New Tools to Measure Respect for Human Dignity

Author: Kara Kelly

Measuring human dignity — assessing various aspects of an individual's well-being, rights, and intrinsic value — is inherently challenging due to its subjective and multidimensional nature. While there isn’t a universally accepted tool for measuring human dignity, the Pulte Institute is pioneering “Project Respect for Participant Dignity” and “Respect for Human Dignity in Daily Life” to explore human dignity indicators. The measures developed and field tested by Pulte Institute Evidence and Learning Director Paul Perrin, in conjunction with Catholic Relief Services, focus on respect for human dignity.

The “Project Respect for Participant Dignity” and “Respect for Human Dignity in Daily Life” tools quantify social and environmental outcomes by considering indicators related to basic human needs, foundations of well-being, and opportunity. It provides a broader perspective on showing regard for people’s abilities and worth, valuing their feelings and their views and giving others the same consideration you would expect for yourself.

This approach emphasizes people's capabilities and functions, says Paul Perrin, focusing on what individuals can do and be. While it doesn't directly measure dignity, it offers a framework for evaluating social outcomes when implementing monitoring and evaluation work.

“We’re providing an opportunity to reflect on whether, in the process of regular monitoring and evaluation, it was done in a way that upholds the dignity of the program’s participants,” says Perrin. “Our measures provide two data points: Whether the objective outcome was achieved and if it was done in a respectful way. We don’t want to uphold a program that achieves a great outcome if the process is dehumanizing and demeaning to people.

“We’ve done this rigorous scientific process to arrive at this tool, a set of 10 questions that can be added to whatever survey development professionals are doing to help them understand whether or not they're upholding human dignity in the process.”

Find out more about the Measures for Human Dignity