Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences



Updated: 30 March 2018 One nomenclature Don Beck & Chris Cowan (1996) have used for the YELLOW vMEME, the first of the 2nd Tier, is ‘Flexiflow’. This captures both the incredible flexibility in this level of thinking and the sense of peak performance Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1993) identifies athletes, musicians, etc, experience when they enter the state of ‘flow’. In both his posthumous works (1971b/2002, p25; 1978/2005, p148), Clare W Graves unequivocally equated his seventh level G-T (YELLOW) to “Maslow’s self-actualising man”. Jane Loevinger (1976, p46) equated her Autonomous Stage of Ego Development with Self-Actualisation and Graves (1978/2005, p444) equated G-T with Autonomous…so it’s clear that Graves and Loevinger, both of them steeped in years of hard research, very much felt they were talking about the same way of thinking as Abraham Maslow (1943; 1954; 1956). However, this equation is not without controversy; nor is the term ‘Self-Actualisation’ used here in quite the same way as it is most commonly in Psychology. So there is some need to clarify our understanding(s) of ‘Self-Actualisation’ before we can benefit fully from this equation with YELLOW. Goldstein’s Self-Actualisation The term ‘Self-Actualisation’ was originally introduced by the Organismic theorist Kurt Goldstein (1934) for the motive to… Read More

Theory FAQs

Click the question to go to its answer… 1. What is the relationship between the Gravesian approach, Spiral Dynamics and Spiral Dynamics integral? 2. What’s the difference between 1st Tier and 2nd Tier in the Gravesian approach? 3. What’s the difference between Integrated SocioPsychology and Integral Psychology and where does Integrated SocioPsychology fit in with the concepts of Integrated Spirituality? 1. What is the relationship between the Gravesian approach, Spiral Dynamics and Spiral Dynamics integral? Updated: 16/05/16 Just as the ‘Freudian approach’ is to do with the work of Sigmund Freud himself and/or developments of Freud’s work which adhere very closely to the principles of his theories, so the ‘Gravesian approach’ is to do with Clare W Graves’ research and/or developments of it. Spiral Dynamics was developed by Don Beck & Chris Cowan (1996) from Graves’ work by linking it with the new science of Memetics developed by the likes of Richard Dawkins (1976) and Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi (1993). They coined the term ‘vMEME’ for the Gravesian systems of thinking and saw them as attracting memes pertinent to the vMEME’s motivation. Thus, they extended Graves’ concept of his systems (themas) having preferred schemas. Beck & Cowan also colour-coded the levels to make them easier… Read More

3 Stage Theories of Development

Updated: 29 March 2018 The work of Clare W Graves (1970) and its Spiral Dynamics ‘build’  (Don Beck & Chris Cowan, 1996) theorise about motivational systems and their emergence. Where the emergent system reaches its nodal peak in matching the life conditions (internal and or external), this can be considered an ‘existential state’, level or stage. In the period Graves was constructing his concept from the results of his research, several other developmentalists were coming up with very similar theories and models. Unlike Graves who perceived ‘stages’ as merely markers in the processes of emergence, however, these other researchers tended to see development in more or less discreet stages which were distinct from each other. In spite of the limitations of these stage theories, the findings of their developers offer much additional insight into the characteristics of vMEMES, vMEME transition states and the workings of the Spiral. These additional insights are discussed in the pages on vMEMES. The purpose of these pages is to describe the basic structures of what are arguably the 3 most important stage models and to provide some background and critiquing of these theories. The Comparison Map places these and some other leading developmental models into a schematic… Read More


Updated: 19 December 2016 ‘Selfplex’ is the term used by Susan Blackmore (1999) to depict ‘self’ effectively as the key confluence of schemas – ‘the ultimate memeplex‘ – which provides the concept of ‘I’, the cognitive awareness of who I am, how I think, what I feel, what I believe…why I am the way I am. Someone’s sense of identity or identities. The term ‘ego’ is widely used in Psychology and the other behavioural sciences as a cipher for ‘self’. It has even entered mainstream popular language in usages such as: “That’s egocentric” or “He’s got a lot of ego”. The very diversity of usages makes it too vague to use as a term for ‘self-concept’ – though it is often used in that context – which is why ‘selfplex’ is preferable. Sigmund Freud (1923b) used ‘Ego’ in a very specific yet cohesive sense. It is a force which attempts to balance the motivations of the Id and the Superego where they compete for dominance and restrains the more socially-unacceptable demands of the Id. This latter function can be seen in the way the PURPLE vMEME submits to the family or group to gain acceptance. Yet Freud also perceived the Ego as… 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


