Global Change Seminar "It's Your Move!"
Individual Exercise

Forced Choice Ladder¹

          On a sheet of paper construct a drawing like a ladder of ten steps so that it looks like you drew a set of stairs. Make each step about an inch wide and number the steps from 1 to 10. (Click here for drawing example.)

          Read the first of the ten statements below. Now check inside yourself and assess the strength of your feelings to the statement - your knee-jerk reaction, so-to-speak.

          Using the ladder as a 1 to 10 scale, place the key words indicated for each statement on the first step if your feelings about the statement are weak or minimal, or on the tenth step if feel really strongly about the statement. Use the steps in between according to the strength of your reaction to the statement. This exercise measures the intensity of your feelings regardless of whether they are positive or negative. Place only one statement on each step so that when completed, the ladder shows the relative strength of your instinctive reaction to each of these statement.

  1. Joe constantly stresses law and order. He is concerned about the violence and lawbreaking going on in our society. Joe is a building contractor. Frequently, when he gets parking tickets for his dump trucks, Joe arranges to get them “fixed.” Occasionally he does special favors for the building inspectors who inspect his work so as to maintain a good relationship with them. (Key words: Law and order)
  2. Margaret believes that environmental awareness is crucial in the development of young minds. She often brings young people into the woods to experience nature. Along the way Margaret sometimes litters the trail with cigarette butts and an occasional soda pop can tab. (Key words: Environmental activist)
  3. Jennifer Jones is high school biology teacher. She is considered by everyone to be a fine teacher. She is trusted by the students. They can always turn to her. Ms. Jones know that some of her students are engaging in premarital sex. She is concerned about this and gets condoms to give to some of her students. (Key words: Biology teacher)
  4. George has two children and is very much concerned about the population explosion. His wife wants more children, but he doesn’t. George goes to the doctor and has a vasectomy without consulting his wife. (Key words: Population explosion)
  5. Roger talks a great deal about how important it is for children to have a healthy emotional development. He seems to be permissive in his attitude toward children. One day Roger comes home and finds his three-year-old son playing with his genitals. He gives the boy a thorough scolding and then gives him a new ball to play with instead. (Key words: Concerned father)
  6. Jane believes that people should have complete freedom of personal choice. She feels that she should be able to swim where she pleases and with whom she pleases. Jane builds a pool and operates a private swim club that keeps out certain minorities. (Key words: Swim club)
  7. Bill cheats on his income tax each year, but all the money he owes to the IRS by doing this he donates to his church. This donation is in addition to Bill's regular church contributions. (Key words: Income tax)
  8. Phil and Simon get their kicks on Saturday nights by going down to Greenwich Village and harassing gay men. (Key words: Greenwich Village)
  9. Fred is a leading industrialist in his area. One day he tells his plant manager to arrange it so the smokestacks don’t pollute during the day. “Save it up and let it out only at night until this ecology stuff dies down,”  Fred says to his plant manager. (Key word: Pollution)
  10. Jim's son comes home from college and criticizes his father for working in a factory that is supplying metal parts for nuclear missiles and submarines. Jim tells his son to shut up and points out that the money he earns in the factory is sending the young man through college. (Key words: Father and son)

          After you have completed the exercise, note that each statement contains conflicting values. For each statement try to identify the conflicting values and then determine which values conflict elicited the strongest reaction from you.

¹ This exercise is adapted from Values Clarification: A Practical, Action-Directed Workbook by Sidney Simon, et al. New York: Warner Books, 1995


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