Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

Clare W Graves’

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


The Year of Disruption 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: Ran Psychology Topics #1: Romantic Relationships, Mental Health evening classes at both Shipley College and Rossett. However, the courses were terminated prematurely at week 9 due to schools and colleges being closed in measures to limit the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic sweeping through the UK (and much of the rest of the world). Commentary: Both programmes had been hugely successful, with classes large in size and gelling very well. There was a real sense of disappointment amongst participants – though everybody recognised the necessity of the closures. In January I was observed for one of the sessions and again rated ‘Outstanding’ (or the equivalent of it under the updated policy). (Excerpts from the observer’s report are included in the Learner Perspectives pages.) Gallery: Shipley College participants, March (All photos: Joan Russell/Shipley College ) – click on photo to enlarge. March: Lost almost all of my Year 13 tuition students as the Government scrapped A-Levels this year and most of my… 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

Can vMEMES cause Clinical Depression..?

Updated: 24 January 2019 The Gravesian approach lies at the core of Integrated SocioPsychology. The following is a plea to psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, mental health workers and those involved in research into various areas of psychopathology to examine rigorously Clare W Graves research with a view to its implications for mental health conditions. There are literally millions of people whose suffering could be alleviated if we understood more of the psychological processes underlying it. There are a multiplicity of reasons why the work of Clare W Graves (1970, 1971b/2002, 1978/2005) needs to be taken up much more comprehensively by the academic communities and investigated rigorously for its validity. (Which will result in a much higher profile and wider acceptance of his theory.) One of these reasons, I propose, is the applicability to mental health of the Gravesian approach. Strangely enough, for all the many champions of Graves’ work and the Spiral Dynamics ‘build’ developed by Don Beck & Chris Cowan (1996), little has been said about the relationship between Graves’ Spiral of motivational systems (vMEMES) and psychological disorders. Although my plea is for research into the Gravesian approach related to all forms of mental illness, in this piece I will be focusing primarily on… Read More

Don Beck & South Africa #2

PART 2 Beck’s legacy A personal annecdote…in June 1999 I fell into conversation with a group of visiting South African students in Leeds. To my surprise, they not only knew of Don Beck but regarded him as something of a ‘political hero’. (2 of them had actually seen him speak at a university appearance.) One of them told me that, thanks to Beck’s work, race would be a dead issue in South Africa inside 5 years – and these students were from the Transvaal, hard Boer Afrikaner stock from an inherently-racist tradition! Race-as-a-dead-issue has proved hopelessly optimistic but the students’ comments give a flavour of just how much impact Beck and Clare W Graves’ ideas had in South Africa in the 1990s. In an August 1993 interview with Padraig O’Malley, archived on the Nelson Mandela Foundation web site, Hall, explains the  model Beck used in South Africa: “Donald Beck, he’s the American sort of sociologist who has been working in this country with my companies for a long time and he makes it very complicated, I simplify everything – as you know. So level one is a hunter/gatherer, level two is a tribal collectivist, level three is people that have urbanised, come into… 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

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

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