Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences


Clare W Graves’ Research

Updated: 12 February 2021 Clare W Graves (1914-1986) was the psychologist on whose work Spiral Dynamics (Don Beck & Chris Cowan, 1996) and several other powerful and practical conceptual models have been built. Although he achieved the eminent position of ‘Professor of Psychology Emeritus’ at Union College, Schenectady, New York State, when he retired through ill health in 1978, he was not particularly well known outside of certain academic and management theory networks and he has been largely ignored since his death. However, his model and the theory that supports it are without doubt amongst the most powerful and certainly the most cohesive and comprehensive of all attempts to map the development of the human psyche. Those who get to grips with Graves’ work tend to become decidedly passionate about it – such is the power of the model! His work is critical and fundamental to the aims of Psychology and the other behavioural sciences and is at the core of Integrated SocioPsychology. Graves was an associate professor at Union when he began his remarkable project in 1952. (He became a full professor in 1956.) At the time Graves recognised the frustration of his students when trying to make sense of the… Read More

Prejudice & Discrimination Theories #3

PART 3 Common In-Group Identity Model The Common In-Group Identity Model is a theoretical model proposed by Samuel Gaertner et al (1993) that outlines the processes through which inter-group bias may be reduced.  It is derived from the Social Identity Theory approach to inter-group behaviour. The model describes how intergroup bias can be reduced if members of different groups can be persuaded to see themselves to be part of the same, larger group, then they would develop more positive attitudes of the former out-group members. An individual will change the way they view the out-group through re-categorising former out-group members as members of the enlarged in-group. In other words, their existing schema set is modified by taking on board memes of shared values. Re-categorising is driven by giving the different groups a ‘common out-group’ that they are concerned about. Thus, they start to see themselves as having a shared in-group identity against the shared out-group. Eg: in soccer Manchester United vs Liverpool fan conflicts can be transcended by getting both sets of fans to see themselves as being England supporters vs Scotland supporters. Working together against the common ‘enemy’ creates a sense of homogeneity amongst the former opponents. Importantly, while  re-categorisation… Read More

Graves: Systems more than Stages

30 August 2020 Historically Psychology is full of stage theories. From Sigmund Freud’s (1905) Psychosexual Stages, through Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial Stages, Jean Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development, Abraham Maslow’s (1943) Hierarchy of Needs, Lawrence Kohlberg’s (1958) Stages of Moral Development, Jane Loevinger’s (1976) Stages of Ego Development to Michael Commons et al’s (1998) Model of Hierarchical Complexity, etc, etc, etc. Sociology has a fair few stage theories too – such as Max Weber’s (1922) Social Action Theory and Theodore Adorno et al’s (1950) Types of Prejudiced & Unprejudiced Persons. A stage is a period in development – often, but not always, related to age – in which people exhibit behaviour patterns and establish particular capacities typical to that particular stage. Most stage theories have people pass through the stages in a specific order, with each stage building on capacities developed in the previous stage. This suggests that the development of certain abilities in each stage, such as specific emotions or ways of thinking, have a definite starting and ending point – ie: the stages are discreet from each other The pros and cons of stage theories Stage theories allow us to look at motivations, emotions, cognitions and behaviours that seem to cluster… Read More

Social Change #2

Part 2 Lower Left Quadrant and Minority Influence Social heroes usually can achieve little or nothing on their own. They need collaborators and, if they are leaders, they need followers. This means the social hero has to convert others to their cause and, thus, create a minority influence. The more people are converted to the cause, the more conversion to the cause (as a process) picks up momentum – the ‘snowball effect’ (Eddy Van Avermaet, 2001). Eventually the minority grows into a snowball so large that it becomes the majority. The social hero in the Upper Left is influencing culture and thought in the Lower Left. So how does a social hero convert others and how does a minority gain enough converts to become a majority? Giddens posits that people in general have a deep-seated need for ‘ontological security’, that their world is orderly, stable and predictable. Therefore, by their actions most people most of the time reinforce the existing culture and structure, There is a sort-of natural resistance to change. Just how resistant to change will vary as to which vMEMES dominate in a culture; individual resistance will also vary as to where that person is on their Dimensions of Temperament. People… Read More

Could the Political Centre be making a Comeback?

    Could it just be that, with Bernie Sanders’ 13 April endorsement of Joe Biden as Democratic candidate in November’s presidential election – see the ABC News clip above – and the 4 April ascension of Keir Starmer to leadership of the Labour Party, the ‘centre’ is making a comeback in American and British politics? A new poll reported by The London Economic’s Jack Peat puts the centrist Starmer’s net favourability 50 points ahead of Jeremy Corbyn, the ‘hardcore leftie’ he succeeded. (Of course, Corbyn was not really the Marxist the right-wing media slandered him as, though his views  were well to the left of Labour under Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and even Ed Miliband) Meanwhile Sanders’ concession to Biden effectively signals the end of what might be termed the Democrats’ ‘hard left’ campaign to win the nomination for presidential candidate. (By ‘hard left’ here, we mean the leftie side of social democracy; again Sanders is nothing like the Marxist some on the hard right claim he is!) Biden is decidedly centrist in his politics – some might even argue right of centre – but that enables him potentially to pick up leftie Republican votes, especially those who are totally… Read More

