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In this episode, Joel and Antonia talk about the Graves Model of development created by Clare Graves.

In this podcast you’ll find:

  • Developed by Clare Graves, the Graves Model focuses on Self-Actualization.
  • After studying Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Clare asked himself, what does Self Actualization mean and happens when we self-actualize?
  • He asked a group of people for over 50 years – ‘how would you define a healthy person? He noticed that their responses show a pattern. People were going on different stages of growth and development. He saw a model emerging that both worked on a micro and macro level.
  1. Beige – Survival Level. Everything is about me and my personal survival. Examples – birth to 4 years old, people who are homeless and have little sensitivity to other people, feral children.
  2. Purple Tribal Level. More about our survival as a tribe. Micro – this is where a toddler starts to identify survival as a family/group. Macro – Focused on a group. It’s important not to be kicked out of the tribe. Spiritual development can be observed (how gods impact us as humans, magical thinking).
  3. Red – Warlord. 15,000 – 20,000 years ago. When one or two people stand out from the rest of the group, they begin to get a lot of attention and are regarded as leaders, they move up to level 3. Goes back about getting ‘me’ again. This is where the rebellious years come. Example – Teens get into fights for no reason. They assume that they know everything and everybody else is halfwit. People learn how to stand-up for themselves. They don’t really believe that they have any right.
  4. Blue – Civilization. Started about 5,000 – 8,000 years ago. We learn to identify something bigger than us. When territory boundaries are created. Law and rule are made. If we all live under certain rules, we live in a better society. Civilizations create armies and better force. Because everything is in order, we’re seeing relationships between tribes that create institutions and civilizations. Example – World War II.
  5. Orange – Achievement. Leaders begin to emerge. Developed 150 – 200 years ago. Leaders see resources as limitless, something they can manipulate and master. This is where you find a lot of capitalism. Example – anybody who’s going through any massive achievement. We learn that there’s no reason to limit our selves. Many people keep themselves from going to this level casting limitations on themselves. Science and technology is very important for individuals who are in this level.
  6. Green – Ecology. 20-50 years ago. Starts to take in a much bigger territory.These are individuals who have met their goals. Example – Bill Gates. They have a more ecological perspective.They start to think in terms of community and how they can give back to the world. They’re more concerned about the impact on a holistic manner. They learn how to give back. The idea of tolerance is introduced. Individuals in this level find it very challenging to accomplish their mission because they’re busy listening to everyone’s perspectives.
  7. Yellow – Thought Leader – A person who has realized that not every voices needs to give the exact same honour. They are able to communicate with individuals in different levels in order to get what they want in a faster and more productive way.
  • Every transition from one level to the next (on a macro level) has been bloody.
  • 2 reasons why we go to the next level:
  1. When the problems we’re facing can’t be solved by our current level so we’re forced to go to the next level.
  2. When they have fully explored their current level and are not sure what to do.
  • The more we go up the level, the more we see things get done on the planet, the less warfare we see in a global level.
  • We as individuals have a lot to gain by going up these levels. Even though it causes trauma during transition, our consciousness open up and we see a bigger picture.
  • Growth does lead to happiness. People are happier when they are growing.
  • If you are interested in the Graves model and understanding where you fit and the implications of it in your life, please feel free to check-out our Your Personality: Owner’s Manual Program.

Exercises we recommend in this podcast about the Graves Model:

Take a piece of paper and draw a vertical line going up and down. Draw 7 horizontal lines (to create 8 horizontal sections) going up. Number each box beginning at the bottom (first little box on the left hand corner) on ascending order (1-8) and use the space adjacent to each number to jot down a few notes and learning points discussed on this podcast.

In this episode Joel and Antonia talk about the Graves Model of development created by Clare Graves. #gravesmodel #spiraldynamics

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  • Gary
    • Gary
    • January 21, 2017 at 11:45 am

    can infjs be at 1 and 6 at the same time?

  • Jaime A
    • Jaime A
    • November 4, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    Do you guys read comments on older podcasts?

    Just listened to this today as I saw a comment thread with Joel regarding recent US politics and the graves model. I so badly wanted to decipher the conversation.

