Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences


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

Conformity & Obedience #3

PART 3 Dispositional and Situational The 2 approaches to explaining obedience were to some extent reconciled via the work of Alan Elms (Alan Elms & Stanley Milgram, 1966). One of Milgram’s assistants, Elms tested sub-samples of the 20 most obedient and the 20 most defiant from Milgram’s first 4 experiments, using Adorno’s F-Scale questionnaire. He found that those who tested highest on the F-Scale gave more stronger shocks and held the shock buttons down longer than those who were low scorers. Participants were also asked a series of open-ended questions about their relationship with their parents and their attitudes towards the experimenter (authority figure) and the ‘learner’. Elms reported that participants high in authoritarianism were more likely to see the learner as responsible for what happened to him, rather than themselves or the experimenter who was seen as an admirable figure by many of the authoritarian participants, They also often spoke in negative terms about their fathers. Though Elms’ sample groups were small, the implication is that there is indeed a dispositional element in blind obedience – so that some will respond to a situation demanding obedience more than others. In Integrated SocioPsychology terms the vMEME most likely to obey blindly the orders of a legitimate… 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


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

Milgram’s Obedience Experiments #2

PART 2 The ‘Obedience’ movie In 1965 Milgram boosted his burgeoning notoriety with the release of ‘Obedience’, a movie documentary of a repeat of the classic study. Below is an edited compilation of clips from the movie – copyright © 1991 Alexandra Milgram.   According to such commentators as Hugh Coolican (1996), most people who see the movie are convinced that the behaviour of the participants in ‘Obedience’ is authentic and that the stress caused by their moral strain is real. However, ‘Obedience’ may not be quite what it appears to be, according to Kathryn Millard (2011). In fact, the raw footage for ‘Obedience’ was shot over a weekend in May 1962, using what Milgram called ‘Condition 25’, a slight variation on the classic study. He used the same actors to play ‘Mr Wallace’ and ‘Jack Williams’ as always and the participants were genuinely naive. The camera filmed through the same 2-way mirror Milgram used to observe proceedings. However, it was 1965 before the completed film was made publicly available. Why did it take Milgram so long to make the movie available? Millard (p660) comments on the finished product: “‘Obedience’ is as much art as science, as much drama as experiment. It… Read More

The Use of SDi in Psychotherapy

‘The Use of SDi in Therapy’ is one of 2 contributions commissioned from me by Tom Christensen for his compendium, Developmental Innovation: Emerging Worldviews and Individual Learning (Integral Publishers, August 2015). Originally the work was to be entitled ‘SDi Applied’ as Tom wanted to present chapters which reflected Don Beck’s ongoing development of Clare W Graves’ research. Accordingly, Tom wanted the primary term used to be SDi rather than Spiral Dynamics or the ‘Graves Model’. Although I readily acknowledge my debt to Don Beck (and Chris Cowan, for that matter), I have never operated under the SDi umbrella, preferring to use terms such as the Gravesian approach. To maintain the integrity of the piece as published, I have retained the SDi terminology. However, readers should know that effectively I mean ‘Gravesian’. Tom ended up with so many strong contributions – including from the likes of Said E Dawlabani, Elza Maalouf, Barbara N Brown and Fred Krawchuk – that he and Integral Publishers split the material into 2 volumes: the first on Systems Change and the second on Individual Learning. Both my contributions are in the second book. Spiral Dynamics Integral (SDi) is often thought of as a means of addressing large-scale issues such as inter-racial conflict, socio-economic malaise and global power plays. This is the way Don Beck himself has used the model in the past, to great… 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