AccScience Publishing / JCBP / Online First / DOI: 10.36922/jcbp.2192
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Life values in different age groups before and after global health crisis: A comparison of two German representative cohorts in 2018 and 2022

Beate Muschalla1* Elmar Brähler2,3
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1 Psychotherapy and Diagnostics, Technical University of Braunschweig, Braunschweig, Lower Saxony, Germany
2 Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, Medical Sociology, University Medical Center of Mainz, Mainz, Rhineland-Palatinate Land, Germany
3 Behavioral Medicine Research Unit, Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, Integrated Research and Treatment Centre Adiposity Diseases, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Saxony, Germany
Submitted: 6 November 2023 | Accepted: 5 February 2024 | Published: 1 April 2024
© 2024 by the Author (s). This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( )

Basic life values are known to be stable over a lifetime and are predictive of a wide range of attitudes and behaviors. However, they may fluctuate in response to environmental changes or challenges. This study, conducted in two large representative cohorts, aimed to investigate whether basic life values across different age groups remained consistent before and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Two large representative cohorts from the German general population were surveyed about their basic life values using the Short Schwartz Values Scale in 2018 (N = 2412) and 2022 (N = 2499). A comparison was made across age groups and time points (pre- and post-pandemic) using multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA). Our findings revealed a slight discrepancy in values post-global health crisis compared to pre-crisis levels, with lower scores observed for achievement and benevolence and higher scores for hedonism and self-direction following the crisis. However, benevolence, universalism, stability, and self-direction maintained high mean scores across both time points. Younger individuals were more oriented toward hedonism and self-direction than older individuals. Differences in values between age groups were evident (partial eta2: 0.004–0.110), whereas differences before and after the pandemic were minor (partial eta2 <0.004). Basic life values, as observed on a societal level, did not change significantly despite a short-term external stressor such as a pandemic. In conclusion, patients’ individual life values should be considered in psychosomatic counseling and treatment, as these values impact health behavior and may lead to mental health problems, such as embitterment, when compromised.

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Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
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Journal of Clinical and Basic Psychosomatics, Electronic ISSN: 2972-4414 Published by AccScience Publishing