Value Differentiation and Sexual Orientation

  • Ella Daniel University of Toronto
  • Maya Crabtree The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Keywords: values, value differentiation, cognitive polpyphasia, well-being, satisfaction with life


Can individuals create a coherent and unified value system when living in complex social realities,

and encountering discordant values across life contexts, or do they experience a cognitive

polyphasia? Undergraduate students in Israel (N = 93, mean age M = 24.90, SD = 3.05) reporting a

gay or heterosexual sexual orientation were studied. Participants reported the importance of their

values of universalism, benevolence, conformity and hedonism in the social roles of a student, a

close friend, a romantic partner and a man/woman. As hypothesized, value differentiation, the

variability in value importance across contexts, was higher among gay men than among

heterosexuals. The difference is attributed to effects of the socially complex environment

encountered by gay men, which creates a lack of coherence in their values. However, among gay

men, unlike heterosexuals, value differentiation was not related negatively to well-being. The

implications for the gay identity and the value system are discussed.

Author Biographies

Ella Daniel, University of Toronto

ELLA DANIEL is a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Applied Psychology and Human

Development, University of Toronto. She studies the development of values and morality

between middle childhood and adolescence. She is interested in the role of the immediate

environment, such as the family and school, and the general environment, such as culture, in

moral development. Her PhD, at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, focused on the

development of values contextualization among majority and immigrant youth.

Maya Crabtree, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

MAYA CRABTREE has a Master’s degree in Political Science & Urban planning from the

Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Maya is interested in the role of values in shaping identity and

behavior. Maya's M.A. thesis dealt with the motivational aspects of voting behavior, with an

emphasis on consistency in voting. Currently, Maya works as Deputy Executive Director of "Life

& Environment" – the umbrella organization of environmental NGOs in Israel and deals with the

environmental policy and the environmental aspects of planning and zoning.