Vulnerability to Stress

Updated: 11 April 2020 Clearly some people become stressed more easily than others and some have the experience of stress – fight or flight  – more strongly than others. So what are the factors that influence these phenomena? A vMEMETIC approach One way of looking at this is to take a Maslowian viewpoint – ie: people have needs and having those needs unfulfilled causes stress. The vMEMES identified via the work of Clare W Graves are then the drivers to fulfil those needs. Of course, Graves held that motivational systems (vMEMES) emerge in symbiotic interaction with the life conditions in the environment – an internal response to external stressors and almost certainly the first emergence of a vMEME is an example of epigenetic modification. Graves’ position has been upheld completely by Chris Cowan (2004). However, Don Beck (2002a), with his concept of the prime directive, does imply that there is a maturational factor in the emergence of vMEMES. He has not said explicitly that vMEMES are programmed to emerge in sequence as someone develops through life, irrespective of the life conditions; but the implication that maturation matters is inescapable. The position Beck appears to be working towards is perhaps best represented… Read More

A 2nd Tier Approach to a 1st Tier World

Published in the Integral Leadership Review e-zine – – August 2018. Guest editor Robin Lincoln Wood had been asked to put together a special issue both to celebrate and follow on from the Spiral Dynamics Summit on the Future that May. As one of the conference speakers I was asked by Robin to write an article which both built on the theme of the presentation and took it forward. The version republished here is only very marginally-different from that which appeared in Integral Leadership Review. The Spiral Dynamics Summit on the Future (Dallas, 20-22 April 2018) was a fairly awesome event. A gathering of leading Gravesian practitioners (both on the stage and in the audience), partly to honour Spiral Dynamics co-developer Don Beck and partly to focus on how the Gravesian approach can be used to tackle the current malaises afflicting the world. (Many of the presentations are reflected in the articles comprising the special edition of ILR.) Speaker after speaker gave us theoretical understandings and practical applications. All were good. All were insightful. Some were simply inspirational. There was a great sense of community amongst the participants, whether speaker or non-speaker, and fascinating discussions took place on the side-lines of the conference in the breaks, in the evenings… Read More

Overcoming Intractable Elements in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict through Spiral Dynamics

by Neri Bar-on I am honoured to publish this ‘guest blog’ by Neri Bar-on, one of the founders of Integral Israel. He is a professional electronics engineer with degrees from Tel Aviv University in economics and philosophy. He lives in Tel Aviv. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems to become more intractable by the day: if anything, in recent years both sides are marked by increasing radicalization. Yet the advent of Donald Trump and his pattern of impatiently shattering paradigms could propel the stagnant Israeli-Palestinian process out of its paralysis. It is an opportunity to introduce the principles of Spiral Dynamics to the Israeli and Palestinian leadership, with the goal of forging a new, sustainable system based on both sides making a sober assessment of their real greater good and potential for collaboration. The Spiral Dynamics approach proved helpful before, in advancing collaboration between two seemingly irreconcilable groups in South Africa. The case of Israel and the Palestinians is different but also involves aggrieved people with radically different narratives who are locked in vicious circles of retaliation. Points of origin The strife between Israelis and Palestinians is fanned by their own internal struggles. To oversimplify for the sake of brevity: their internal battles both involve… Read More

Citizen-Driven Community and Nation Building

by Bjarni Snæbjörn Jónsson 7 June 2018 I am honoured to publish this ‘guest feature’ on the MeshWORKS conecept by the remarkable Bjarni Snæbjörn Jónsson.  His main research interests lie in large systems development through public participation.  He was a founding member of The Anthill in Iceland which organized a cross-sectional National Assembly in 2009 involving abt. 1000 randomly sampled citizens which were physically joined for a day to formulate the Icelandic nation‘s future superordinate goals, following the financial crisis of 2008 which hit Iceland particularly hard. These goals were at the centre of the drive for constitutional reform which has dominated Icelandic politics since. Bjarni’s feature originally appeared in  Innovative Development: Emerging Worldviews and Systems Change (Integral Publishers, August 2015), edited by the late Tom Christensen. It is reproduced here with Bjarni’s express permission and encouragement. With the exception of some minor formatting changes and a several links added, it is reproduced exactly as it appeared in ‘Innovative Development’. To maintain the integrity of the piece as published, I have retained Bjarni’s use of the SDi terminology. However, for the purposes of this site, readers should effectively susbstitute ‘Gravesian’ for ‘SDi’. The truth is not to be found in books, not even good books. The truth… Read More

Citizen-Driven Community and Nation Building #2

PART 2 The social system and its citizens As governance of social systems such as nation states become more complex over time, the distance between the citizenry and the social structures built for their benefit tends to grow. This results in a sense of victimization in citizens and a loss of accountability in leaders, as an increasingly-centralized government fails to meet the expectations of the people it is intended to serve. Mike Jay (2010a) identified 6 factors in social change, each of which operates at a different speed:- Core – The basic social operating system Culture – The solution set; that is, response systems and vMEMES manifested in beliefs and behaviours (memes) Code – Algorithm developed through learning and evolving human consciousness Conditions – Iintensity of the situation or change Context – Perception of reality based on a frame of reference Content – The actual representation of reality as we perceive it As scientific and technological advances enable us to create new systems and realities at an ever faster pace, the development of content is exponentially faster than development of the other dimensions, as illustrated in the chart below (Jay, 2010b)… The discrepancy between content (an increasingly intricate social reality) and the… Read More