The Colors of Change: Beige

Spiral Dynamics is a theory of human and societal development uncovered by  Dr. Clare W. Graves (1914-1986). Graves was a developmental psychologist and professor of psychology at Union College in Schenectady, New York. He was a peer of Abraham Maslow.

Graves’ model is a bio-psycho-social one based on more than two decades of research. According to Ken Wilber, the founder of the Integral movement which incorporates Spiral Dynamics, the Gravesian model has so far “been tested in more than fifty thousand people from around the world, and there have been no major exceptions found in the general scheme.” It has also been called, the Theory of Everything.

With this model, Graves discovered the underlying pattern for human and societal change. He identified eight unique stages (or layers as I refer to them) that we move through in a set sequence. However, the model continues beyond these stages and is “neverending”. As long as humanity survives, we will grow and evolve.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the Beige layer of development.

Beige “Instinctive/Survivalistic” (Individual, left-brain focused)

Emerged: 200,000+ years ago

Mantra: Do what you must to stay alive.

Core values: Reacting to the environment for survival, but without self-awareness.

This is the starting point for every individual and society. Beige was the stage of the first humans who survived by hunting and gathering. The primary focus is on meeting basic human needs including food, comfort, sleep, reproduction, and safety. There is a limited concept of time, distance, connection, or self-awareness.

Beige consciousness can be seen in infants, the homeless, as well as people with mental illness, PTSD, or late-stage Alzheimer’s. Individuals may revert to Beige during traumatic events like wildfires, floods, earthquakes, and wars.

Emotion that drives the transition to the next layer: Fear

Transition from Beige to Purple: Humans evolved from beige to purple because they realized there would be more safety in numbers if they worked together. Their life conditions changed when food became harder to find. To survive, humans began to form Tribes and emerged into the next layer: Purple.


Graves' spiral dynamics from The Change Code

 Your Colors

I’ve created a free assessment that you can take to find out your colors. You will receive a report with the results of your assessment, showing you a ranking of your top value systems by color.

Want to learn more about Spiral Dynamics? Check out my Spiral Dynamics Resource page or read more articles on the topic including more info on each color/layer.

Your Turn

I want to hear from you. How did you first learn about Spiral Dynamics? How have you used this theory in your personal or business development? Share your experience in the comments.