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Graves Values Systems /values-systems-4/

The Emergent, Cyclical, Double-Helix Model of Adult BioPsychoSocial Systems Development Dr Clare Graves

I am not saying in this conception of adult behaviour that one style of being, one form of human existence is
inevitably and in all circumstances superior to or better than another form of human existence, another style of

What I am saying is that when one form of being is more congruent with the realities of existence, then it is the
better form of living, for those realities. And what I am saying is that when one form of existence ceases to be
functional for the realities of existence then some other form, either higher or lower in the hierarchy, is the better
style of living.

I do suggest, however, and this I deeply believe is so, that for the overall welfare of total mans existence in the
world, over the long run of time, higher levels are better than lower levels, and that the prime good of any societys
governing figures should be to promote human movement up the levels of human existence.

Dr Clare W Graves, Professor of Psychology, Union College Schenectady, USA (d1986)

This is a brief description of the eight human developmental levels that have been defined
so far. You will see evidence for the levels in personal growth, organizational development
and cultural/political change.

No level should be seen as better or worse than any other level

People operate out of the level where they get answers to lifes problems.
Each level enfolds and incorporates all the levels that precede it
Up to and including level 4, it is very difficult to see (and above all appreciate the value in) any level beyond
the one you are currently at.

Level Outline Description and Characteristics

1. Beige An inwardly pointing worldview, dependent on outside support for its survival. Today only seen in
(Reactive) babies and very young children, and those people suffering from a severe degenerative condition
(such as Alzheimers) or extreme drug dependency.

2. Purple Very tribal in its approach. The individual follows a strong leader or symbol. In todays society it
(Tribal) is seen in a somewhat more diluted form with some family units, football supporters, highly
competitive corporate teams. Core values include safety and security.

3. Red A highly individualistic level, often with a lot of anger in it.Can be seen in the terrible twos and
(Egocentric) rebellious teenage behaviour. Also evident in macho street violence later in life. Core values here
include power, immediate gratification, escaping from being controlled, being respected and
avoiding shame. Some evidence that a high proportion of UK prison population is at this level
shown by lack of consequence awareness.

4. Blue A community oriented level with strong moving away from motivation.Strong sense of right vs.
(Absolutist) wrong, good vs. bad and the need for order in society. In cultural terms, judicial systems develop
at this level. Fundamentalist religious beliefs are seen here too. Core values include justice,
security and morality. Also a desire to control impulsivity and evil deeds. Can be seen in
movements such as right to life and moral majority.

5. Orange An individualistic level with a strong personal drive and high energy operating from a moving
(Materialist) towards motivation strategy. Very aspirational, keen to succeed and responds well to the
trappings of success. Much of creative science emerges as a means to control human destiny at
this level. Core values around success, creativity and achievement. Likes to be popular and
enjoys winning. Can be seen in modern industrial nations and the upwardly mobile.

6. Green Focus on involvement and gaining consensus/agreement. Seeks peace with inner self and to
(Personalistic) gain contact with the inner self of others. Core values around fairness and equality with the
desire to free the human spirit from exploitation. Has generated the womens movement and the
civil rights movement in the last century. Wishes to eliminate poverty, racism, chauvinism and
other forms of divisiveness.

7. Yellow An individually oriented systems viewpoint. Sees the world as being in danger of collapse
(Systemic) because of misuse of resources. Sees life as diverse and paradoxical. Has the pursuit of
knowledge as a major driver but without the need to demonstrate his/her own ego. Can often see
the bigger picture and be willing to take a position that is contrary to popular opinion. However,
may get frustrated if others are not able to see their point.

8. Turquoise Sees a world in danger of geo-political collapse as a result of adopting short term strategies.
(Holistic) Seeks spirituality and unity in living systems. Strives to eliminate war, poverty, disease, hunger
and political oppression. Recognises the potential need to sacrifice self and others as may be
required for the overall survival of life. Thinks and acts globally.

