Battle of values

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The activity allows participants to reflect critically on the values underlying our actions. Starting from the experience of the participants, the activity helps bring “moral dilemmas” into focus and re-examine them through the “value lens”. The activity helps participants to understand the role of values, and how they can conflict in the context of moral / ethical dilemmas.

Time 90 minutes

Material Flipcharts. Pens. Coloured paper. Projector.

Group Size 20-25 people, -16 years old

Keywords Values, Democracy, Critical thinking


Handbook: TEVIP Bluelines-tevip-en.png Translating European Values into Practice Download


  • Understand possible value conflicts
  • Make value-based decisions
  • Develop critical thinking


Set up the computer, projector and flipchart in the room where the activity will take place. Arrange five chairs in the front of the room, facing the group of participants.


1. Introduce the question of moral dilemmas by asking the group this question: “You see a train speeding down the railway unable to stop. Tied to the track are 5 people about to be hit. You run to change tracks but realise that by changing the tracks you will instead kill a child tied to the other track. Do you make the switch and kill a child to save 5 people?”

Initiate a discussion, listen and collect the participants’ ideas. Ask participants to watch the “Inside Out” clip which shows emotions at play when decisions are made:

Once the clip is finished, ask the group to re-read the train scenario while focussing on the possible interior dialogue of a person faced with that decision. Facilitate discussion by listening to and collecting participants’ ideas. Trying to replace emotions with values: what could be the values at stake (and in contrast) in making the decision? After this introduction, tell the group that the activity has the objective of exploring the concept of “the battle of values”. Divide the participants into three groups (consisting of no more than eight participants each) and give them 4 different coloured A4 cards and a marker.

2. In each group the participants will have to share some values-related dilemmas that they have encountered during their life. Once the dilemmas have been identified, the group will have to choose one and identify the four conflicting values called into question. The four conflicting values will have to be written on the four cards (one on each card).Once everyone is done, have the participants sit in a circle again. Explain to them that the next phase will proceed as follows: One by one each group presents their dilemma. To this end, they choose 5 volunteers from among the participants: one represents the actor faced with having to make a decision in the scenario/dilemma presented, the remaining four must “interpret” the conflicting values. The five sit on the chairs in front of the audience. The decision maker poses questions to the values asking them how to act (similar to the emotions of the video), for as long as he feels unable to make a decision.

You might use also the template: File:Handout Battle of Values.pdf


After the activity, ask the participants to arrange themselves in a circle and initiate a discussion using the following questions as a starting point:

  • How do you feel?
  • Was it easy or difficult to identify a moral dilemma?
  • Was it easy or difficult to interpret the values?
  • Are you satisfied with the decisions made?
  • For the actors: was it difficult to make the decision?
  • In real life, were you aware of the values at stake before making the decision?
  • Does anyone want to share the way he/she actually acted in the scenario presented?



Before starting the activity, go through the proposals of “value-based statements” and adapt them to your group in relation to their age, background, context. You may decide to adapt them or to set completely new statements. The activity – in the debriefing – needs you find a way to make everyone talk (maybe by giving each person a number and the number being called out to speak). If the groups need support in choosing the dilemma, you can present them with some possible examples. If the group is large, reduce the introductory phase to make more time for the central one. Create more than three work groups. If needed, the activity can be followed by Orbiting values to deepen the topic.