Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

‘Stages of Ego Development’

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 4 How complex is people’s thinking? The issue of just how far the bulk of any population ascend the Spiral/Hierarchy – experience the emergence of vMEMES in an ascending sequence – is a contentious one. In 1996 Beck & Cowan conjectured that the percentages of the world’s population dominated by a nodal vMEME in their thinking was:- BEIGE: 0.1% PURPLE: 10% RED: 20% BLUE: 40% ORANGE: 30% GREEN: 10% YELLOW: 1% TURQUOISE: 0.1% The percentages, of course, don’t add up to 100% and there is no breakdown of percentage to continents, cultures or societies. Cowan (Chris Cowan & Nastasha Todorovic, 2006b) has admitted that the figures were a (very!) rough interpretation/extrapolation of various data sets (including United Nations data) while Beck has never commented (for public consumption) on the estimates. Nonetheless, in general it supported the notion that the bulk of the population – the Western population, at least – were not significantly beyond a BLUE (Kohlberg) or BLUE/orange (Loevinger) way of thinking. Further support for this notion came from research using Kohlberg’s concepts. Using what effectively was a 9-stage model incorporating 3 sub-stages, Lawrence Walker, Brian De Vries & Shelley Trevethan (1987) found general agreement with Kohlberg. They interviewed 40 boys and 40 girls… 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 for procreation), 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… Read More

Glossary M

Nos   A    B    C    D    E    F    G    H    I    J    K    L    M    N    O    P-Q    R    S     T     U    V    W    X-Y-Z McDonaldisation: George Ritzer (1993) argues that the fast food restaurant is the ultimate model of rationalisation, based on 4 key elements:- Efficiency – economies of scale, assembly line production of food and limited menus cut costs and facilitate the fast processing of customers Calculability – every aspect of the food production and consumption is measured and evaluated on the basis of rational calculation Predictability – Ritzer states “in a rational society people prefer to know what to expect in all settings at all times”. So customers should be able to enter a McDonald’s anywhere in the world and have exactly the same experience. Control – through training, supervision and technology, McDonald’s exercise rigid control of their employees and the food production process. There is even a degree of control of the customers, with hard seats, bright lights and, in some cases, security guards to make customers behave themselves and do not linger over their meal Ritzer and later commentators such as Soumyaditya Dasgupta (2015) see McDonaldization is a by-product of ‘Americanization’ or ‘Westernization’ which… Read More

Graves Comparison Map

Updated: 18 November 2020 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. Comparisons between the work of Graves and Theodore Adorno et al (1950) are covered in Adorno’s types of prejudiced persons. 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… Read More


Updated: 19 May 2021 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 – the highest level in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. 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… Read More

Self-Actualisation/YELLOW #2

Part 2 Research on Self-Actualisation While Maslow conducted extensive biographical research and case studies of people he considered to be self-actualisers, his methodologies cannot be considered ‘scientific’. Moreover, his criteria for describing a ‘self-actualiser’ could be argued as highly subjective. He did not explicitly compare self-actualisers with self-actualisers. Nevertheless, his work has provided valuable insights the ‘being ways of thinking’. In his near 30 years of research, Graves did conduct investigations of a much more scientific nature and built on Maslow’s ideas, as did Jane Loevinger. Everett Shostrum (1963, 1977) developed the Personal Orientation Questionnaire to create a standardised approach to identifying self-actualisers. The results of scoring the questionnaire reveal the extent (high or low) to which a person self-actualises in their life. Michael Sheffield et al (1995) used it to find that those low in Self-Actualisation tend to have poor interpersonal relationships. Mark Runco, Peter Ebersole & Wayne Mraz (1995) found that creative thinking is more associated with high Self-Actualisation. L Thomas & P E Cooper (1980) found that self-actualisers are more likely to be open to experiences and accepting of those experiences. They are also more likely to recognise a ‘peak experience’ and to use such experiences to enhance… 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: 4 July 2018 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


Updated: 5 December 2020 1988-1996    1997   1998     1999     2000     2001    2002      2003     2004     2005     2006     2007     2008     2009     2010     2011     2012     2013     2014      2015     2016     2017     2018      2019     2020      2021 21st Century Group     HemsMESH     Humber MeshWORKS     Humberside MESH Network A middle class boy, born to parents from the upper working classes who had worked their way up into the lower professional grades, I was privileged to have parents who both cared for me and drove me – especially my father. My parents – like most! – had many faults and left me with more than a few issues – see: The Counsellor gets counselled! Yet overall they gave me a good start in life, pushing me through the 11-Plus and the grammar school system to do what had been almost impossible for upper working class teenagers of their generation: to go to university. I was raised mostly in the Lancashire (now Merseyside) town of St Helens…but the bulk of my family were in nearby Liverpool. And Liverpool, in the early-mid 1960s was the epicentre of the musical and social revolution that began with The Beatles and expanded through ‘Merseybeat’. A tremendously… Read More