Understanding Human Values Through Clare Grave Spiral Dynamic

Understanding Levels of Human Values though Clare Grave’s Spiral Dynamics

Human Relationship is an interesting area to discuss. Every day, we have big and small interactions with people around us. They can be our family members, friends, colleagues, superiors, subordinates, and so on.

Lately, I’ve been reading about Clare Grave’s model of psycho evolution of human consciousness and the values integrated or attach to it. The Grave’s Model, which is also known as the Spiral Dynamics Theory was Dr. Clare Grave’s idea during the 1950’s- 1960’s.

The information I got afterwards expanded my thinking on how people develop and what constitutes their values. It also answers the question on why they do certain things in their lives. Similarly, it also helps me gain awareness of my inner feelings, thoughts, actions, and the way I interact with some people.

Clare Grave’s value systems (levels of psychological existence) or model of psycho evolution of human consciousness explains how people go through each level as they age. It further elaborates how they mature or change the way of their thinking and where they are  heading next. It also provides an explanation on why some people could not get along with others while some could stay along together for a long time.

Reading Clare Grave’s models transforms my thinking in a way that will help me in my interactions and relationships with other people, which I think, really matters as we are naturally a social being. Each level has its corresponding colors too to make it easier to remember and identify the level or stage name of the psychological existence.

Level 1: (Beige) Reaction/Survival:

People in this level are just after their survival, which is also known as the cavemen days. This level is all about food, shelter, procreation. These were the days where people lived to hunt animals as their food. Their focus was to survive and not on to achieve wealth, fame, or even education. They just react to their environment in a way to survive. Although many of us are already beyond this level, there are still some parts in this world, which are still under the reaction/survival stage. These are the places, which experience extreme poverty and where people perish because of malnutrition.

Level 2: (Purple) Tribalism:

People in this level are aware that they belong to a certain tribe or group. There are tribal elders who make the decisions and followers should abide by them to avoid punishment. This was a fear driven stage and people were programmed to believe that the world was full of negative energies.  It was a scary, chaotic and mysterious world. People in this level believed in many gods and they would do everything and anything just to avoid offending their gods. History has taught us that those were the days when people did human or animals sacrifices and different and sometimes shocking rituals to appease their gods. They valued safety and traditional beliefs of the elders. This level can still be found these days where people are also governed by superstitious beliefs.

Level 3: (Red) Egocentrism:

Boredom sometimes found people in Level 2 resulting for them to attack or go against their traditions. In this level, people become aware of themselves and value heroism and power. This level is about a person himself. It is anything that he wants and, what he wants he gets to the extent of even exploiting other people. This level can be seen in toddlers. For instance, a toddler who wants a toy could make scenes in public just for his parents to buy the toy. It can also be seen among rebellious teenagers who no longer listen to their parents. People in this level are characterized as manipulative and aggressive. Another example are people who can even commit a crime just to get what they want such as the drug addicts or drug lords. Dictators also belong to this level.

Level 4: (Blue) Conformity:

Unlike in level 2, which is fear driven, level 4 is a rule-driven stage. A man on this stage perceives that his power has limit and there is someone far more powerful than he is. On this level, he submits himself to the dominating rules, which is typically a religion. He values obedience, sacrifice, and self-discipline. His aim in life is to achieve perfection and holiness. People in this level believe that if rules are followed, they are going to heaven when they die, otherwise they will be doomed to hell. Thus, they should sacrifice worldly desires to experience nirvana or another life after death.  Moreover, they are also willing to give their life to protect what for them is right.

Level 5: (Orange) Achievement:

Once a man thinks that he cannot have all the enjoyment in life, he will be now adjusting to the next level, which is the Achievement level. Again, his values will be all set to himself. He values creativity, results, hard work and success. People in this level want to improve more, achieve more, and have more. They have strong fighting spirits and do not need to be told on what to do. For people on this level, they can do anything and everything—the sky’s the limit. This level is the level of materialistic values.

Level 6: (Green) Social Orientation/Ecology Level:

When people realized that they already achieved all their financial goals, they tend to feel the value of belonging  or wanting to give back to the community or to the world. From being materialistic, they move to being socially conscious individuals. People in this level value humanity, connection, equality, fairness, sustainability, and greater goodness. Oftentimes, people in this level have a clash with people under the Achievement level. For instance, a person in the achievement level who values money could do things such as illegal logging or establishing factories.  People in the social orientation, thinking that such acts will not yield to greater goodness would strongly oppose with those greedy actions. They consider everyone’s voice, which makes it as the weakness of people in level 6 that makes decision-making inefficient.

Level 7: (Yellow) Existentialism:

People in this level are actually parts of all the levels. They can interact with individuals at different level harmoniously. Unlike in level 6, people in level 7 do not consider everyone’s voice. They make priorities and just select whom to listen depending on what they think is better or more beneficial.

Through learning the Grave’s Model, I started to assess myself on what level I am currently at. In my own opinion, there are some points in my life that I am in a particular level and on other times, at a different level. At present, I can say that I am at Level 5 or the Achievement Level. I have been working harder and studying harder to accomplish my goals not only for myself but also for my family. My personal values are hard work, achievements, education, and success.

Where do you think you are at now in the Grave’s model?

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Author : Ana Rose Alvaro

Ana Rose was born and raised in the Philippines. A simple Filipina who was born with a natural love for books and languages.

13 Comments to Understanding Levels of Human Values though Clare Grave’s Spiral Dynamics

  1. Emman Damian says:

    This is very interesting. This is the first time I heard some of the terms. Very useful for those in management.

  2. Lucy Clarke says:

    What a compelling analysis. Thank you for sharing this. This is such a discovery for me today.

  3. Ayan says:

    i haven’t read about Clare Graves’ theory before, but I’m intrigued! I’d say I’m on a level 4 and 5 currently. I’m going to read more about this theory, thanks for sharing!

  4. Marie Phillips says:

    The timing of this article is so funny–I just saw another article about Grave’s and didn’t get a chance to read it but wanted to get back to it. This whole subject fascinates me. I had not heard of the levels until now.

  5. Heather says:

    I hadn’t heard of Clare Grave before. This is fascinating and something I can use in my everyday life.

  6. Marian says:

    I feel like I am in stage six with a full belly and well rested. Stage five most of the time. These are interesting to ponder.

  7. Ronnie says:

    As I read these, I think about the impact that social media has had on the development of human consciousness. It seems like people are getting suck in the earliest stages instead of growing.

  8. Gervin Khan says:

    Wow! Such a broad perspective on this kind of human values, you’ve given us a great way in approaching different types of human in this delicate world. Now we have a great insight on this kind of stuff, thanks for sharing this to us.

  9. Sara | mshealthesteem.com says:

    I’ve never heard of spiral dynamic theory before! This is so interesting. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  10. Kaitlyn says:

    I’ve never heard of this concept. It seems very interesting

  11. Ben says:

    This was a super interesting read. I’m probably mostly a 6. I’m all about community and the greater good. I say “mostly” because I don’t have a hard time making decisions. I just like to have all the information first. I approach life sort of like a Vulcan. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, EVEN IF I’m in the “few” category.

  12. Cristina Petrini says:

    How complex and interesting organization chart that through the color combinations have objectively opened a world of thoughts to me!

    • Ana Rose Alvaro says:

      Thanks Cristina! Yes, the use of color has a significant role on reflecting on what stage are we now on our lives.