Mental Health

Spiral dynamics: 8 Levels of Human Value Systems (by Dr. Clare W. Graves)

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Posted By Alex Perez - Mental Health Writer, B.A.

Spiral dynamics is a theory created by Dr. Clare W. Graves used to model the levels of Human existence. Spiral dynamics attempts to map out the many layers of human needs and consciousness.

Dr. Graves’ theory is often used in the business world to try to understand their consumer base and fulfill the needs of their audience. In psychology, Spiral Dynamics can also be used to understand a client’s major concern or what “level” they are functioning out of at a particular moment in their life.

Spiral Dynamics uses a color-coded system for each level from the most basic human needs and factors of existence to the most advanced. It is important to note that people can function out of more than one color level in various times in their life and in different situations.

Below is a short breakdown of Dr. Clare W. Graves’ Theory of Spiral Dynamics:

Dr. Clare W. Graves Sprial Dynamics

Eight levels of increasingly complex human value systems (or vMemes)

Spiral dynamics 8 levels

1. Beige: Survival Self

The survival self is primarily concerned with life on the most basic level. Fulfilling the needs of food, water, shelter, and reproduction. People operating from a beige level are concerned with where they will be finding their next meal and where they may need to sleep that night. Often those functioning out of this level cannot “excel” on other levels because they need to survive. Examples of this can be the homeless population and people in extreme poverty.

2. Purple: Tribal Self

In Spiral Dynamics, the tribal self is mystical and superstitious. People functioning at this level often heavily rely on omens and believe in luck and magic. A modern-day example of people on this level are clients of card readers and fortune-tellers.

3. Red: Power

The red level is an egocentric mindset in the spiral dynamics model. Someone functioning out of this level is primarily concerned with their own gain regardless of who is harmed in the process. An example of people functioning on the red level are narcissistic abusers.

4. Blue: Order

In Spiral Dynamics, people on the blue level value order, law, and regulation. People functioning out of this level feel that law and order made by those in charge is what makes society moral. Examples of people function on the blue level are police officers that believe in the system.

5. Orange: Success

Orange people in Spiral Dynamics believe in earning success while bringing something of value to those around them. They have a business mindset and are interested in offering a product or service that others need while also gaining rewards. Examples of orange level people in Spiral Dynamics are small business owners.

6. Green: Sense of Community or togetherness

The green level is for those concerned with the big picture of community and togetherness. In Spiral Dynamics, those functioning out of green would be non-for-profit workers for community issues.

7. Yellow: Interconnected

People functioning out of the yellow level of Dr. Graves’ model of Spiral Dynamics know that they are valid within themselves and as a connected member of society. They honor knowledge and learning and feel that there is value in education. Examples of people that function out of yellow are anthropologists and sociologists.

8. Turquoise: Holistic

Turquoise is the highest level of human consciousness in Dr. Graves’ Spiral Dynamics. It emphasized a global mindset and a collective being as a citizen of the world. Appreciated their holistic self as an individual, a member of society, and place in the environment in a moment in time. They see themselves in a character in a moment of a larger picture that can be remembered in history.

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