Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

‘Stages of Ego Development’

Modernisation Theory vs Stratified Democracy #4

PART 4 Stratified Democracy Stratified Democracy, as defined by Don Beck (2000b), shifts the focus from economic development to cultural mindsets, with the understanding that the prime area for ‘development’ is sociopsychological rather than economic or fiscal. The aim of ‘development’ in this paradigm is not to become a consumeristic society along the lines of the Western model – though that may well be what some developing countries eventually become. The aim is for the country to be ‘healthy’ in itself – ie: the sociopsychological well-being of the peoples and the inter-relations between the different internal groupings of whatever type – and to have ‘healthy’ relations with other countries of whatever type. Achieving these healthy states at whatever level a country is at facilitates it moving on to whatever is next on the Spiral. In terms of governance, Stratified Democracy proposes that a core element of Democracy – representative government – be implemented in such as way as to fit with the values and norms – the culture – of the people to be governed. In 4Q/8L terms, this means constructing the Lower Right (the form of government) to match the Lower Left (culture of the people to be governed).As Elza Maalouf (2014,… Read More

The Trouble with Tribalism…

7 July 2016 …is that most Western politicians don’t get it. It’s seen as something relevant to Pre-Modern ‘primitive’ communities but not to Modern societies. And, when Western-style one person/one (secret) vote Democracy is offered to tribal communities as part of the Modernisation process, so many Western leaders seem genuinely perplexed at the relative lack of enthusiasm for it. The Americans in particular seemed baffled that attempts to embed Democracy in the wake of their invasions of the Noughties produced the markedly-corrupt government of Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan and the corrupt and overtly-sectarian government of Nouri al-Maliki in Iraq. A Do-It-Yourself attempt to introduce Democracy in Egypt produced a government (of the Islamic Brotherhood) so unacceptable to the urban middle classes and the army that a ‘sort-of coup’ was instigated, followed by rigged elections, to return the country to neo-military rule as before. Highly-controversial and bitterly-contested ‘democratic’ elections following Libya’s revolutionary civil war resulted in 2 – and arguably 3? – would-be governments claiming the right to rule with their various militia, often organised on sectarian or tribal lines, slugging it out in a patchy, second civil war. Anyone versed in the Gravesian approach could have told the Western planners and the internet-inspired urban ‘democrats’ of Egypt that their campaigns to introduce Western-style Democracy would hit trouble. (See:… Read More


PART 3 The 2nd Tier green/YELLOW (f-s/G-T (A’-N’)) (Kohlberg’s Principled Conscience) The later phase of this transition is characterised by an emerging concern for the environment and elements of the planetary eco-systems, with an awareness that all resources (human and non-human) need looking after wherever possible. Laws are valid only insofar as they are grounded in justice; and a commitment to justice carries with it an obligation to disobey unjust laws. There is also the strengthening desire to make and live by independent decisions rather than accepting group consensus responsibility. The individual acts because it is right for him/her, and not because it is instrumental, expected, legal or previously agreed upon. However, there is also an increased willingness to walk away from lost causes and seek to engage in activities which are intrinsically self-satisfying. Markedly there is a more innovative approach to problem-solving. YELLOW (G-T (A’-N’)) (Maslow’s Self-Actualisation; Loevinger’s Autonomous L-5) See Self-Actualisation/YELLOW. YELLOW/TURQUOISE (G-T (A’-N’)/H-U (B’-O’)) (some elements of Maslow’s Self-Actualisation; Loevinger’s Integrated; Cook-Gretuer’s Construct Aware) Due to very small sample sizes, there is insufficient credible data to delineate significantly between exiting and entering phases. Broadly this transition is marked by increasing loneliness and stress from coping alone. Lawrence Kohlberg &… Read More


PART 2 The Ist Tier BEIGE (A-N) (Maslow’s Survival; Loevinger’s Pre-Social) This vMEME is concerned with basic survival needs and is bottom of the Spiral. It is instinctive and does not lend itself to cognitive thought as such. Air, food and water, sleep, shelter from the elements and sex for procreation (rather than pleasure or affection) are the very basic drives which characterise this vMEME. If these requirements are not met (with the partial exception of sex), the human body simply cannot continue to function. If the BEIGE driver ceases to work, then we will die because we simply will not do what we need to do to survive. BEIGE ceasing to function is almost certainly what is meant when we say that someone has lost the will to live. Much of what Evolutionary Psychology has to say about the essentials of human nature is centred at this pre-cognitive, animalistic level. BEIGE/PURPLE (A-N/B-O) There is not enough reliable data to break this transition down into exiting and entering phases. The organism is beginning to show signs of cognition. Graves (1978/2005, p214) referred to it as the beginning of “viable psychological life”. Basic cause-and-effect assumptions start to be made. Primitive clans associate… Read More

Graves Comparison Map

Updated: 22 May 2016 The Comparison Map provides an at-a-glance reference for comparing and contrasting other key developmental theories with the Gravesian approach. (Click on the graphic for an enlarged view of the map on its own. Click back in your browser to return to this page.) Notes:- Where developmentalists have matched their models to those of other developmentalists, they do not always agree completely with each other’s matches. There is, therefore, a small degree of my personal interpretation in the chart above. Differences between the work of Clare W Graves, Abraham Maslow, Jane Loevinger/Susanne Cook-Greuter and Lawrence Kohlberg are dealt with in vMEMES and/or 3 Stage Theories of Development. The map uses the colour scheme Don Beck & Chris Cowan (1996) applied in their Spiral Dynamics ‘build’ of Graves’ work. Other differences are  outlined briefly below. Gerald Heard’s (1963) Ecological (or Leptoid Man) incorporates elements of integrated and advanced spiritual thinking which could be argued as being 2nd Tier. O J Harvey, David E Hunt & H M Schroeder (1961) identified 4 developmental types in their hierarchy. Hunt (1966) separated out to some degree from Harvey and Schroeder when he came across empirical evidence of a level of thinking less complex… Read More


