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What's the Difference Between Principles and Values?

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When it comes to principles and values, there is a difference between the two. Principles are fundamental beliefs, while values are more personal and subjective. A difference between principles and values is that one is an underlying guiding belief, the other is a set of standards. Principles are often moral or ethical guidelines that someone chooses to live by. Values are morals, ethics, beliefs, customs, traditions, or social norms that are important to someone or their culture. Our principles can change over time as our values do too! Let's delve deep to find out more!

What are Principles?

Principles are ideals, standards, or fundamental truths that are used as a basis for reasoning or conduct. Values are the concepts of what is important to someone and guide their choices, decisions, and actions. Principles on the other hand do not necessarily lead us to take action but they serve as ideals which we may try to live up to.

What are Values?

Values, unlike principles, describe how we should live our lives. They can be a combination of multiple different types of values from the Circle of Life. In other words, they help us navigate through life and make decisions that will benefit ourselves or others. Some examples of values include things like being honest with yourself and others even if it's difficult. Always try your best no matter how hard something seems or treat people kindly regardless of whether you like them or not.

In conclusion, Principles describe something tangible whereas values explain how to act within certain parameters (i.e.: put yourself first). These two things seem similar but there are crucial differences between them!

Differences between Principles and Values

The difference in both terms

It is common for people to confuse the terms 'principles' and values'. Both are important in life, but they mean two different things. Principles guide all decisions you make throughout your life. Values refer to what makes you happy or unhappy when it comes to lifestyle issues.

Difference in examples

There are certain principles that everyone should follow no matter where they live in this world because these principles represent universal truths about how humans act toward each other. For example, if someone steps on another person's toes accidentally, most of us would say "I'm sorry" even if we didn't do anything wrong intentionally. This principle can be found everywhere around the globe!

The word 'principle,' means a fundamental truth or general rule that has to be followed. If you break these rules, then it is likely that others will not like what you are doing and will remove themselves from your life because they do not want to associate with people who don't follow them either!

When we think about values, the first thing that usually comes to mind is our value system which includes all of the things in life that make us happy or unhappy when considered together. For example, one person's happiness may come from traveling while another person might come from learning new languages. When someone says 'I have my own set of values,' this means their decisions are based on whether or not something fits into their idea of a perfect lifestyle for themselves.

Values are unique to each individual, which means there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to lifestyle decisions. If you like traveling and someone else likes learning new languages then neither of those things makes either one better than the other!

Differences in clear specifications

Values are more abstract than principles. This means they can apply in many different situations while principles usually have specific guidelines that depend on context. For example, Equality is a value that states that all people should have equal rights and opportunities regardless of gender race, etc., but it doesn't give any specifics about what constitutes fair treatment or how this idea might be achieved. Conversely, one could say "justice" is a principle since it has very clear specifications regarding what makes an action just (i.e.: actions that treat people equally and fairly).

Values can be both personal or universal, while principles are almost always universal. Personal values indicate what an individual wants in his own life while universal values apply to everyone. For example, One person might value having a lot of money because it allows them to buy whatever they want whereas another person may not care about wealth at all.

The principle of fairness is generally considered a universally held one meaning that pretty much everyone should agree with its definition. It states that no matter your situation, you deserve equal treatment from other human beings. If someone did something unfair (i.e.: robbed you) then the proper response would be similar regardless if this was the first time or the hundredth time it's happened (.g.: you should feel the same anger either way).

Values provide guidelines on how we should behave while principles tell us why those behaviors matter both to ourselves and others. Principles focus more on actions whereas values tend to deal with states of being. For example, The value "equality" tells us everyone is equal regardless of gender, race, etc., but equality itself doesn't give any specific instructions regarding how it applies (.g.: do all genders have equal pay for the same work?). The principle of justice, on the other hand, tells you why equality matters (.e.: because everyone deserves to be treated fairly).

Similarities between Values & Principles

Both values and principles are important to your life. They help you make decisions about what's right or wrong, good or bad for the world as a whole. They guide our behavior towards other people. In this way, they can be thought of as a moral compass that steers us in the direction we want to go.


Values and principles are both important to our lives. They help us make decisions about what's right or wrong, good or bad for ourselves and others around us. The biggest difference between them is that values tend to be more abstract while principles have specific guidelines that depend on context.


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About the Author: Tom Vincent

Tom Vincent graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics and social studies. He then started his higher education at the University of François Rabelais in Tours with a DUT Information Communication. To expand his knowledge, he also followed a professional degree in e-commerce and digital marketing at the Lumière University of Lyon. On this project, he is in charge of articles covering language, industry and social.
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