 (***)  0.949
rehgiousnessh                1.157        0.794
unselfishness                2.702 (***)  1.661 (*)
obedience                    1.049        0.904
smartness                    2.059 (***)  0.750 (*)
self-confidence              0.970        0.851

Note: The odds ratios in the table can be interpreted as the change in
the odds that a value will be mentioned among the 5 most important: for
example, with every increase of 10 years, the odds of politeness being
mentioned among the 5 most important values, increase by the factor of
1.007; women in the Russian-speaking subsample have 1.355 times higher
odds to mention politeness among the fist 5 most important values than
their male counterparts. Thus coefficients greater than 1 refer to
increases with age or female respondents valuing a category more than
male respondents; and vice versa, coefficients less than 1 mean
decreasing importance with age, and men giving a value more importance
than women. Of the three years of the survey (2006, 2008, and 2012),
the first is used as a reference category, and the odds ratios for
years 2008 and 2012 refer to differences from 2006. For example, the
importance of smartness as a child rearing value has decreased by the
factor of 0.545 in the Estonian subsample if we compare responses given
in 2012 to those given in 2006.
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Author:Tulviste, Tiia; Konstabel, Kenn
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:4EXES
Date:Dec 1, 2017
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