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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Values an planning opinions: towards the synthesis of "planning opinion types" in a community Winterhalt, William H.


This research was undertaken primarily to find a valid method of formulating community goals within the planning process. Proper definition of goals was seen as the key to this ideally rational process and as something which has too often been neglected by practicing planners. Since values are portrayed in the literature as the determiners of our choices among alternatives, it seems reasonable to assert that the formation of a person's opinions on planning issues will be linked with his value system. If a parsimonious set of values dimensions can be identified as the latent basis of broad scale planning opinion formation, reliable measures of these dimensions could be used as criteria to define groups of people with similar opinions on the issues that are of fundamental interest in planning. It was envisioned that these groups could be used in a variety of interactive programs designed to ascertain the goals of a community. Two study objectives were outlined: 1) to determine whether values measures add significantly to the power of socio-economic variables in discriminating between groupings of respondents defined on planning opinions. 2) to describe the values sub-domain capable of yielding efficient enough discriminators to be used in actual planning analysis. A questionnaire was designed to provide measures of values, of planning opinions, and of socio-economic variables. Factor analysis was used to reduce the number of variables and to obtain more reliable compound measures. Seven values variables (Authoritarianism, Dependent Mistrust, Socialism, Liberal Restraint, Conservatism, Independent Cynicism, and Religious Cynicism), five planning opinion variables (Control Growth, Parks and Preservation, Land and Housing Control, Public Transit, and Housing Mix), and nine socio-economic variables (Age, Sex, Marital Status, Ethnicity, Social Status, Family Responsibility, Housing Stability, Auto Dependence, and Adults!) were used in the subsequent analysis. A-hierarchical grouping analysis using the planning opinion scores as criteria resulted in the assignment of 207 cases to nine distinct planning opinion groups. Two discriminant analyses were made to test the hypothesis that personal values in combination with socio-economic variables discriminate significantly better between opinion groups defined in the domain of broad scale planning issues than do socio-economic variables alone. The analysis results supported the hypothesis. To pursue the second objective of the thesis, a stepwise discriminant analysis was used to find the reduced set of values and socio-economic variables which discriminated most efficiently between planning opinion groups. The six optimum variables thus identified (five of the seven values variables and housing stability) were then used to create nine new "planning values groups". It was found that planning opinion scores discriminated significantly between these new groups. Thus, traces of the sought after link between values and planning opinions had been uncovered. These analysis results justify further research and lead to the suggestion that fairly stable "planning opinion types" could eventually be defined with the help of values measures. "Community values profiles" (the frequency distribution of "planning opinion types") would then become useful in planning issue analysis, citizen participation programs and in goal formulation efforts. Planning issue analysis would involve using planning opinion "type samples" to ascertain the modal "type opinions" on the issues of interest. Community feeling on the issue could then be gauged by weighting each modal opinion in proportion to its corresponding frequency distribution in the "community values profile". Similarly, "citizen panels" with the values profile of any particular portion of a community could be used in interactive types of planning programs. In each case, the "citizen panel" would essentially act on behalf of the community as do the jurors in a court case.

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