The Dynamics Of Changes In Value Attitudes In The Process Of Emigration


During emigration, an individual finds himself in another cultural and value-based environment. And the adaptation to this milieu depends on an emigrant’s ability to absorb and reproduce a new cultural code: the better and quicker he/she can manage to achieve this, the higher his/her chances for a successful adjustment in a new country of residence are. In line with our hypothesis, value attitudes have a dynamic character and are subject to changes in the process of emigration. The study aimed to explore the transformations of value attitudes of emigrants from post-Soviet republics who currently live in Yekaterinburg. Two assessments were made within 18 months. The first assessment involved 48 subjects, the second – 32 people. The first measurement was administered to the group of emigrants who lived in the territory of the RF for a month. The second assessments involved the sample consisting of 32 people as 16 people had left for home. The countries from which the subjects arrived in Russia included Kazakhstan, Azerbaidzhan, Kyrgyzstan. The study resulted in the comparison of changes in value attitudes of the representatives of the Caucasian region and the Middle Asia during their emigration to Russia. The biggest changes occur at the level of behavior, and value attitudes alter to a lesser extent. It is clear that values that contribute to a successful adaptation appear to be more changeable, i.e. value orientation act as an adaptive mechanism of personal construct and are capable of changing dynamically.

Keywords: Adaptationethnic identitymigrationvalue attitudes


One of the peculiarities of our time is not only the growth of migrants but also the complication of the structural characteristics of migratory flaws. Active interactions with representatives of different cultures and social groups during migration have a great impact on personal attitudes and values of the individual, widen his behavior repertoire, and change a subjective picture of the world. Every year, in search of a more comfortable and better quality life, millions of people the country of residence, with a view of adapting reconsider their role models that are largely tied up with ethnic and cultural specificities. As a consequence, the linkage between the person and his ethnic belonging weakens. Living in a new region, a person has to adjust and to tune to the opinion of the ethnic majority. The values and normative rules of an ethnic group no longer appear to be ontologically unchangeable, piercing the individual from birth to death. They begin to be taken as one of the ways to experience a group togetherness, to assimilate to a new cultural environment. It is more evident in cultures with a high level of ethnic identity where due to the mix of a multitude of cultures, confessions, and ethnic groups there is a consensus either on the most common values and norms of behavior adopted at the legislative level, or universally accepted ethical and moral norms and, to the lesser extent, on ethnic belonging. In a multi-national, ethnically diverse society, ethnicity is particularly apparent rather in a small, reference group whose bearers share one cultural code, understand and approve the manifestations of the ethnic identity. In this context, the common cultural code based on ethnic belonging acts as a marker of friend-foe differentiation. Self-perceptions find expression in actions and motives of personality and help maintain group identity (Zotova et al., 2019, p. 291).

The ability of a person to adapt in the course of migration confirms the plasticity of the ethnic identity, the opportunity to review and to transform cultural norms. The ethnic identity as part of the social identity acts as one of the ways to socialize and solve group tasks.

A vast corpus of psychological literature both in the Russian Federation and abroad is dedicated to value differences between ethnic groups. Of particular interest are the works of Mead (1934) who identified the moment of social interaction in the formation of identity and group values and Berger and Luckmann (1966) who underlined social construction of identity thereby calling into question the idea of ‘traditional, inborn, immutable’ values integral to a particular ethnic group. Barth (1969), Bourdieu (1994), Hobsbawm (1990) continued to refine the insights of plasticity and the changeability of value sets. Many western researchers including Beck (1999), Bell (1976), Toffler (1980), Fukuyama (1992), Schwartz (2007) focused their efforts on contemporary representations of identity under globalization. Among domestic scholars, Soldatova (1998), Stefanenko (1999), Khotinets (2005) also contributed to the studies into these issues. Vildanov (2014) singled out, in the first place, identification, and unity as a leading motive of ethnic values, “the fact of psychological and social uniqueness of a particular ethnos” (p. 215). Shakhbanova (2010) emphasized a communication principle – between personality and nature, society, ethnos – underlying ethnic values (p. 292). As Zinchenko and Zotova stated, “emigration is a revolution for every single person” (p. 17).

In studies into ethnic identity and value attitudes under the domestic socio-psychological tradition, Russian scholars have devoted great attention to the issues of their formation and transformation, especially during the inter-regional transition (from one region of the country into another one as well as a move from a village to a city). The historical context of the USSR epoch largely determined the specificity of the Russian theoretical and empirical research on these problems. According to that position, ethnic peculiarity was denied, and the construction of the image of a new “Soviet” citizen was based on ideological and political togetherness. And the fact of ethno-cultural diversity was just neglected. In the opinion of Dontsov and Perelygina, “a considerable difference in cross-cultural models of interactions necessitates the account of socio-psychological parameters and factors in inter-cultural relations” (p. 30).

Problem Statement

Nowadays, the issues of inter-ethnic interactions and migrants’ adaptation to a new socio-cultural environment become increasingly relevant. The process of acculturation is connected with value attitudes and is subject to a dynamic transformation. Within a value-driven human picture of the world, one can differentiate individual values and values related to ethnic belonging and acting as species-specific criteria of group belonging. Value settings can act as an ethno-integrative factor of group identification. The adaptation of migrants living in regions with a high level of ethnic diversity can be more effective and successful if a discussion, ‘elaboration’ (through implementing migrants’ adaptation programs or during psychological counseling sessions) of values that differ in the degree of intensity and the form of behavior in the representatives of newcomers and the host population will take place. The engagement of group resources (trainings, support groups) and techniques of individual psychological work is capable of activating the person’s adaptive potential and serving as measures to prevent xenophobia, migrant-phobia, religious and national extremism in a poly-ethnic region.

