In a world where values and beliefs are often so tightly interwoven, we need to take a step backward in order to define the differences between the two ideas. While who we are and what we hold dear help to define both personal values and personal beliefs, there are also distinct differences between the two.
Personal beliefs are statements, principles or doctrines that individuals choose to accept as true. While others may argue their credibility, if an individual genuinely believes in a cause or a feeling, it can be credited as a personal belief. Some parents, for example, strongly believe that children should attend all day/every day kindergarten. They will argue that children who are in this regimented routine will learn more and therefore be better prepared for first grade. Opposers will share the personal belief that the all day/every day kindergarten program is too intense for five and six year old children, and therefore will cause more problems down the educational road. While neither side is necessarily "right," both sides truly feel their reasoning is correct.
Personal values differ, in that they are more of a measurable discipline. They really have nothing to do with outside influences. While personal values are definitely woven into personal beliefs, values are personal choices that are never really argued, because they simply define who we are as individuals. Personal values, in a sense, define the worth of our being and the importance of our personal beliefs.
For example, a young single mother may value the ability to multi-task. In order to make ends meet, she may be working one or two jobs outside the home, creating quality time with her children, finding a moment to run to the grocery store, and managing to still have a moment in the day to sit down and pay the bills. A ten year old boy may not value that idea as highly, simply because he does not yet have that number of responsibilitiesto manage.
The most distinct difference between values and beliefs entertains the idea of change. Values change often over time. As we grow and mature, we enter different stages of life. Each stage that requires us to alter our current way of life will also cause us to reassess our values. Beliefs, on the other hand, will not likely change as often. We may change our lifestyles, but the ideals we hold to will often remain constant. For a personal belief to change, a strong piece of proof to contradict what was previously believed would have to be provided.
It is true that personal beliefs and personal values share the idea of individual choice. As unique bodies with unique minds, we have the ability to make our own choices and believe our own beliefs. While the two share many overlapping similarities, the differences boil down to the fact that we definitely have the ability to have both; however we will more than likely believe what we value much longer than we value what we believe.