Traditional worldviewModern worldviewPostmodern worldviewIntegrative worldview
Theistic, dualistic, transcendent view of reality Objectified, materialistic, mechanistic view of realityPluralistic, fragmented, relativistic view of reality
Holistic/unified, spiritual-evolutionary view of reality
Knowledge through tradition, convention, scripture (literalism, dogmatism) Knowledge through empirical science, rationality, logic (positivism, scientism)Knowledge through qualitative modes of knowing (social constructivism)Knowledge through integration, mixed methods (pragmatism, critical realism)
Social selfIndependent selfAuthentic selfInterdependent self
Traditional values (ie., solidarity, security, discipline, service, faith, conformity)Individualistic values (ie., achievement, hedonism, succes, status, power, fun)Post-material values (ie., self-expression, imagination, openness to change)Universal values (ie., self-actualization, wisdom, universalism, transcendence)
Emphasis on family, social roles and rules, law and orderEmphasis on the future, belief in progress, optimismEmphasis on deconstruction of narratives, social justiceEmphasis on individual and cultural evolution and growth
Nature as meaningful, divinely constructed order (God’s creation)Nature as instrumental, objectified, resource for exploitationNature as inner source, oppressed voice or entity, larger systemNature as intrinsically valuable, spiritually significant, partner

This table offers a concise overview of the four worldviews and their distinctive differences


These four worldviews ~ and especially the traditional, modern, and postmodern ones ~ have been recognised by philosophers and sociologists as part of the historical-developmental trajectory of cultural epochs in the West. These worldviews therefore speak to ideas and values, patterns and structures that most of us are familiar with and can recognise in our own experience.

You may recognise traditional ways of thinking in certain religious communities. You may perceive the modern mindset in your scientific education or in the capitalist consumer culture our world is pervaded by. You may recognise postmodern values and ideas in the battle for social justice ongoing in our culture at large. Et cetera.

These worldviews are ideal-types: idea-constructs that depict pure or idealised structures and patterns, recognisable in the world around us, yet generally not existing in these pure forms. These ideal-types serve as analytical tools, helping us put the seeming chaos of social reality in order.

Table and research

In this publication you can find a much more elaborate version of the above table (on p. 102), as well as an extensive report of the study the worldview-test is based on. Here you can read more about the research-approach that was used to develop the worldview-test.

Links to worldviews

Here you can find more detailed information per worldview:

Traditional worldviewModern worldviewPostmodern worldviewIntegrative worldview

You can also read more about the mixed worldview results, the category that people end up in if they don’t score high enough on any of the four worldviews.


Here you can find a short video-lecture (22 minutes) explaining the four worldviews, as well as introducing an approach to understanding and relating to these worldviews. Additionally, there’s a video-lecture that speaks to what worldviews are (9 minutes) ~ that is, how to define and understand this term. And one that talks about why exploring our worldviews is significant and powerful (18 minutes).