Values are desirable abstract goals that apply across situations. Values serve as guiding principles in people's lives, as criteria to select and justify actions and to evaluate people and events (Rohan, 2000; Rokeach, 1973; Schwartz, 1992). Values relate meaningfully to numerous important behaviors such as alcohol consumption (Schwartz, Melech, Lehmann, Burgess, Harris, & Owens, 2001), risky sexual behavior (Goodwin, Realo, Kwiatkowska, Kozlova, Nguyen Luu, & Nizharadze, 2002), vocational behavior (Knafo & Sagiv, 2004; Sagiv & Schwartz, 2004), and pro- and antisocial behaviors (Bond & Chi, 1997; Knafo, 2003a). Parents invest heavily in trying to influence their children's values. Yet, their success is quite limited; the relationship between parental and child values is far from being congruent (Homer, 1993; Knafo & Schwartz, 2001; Troll & Bengtson, 1979).
This chapter addresses the processes that lead to parent–child value congruence. By value congruence, we mean that parents and their children attribute similar importance to a value. Levels of parent–child value congruence vary as a function of the substantive content of values. Congruence is usually high for religious values and lower for most other values that have been studied (Kalish & Johnson, 1972; Miller & Glass, 1989). It is therefore important to consider the content of values when studying value transmission. The crucial content aspect that distinguishes among values is the type of motivational goal that they express (Schwartz, 1992).