objective: to identify the different positions of young students in relation to expressions about contemporary social values. methods: a descriptive study using a quantitative approach, we used a spreadsheet to assign the positions of 229 students between 15 and 19 years, participants in 29 focus groups conducted in ten schools in four dissimilar regions in the city of santo andré (sp), brazil. young people positioned themselves regarding the agreement - doubt or disagreement - over a set of value-laden expressions sorted and discussed in groups. these positions were analyzed according to their frequencies. results: first, we identified a certain degree of uniformity of viewpoints, as a consequence of generational experience of assimilation of values disseminated in society; on the other hand, heterogeneity was evidenced that exposed inherent contradictions of the different social contexts surrounding these youths. conclusion: we identified values that differed among youths pertaining to different social groups while encountering others that did not. there was more heterogeneity than homogeneity in opinions about the evaluative expressions used.