Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

Integrated SocioPsychology

Updated: 3 February 2016

‘Integrated SocioPsychology’ is the term I have coined for developing a highly-practical and integrated approach to the behavioural sciences

  • Integrated – the aim is to learn how all the elements of the behavioural sciences and the complementary ‘hard’ sciences’ of Biology and Neuroscience fit together to explain…
  • Psychology – how and why people think and behave as they do in different contexts in different times…
  • Socio – taking into account group dynamics and the influence of culture and the society people live in as those cultures and societies morph and change

This page provides a basic overview of the Integrated approach and how the key models link together. More specific detail on the individual models is available on their linked pages. Psychology, Sociology and Anthropology are fractured fields of study, with several different (and often competing!) schools of thought and even areas of exploration. The history of the behavioural sciences is littered with disputes both between those competing schools (which are accepted academically) and also between academia and ‘fringe’ or ‘alternative’ approaches such as Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).

The structure of an Integrated approach
Integration is made possible by building the structure of SocioPsychology around the frame of the 4Q/8L schematic Don Beck (2000b, 2002b) developed from applying Spiral Dynamics integral (SDi) to the All Quadrants/All Levels approach of Ken Wilber (1996). This looks at motivational systems – what Spiral Dynamics/SDi terms vMEMES – influencing individuals (Upper Left), social institutions (Functionalism in the Lower Right) and cultural shifts (Symbolic Interactionism in the Lower Left) – with the Upper Right being the biological mechanisms that enable the development of vMEMES in individuals. 4Q/8L facilitates different approaches to explain different modes of thinking at different levels in different contexts.

The concept of vMEMES, when used to explain the relationships between the different neurological levels identified by Robert Dilts (1990), provides a powerful tool for understanding how our motivations shape our understanding of ourselves and the world around us and drive our behaviour in it. It gives us a ‘scaffolding’ onto which virtually every aspect of human motivation can be mapped to some degree or other.

Integrated SocioPsychology - no credit

As such, the vMEMES-neurological levels structure provides a platform for integrating all the other elements of the behavioural sciences to do with motivation and forms a key element of Integrated SocioPsychology. This structure is represented by the graphic above….

Built on the Neurological Levels hierarchy, it shows how vMEMES (N to U in the original coding of Clare W Graves’ research, on which Spiral Dynamics/SDi is based) underpin Identity and shape Values & Beliefs in relation to the perceived life conditions (A to H) in the particular Environment. vMEMES will also acquire pertinent Skills & Knowledge (Capability) to carry out the Behaviour appropriate to the life conditions in the Environment.

Dilts’ model simply presents the external environment as the Environment. However, 4Q/8L enables us to split the Environment into effectively Culture (Lower Left) and Structure (Lower Right). Although the focus in the graphic is on the individual, the vMEMES-neurological levels structure can be applied across the two Lower Quadrants to analyse organisations – see A Company by Neurological Levels as an example. The graphic also takes into account the effects of hormones and neurology on the biology of the individual (Upper Right) – ie: the internal Environment.

nominal-adaptationAt what I call the Nominal Level – represented left – people adapt their identity to the Environment – eg: a ‘Manager’ at work goes home to be a ‘Lover’ to their partner and a ‘Parent’ to their children. At the Deeper Level – represented below left – the vMEME stack may shift to match changing life conditions in the (external) Environment. For example, if the partner in the domestic Environment is loving and affectionate, this will most likely stimulate the PURPLE vMEME to prize such values as love, loyalty and belonging and will shore up the Identity of ‘Lover’.

However, if the partner in the domestic Environment seeks to dominate, then such life conditions will most likely rouse RED – at the level of Values & Beliefs – either to resist/fight back or to submit if the dominating partner has the greater power. For many people, such a scenario would undermine their schemas of what loving relationships should be about and could even lead to a shift in Identity. With RED dominant, the ‘Lover’ might well morph into a ‘Competitor’.

deeper-adaptationAs Albert Bandura (1977) pointed out, however, Behaviour can change the life conditions in the Environment, with the changed Environment then consequently bringing about changes in the person – perhaps even needing a different vMEME effect to keep the neurological levels aligned. Bandura called this symbiotic relationship between change in people and change in theEnvironment Reciprocal Determinism. Increasingly it looks as though the actual mechanism of external factors producing significant change in the person is explained via Epigenetics, with genes switching on and off to enable the individual to adapt their capabilities in a relatively short space of time to changes in fundamental life conditions.