Research Questions

The following issues were to be resolved for the implementation of the study:

1. To explore the transformation of values in the process of migratory transition;

2. To design an interpretative model of dynamic changes in value attitudes that occur during migration.

According to our hypothesis, value attitudes are likely to be dynamic and subject to changes in the process of migration.

Purpose of the Study

To identify the degree of intensity of value attitudes and perceptions of ethnic identity in the process of migration.

Research Methods

The study aimed to explore the transformations of value attitudes of emigrants from post-Soviet republics who currently live in Yekaterinburg. Two assessments were made within 18 months. The first assessment involved 48 subjects, the second – 32 people. The first measurement was administered to the group of emigrants who lived in the territory of the RF for a month. The second assessment involved the sample consisting of 32 people as 16 people had left for home. The countries from which the subjects arrived in Russia included Kazakhstan, Azerbaidzhan, Kyrgyzstan. The study resulted in the comparison of changes in value attitudes of the representatives of the Caucasian region and Middle Asia. The age of the respondents was from 18 to 49, the median age is 27, 24 males and 8 females. The 14 subjects had a diploma of higher education, 13 of them had a college diploma, 5 of them were with school certificates (including 2 persons who came to enter a higher education establishment). In terms of confession belonging, 29 declared themselves Muslims, 1 – an atheist, one – orthodox Christian, and one subject found it difficult to answer. The main reason for migration to Russia is a failure to find a job (low pay/salary) at home (30 persons). As Lindenberg rightly points out, all people aspire to “physical and social welfare” (Lindenberg, 1996, p. 172) but their ways to achieve them can significantly differ.

The Schwartz Value Survey adapted by Karandashev (2004) allows for measuring declared values separately (a review of values) at the level of value attitudes and values at the level of actions (personality profile). An ‘ideal variant’ of the convergence of actions and attitudes is impossible due to human nature and multifaceted character of life situations. A variant of ‘value-driven gap’ when values realized in behavior greatly differ from manifested life principles is also not comfortable. In this case, the false self has to be fixed, the self that realizes socially normative behavior without its deep acceptance. The stronger the polarization of attitudes and action is, the stronger the internal conflict.

The data obtained were processed with the help of the Student t-criterion (independent samples, normal distribution). For results analysis, the authors exploited SPSS 20.0.


The results of the comparison for the first part (a review of values) according to The Schwartz Value Survey are presented in table 01 .

Table 1 -
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The results of studying migrants’ values showed statistically significant differences in value settings before and after the migratory transition. In particular, the growing importance of such values as conformity, universalism, achievement, and security can be pointed out. In contrast, one can notice a decrease in the value of tradition. This picture of values indicates a rising necessity to adapt, be secure, and accepted on the part of the ethnic majority. The observance of tradition (at the level of personal attitude) goes down, which allows the respondents to become more integrated into a new socio-cultural environment.

The second part of the Schwartz Value Survey (personality profile) is directed towards exploring statistically significant differences in values realized in behavior. You can see the results in table 02 .

Table 2 -
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The respondents exhibited statistically significant differences at the level of behavior (8 variables) more than at the level of attitudes (5 variables). The dynamic changes in value settings shift towards a greater adaptivity in line with the modified environment: conformity and universalism grow while the meaning of tradition falls. Value specificities of personality profile ‘follow’ the alterations in the migrant’s life. In other words, values realized in behavior can be defined as an accommodation, socio-adaptive mechanism of the person. Values as common principles (the first part of the Schwartz Value Survey) are more constant and stable, constitute “the value core “ of the personality construct and are characterized by lower plasticity and are less prone to dynamic changes. The identified specific features make it possible to indicate different levels of the migrants’ adaptation:

1. The behavioral level – mastering of behavior cultural code and acceptance of interaction rules existing in a recipient country; it emerges at initial stages of adaptation to new conditions of a social environment.

2. The intrapersonal level – the acceptance of new cultural code as one’s own emerges at later stages of adaptation in a long-term (constant) migration. One can assume that this form of adaptation depends on age (young people assimilate quicker and simpler than adults) and on the degree of native and host culture closeness.


1. Value attitudes flow from ethnic identity and reflect the cultural characteristics of ethnos.

2. In the process of acculturation, a value structure of personality changes. The greater changes are observed at the level of behavior, the smaller ones – at the level of attitudes.

3. Value attitudes have a dynamic, accommodation character and contribute to assimilating to new cultural conditions.


The article was supported with a grant from the Russian Science Foundation (project № 18-18-00112).


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Psychology, personality, virtual, personality psychology, identity, virtual identity, digital space

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Dontsov, A. I., Zotova, O. Y., Mostikov, S. V., & Solodukhina, O. S. (2020). The Dynamics Of Changes In Value Attitudes In The Process Of Emigration. In T. Martsinkovskaya, & V. Orestova (Eds.), Psychology of Personality: Real and Virtual Context, vol 94. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 169-174). European Publisher.