Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

‘Stages of Moral Development’

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

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


PART 3 BLUE (D-Q) (elements of Maslow’s Cognitive/Loevinger’s Conformist L-3/Kohlberg’s Law & Order) The BLUE vMEME is concerned with the imposition of order and the one right way of doing things. It often runs a Little Detail meta-programme because deviation from the ‘One True Way’ cannot be tolerated. BLUE-related memes are often couched in negative don’t! terms.) Cook-Greuter (p14) states that “Blind conformism, fundamentalism and prejudice can be expressions of this frame of mind.” Doing what is right is far more important than compassion or consideration of human cost. BLUE carries out the Conscience function of Freud’s Superego. In anthropological/historical terms, a major example of the large-scale emergence of the BLUE vMEME in the Western world was the coming of the mercantile trading laws in the 17th Century. (These are embodied today in the work of the World Trade Organisation.) However, the monasteries of the Middle Ages, several hundred years before, were prominent in promulgating a rigid set of moral ideals based on the ‘word of God’. In fact, it’s possible to trace BLUE back at least as far as Moses and the writing of the Pentateuch. BLUE’s requirement of detail means that the written word, particularly in terms of the… Read More

The West and Russia: a Divergence of Values?

Published in Eugene Pustoshkin’s Eros & Kosmos e-zine, August 2014. Click here to read it in English on the Eros & Kosmos site. Click here to read Part 1 in Russian and here for Part 2. It’s difficult to write an article triggered by, but not about, an ongoing crisis that has no obvious outcome in any predictable timeframe. The Ukrainian army may be gaining ground but the United Nations’ concern about a growing humanitarian crisis may force them to slow down their assaults – perhaps helped by rockets fired at them allegedly from across the Russian border. The brutal fact is that West is not going to go to war over the low-level but brutal civil war in eastern Ukraine. The West is likely to continue to support Kiev diplomatically and with military supplies and intelligence and there will be reluctant incremental upgrades to the European Union sanctions on Russia (and retaliatory Russian sanctions on the West); but no American or European soldiers are going to die for Donetsk or Luhansk, even if there were to be an overt Russian military incursion. Russian militiamen causing trouble in the Baltic states could be a very different proposition, though. Treaty obligations would… Read More

Shades of Leadership

A Case Study in Leading for the Followers This case study was published in Russ Volckmann’s Integral Leadership Review e-zine – – March 2006. A version of the Hodgson Sealants story, with some different emphases, can be found in the Case Studies section of this site. A few years ago, I was invited to work with Hodgson Sealants Ltd, a Yorkshire-based family firm. They were a leading manufacturer of sealants and Europe’s single biggest supplier of putty. They were beginning to penetrate North Africa and other markets beyond the European continent. For the previous 30-plus years, the company had been run as the personal fiefdom of founder Peter Hodgson. His word was law and he could change the law, even on a day to day basis, as he saw fit. But the majority of his workforce, who had been with him, more or less since the company’s inception, were unwaveringly loyal. They loved him; and he looked after them in the manner of a beneficent feudal lord. The company had been a phenomenally successful for a smaller business and, at the time I became involved, had a turnover of over £10M and employed around 110 people. Things hadn’t changed much at Hodgsons over the years; but the world around them was changing – as Peter’s two… Read More


Adult Education Teacher 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 21st Century Group     HemsMESH     Humber MeshWORKS     Humberside MESH Network January-March: Delivered Psychology Topics – Prejudice & Obedience, Romantic Relationships and  Mental Health for Rossett’s Extended Schools Adult Education Programme. Commentary: For several months Extended Schools coordinator Malcolm Howe and I had been kicking around the idea of an ‘intermediate’ course for ‘graduates’ of the ‘Understanding Yourself & Others – an Introduction to Psychology’ course to further their leaning. When ‘Psychology Topics’ was finally staged, we were amazed at the number of participants who enrolled – having to cap enrolment at 16 for logistical reasons. About half came from the previous ‘Introduction…’ courses but just as many were totally new to my training. Malcolm had asked me to design the course so it wasn’t completely essential to have been on the ‘Introduction…’ course (though, clearly, it would help!) and I paired ‘newbies’ with ‘oldies’ when drawing upon concepts from the earlier programme. While there was a little drop out and not everyone could make every session,… Read More

Psychosocial Development #2

PART 2 In his later stages, Erikson moves away from and beyond Sigmund Freud’s 5 stages. STAGE 5: PEER RELATIONSHIPS/ADOLESCENCE It was adolescence that interested Erikson first and most; and the patterns he saw here were the starting points for his thinking about all the other stages. At this stage, adolescents are in search of an identity that will lead them to adulthood. Adolescents make a strong effort to answer the question “Who am I?” Erikson notes the healthy resolution of earlier conflicts can now serve as a foundation for the search for an identity. If the child overcomes earlier conflicts, they are prepared to search for identity. Did they develop the basic sense of trust? Do they have a strong sense of industry to believe in themselves? Without these things, the adolescent is likely to experience confusion about their social role(s), meaning an uncertainty about your place in society and the world. When an adolescent is confronted by role confusion, Erikson says that is likely to produce an identity crisis. Erikson strongly supported the notion that society should provide clear rites of passage – certain accomplishments and rituals that help to distinguish the adult from the child. In one way… 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