Exploring our values – an opportunity for museums?

The Happy Museum was delighted to invite Tom Crompton of the Common Cause Foundation to speak at a recent gathering of our 5-Year Study Group of museums.  Tom spoke about the Foundation’s research into Human Values and Frames and opened up a discussion into the implications and opportunities of this work in museums. He observed:

‘Museums can play a crucial role in reflecting and shaping people’s values – the things that matter to people in life. These values play a crucial role in determining levels of wellbeing, cultural belonging, and public expressions of concern about a wide range of different social and environmental challenges. Research suggests new ways to encourage reflection on values and the factors that shape these.

Common Cause Foundation recently worked with internationally leading social psychologists and Ipsos-MORI to conduct a survey of the values of one thousand demographically representative UK citizens.

They found that:

  • 74% of UK citizens place greater importance on compassionate values (associated with greater wellbeing, cultural belonging, concern about social and environmental issues, and civic engagement) than selfish values
  • However 78% of UK citizens underestimate the importance that a typical fellow citizen places on compassionate values and over-estimate the importance that they place on selfish values
  • People who suffer such misconceptions about a typical fellow citizen’s values also report higher levels of cultural estrangement and lower levels of civic engagement (they are less likely to have voted, for example).
  • Asked what values they believe are encouraged by ‘arts and culture – galleries, museums, theatre and music’, most people say that they believe these institutions encourage compassionate values less than they themselves hold these to be important, and encourage selfish values more than they themselves hold these to be important.

Find out more about these findings and an opportunity for museums to engage with these questions here- Exploring our values -an invitation to museums.