Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences


Workplace Stress

Relaunched: 13 April 2020 The workplace is commonly acknowledged as one of the most stressful environments most of us have to deal with. Yet, ironically, stress is one of the most common causes of absenteeism from the workplace. According to a 2019 Business in the Community report, 61% of employees have experienced a mental health problem due to work and one in 3 have been formally diagnosed with a mental health issue. So what actors affect occupational stress  and how? Noise in the Environment Many workplaces, particularly in construction and manufacturing, are noisy – often to an unsafe level, requiring ear defenders. But even an open plan office can be noisy. David Glass, Jerome Singer & Lucy Friedman (1969) carried out an investigation in which participants had to carry out tasks under 5 conditions:- loud noises at random soft noises at random loud noises at fixed intervals soft noises at fixed intervals no noise What the researchers found was that the participants performed best under the no noise condition and worst for random loud noises – showing how disruptive unpredictable noise can be. Paul Bell et al (1990) have linked higher noise levels in factories to hypertension, headaches, stomach and intestinal disorders.… 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

Stress & Illness

Updated: 27 January 2020 Stress can make you ill! Stress can even kill you! Hans Selye (1936) was arguably the first theorist to carry out scientific research linking illness to chronic stress. Selye noted that the rats in his experiments and hospital patients showed a similar pattern which he termed the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) because it represented the body’s attempts to cope in an adaptive way with stress. GAS has 3 stages – see graphic below. Stage 1 involves increased activity in both the SAM and the HPA systems. In the case of elongated stress, the Alarm reaction occurs 6-48 hours after the trigger of fight or flight and includes loss of muscle tone, drop in body temperature and decreases in size of the spleen and the liver. Stage 2 involves the body adapting to the demands of the environment, with activity in the HPA. As this stage proceeds, the parasympathetic system requires more careful use of the body’s resources to cope. The system is being taxed to its limits, with an increase in the size of the adrenal glands and a decrease in certain pituitary activity such as the production of growth hormones. If the stress is not too… Read More

What is Romantic Love? #2

PART 2 Women and genes If resources are one key element women want from a relationship, what about the other key element: ‘good genes’? The female’s drive to acquire ‘good genes’ in the making of her children is a critical driver in Sexual Selection (Darwin, 1871). Traits in the male which are seen as attractive to the female and thus will aid the male’s chances of mating and thus passing on his genes are considered ‘sexually selected’. The more men have these traits, the more they are considered desirable by women. After all, when the woman puts a minimum of 6 years into having a child, it’s important the children she produces are ‘attractive’ and thus have an increased likelihood of being able to pass on their genes in the competitive environment of human reproduction. According to Ronad A Fisher’s (1930) Sexy Sons Hypothesis (aka Runaway Process), traits which one generation of females find attractive are also likely to be attractive to the next generation – hence the universals of attractiveness discussed on the previous page.  Therefore, if her sons inherit the traits that attracted her, the mother’s genes are more likely to be passed on because the sons from such a mating… Read More

Biological Factors in Crime #2

PART 2 Hormones In 1980 Dan Olweus et al measured blood testosterone level in institutionalised delinquent and non-delinquent 16-year-old boys and assessed aggression using a questionnaire. High levels of self-reported physical and verbal aggression were associated with higher levels of testosterone – though the results were not statistically significant. It was also noted that those with higher levels of testosterone were likely to respond more vigorously in response to challenges from teachers and peers. John Archer (1991), in a meta-analysis of 5 studies covering 230 males, found a low positive correlation between testosterone and aggression. However, the type of participant and the form and measurement of aggression differed substantially between the studies. Angela Book, Katherine Starzyk & Vernon Quensy (2001), in a meta-analysis of 45 studies, found a mean correlation of 0.14 between testosterone and aggression – though John Archer, Nicola Graham-Kevan & Michelle Davies (2005) challenged Book, Starzyk & Quinsey’s findings on the grounds of methodological problems with the study which meant that a correlation of 0.08 was more appropriate.  James Dabbs et al (1987) measured salivary testosterone in 89 violent and non-violent criminals and found those with a history of primarily violent crime had the highest levels of testosterone whereas… Read More

