Difference Between Values and Principles

Main Difference – Values vs Principles

Morals, ethics, values, beliefs, and principles are all factors that govern our character and behavior. Yet, there are differences between each of these concepts. In this article, we are going to examine the difference between values and principles. Values are qualities or standards that govern the behavior of a person and principles are rules or beliefs that govern our actions. The main difference between values and principles is that principles are based on a person’s values. Thus, it is values that act as the foundation for principles. These principles, which emerge as a belief or rule based on values, can even influence the direction of the whole society.Difference Between Values and Principles- infographic


What are Values

Values describe what is important in a person’s life. It is values that unconsciously help us to form our individual principles. Values are the foundation to a person character, attitude, perceptive and overall behavior. An individual always uses values to make decisions about right and wrong.

Each individual may have different values. For example, one person will value happiness above all whereas another will value courage and dedication. An individual who has high moral values displays qualities such as honesty, integrity, courage, loyalty, fairness, respect, and compassion. A person’s personal values can be influenced by a wide range of factors such as background, experiences, education, and religion. However, it is also possible for a person to change his values with the passage of time.Difference Between Values and Principles

What are Principles

Principles are moral rules or beliefs that help you know what is right and wrong, and that influences your actions. Principles are what you stand for in life; they direct your life and act as a moral compass. In other words, they govern your behavior. Principles are based on the personal values we hold dear to us. For example, if a person values nonviolence, he’ll never get into fights with others or behave aggressively. This behavior is prompted by the belief that he or she will never behave aggressively or violently. If you value honesty, you’ll never tell lies, not even a white lie. Here, never telling lies is your principle. A person who strongly believes that lying is wrong will never deviate from the truth, even if it brings personal harm. Since principles are sometimes equivalent to rules, they can be quite stern and unyielding.

Although principles are collectively agreed upon by society, a person can have his own individual principles. Major laws in a country, (i.e., laws that make murder and robbery illegal) are based on the collective principles of the society that it is wrong to kill or rob.

Given below are some values and principles that can be associated with them.

Value: Thriftiness  

Principle: I’ll never buy branded clothes.

Value: Fairness

Principle: I’ll never treat people unfairly.

Value: Honesty

Principle: I’ll never lie, even if it is to prevent harm.

Main Difference - Values vs Principles

I will see no evil, hear no evil, or speak no evil.


Difference Between Values and Principles


Values are qualities or standards of behavior.

Principles are rules or beliefs governing one’s behavior.


Values help to form principles.

Principles are based on one’s values.

Qualities vs Rules

Values are qualities.

Principles are rules.


Values are not as stern as principles.

Principles can be stern and unyielding.

Image Courtesy: Pixbay

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.