    I recently had a conversation with someone who was riled up about the election. I’m an ENFJ and I have thought long and hard about the hows and whys of the society we live in. I feel very removed from politics and most people around me would see it as me “not caring” but honestly I’m just living in a bigger picture. I feel like a lot of time’s I’m looking at what is going on from a bird’s eye view. Anyway, considering how much anger is being stirred up around this election, I think there’s going to be a civil explosion. And I think that might be a good thing for growth. It might be the only way to move forward. So I thought it was interesting to learn about the graves model and how you two were talking about war and moving up levels.

    As an aside, my extroverted feeling reeeeaaalllly dislikes all the hatred brewing around this election.

  • Tiger patches
    • Tiger patches
    • October 4, 2016 at 4:36 pm

    Excellent podcast. I’m feeling a lot of ambivalence about the Graves model, particularly bc it seems to imply the higher levels are superior to the lower levels. (Color coding them doesn’t hide this fact).

    I did find it interesting that A and J say the latter transitions up the Graves model are “less bloody.” I’m not entirely sure I agree — is it possible there is the same amount of bloodshed but our politicians transfer the bloodshed to other countries so we, in the first world nations, don’t see it up close. Or that our institutions are engaging in bloodshed that is far more subtle — e.g., large scale spraying of pesticides and larvicides, overuse/misuse/abuse of antibiotics especially in our food animals, food contaminated with heavy metals and toxins that are part of modern agriculture. These are assaults on our body and do cause bloodshed, but it is far more subtle than killing someone on the battlefield.

    The other thing I’m wondering is if there is some sort of regression that happens as societies move up Graves levels — the medical institutions (probably Graves 4 institutions with their 1-size-fits all mentality) are the 3rd leading cause of death in the US. Despite such a dismal record of success, there seems to be a lot of regressive magical thinking around medical institutions. People with particular letters after their name (like MD) put on their magical white coats and perform rituals in the name of health. Studies have shown that many of these medical rituals, which include surgery and pharmaceuticals (esp psychiatric pharmaceuticals), are no more effective than placebo in benefit (but can still cause adverse effects — the blood shed isn’t immediate death, but can be chronically debilitating and reduce lifetime happiness). People continue to buy into this system because there’s some magical perception about doctors and the institutions around doctors.

    Government institutions, like the CDC, support the medical institutions because the institutions themselves want to keep existing. Elective circumcion in male babies is a great example of this — people cite that they do this to their babies for "health"’reasons bc the doctor or the CDC told them so, but the actual scientific studies in the literature dont support the idea that removing healthy tissue from a baby is a good idea. It seems many people are very smug about thinking they’ve transcended superstition and “the gods,” when really they’ve just projected the same superstitious, magical thinking onto the institutions of Graves 4. Instead of invoking God as their deity, they are invoking “science,” “my doctor,” or “the CDC” as their deity.

  • Veronique
    • Veronique
    • January 4, 2016 at 5:11 am

    Sorry, adding one more question because i’m thinking about this model a lot lately. :)

    I feel like my vision of what the world should be fits very well with levels 6 & 7. But as an individual, my current life problems and obstacles look more like a level 5 because in my mid-twenties i am trying to achieve something in my life. So would that make me a level 5 even if i think about a lot of level 6 & 7 stuff? As someone who is thinking a lot, and identify a lot with my thoughts, i thought i was more in level 6 (or+), but when i looked back at it, i saw that really, my life as a whole, achievements and all, is not that far. My thoughts feel way ahead than the rest of me, lol :) So basically do you type people more by their “life stage” or by their “way of thinking”, if that makes sense?

    Thank you! :)

  • Veronique
    • Veronique
    • January 3, 2016 at 12:28 am

    This model is SO interesting. I really loved this podcast. I feel like i understand the world a lot better now.

    I have a question for PHQ: How do you know you’re a real Graves 7 or Graves 8 and not a Graves 6 thinking you’re a Graves 7 or 8? And why do Graves 6 tend to think they are on an upper level?

    I would love to know what you think about this.

    Thank you,


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