The articles on these pages explore the concepts of Integrated SocioPsychology, vMEMES, Neurological Levels, Dimensions of Temperament and related Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), Psychology and Sociology models from theoretical and general standpoints. Features dealing with the particular practical applications of the concepts and models are posted in the Lifespan, Society, Global and Mental Health sections of this site. Features on application of the concepts outside of those topic areas are included in this section. Thanks to those leading psychologists, sociologists and Gravesian/NLP practitioners who have generously allowed their work to be published here alongside my own. The articles appear in ascending chronological order – ie: the newest are at the top of the list below and the oldest at the bottom. Graves: Systems more than Stages      30/08/20 Piece examining the nature of stage the nature of stage theories and how the Graves Model is so much more than a stage theory Citizen-Driven Community and Nation-Building Article by Bjarni Snæbjörn Jónsson dealing with community engagement in large-scale change and using the drive for constitutional change in Iceland as application How the Plutocrats are waging War on the Bureaucrats… Piece using sociopsychological theory to explain the rise of nationalistic populism in the West The Trouble with… Read More


A Tribute to a Pioneering MeshWORK Project written with input from Christopher Cooke inspired by an original report by Matthew Kalman Updated: 8 October 2017 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 ‘HemsMESH’ was the first major Gravesian-oriented project in the UK. Technically, it was a ‘pilot’ – which meant in reality things were being tried out as the project went along – which also meant that it was an awesome learning experience for all involved! There was never any official ‘follow-on – but the project was far from a failure as all the key figures in the project went onto to further work with the principles involved. Indeed, for many years afterwards Christopher ‘Cookie’ Cooke, the project leader, carried out work with both individuals and agencies that were involved in it. It also brought to a climax a remarkable 3 years which had seen Wakefield Training & Enterprise Council and Business Link Wakefield & District, 2 organisations rooted in BLUE bureaucracy, not only embrace… Read More

vMEME Stacks

Updated; 25 May 2016 In terms of Integrated SocioPsychology a vMEME stack is simply the spread of vMEMES influencing the selfplex and their strengthening and weakening – brightening and dimming, flowing and ebbing – across different domains of life and relative to the life conditions impacting upon the individual, group or organisation and what their focus is. In their 1996 book ‘Spiral Dynamics’ Don Beck & Chris Cowan introduced what became known as ‘the fried egg’ to illustrate how different vMEMES formed a stack. Always, of course, BEIGE is at the core. If BEIGE stops functioning, we lose our will to live! In the higher fried egg the person is primarily PURPLE-centred but with a large dose of RED and some emergent BLUE. This person is very likely to be narcissistic and family-oriented. With PURPLE dominating in that environment, family, in fact, is a huge part of their life. It’s quite likely that extended family – grandparents, cousins, aunts/uncles – will feature quite markedly on their social calendar. They are also likely to be very defensive of their family and family members. There may be other forms of belonging that are extremely important to them – eg: church/synagogue/mosque/temple, club, women’s organisation or work colleagues. This person’s… 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

Bibliography C

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 Cadoret, Remi, William Yates, Edward Troughton, George Woodworth & Mark Stewart (1995): ‘Genetic-Environmental Interaction in the Genesis of Aggressivity and Conduct Disorders’ in Archives of General Psychiatry #52 Cadwalladr, Carole (2017): ‘Robert Mercer: the Big Data Billionaire waging War on Mainstream Media’ in The Observer (26 February) Cairns, R B, D J McCombie & K E Hood (1983): ‘A Developmental-Genetic Analysis of Aggressive Behaviour in Mice I: Behavioural Outcomes’ in Journal of Comparative Psychology #97 Caledonian Foundation (2013): ‘Engaging Discussions at So Say Scotland’  (Accessed: 2015) Callaway, Ewen (2009): ‘Murderer with ‘aggression genes’ gets Sentence cut’ in New Scientist (3 November) Calvert, Jonathan, George Arbuthnott & Jonathan Leake (2020):  ‘Coronavirus: 38 Days when Britain sleepwalked into Disaster’ in Sunday Times (19 April) Camber, Rebecca (2011): ’Supergran Unmasked: Pensioner who saw off Hammer Raiders speaks out… as Friend reveals She has spent Ten Years fighting Violent Crime’ in Daily Mail (9 February) Cameron, David & Dylan Jones (2010): ‘Cameron on Cameron: Conversations with Dylan Jones’ (4th Estate, London) Cameron, Catherine, Stuart Oskamp & William Sparks  (1977): ‘Courtship American… Read More