For my 100th post please allow me to cross the streams of my professional and hobby lives.
Gygax's view of values and morality, Players' Handbook, 1978:
For most of my readership this needs no explanation (but please look here if it does.)
Now. The major model of human values in psychology research today is Shalom Schwartz's circular model, developed in the mid-1980's. The methodology is a questionnaire where people are asked to rate which principles they personally hold most and least important in life. The position of those principles (values) on the circle is derived from statistical analysis of how answers tend to be similar or different across respondents.
While people and countries differ in which values they hold important, values that are close to each other on the circle usually are ranked high or low together. Likewise, values opposite to each other tend to have a negative relationship, so that people who value one set of principles highly, usually value the opposing set of principles less.
By now there are hundreds of studies using this model (including some from my own lab) conducted across scores of different countries. In the diagram below, the smaller labels are more specific values, larger labels describe groups of values, and the 4 labels on the corners represent the largest-scale value groupings.
It looks like Gygax got at least a seven-year head start on psychology here, with a model of human motivational ideals pulled out of his head that gives basically the same results as hundreds of international surveys.
So the two-axis AD&D system is a great model for capturing the main ways people and countries are different from each other in their guiding principles. Why, then, do so many old-school revivalists disdain alignment, or reduce it to a simpler system? Why does 4th edition D&D seriously simplify the alignment diagram, making lawful a subset of good and chaotic a subset of evil?
I have a few possible answers - that is, reasons the two-axis alignment system often doesn't work in games - which I'll try to describe in the next couple of posts.