How to build a MeshWORK

Updated: 16 July 2018 It is difficult to be prescriptive about developing a MeshWORK. Because the Gravesian approach enables us to recognise and work with a number of different value systems (vMEMES) in play at any one time, MeshWORKS interventions – and, indeed, the very structures to deliver those interventions – will be dependent on the needs of the client peoples and/or organisations. So a MeshWORK is highly organic and readily flexible, shifting its structure and its interventions to meet the changing circumstances and the changing natures of the client peoples and/or organisations. However, there are 2 core principles:- Breadth The MeshWORK must create CAPI – Coalesced Authority, Power and Influence (Integration). This is a concept Spiral Dynamics co-developer Don Beck has borrowed from management guru, Ichak Adizes (1987) for enhancement of the MeshWORK concept. (Adizes’ Organisation LifeCycle is often a powerful tool to link with the Gravesian approach for MeshWORK development – particularly when using the Lower Quadrants of 4Q/8L to look at needs and conflict in organisations. Adizes provides not only the most highly-advanced model of organisational development but also a means of mapping which vMEMES are driving (or hindering!) that development. # ‘Authority’ is the ability to make decisions. #’Power’ is the… Read More

What is Romantic Love?

Relaunched: 5 November 2018 Being able to define ‘romantic love’ and understand how it comes about, how it works, how it lasts, how it changes and how it all too often fades is a set of challenges that has beguiled philosophers throughout the millennia and over the past couple of centuries psychologists and, to some extent, sociologists too. The theme of romantic love – and the sex that usually goes with it – is one of the most pervasive memes of our times. It dominates Western culture: approximately 90% of all pop music is concerned with it and it is at the core of many dramas – whether on TV, in films or in books. In so doing, it gives a great many of us a mission in life: to find that ‘special person’ to love and be loved by. The love to be obtained is as seen as somehow mystical; and terms with a hint of mysticism are often used for the special person such as ‘soulmate’ and ‘life partner’. Of course, while men and women in all civilisations seem to experience romantic love, not all cultures regard it as a suitable basis for marriage. Phil Shaver, Shelley Wu & Judith Schwartz (1991) compared… Read More

Clare W Graves’ Research

Updated: 12 June 2018 Clare W Graves (1914-1986) was the psychologist on whose work Spiral Dynamics and several other powerful and practical conceptual models have been built. Although he achieved the emminent 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 differing theories of personality development and human… Read More

What is Stress?

Updated: 29 December 2019 From a UK survey the Mental Health Foundation (2018) found that, in the year 2017-2018, 74% of people felt so stressed they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. 46% reported that they ate too much or ate unhealthily due to stress. 29% reported that they started drinking or increased their drinking; and 16% reported that they started smoking or increased their smoking. 51% of adults who felt stressed reported feeling depressed and 61% reported feeling anxious. Of the people who said they had felt stress at some point in their lives, 16% had self harmed and 32% said they had had suicidal thoughts and feelings. 37% of adults who reported feeling stressed reported feeling lonely as a result. The Health & Safety Executive (2018) estimated 15.4 million working days were lost in the UK 2017- 18 as a result of stress, anxiety or Depression. So what is stress? As good a definition of stress as any comes from Richard Lazarus & Susan Folkman (1984): “…negative emotional and physiological process that occurs as individuals try to adjust to or deal with environmental circumstances that disrupt or threaten to disrupt, their daily functioning”. Randolph Nesse & Elizabeth Young (2000)… Read More

Dimensions of Temperament

Updated: 20 June 2020 Looking at the 4 personality types depicted in the graphic above, which most accurately describes you? By ‘you’, we mean the natural you, the you you don’t have to work at, the you which feels most comfortable to you when there are no pressures to be anyone else. We’re talking about the you you were born with: your natural temperamental type. Of course, very, very few people remain totally true to that type in all circumstances – especially when their vMEMES motivate them to do things beyond their temperamental type. (For example, as someone slightly on the Melancholic side, when leading a workshop event, I find my ORANGE’s achievement orientation will lead me to perform in an outgoing, even charismatic way that contains little hint of my natural mild Introversion.) How much you are any one type will depend on where you tend to locate naturally on each of the 2 Dimensions of Neuroticism and Extraversion. A number of studies have supported Hans J Eysenck’s (1967) contention that our default position on these Dimensions is birthed in us. One such was James Shields (1976) finding that monozygotic (MZ) twins were significantly more similar in Extraversion and Neuroticism … Read More