Don Edward Beck

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Don E. Beck
Don Beck
Beck in 2010
Known forSpiral Dynamics Integral
Scientific career
FieldsSpiral Dynamics, Systems Thinking
InfluencesClare W. Graves, Muzafer Sherif

Don Edward Beck is a teacher, geopolitical advisor, and theorist focusing on applications of large scale psychology, including social psychology, evolutionary psychology, organizational psychology and their effect on human sociocultural systems. He is the co-author of the "Spiral Dynamics" theory, an evolutionary human development model. He spent many years adapting the work of his mentor and colleague, developmental psychologist Clare W. Graves, Professor Emeritus in Psychology at Union College in New York.

Education and academia[edit]

Beck received a B.A from Abilene Christian University in 1958 and his M.A in Theology and Communication from the same institution a year later in 1959. He was awarded his Ph.D. in Communication and Social Psychology with a focus on large scale systems dynamics and change in 1966 by the University of Oklahoma. His dissertation was on the psychological forces that produced the American Civil War.[citation needed]

Beck has held academic positions at various institutions including the University of North Texas from 1961-1981, Adjunct Professor at Conoco Corporate University from 1998-1999, and Adizes Graduate School from 2000 to the present day.[1]

Research Instruments[edit]

Don E. Beck has authored research instruments, including:

  • The Values Test (1986-2002, National Values Center)
  • The Change State Indicator[2][3]
  • The Culture Scan[4]
  • Online PeopleSCAN.[5]

Spiral Dynamics[edit]

Development of the theory[edit]

Don Beck worked with Christopher Cowan to preserve the work of Clare W. Graves. In 1974, while working as a professor at Northern Texas University, Beck encountered an article by Graves in The Futurist and flew to New York to meet Graves. After two days of dialogues, Beck decided to record Graves' knowledge, as the latter's health was deteriorating.[6] Beck first met Graves in 1975 and worked with him closely until his death in 1986.

Graves had published his theory[7] of human development in 1974, a "bio-psycho-social systems" framework of value systems as applied to human sociocultural evolution which posits that the psychology of the mature human being transitions from a current level of cultural existence based on current life conditions to a more complex level in response to (or to cope with) changes in existential reality. Graves's model demonstrates the dual nature of human social emergence with state changes between communal/collective value systems (sacrifice self) and individualistic (express self) value systems.

According to the 1974 The Futurist biography of Graves, he began decades of experimentation and research in 1952. In The Futurist article, Graves classified a total of eight levels of increasingly complex human value systems consisting of a hierarchically ordered, always-open-to-change set of identifiable world views, preferences, and purposes.[8] Through these value systems, groups and cultures structure their societies and individuals integrate within them. Each distinct set of values is developed as a response to solving the problems of the previous system. Changes between states may occur incrementally (first order change) or in a sudden breakthrough (second order change).

The original 1974 publication, "Human Nature Prepares for a Momentous Leap" (The Futurist, pp. 72–87) defined the overall theory and the value systems within it. Each system may express a healthy or unhealthy manifestation of its values, as defined by Graves:

The First Tier systems were grouped by nature of their narrow perspective as "subsistence levels" (para. 4), each aligns with a specific world view that rejects the prior systems and seeks to preserve its own status quo. The differences between communal/collective and individualistic value systems, and the inability of First Tier systems to recognize the strengths or pathologies of other world views, helps to explain social conflict in the world today (para. 7).

According to Graves, the move to Second Tier thinking requires a "leap" in perspective. At Second Tier - the first 'being level', society recognizes a responsibility for facilitating the health of each value system on First Tier. The goal is not expediting emergence but the result is, when healthy, each First Tier system will naturally progress toward Second Tier.

From Graves' work, Beck and his colleague, Cristopher Cowan, developed the theory further and presented a structured evolutionary model of adaptive intelligence called Spiral Dynamics. Beck and Cowan first published their construct in Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values, Leadership, and Change (Exploring the New Science of Memetics) (1996).[9] Spiral Dynamics theory spawned much discussion and (sometimes tangential) integration of concepts by other theorists, such as Ken Wilber.[10][11]


Graves' original theory compared a number of psychological and behavioral constructs such as Max Weber, Abraham Maslow, and Jane Loevinger.[12] Beck and Cowan's Spiral Dynamics theory was influenced by three additional innovations:

  • Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins proposed a model of cultural information transfer in which ideas (memes), such as patterns of behavior, habits and beliefs, proliferate in a way similar to biological genes, through humans as they connect with one another socially. Memetics explains the systemic spread of values in society as social DNA in Graves' specific evolutionary sequence.
  • Muzafer Sherif, his wife Carolyn Sherif, and Carl Hovland's Assimilation Contrast Effect model[13] is grounded in social judgment theory. This model diagrams the level of ego involvement in information processing.[14]
  • Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a leading researcher on positive psychology, was awarded the Clifton Strengths Prize ($250,000) in 2009 at the Gallup World Conference.[15] He is author of "Beyond Boredom and Anxiety' and "Flow" and best known for his notion of the "flow", the state of deep focus that occurs when people tackle challenging tasks or those which interest them greatly.



