My beef with cognitive approaches to motivation, emotion, and behavior: cognitiviststend to consider what happens in the head as products of what goes on in the head, with the implicit opposition to what happens"objectively" "in the world".  I see what happens in the head as tethered to the world that exists beyond the head.

Ronald Inglehart and Christian Welzel, in Modernity, Cultural Change, and Democracy, assume a similar perspective. They contrast“existential” to “cognitive” as sources of values.   They discuss the concept of existential insecurity, in which survival is not taken for granted because of lack of economic development. They then propose that the shift from survival to self-expression values in developed societies follows from existential security rather than propagation of self-expression values (e.g., through authorities, elites or the media).

One is not taught self-expression values, one does not learn self-expression values; self-expression values take root when the existential conditions are right. Of course, the examples of others may have influence, but only if one is receptive and one can only be receptive if one is existentially secure.


R. Inglehart, C. Welzel, Modernization, Cultural Change, and Democracy. The Human Development Sequence (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2005).