Updated: 23 May 2016 This vMEME is barely present in the world yet. Although there are increasing numbers of people in certain circles – eg: Integral salons – who claim to think in this way, there is yet to be sufficient scientific evidence to say for sure what the TURQUOISE way of thinking is. From the Gravesian approach Don Beck & Chris Cowan (1996) posit it will be on the collectivistic self-sacrificial side of the Spiral and it will be a more complex way of thinking than Self-Actualisation/YELLOW. Lawrence Kohlberg & Clark Power (1981, p257) note it is “much less unitary and definable”. Beyond this, with only tiny samples and anecdotal evidence, it is as much an untested hypothesis as a reality and descriptors must be read with great caution. Humanistic psychologists like Abraham Maslow (1943) and Carl Rogers (1959) considered Self-Actualisation to be the pinnacle of development of the human mind. When someone had become all that they could be and fulfilled all their potential, then they could be said to have completely self-actualised. Maslow’s (1956) attempt to be specific about how a self-actualised person would think defined a way of thinking he thought of as ‘being’ rather than ‘becoming’. However, by attempting… Read More


Updated: 18 May 2016 One nomenclature Don Beck & Chris Cowan (1996) have used for the YELLOW vMEME, the first of the 2nd Tier, is ‘Flexiflow’. This captures both the incredible flexibility in this level of thinking and the sense of peak performance Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1993) identifies athletes, musicians, etc, experience when they enter the state of ‘flow’. In both his posthumous works (1971b/2002, p25; 1978/2005, p148), Clare W Graves unequivocally equated his seventh level G-T (YELLOW) to “Maslow’s self-actualising man”. Jane Loevinger (1976, p46) equated her Autonomous Stage of Ego Development with Self-Actualisation and Graves (1978/2005, p444) equated G-T with Autonomous…so it’s clear that Graves and Loevinger, both of them steeped in years of hard research, very much felt they were talking about the same way of thinking as Abraham Maslow (1943; 1954; 1956). However, this equation is not without controversy; nor is the term ‘Self-Actualisation’ used here in quite the same way as it is most commonly in Psychology. So there is some need to clarify our understanding(s) of ‘Self-Actualisation’ before we can benefit fully from this equation with YELLOW. Goldstein’s Self-Actualisation The term ‘Self-Actualisation’ was originally introduced by the Organismic theorist Kurt Goldstein (1934) for the motive to… Read More

3 Stage Theories of Development

Updated: 20 May 2016 The work of Clare W Graves (1970) and its Spiral Dynamics ‘build’  (Don Beck & Chris Cowan, 1996) theorise about motivational systems and their emergence. Where the emergent system reaches its nodal peak in matching the life conditions (internal and or external), this can be considered an ‘existential state’, level or stage. In the period Graves was constructing his concept from the results of his research, several other developmentalists were coming up with very similar theories and models. Unlike Graves who perceived ‘stages’ as merely markers in the processes of emergence, however, these other researchers tended to see development in more or less discreet stages which were distinct from each other. In spite of the limitations of these stage theories, the findings of their developers offer much additional insight into the characteristics of vMEMES, vMEME transition states and the workings of the Spiral. These additional insights are discussed in the pages on vMEMES. The purpose of these pages is to describe the basic structures of what are arguably the 3 most important stage models and to provide some background and critiquing of these theories. The Comparison Map places these and some other leading developmental models into a schematic… Read More

A Biological Basis for vMEMES…?

Updated: 16 November 2015 vMEMES, the motivational systems identified in the Gravesian approach and termed such in Spiral Dynamics, clearly have to have a neurological basis. Whatever your views on Dualism and the ‘Mind-Body Debate’ – whether or not we think there is a ‘mind’ or ‘soul’ distinct from the brain – the motivational effect we recognise as the product of what we call a ‘vMEME’ has to have a concomitant pattern of neural activity. So where is it? Or: where are they…the 8 vMEMES identified so far from Clare W Graves research, that is? When Graves career’ imploded in 1978 (due to major health problems), CAT scans – the first technique for providing truly detailed images of the brain – were only just coming onstream and research into the brain was still relatively primitive. With exceptions such as the remarkable mapping of motor and sensory areas of the brain by Wilder Penfield – Wilder Penfield & Edwin Boldry (1937), Wilder Penfield & Theodore Rasmussen (1950) – research was largely dependent on invasive surgery on animals, post-mortems and cognitive and behavioural studies of brain-damaged patients. Early in the 21st Century, the technology to ‘look inside’ the brain is considerably more advanced… Read More


Updated: 8 February 2016 Epigenetics is an approach that helps to explain how nurture shapes nature to produce the phenotype from the genotype – in other words, how you become who you are from your genetic potential. In the words of Mark Solms & Oliver Turnbull (2002, p11): “…the fine organisation of the brain is literally sculpted by the environment in which it finds itself – far more so than any other organ in the body, and over much longer periods of time.” Whilst in no way undermining the importance of Genetics, it does undermine genetic determinism because it allows that virtually everything in the life span of an individual – from diet and nutrition, to ingestion of toxins, to social experiences, etc, etc – can influence the expression of genes to produce differences in motivation, temperament, cognition, behaviour and mental health. Bruce Lipton (2008) has put forward evidence to claim that emotions and even unconscious beliefs can bring about epigenetic modification. Conrad Waddington is credited with first using the term ‘epigenetics’ in Biology in 1946. ‘Epi’ is a Greek term meaning upon or above. Thus, epigenetics reflects the effects that take place upon, above or in addition to genetics.This original… Read More