South Africa[edit]

Beck made more than 36 trips to South Africa between 1981 and 1988.[16] He worked with F. W. de Klerk, Nelson Mandela and John C. Hall,[17] Chairman of South Africa's National Peace Committee, who referenced Beck's ongoing (15 years) work in a 1993 interview.[18]

On May 3, 1995, both houses of the Texas State Legislature (Beck's home state) adopted a resolution (S.R. No. 901) presented by the President of the Texas Senate which commends Beck "for his invaluable contributions toward the peaceful creation of a democratic South Africa."[19]

In November 2012, Beck was invited as a key presenter for the University of Stellenbosch Business School Executive Development Event "Africa Leads".[20] According to the University program announcement, Beck's spiral dynamics "informed the creation of the Peace Committees and subsequent CODESA process in the run up to the first post- apartheid elections in 1994."[citation needed]

Israel and Palestine[edit]

In 2005, Beck, Elza Maalouf, and Said E. Dawlabani created The Center for Human Emergence Middle East (CHE-ME), a non-profit think tank through which his engagement in the region was sponsored. It quickly became the most active global centers of its kind.[21] Beck and Maalouf held meetings and trainings hosted in Israel,[22] speaking to the Arab Governor of Bethlehem, Salah Al Taamari; three members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and presenting to 40 city council members, government employees, and professors from Bethlehem University. In 2008 more than 700 Palestinians came to train in Spiral Dynamics theory with Beck and his colleague, Elza S. Maalouf.

The new Palestinian vision for the future included self-sufficiency and commerce, and there was no mention of a need for conflict with Israel, according to Maalouf.[23]

Organizational consulting[edit]

Beck has consulted to government agencies and companies like Southwest Airlines and Whole Foods.[24]

Beck made a number of trips to the Netherlands, starting with work for the Dutch telecom company KPN in the 1990s, including consulting to the Dutch Police force (2004)[25] and leading to the establishment by Peter Merry of the second Center for Human Emergence in 2005. The first center for Human Emergence was established in Copenhagen, Denmark, in May, 2004, in close collaboration with Teddy Hebo Larsen He continued to support the Dutch Center for Human Emergence, including in the setting up of the Hague Center.[26]

Beck presented to the United Nations, June 21, 2007, at the Values Caucus where he challenged the Security Council to adopt a new approach to global governance.[27][28][29][30][31] At the same event, Elza S. Maalouf presented a model called Palestine 21.[32][33][34]


Beck worked with the Dallas Cowboys,[35][36][37] the New Orleans Saints,[38][39] the Texas Rangers, the Springboks,[40] and the U.S. Olympic Committee for Men's Track and Field. He also wrote a "Sports Values" column in The Dallas Morning News for many years and served as the Sports Psychology Editor for the Inside Pitch baseball magazine.[41]

City agencies and governments[edit]

Beck has worked with the Denton Police Department, the Texas Department of Human Services, and the cities of Plano, Grapevine, and Colleyville.[42]


Beck has co-founded and founded a number of active initiatives:

  • The National Values Center in Denton, Texas[43] is the home of Spiral Dynamics Integral (SDi), an online resource where publications and worldwide trainings are presented.
  • The Center for Human Emergence is a think tank that emphasizes the scientific understanding of cultures and their evolutionary context.[44] The Center is represented as a worldwide constellation of Value System Experts (VSEs) and Integral Design Architects (IDAs) who are helping facilitate the conscious emergence of the human species.
  • As senior adviser to The Center for Human Emergence Middle East, Beck and the Center's CEO Elza Maalouf founded the Build Palestine Initiative,[45] focused on the value systems alignment for a two state solution.

Additional books, audio, video, publications[edit]