Estimates of world population and power:

Note: This table is intended as a guide only because it was based on estimates and may include some double-
counting, probably as a result of exiting/entering phases)
Level Population % Power %

1.) Beige N/A 0

2.) Purple 10 1

3.) Red 20 5

4.) Blue 40 30

5.) Orange 30 50

6.) Green 10 15

7.) Yellow 1 5

8.) Turquoise 0.1 1

Sources: Dr Wyatt Woodsmall Integral Change Technology TM

Don Edward Beck/Christopher C. Cowan Spiral Dynamics

Note: Our ability to influence each level requires both willingness and personal flexibility. It will be heavily influenced
by the system or systems within which you currently sit. As Graves suggested, the more evolved levels do offer
significantly more choice of action so anything you can do to move yourself, and your team, further into Level 7
thinking will be very helpful at both an individual and organisational level.

Graphical Summary of Graves Values Levels

Purpose: To illustrate how each level is a holon and is encapsulated within each subsequently emerging level.

Notes for guidance:

Odd numbers tend towards individual orientation

Even numbers tend towards communal orientation.
No level is any more real than any other it is appropriate for that persons needs.
People only move from one level to another if they cease to get answers to lifes problems at that existing

Relevance to organisational issues

We need to be aware that different parts of any organisation may be operating out of different levels.
We need to be able to adjust our approach to enable rapport to be established with each level as appropriate.
Tension, stress or some other significant change in their environment or context may cause people to regress
to an earlier level.

How the Levels May Regard Each Other

Purpose: To provide an unscientific, tongue in cheek summary of how each level may view the others, especially
what they would regard as the more extreme or unhealthy versions of each level.

1. Beige
No real discrimination at this level, so all are ok if Beiges own immediate needs are met

2. Purple
Sees Purple as one of us or one of them
Sees Red as the strong leader to be obeyed
Sees Blue as the State or remote Government
Sees Orange as either their saviour (way out of poverty) or their next master
Sees Green as very helpful or as do-gooders
Cant easily see Yellow or Turquoise except when an exceptional, beneficial, sustainable
intervention occurs which would be attributed to Orange or Green

3. Red
Sees Purple as tools to be used
Sees Red as a threat to be overcome or as the next leader if he or she is strong enough
Sees Blue as authoritarian, and probably the enemy
Sees Orange all around and wants its toys now
Sees Green as lunch
Probably cant see Yellow or Turquoise and certainly wouldnt value them

4. Blue
Sees Purple as the Noble Savage in need of saving
Sees Red as bad
Sees Blue as being right, provided they have the same Truth as we do
Sees Orange as arrogant, self-serving, nouveau riche and greedy
Sees Green as wishy-washy and probably irrelevant
Sees Yellow and Turquoise as out with the fairies

Orange Sees Purple as resources to be exploited
Sees Red as dangerous
Sees Blue as stuck and bureaucratic
Sees Orange as either someone to aspire towards or as a competitor,
Sees Green as irrelevant to personal success and therefore to be ignored
Sees Yellow and Turquoise as making things overly complicated

6. Green
Sees Purple as wonderful communities that should be valued
Sees Red as needing to be saved or educated into other ways of behaving
Sees Blue as authoritarian, biased and unfair
Sees Orange as greedy and exploitative
Sees Green as an enlightened, caring equal
Sees Yellow as insensitive and intellectualising / avoiding emotional engagement
Sees Turquoise as OK but lacking in emotional sensitivity

7. Yellow
Sees everybody else as interesting and will match them as the situation demands.
Does relate particularly strongly to others coming out of Yellow as it reduces the possible
Will get immensely frustrated and walk away from those who just dont get it

Turquoise No real evidence yet because of the very low numbers but should bring the pragmatic
acceptance and curiosity of Yellow forward into the resolution of global problems.
The biggest risk could be that it adopts a command and control approach

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