PhD Thesis Tested the Validity of the Theory of Basic Human Values


Today, on 4 April, Laur Lilleoja from the Tallinn University School of Governance, Law and Society will defend his doctoral thesis, which focused on the validity of one of the most applied theories on values. The aim of the thesis was to develop a discussion on the validity of the scales used in polls, and evolve the methodology of polling in general.

“The results of the thesis confirm the validity of Shalom Schwartz’ value structure, but also show multiple problems that stop us from correctly applying the model,” Lilleoja explained. “In general, the thesis emphasises the many problems polls have, and when ignored, can have an influence on the validity of said polls,” he added. He also said that oftentimes the complexity of polls is underestimated. For example, the questioners fail to ensure that the questions asked can actually measure the object under research.

According to Lilleoja, the potential measurement errors can be enhanced by many actors, from erroneous sampling, presentation of questions, data collection, up to data recording. “A thorough preparation will help decrease the number and scale of errors, but it is not possible to avoid them all. This is why measurement errors must be taken into account when analysing data,” he added.

“The overall message of the thesis, both to the public, as well as for researchers, is acknowledging that the preparation and conducting of polls is more complicated than it looks at first,” Lilleoja noted. “At the same time, conducting good polls and making valid conclusions is still possible, if the job is carried out systematically.”

The PhD “The Internal and External Validity of the Theory of Basic Human Values” will be defended on 4 April at 12:00 at Tallinn University, room M-648 (Uus-Sadama 5). The supervisors of the thesis were Indek Tart (PhD), and Professor Emeritus Willem E. Saris of the Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona. The opponents are Associate Professor Kadri Täht from Tallinn University and Professor Eldad Davidov from Zurich University.

The full thesis can be received via the Tallinn University Academic Library E-vault ETERA.