Inglehart–Welzel cultural map of the world

The Inglehart–Welzel cultural map of the world is a scatter plot created by political scientists Ronald Inglehart and Christian Welzel based on the World Values Survey. It depicts closely linked cultural values that vary between societies in two predominant dimensions: traditional versus secular-rational values on the vertical y-axis and survival versus self-expression values on the horizontal x-axis. Moving upward on this map reflects the shift from traditional values to secular-rational ones and moving rightward reflects the shift from survival values to self-expression values.

A recreation of the map, 2017 version[needs update]

According to the authors: "These two dimensions explain more than 70 percent of the cross-national variance in a factor analysis of ten indicators—and each of these dimensions is strongly correlated with scores of other important orientations."[1]

The authors stress that socio-economic status is not the sole factor determining a country's location, as their religious and cultural historical heritage is also an important factor.[2]


Analysis of the World Values Survey data by Inglehart and Welzel asserts that there are two major dimensions of cross-cultural variation in the world:

  1. x-axis: Survival values versus self-expression values
  2. y-axis: Traditional values versus secular-rational values.[1]

The map is not a geographical map but rather a chart in which countries are positioned based on their scores for the two values mapped on the x-axis (survival values versus self-expression values) and the y-axis (traditional values versus secular-rational values).[1] The map shows where societies are located in these two dimensions. Clusters of countries reflect their shared values and not geographical closeness.[1]

Traditional values emphasize the importance of religion, parent-child ties, deference to authority, absolute standards and traditional family values. People who embrace these values also reject divorce, abortion, euthanasia and suicide. Societies that embrace these values have high levels of national pride and a nationalistic outlook.[1]

Secular-rational values have the opposite preferences to the traditional values. Societies that embrace these values place less emphasis on religion, traditional family values and authority. Divorce, abortion, euthanasia and suicide are seen as relatively acceptable.[1]

The shift from traditional to secular-rational values has been described by Engelbrekt and Nygren as "essentially the replacement of religion and superstition with science and bureaucracy".[2]

Survival values place emphasis on economic and physical security.[1] They are linked with a relatively ethnocentric outlook and low levels of trust and tolerance.

Self-expression values give high priority to subjective well-being, self-expression and quality of life.[1] Some values more common in societies that embrace these values include environmental protection, growing tolerance of foreigners, gays and lesbians and gender equality, rising demands for participation in decision-making in economic and political life (autonomy and freedom from central authority), interpersonal trust, political moderation, and a shift in child-rearing values from emphasis on hard work toward imagination and tolerance.[1]

The shift from survival to self-expression also represents the transition from industrial society to post-industrial society, as well as embracing democratic values.[1][3]


2017 version of the map

A 2017 version of the map had countries divided into nine clusters: the English-speaking, Latin America, Catholic Europe, Protestant Europe, African-Islamic, Baltic, South Asian, Orthodox and Confucian clusters.[4] In previous studies, the African-Islamic cluster was split into two (the African cluster and the Islamic cluster) and the Baltic states did not have their own cluster.[5]

Another proposed way to cluster the societies is by material wealth, with the poorer societies at the bottom of both axes, and richer at the top.[6]

Country-specific analysisEdit

Out of Western world countries, the United States is among the most conservative (as one of the most downwards-located countries), together with highly conservative Catholic countries such as Ireland and Poland.[7] Simoni concludes that "On the traditional/secular dimension, the United States ranks far below other rich societies, with levels of religiosity and national pride comparable with those found in some developing societies."[3]

Asian societies are distributed in the traditional/secular dimension in two clusters, with more secular Confucian societies at the top, and more traditional South Asian ones at the center of the map.[8]

Russia is among the most survival-value oriented countries, and at the other end, Sweden ranks highest on the self-expression chart.[2]

It has also been found that basic cultural values overwhelmingly apply on national lines, with cross-border intermixtures being relatively rare. This is true even between countries with shared cultural histories. Additionally, even cultural clusters of countries do not intermix much across borders. This suggests nations are culturally meaningful units.[9]


The map is updated and modified regularly along with the new waves of data from the World Values Survey. The different versions are available at the website of the World Values Survey.[10]

An early version of the map was published by Ronald Inglehart in 1997 with the dimensions named "Traditional vs. Secular-Rational Authority" and "Survival vs. Well-being".[11]

Inglehart and Welzel revised this map in 2005 and named the dimensions "Traditional vs. Secular-Rational Values" and "Survival vs. Self-expression Values".[6] This map and its various updates are generally referred to as the Inglehart–Welzel Cultural Map.