This principles of Reciprocal Determinism also apply at a cultural or organisational level – eg: when the way people behave (Left Quadrants) results in changes in the structural environment (Lower Right) which inevitably has effects on how the group (Lower Left) and individuals (Upper Left) feel about themselves. Since we know that the neural plasticity of the brain (Upper Right) enables it to learn from experience and develop new neural networks or adjust existing ones, environmental feedback from the Lower Quadrants can have a major effect on the brain and bring about vMEMETIC shifts (Upper Left).

Motivation and temperament
The Gravesian approach and its Spiral Dynamics/SDi ‘builds’ provide the most accurate and comprehensive model of how motivational systems develop in people – individually (Upper Left) and collectively (Lower Left); but is that development influenced by such factors as intelligence and temperament (rooted in the Upper Right)? Clare W Graves (1971/2002) certainly thought it likely but couldn’t get sufficient evidence to present a comprehensive-enough case to be completely convincing.

In truth, it is an area generally under-researched; but, in large part, by using the DISC Model (1928) of William Moulton Marston (which maps both motivational and temperamental factors into its behavioural types, I have identified what appears to be an association between the lower 4 1st Tier vMEMES and the 4 temperamental types produced by the intersection of 2 of the natural Dimensions of TemperamentExtraversion and Neuroticism – mapped by Hans J Eysenck (1947). Eysenck (1967) himself found some evidence of association (based on the work of N N Trauel, 1961) between temperament and motivation – principally that extraverts were significantly less obedient than introverts. Correspondingly, Vivian John Shackleton & Clive Fletcher (1984) suggest that introverts are more conformist and more cautious than extraverts. More recent evidence of a link between temperament and motivational development comes from the work of Marc Lucas & Svenja Caspers (2014) who, in brain scanning studies, found a negative correlation between Neuroticism and upward development on the Spiral. Sample groups in both Trauel’s study and that of Lucas & Caspers were relatively small but they do strengthen the likelihood that there is some kind of interplay between temperament and motivational development.

As proposed in the graphic below, a person with a Phlegmatic temperament is more likely to be comfortable with PURPLE driving their thinking than another vMEME. Similarly a Choleric temperament lends itself to RED thinking while Melancholic facilitates BLUE thinking. There does appear to be an association between a Sanguine type and ORANGE driving the thinking; but the association seems much weaker than with the other vMEME-temperamental type matches.


The Intraversion-Extraversion axis appears to have some bearing on whether someone ascends the Spiral with a preference for one side of the other. Introverts are more likely to favour the conformist/sacrifice-self (cool colours) side of the Spiral while an extravert is more likely to lean towards the express-self side (warm colours).

The preference of introverts for the conformist/sacrifice-self side of the Spiral may be because they seek to limit external sensory input whereas the understimulated extravert may enjoy the ‘noise’ from others reacting to their expression of self.

The intensity with which someone experiences a preference for one side or the other may also be influenced by Eysenck’s third Dimension, Psychoticism, which he considered to be powered by the male sex hormone testosterone (Hans J Eysenck & Sybil B G Eysenck, 1976). If the warm-coloured side of the Spiral can be considered ‘masculine’, and the cool-coloured side ‘feminine’, then those high in Psychoticism will tend to the masculine and those low in Psychoticism will favour the feminine side of the Spiral. This may fit in with the famous query of Carl Gustav Jung (1912) as to just how much an individual is able to access their ‘animus’ (male side) and ‘anima’ (female side). Interestingly Lucas & Caspers found a slightly stronger individualistic tendency in their male participants and a slightly stronger collectivistic tendency in their female participants.

It needs to be stated that, with relatively little research to go on, these preferences should be seen as theoretical and likelihoods rather than definites.

However, there is some evidence emerging – Svenja Caspers et al, 2011 – that a preference for the warm or cool side of the Spiral may, in fact, be hard-wired. This would help explain Julian B Rotter’s (1966) proposition that someone’s locus of control is to some extent innately determined. (See A Biological Basis for vMEMES…? for more on this.)

While Marston’s Dominant (Choleric/RED), Submission (Phlegmatic/ PURPLE), Compliance (Melancholic/BLUE) and even Influence (Sanguine/ORANGE) behavioural types have held up pretty well through more than 80 years of assessment, there does seem some element of predetermination that a certain personality type will more likely be dominated by a certain vMEME. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence of clearly-defined temperamental types being led by different vMEMES in different circumstances. However, when temperametal type and vMEME do lock together – sometimes referred to as a centre of gravity – it produces ways of thinking which are ‘closed’ (in Gravesian ‘speak’) and are extremely difficult to shift.

