Spiral dynamics is a developmental psychology based theory that postulates these main ideas:

  • Organisms in the universe go through a predictable set of stages of psychological development.
  • These stages each exhibit a set of values that the organism tries to obtain.
  • Their pursuit for these values are clearly observable, i.e. it is possible to identify that the organism is trying to obtain these values.

This image illustrates the different stages postulated by the theory, the characteristics of organism's behavior that are within each level, and also their overall world view. enter image description here

Here is a table (Dr. Clare Grave's model) that breaks down these characteristics into categories:

enter image description here

I have heard that this theory is credible and that there is evidence for it, though I have struggled to find any.

Is there any evidence that strongly suggests all living organisms/creatures/life forms, in terms of mentality, consistently travel through a set of stages, where their values (and overall objectives) are respectively: gaining assurance, obtaining survival, obtaining security, obtaining independence, and then obtaining affiliation.

While Dr. Graves himself did studies to produce this theory, his methods have been criticized heavily. At this point of time, are there any other studies that suggest that the postulate mentioned is consistent with various empirical observations?

  • $\begingroup$ Could you please provide a reference as what Spiral Dynamics are? $\endgroup$
    – Seanny123
    Aug 31, 2015 at 12:58
  • $\begingroup$ I know what spiral dynamics are, but I still don't understand the question. What's wrong with Ericsson's expertise studies? What is a "poor" correlation? I feel like I'm reading IFLS or some rag like that. $\endgroup$ Sep 1, 2015 at 5:31
  • $\begingroup$ spiraldynamics.org $\endgroup$
    – tristo
    Sep 4, 2015 at 10:49
  • $\begingroup$ @ChristianHummeluhr I was trying to find the resource, if I find it I will post it, but basically there were some critiques to the experiment. Something like Andersson said that it will take approximately 10000 hours, but he failed to state that the results were an AVERAGE and that the standard deviation was high. So that means some people took a lot more and some took a lot less, which means that the advocation that everyone will take 10000 hours is false(the rule was debunked). So I'm basically asking for evidence that avoids these issues $\endgroup$
    – tristo
    Sep 4, 2015 at 10:55
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You may be thinking of Gladwell's Outliers rather than Ericsson's underlying work. I've written a number of answers on deliberate practice you might find interesting. In any case, it's not so much that you are being picky as that the things you are being picky about don't make sense. $\endgroup$ Sep 4, 2015 at 14:52

1 Answer 1


Dr Graves' research relates to human developmental psychology, not 'all living things'. In his book Integral Psychology (2000) Ken Wilber cross references multiple bodies of work, including eastern philosophy and western psychology. Wilber mentions a number of other researchers whose work correlates with Graves' findings, including Paiget, Fowler, Kegan, Cook-Greuter to name a few.

Three key findings from Graves' work are: 1. The responsive nature of human consciousness to the complexity of life conditions. 2. The trajectory of and the human experience of change between the stages. 3. The open-ended, staged developmental sequence with alternating themes of self-expression and self-sacrifice.

You can find my interpretation of Graves' model at my website https://www.eman8.net


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