Inglehart's silent revolution thesis: An examination of life-cycle effects in the acquisition of postmaterialist values

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Martin Pfeiffer
James Cote
Cite this article:  Pfeiffer, M., & Cote, J. (1991). Inglehart's silent revolution thesis: An examination of life-cycle effects in the acquisition of postmaterialist values. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 19(4), 223-236.


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Ronald Inglehart, a political scientist, argues that a "silent revolution" is taking place whereby Western publics are becoming increasingly "postmaterialistic" (endorsing values such as self-expression, aesthetics, and belonging) and less "materialistic" (endorsing values related to economic and security concerns). In this paper we examine Inglehart's reasons for rejecting the possibility that human development factors might play a role in this value shift. Utilizing the work of Erik Erikson, it is argued that the degree to which individuals experience the identity crisis is a predictor of the degree to which they endorse postmaterialist values. Data collected on two samples support the hypothesis that certain developmental factors may be playing a role in the "silent revolution".
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