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Complexity of Values Clarification in Health Education: A Systems Theoretical Contribution

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While health educators face value complexity in their health educational practice, our research focuses on what qualifies health educators to practice values clarification. Research shows that there is a demand for clarifying the concept of value as well as the clarification itself. The objective of this paper is to contribute to a model that describes the complexity of values clarification. Values are conceptualized as an observer's operation with a distinction where values, in contrast to distinctions in general, specify a positive and a negative side of the distinction by preferring the positive side. We distinguish between values in mental thoughts as individual values, versus values in communication as social values. In communication we distinguish between general values and personal values; values in interactions versus codes of values in functional differentiated social systems. For all observing systems we distinguish between cognitive and normative values, and normatively non-argued values (first order observations) versus normatively argued values (second order observations). In conclusion, it is proposed that a number of criteria be established in health educational communication for building competencies in values clarification. Keywords: Value complexity; Health educators; Health educational development; Systems Theory; Values clarification.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2008

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