What is Spiral Dynamics?

Spiral dynamics is a model of psychology highlighting the stages our development concerning our values. The hierarchy of this system consists of eight levels that an individual will go through in their psychological life. We grow through these stages, advancing with each step.

Who Developed Spiral Dynamics?

During the same time that Maslow was developed the hierarchy of human needs, psychologist Clare  Graves studied what makes individuals differ in their values, behaviors, and worldviews.

Over 20 years of research, questioning thousands of participants, Graves formulated what he called the levels of existence; these are the eight stages of development within human values.

Grave’s groundbreaking research was followed up by Christopher Cowan and Don Beck in 1996, who  published a book with the title, “Spiral Dynamics”.

The Eight Spiral Dynamics Stages

The eight spiral dynamics stages are each titled with a different color. Think of these stages as them as “expressions” within your human experience. The Spiral Dynamics writings use the term “center of gravity,” to describe that everyone has a center of gravity that’s mostly centered in one stage of development. However, we can express other levels as well.

The BEIGE stage: The Instinctive Self

Age: 0 – 18 months.

This stage is characterized by the drive to survive. The beige stage is basic, instinctive and automatic; the individual thinks and acts in a needs-driven manner geared towards wish-fulfillment.

The major theme of Beige is to “do what you need to, to survive.”

The PURPLE Stage: The Magical Self

Those within the Purple stage desire safety and security. The mindset is magical, mystical and tribalistic, looking to higher powers (“the gods”) for protection through ritualistic behavior.

The basic theme of Purple is to “keep the gods happy and the tribe safe.”

The RED Stage: The Impulsive Self

The Red stage is characterized by a drive for power and glory. Emotions characterizing this stage are rage and revenge. The Red stage is impulsive, egocentric, rebellious and exploitative. The Red value structure thinks it get what it wants by becoming aligned with power.

The theme of Red is “do what thou will.”

The BLUE Stage: The Rule/Role Self

Those in the Blue stage are locked in a battle of good and evil, seeking the supreme peace. The mindset is obedient, purposeful, and authoritarian. By following the rules they believe they will discover know the fundamental truth. Religions are based in Blue.

The belief of Blue is “Life has meaning, purpose, and direction with a predetermined outcome.”

The ORANGE Stage: The Achiever Self

The drive of the Orange stage is achievement, autonomy, and self-interest. The approach is strategic, materialistic, and ambitious.

The purpose of life is to win, with the prizes being material acquisition, pleasure and advancing civilization. Setting and achieving goals is the measure of success. Those in the Orange mindset have built most of modern society. Orange was the dominant mindset of the industrial age and continues through today.

The major theme of Orange is to “play the game to win and act in your own self-interest.”

The GREEN Stage: The Sensitive Self

Those in the Green stage live by connections to community, with an egalitarian mindset. The outlook is  relative, personal, and sensitive. Green seeks out diverse views, focusing on the needs of the many.

Green was dominant during the hippy movement of the 1960s. Green brought the awareness of both human and animal rights and likewise, gave birth to feminism, postmodernism, and liberal activism.

The implicit theme of Green is to “seek peace within and seek the heartfelt dimensions of community.”

The YELLOW Stage: The Integral Self

Yellow desires become whole and combine all the other levels by awakening and integrating these into a cohesive whole. Yellow is systemic, flexible, and conceptual. By learning and adapting Yellow can merge all the levels into a whole.

The theme of Yellow is to “live responsibly and fully as what you are and are becoming.”

The TURQUOISE Stage: The Holistic Self

Harmony and compassion guide the Turquoise stage. Seeking peace in a complex world with a profound receptivity of perspectives is wht Turquoise does best.

The primary theme of Turquoise is to “experience existence as wholeness through mind and spirit.”

According to research, only 1% of peoples have a center of gravity in Yellow or Turquoise. Eighty percent of people are centered in either Blue, Orange, or Green. These statistics can help explain political, office, and marital conflicts.

 

 

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