A worldview is a belief system that shapes one’s perceptions, values, and actions. It is an anchor upon which we can live out our lives so that it’s consistent with our underlying belief system.
There are four types of worldviews. These are: attitudinal, ideological, religious, and philosophical. Within each of these categories, we can identify examples of worldviews such as optimism, libertarianism, monotheism, and stoicism.
List of Worldviews Discussed in this Article
1. Attitudinal Worldviews
An attitudinal worldview is a general disposition that someone has. It can be seen as the core features of a person’s personal character that tend to be consistent enough that they are seen as a person’s personality.
Examples of attitudinal worldviews include optimism, pessimism, compassion, thoughtfulness, and adventurousness.
The most common metaphor we use when exploring attitudinal worldviews is that of glass-half-full versus glass-half-empty. This metaphor makes us think of two people looking at the same glass of water. One person says “that glass is half full”. They are an optimist because they’re reflecting on what they have. The other person says “that glass is half empty”. They are a pessimist because they’re reflecting on what they’re missing.
In performance reviews at work, an employer will often refer to a person’s attitudinal worldview. They might talk about their work ethic, optimism, or cooperativeness as things that offer value to the team.
Similarly, in school report cards, teachers might reflect on a student’s friendliness, resilience, or growth mindset.
List of Attitudinal Worldviews
2. Ideological Worldviews
Ideological worldviews are worldviews based upon a person’s values and ideals. They stem from a personal idea of how the world should be structured both politically and economically.
Examples of ideological worldviews include capitalism, socialism, communism, social democracy, libertarianism, agrarianism, and totalitarianism.
These ideological worldviews might underpin the way you vote and your perception of what rights and freedoms people should have. For example, a socialist might be more focused on social equality and ensuring people get the education and healthcare they need regardless of their income.
By contrast, capitalists might be more concerned with ensuring people have the freedom to start a business and build wealth for themselves and their families.
Interestingly, there is a gender slant in ideological worldviews. If we were to look at a distribution curve, we would see that women are distributed more closely toward communitarian worldviews, while men are distributed more closely toward individualistic worldviews.
List of Ideological Worldviews
3. Religious Worldviews
Your religious worldview refers to your beliefs about god and spirituality. Even people who do not believe in a god or are unsure can be classified as having a religious worldview (agnosticism and atheism).
We can also break down religious worldviews into a few key types, including monotheism, polytheism, and atheism.
Most of the world’s major religions are monotheistic, including Christianity, Islamism, Mormonism, Catholicism, and Judaism.
People with a strong belief in an organized religion may turn to their founding texts (e.g. the Bible, Quran, etc.) to help shape their worldview. Through these texts, they develop beliefs around morality, how to live a good life, gender relations, and even what to eat and when to eat it!
List of Religious Worldviews
4. Philosophical Worldviews
Philosophical worldviews refer to your beliefs about fundamental questions like the nature of existence, truth, knowledge, and social relations.
While philosophical worldviews are similar to, and informed by, religious and ideological worldviews, your philosophy tends to be a set of epistemological beliefs based upon critical reasoning and systematic and rational inquiry.
Philosophical worldviews are also often informed by schools of thought that emerge from academic study such as pluralism, moral relativism, Marxism, postmodernism, and intellectual conservativism.
For example, the philosophy of stoicism is based upon a school of thought that dates back to ancient Greece. This philosophical worldview teaches that humans should change the things they can and accept the things they cannot change. It encourages personal reflection on to build up wisdom, temperance, courage, and justice.
List of Philosophical Worldviews
The Influence of Culture on Worldviews
While we like to think that we use personal intellect and free thought to come to our worldview, the truth is that our worldviews are very much influenced by our cultures.
For example, the vast majority of people who grow up in Islamic families tend to be Muslims in adulthood; the same goes with Christianity. While small changes occur from generation to generation, there is a clear intergeneration passing-down of worldviews.
Similarly, we can see that societies like the United States are highly individualistic whereas societies in Scandinavia are more communitarian in nature. The mere exposure to worldviews through family, friends, and media can fundamentally influence the values we consciously choose to adopt in adulthood.
This is not to say you don’t have agency to choose for yourself; rather, it is to say that on a sociological level, some worldviews have more of a foothold in some cultures than others, demonstrating the impact on your situated context on how you perceive the world around you.
What is your Worldview? – How to Determine It
Most people have a rough idea of their own worldview to start with. If you’re not able to articulate your worldview right now, you would want to start by asking yourself some questions.
These questions might include questions like:
- What words would you use to describe your personality? (Attitudinal worldviews)
- What are your core beliefs when it comes to politics and economics? (Ideological worldviews)
- What are your beliefs about God and spirituality? (Religious worldviews)
You could also do a wide range of reading to get a better sense of the world if you feel like you need to be more informed before stating what your worldview is. A common book people read is Sophie’s Choice, a fictional book about a girl who is discovering her opinions about philosophy.
Similarly, you may want to take classes on world religions and politics to get a better idea of what your fundamental belief systems are.
A person’s worldview is a deeply-held set of beliefs that are shaped by a range of factors, including family, culture, religion, and education. It can also change over time. Big events in life, such as the birth of a child, can shake a person’s fundamental belief system and make them re-think their entire worldview.
Similarly, many people don’t know what their personal worldview is. For those people, self-reflection, consultation with people they admire, and exploration of a range of philosophical and religious perspectives can help them to develop a personal belief system.
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education.