For all this, temperament and motivation do not always sit that well together. Consider the teenage student whose RED craves esteem and respect but whose Psychoticist impulsiveness leads to breaking of the classroom rules and, therefore, punishment. (See Good Boys gone Bad…? in Learning & Education to explore this notion further.)

This treatment of motivation and temperament as separate and distinct dimensions (factors or elements) of that much confused term, ‘personality’, brings some degree of closure to the so-called ‘person-situation controversy’, as typified by the arguments of Gordon Allport (1961) – personality is shaped internally – and Walter Mischel (1976) – personality characteristics are a response to context. (The argument is related to Attribution Theory.) Temperament, according to Eysenck, is biologically determined at birth – though not inflexible in development as Epigenetics demonstrates. Motivation, according to Graves, is symbiotic with context (internal and/or external).

There is some empirical evidence for treating temperament and motivation as aspects of personality comes from longitudinal studies by Jerome Kagan & Howard Moss (1962) and Jack Block (1971) who both found that personality (temperamental) factors such as becoming angry at others and being anxious in social encounters tended to remain constant over time (with some changes) while factors more related to motivation such a dominance, competitiveness and recognition-seeking were not all consistent from one time period to the next. However, it would seem there is some degree of relationship between temperament and motivation, though it is not yet understood.

The selfplex and meta-programmes
The selfplex is Susan Blackmore’s (1999) term for the cognitive awareness of self we call ‘I’. It is our sense of who we are – and it is effectively a confluence of schemas (or biologically-embedded concepts).

The selfplex can be considered to ‘sit’ on top of’ the basic set of natural temperamental dispositions Eysenck mapped. (Depending on one’s philosophy or religion, there may or may not be a ‘spiritual self’ at the core of this construct!)

From the work of Ralph Allison (1995) and others on Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), it is clear that the strength and well-being of the selfplex is critical in balancing the forces of the vMEMES which are all too often in conflict with each other. It would appear that, if they get too out of hand, then vMEMES can contribute significantly to the development of DID or even MPD.
Effectively the selfplex moderates the interaction of our vMEMES with the memes of the outside world as those memes are perceived through our existing schemas (values, beliefs, attitudes, memories, etc). This is depicted in the NLP+ Communication Model.

The NLP+ Communication Model also shows the importance of meta-programmes in processing behaviour out and in, in light of these many elements.

While some of our meta-programme preferences are more reflective of temperamental dispositions, most are shaped by the ebbing and flowing of vMEMES in our selfplex – as is the assimilation, accommodation or rejection of memes external to ourselves. Assimilated and accommodated memes then influence the internal schemas upon which we operate. Our schemas influence how we work through the elements of the Cognitive Triad to develop meta-states. High-level meta-states provide governing frames of reference – eg: “I’m not attractive to the opposite sex” – which influence all our dealings in that context. Thus, the criticality of the embedded schemas of Values & Beliefs we have about ourselves and our interactions with the world around us.

All of these processes are influenced by the dominant vMEMES upon our selfplex and, at least until we reach 2nd Tier thinking, the Dimensions of Temperament.


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2 Responses

  1. Keith E Rice says

    Thanks for your supportive words, Troy.

    I use terms like 'seems' and 'appears' precisely because I acknowledge that my associating extraversion and introversion with 'warm' and 'cool' vMEME preferences respectively is speculative. "...preferences should be seen as theoretical and likelihoods rather than definites."

    My speculations are based on the work of Eysenck and others which are discussed in Dimensions of Temperament

    When I've got more time, I'll have to have a look at 'Diaphysics'.

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  2. Troy Camplin says

    I love all of this, but I have a quibble with the claim that extroverts are more individualistic and introverts more likely to be conformists, as that's not my experience or observation at all. I would argue that extroverts tend to conform, and that their extroversion is precisely an expression of that conformity. Introverts could care less what anyone thinks and in fact tend to find people annoying. Are police and fire fighters and soldiers (Blue) typically introverts or extroverts? Are artists typically introverts or extroverts?

    I have done a little work on Gravesean social psychology. Not just on my blog, but also in a book titled Diaphysics.

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