Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences


The Process of Change

Updated: 5 April 2019 A French translation of this article by Luc Taesch is available at What is it leads us to change? Do we just suddenly wake up one morning and decide to change? Do we change because we want to or because we have to? Don Beck & Chris Cowan (1996), co-developers of Spiral Dynamics, identified 7 factors which are part of the change process. Beck (2009) later identified another 3 factors; and this article will use Beck’s 10 factors to set a broad frame for understanding change and how and why it takes place. 1. Potential The individual – or, for that matter, the organisation – has to have the capability to change. Beck & Cowan, from the seminal work of Clare W Graves, identified that someone could be in one of 3 states:- Open to the possibilities of change – they are ready for something new. The Open state is often characterised by the acceptance that change is inevitable and a relatively non-judgemental tolerance of differences. Arrested – caught up so much in their present way of thinking and being that change – without the introduction of dissonance – simply will not occur. This is particularly… Read More


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

Miscellaneous FAQs

Click the question to go to its answer… 1. It’s said you have severe reservations about NLP. Please explain. 2. Were you expelled from the British Association of Counsellors & Psychotherapists? 1. It’s said you have severe reservations about NLP. Please explain. Updated: 17/05/15 Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) contains some very powerful therapeutic techniques indeed. And I use a number of these as first choice in tackling a therapy client’s problems. However, I do have severe reservations about NLP being presented, taught and used as if it is a complete and cohesive set of theories, models and techniques. Firstly, it is theoretically weak. There is no unified or even connectionist set of theoretical underpinnings. In terms of theory, it is a ragbag of disjointed models which are not properly integrated. Put the vMEMES of the Gravesian approach at the core of NLP and most of it starts to make sense. Even then it ignores many facets of the human psyche covered in other schools of Psychology. This, unfortunately, does not stop many NLPers – including ‘guru’ figures who should know better – from claiming that NLP can be used to tackle any and every form of psychological problem. It can’t! For one… 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: 10 February 2016 Meta-programmes, a key concept in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), are observable distinctions in mental processing, as reflected in language and behaviour. They act as filters for how and what we let into our heads  – memes from the external world influencing the schemas of our internal representations – and they shape what comes out from us in terms of language and concepts – our schemas becoming memes to influence others. Meta-programmes are usually depicted as poles at the opposite ends of a scalable continuum. The concept of meta-programmes was conceived in the late 1970s by Leslie Cameron Bandler (then wife of NLP co-developer Richard Bandler), building on Noam Chomsky’s groundbreaking work around linguistic patterns reflecting mental filters. David Gordon, Robert Dilts and Maribeth Meyers-Anderson were among Cameron-Bandler’s leading collaborators in identifying the first sets of meta-programmes. As NLP has grown in scope and complexity, so more and more meta-programmes have been charted to identify more and more distinctions. Leading ‘guru’ Wyatt Woodsmall has reputedly talked about having identified over 350 meta-programmes! In 1997 L Michael Hall & Bob Bodenhamer grouped 51 principle meta-programmes into 5 overarching categories: mental, emotional, volitional, response and meta meta-programmes.They also linked meta-programmes to the concept… Read More

Attribution Theory

Updated: 17 June 2016 According to Fritz Heider (1958), we produce attributions (beliefs about the causes of behaviour) based on two sources of information… Internal attributions – based on something within the individual whose behaviour is being observed – their natural character External attributions – based on something external to that individual – nothing to do with who they are specifically, it is the situation they are in Internal attributions are often referred to as dispositional attributions while external attributions are called situational attributions. Internal or External Locus of Control? In his development of Attribution Theory, Heider was concerned primarily with how we understand the behaviour of others. The mechanisms for how we attribute the behaviour of others have been explored with varying degrees of success in Correspondent Inference Theory, Covariation Theory and Causal Schemata. However, Julian B Rotter (1966) focused on how people attribute the reasons for their own behaviour. From his research, Rotter concluded that people tend to have either:- internal locus of control – ie: they decide what to do – the root of their behaviour is dispositional external locus of control – ie: their behaviour is shaped by external, situational factors – eg: expectations Rotter found that,… Read More

Good Boys gone bad…?

Updated: 29 October 2016 Some years ago I encountered ‘Johnny’ and his younger brother, ‘Harry’, at a school I taught at in a run-down town in East Yorkshire. Their behaviour tended towards the extreme – although I have come across worse in my time as a teacher! – but was not that far removed from the behaviour of many boys (and some girls!) in secondary schools in deprived areas. As I taught both boys and had Harry in my tutor group, I learned a fair amount about their backgrounds and factors which influenced their attitudes and behaviours. I developed this diagnostic case study and recommendations from those experiences. My experiences in schools since, my conversations with other educationalists and my readings in Sociology and Psychology leave me still convinced that schools and society in general fail this kind of child. The case study is updated with more of my understanding in Integrated SocioPsychology. ‘Johnny’ was an ‘interesting’ 11-year who came to the school I was teaching at to start Year 7. He was bright, enthusiastic, eager both to learn and to show off his knowledge – almost always the first to have his hand up to answer a question. He was often ahead… 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

Dimensions of Temperament

Updated: 4 February 2016 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  than were… Read More


Updated: 09/06/18 PURPLE (B-O) thinking works on emotion, security, rituals, tokens, sense of belonging (my family, my friends, my workplace) and is very responsive to peer and family pressures RED (C-P) thinking is assertive (aggressive!), energetic, powerful, indulgent, self-centred and wants to dominate/be the best BLUE (D-Q) thinking is concerned with procedures, routines, order, quality, the correct way of doing things, is highly responsive to the ‘correct’ higher authority and punishes ‘sinners’ ORANGE (E-R) thinking is strategic and future-focussed, wants to achieve and improve, loves technology and innovation, and marks progress – eg: with status and wealth GREEN (F-S) thinking values people – all are equal and to be treated correctly, with decisions made by consensus In which of these ways do you think – at what times and in what contexts/circumstances? These vMEMES or modes of thinking form the second (PURPLE) through to the sixth (GREEN) ‘levels of existence’ in the Gravesian approach, arguably the most advanced map of human needs and motivations developed to date. vMEMES can be thought of as ‘value systems’, ‘core intelligences’ or even ‘mini-selves’. They each have their own way of thinking, sets of needs and motivations, and contextual strengths and weaknesses. The colours applied… Read More