Welzel published a quite different map in 2013 with two closely related dimensions named "Emancipative Values" and "Secular Values", where Emancipative Values provide the main variable behind his theory of human empowerment.[12]

Other cultural maps have been published by Shalom Schwartz,[13] Michael Minkov,[14] and by Stankov and coworkers.[15]


The cultural map has generally been well received and it is often cited or referred to. Several[which?] scholars, though, have questioned whether the two dimensions represent adequate and useful measures of cultural differences[citation needed]. For example, two British scientists have questioned which measures of culture are most adequate and whether the measured change over time is real,[16] and two Malaysian scientists have pointed out

that East Asian attitudes and values are not adequately reflected.[17]

Later calculations indicate that the split into two factors or dimensions is only weakly justified by the data, and that a single-factor solution might be appropriate.[18][19] Welzel has suggested that the two dimensions may be combined under a common framework of human empowerment.[12] Similarly, Inglehart finds that a single factor combining cultural values reflects modernization quite well.[20]

A meta-analysis of studies of cultural differences finds that many other studies of cultural differences have resulted in similar factors, but rotated differently. The common practice of factor rotation has obscured the similarity between different studies with different orientations of the axes on the cultural maps. The unrotated solution has the strongest factor or dimension corresponding to a line from the lower left to the upper right of Inglehart and Welzel's map, combining the two dimensions. This combined dimension may be interpreted as development or modernization. It combines a lot of economic, technological, institutional, and psychological variables that happen to be strongly correlated with each other. An unrotated second factor or dimension corresponds to a vertical line on Inglehart and Welzel's map, reflecting the special cultural values of East Asian cultures.[21]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Ronald Inglehart; Chris Welzel. "The WVS Cultural Map of the World". WVS. Archived from the original on October 19, 2013. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
  2. ^ a b c Kjell Engelbrekt; Bertil Nygren (18 March 2014). Russia and Europe: Building Bridges, Digging Trenches. Routledge. p. 32. ISBN 978-1-136-99201-8.
  3. ^ a b Serena Simoni (29 May 2013). Understanding Transatlantic Relations: Whither the West?. Routledge. p. 1. ISBN 978-1-136-47695-2.
  4. ^ "WVS Database". Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  5. ^ Robert Westwood; Gavin Jack; Farzad Khan; Michal Frenkel (29 August 2014). Core-Periphery Relations and Organization Studies. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 64–65. ISBN 978-1-137-30905-1.
  6. ^ a b Ronald Inglehart; Christian Welzel (8 August 2005). Modernization, Cultural Change, and Democracy: The Human Development Sequence. Cambridge University Press. p. 57. ISBN 978-1-139-45988-4.
  7. ^ Helmut K Anheier; Yudhishthir Raj Isar (27 March 2007). Cultures and Globalization: Conflicts and Tensions. SAGE Publications. pp. 243–245. ISBN 978-1-84860-737-8.
  8. ^ Michael A. Witt; Gordon Redding (23 January 2014). The Oxford Handbook of Asian Business Systems. OUP Oxford. p. 370. ISBN 978-0-19-162655-5.
  9. ^ Minkov, Michael; Hofstede, Geert (2012). "Is National Culture a Meaningful Concept?". Cross-Cultural Research. 46 (2): 133–159. doi:10.1177/1069397111427262. S2CID 146196222.
  10. ^ "World Values Survey, Findings and Insights". World Values Survey. 2020. Retrieved 2020-10-07.
  11. ^ Inglehart, R. (1997). Modernization and Postmodernization. Cultural, Economic, and Political change in 43 societies. Princeton University Press.
  12. ^ a b Welzel, C. (2013). Freedom Rising. Human Empowerment and the Quest for Emancipation. Cambridge University Press.
  13. ^ Schwartz, Shalom (2006). "A Theory of Cultural Value Orientations: Explication and Applications". Comparative Sociology. 5 (2–3): 137–182. doi:10.1163/156913306778667357.
  14. ^ Minkov, Michael (2011). Cultural Differences in a Globalizing World. Emerald.
  15. ^ Stankov, Lazar; Lee, J.; van de Vijver, F. (2014). "Two Dimensions of Psychological Country-level Differences: Conservatism/Liberalism and Harshness/Softness". Learning and Individual Differences. 30: 22–33. doi:10.1016/j.lindif.2013.12.001.
  16. ^ Majima, S.; Savage, M. (2007). "Have There Been Culture Shifts in Britain? A Critical Encounter with Ronald Inglehart". Cultural Sociology. 1 (3): 293–315. doi:10.1177/1749975507082050. S2CID 143440246.
  17. ^ Bomhoff, Eduard J.; Gu, Mary Man-Li (2012). "East Asia Remains Different: A Comment on the Index of Self-Expression Values, by Inglehart and Welzel". Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology. 43 (3): 373–383. doi:10.1177/0022022111435096. S2CID 145556393.
  18. ^ Beugelsdijk, S.; Welzel, C. (2018). "Dimensions and dynamics of national culture: Synthesizing Hofstede with Inglehart". Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology. 49 (10): 1469–1505. doi:10.1177/0022022118798505. PMC 6191680. PMID 30369633.
  19. ^ Li, Liman M. W.; Bond, Michael H. (2010). "Value Change: Analyzing National Change in Citizen Secularism Across Four Time Periods in the World Values Survey". The Social Science Journal. 47 (2): 294–306. doi:10.1016/j.soscij.2009.12.004. S2CID 143771208.
  20. ^ Inglehart, R. (2018). Cultural Evolution. Peoples Motivations are Changing and Reshaping World. Cambridge University Press.
  21. ^ Fog, A. (2020). "A Test of the Reproducibility of the Clustering of Cultural Variables". Cross-Cultural Research. 55. doi:10.1177/1069397120956948.

External linksEdit