  • Spiral Dynamics in Action: Humanity's Master Code. By Don Edward Beck et al. Wiley, 2018. ISBN 1119387183
  • Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values, Leadership, and Change, by Don Beck and Christopher Cowan, 1996, 2005, Wiley/Blackwell, ISBN 1-4051-3356-2
  • The Crucible: Forging South Africa's Future, by Don Beck and Graham Linscott, 1991, New Paradigm Press, ISBN 0-620-16241-4
  • 2014 foreword to the book Emerge! The Rise of Functional Democracy and the Future of the Middle East
  • 2013 foreword to the book MEMEnomics; The Next-Generation Economic System, September 2013.[46]
  • The Master Code and Integral Politics in Polarized America, by Don E. Beck, Integral Leadership Review, March 2013[47]
  • The Master Code: Spiral Dynamics Integral: Lincoln and Polarization, by Don E. Beck, Integral Leadership Review, January 2013[48]
  • The Master Code: Spiral Dynamics Integral: The Integral Dance: How a Master Code Pollinates and Preserves the Culture of Bumblebees, by Don E. Beck, Integral Leadership Review, June 2012[49];
Audio, video
  • Don Beck: In Quest of the Master Code, at the Inside Edge Foundation, February, 2012, video[50]
  • Don Beck: Spiral Dynamics Integral. Sounds True, Boulder, 2006
  • Don Beck: The Theory That Explains Everything, interview by Nicholas Beecroft, February 21, 2012, video, with written introduction by Beck 2-22-12[51]
  • Don Beck at the Transformational Leadership Symposium, November 20–21, 2009, video[52]
  • A Better World, with Mitchell Jay Rabin, featuring Don Beck, April 29, 2009, video[53]
  • Changing the World and Work, ABC National Radio (interview transcript) with Dr. Rachel Kohn[54]
  • Spiral Dynamics Integral: Learn to Master the Memetic Codes of Human Behavior, by Don Beck (CD), 2006, ISBN 978-1604073171
  • Conversations with Great Thinkers and Practitioners of Our Times: Dr. Don Beck: Spiral Dynamics: A Challenge To Leadership, produced by Clearfire Media (DVD), 2006, ASIN: B000GGS0VE
  • Leap into the Future: Leadership for the 21st Century, with Andrew Cohen and Don Beck, produced by EnlightenNext (DVD), 2004, ASIN: B000O7SX12


  1. ^ Adizes Graduate School commemorates Beck's 70th birthday Archived October 12, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, January 31, 2007
  2. ^ Change State Indicator
  3. ^ Culture Scan: An Introduction to Spiral Dynamics See slide #13 of 16 for the Change State Indicator, Write Leadership Institute, 12-7-09
  4. ^ Culture Scan: An Introduction to Spiral Dynamics See slide #7 of 16 for the Culture Scan scoresheet image, and slides #10-16 for an overview of each section, from Write Leadership Institute, 12-7-09
  5. ^ Online PeopleScan website, operated by Christopher Cooke in UK
  6. ^ Krumm/Parstorfer: Clare W. Graves, Sein Leben sein Werk
  7. ^ "Human Nature Prepares for a Momentous Leap", by Clare W. Graves, in The Futurist, 1974
  8. ^ "Charted Levels of Existence as seen by Clare W. Graves", in The Futurist, 1974
  9. ^ Spiral Dynamics: Mastering values, leadership and change, by Don Beck and Chris Cowan
  10. ^ The Integral Vision at the Millennium, by Ken Wilbur, specific to para. 17
  11. ^ "Second Tier vMemes", by M. Alan Kazlev, December 2009
  12. ^ Comparison of Graves/Spiral Dynamics with other key development models Archived October 12, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, webpage
  13. ^ Assimilation-Contrast Effect Archived October 12, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, webpage
  14. ^ Spiral Dynamics confab 2008, Beck presents the A/CE – Part II on YouTube, video
  15. ^ "Strength Prize honors 'flow' founder", American Psychological Association, Vol. 40, No. 5, 2009
  16. ^ "The eight-stage spiral to peace in the Mideast", by Akiva Eldar, February 12, 2006, Haaretz
  17. ^, O'Malley web page: "The National Peace Accord and its Structures", by Phiroshaw Camay and Anne J. Gordon, Co-operative for Research and Education (CORE), Johannesburg, South Africa
  18. ^ website, interview with John Hall, August 11, 1993
  19. ^ Texas Legislature Archive Document 74R SR00901F, (proposal is #627)
  20. ^ "SA hosts key global gathering on sustainability and leadership", News release November 12, 2012
  21. ^ "Build Palestine Initiative: How to Walk the Talk" (PDF). Palestine Times. January 26, 2007. Retrieved August 2, 2014.
  22. ^ "Afoot with Don Beck in the Middle East", by Rafael Nasser, Integral Israel
  23. ^ [1], by Elza S.Maalouf, Center for Human Emergence Middle East
  24. ^ "Don Beck and the New Face of Philanthropy", by Rafael Nasser, Integral Leadership Review
  25. ^ Don, Beck (April 12, 2005). "Windmills, Tulips, and Fundamentalism" (PDF). Spiral Dynamics.
  26. ^ Don, Beck (April 5, 2010). "Dr Don Beck's Challenge to the Hague Center". Peter Merry blog.
  27. ^ The Values Caucus at The United Nations, website
  28. ^ United Nations Values Caucus presentation Archived 2013-10-12 at the Wayback Machine, web page
  29. ^ Don Beck Addressing Gathering at the United Nations in 2007 on YouTube
  30. ^ United Nations Presentation Met With Great Success, videos and discussion
  31. ^ "A growing Spiral Dynamics influence in the Middle East", by Kieth E. Rice, Integrated SocioPsychology, August 22, 2009
  32. ^ Integral Options Cafe: Don Beck and Elza Maalouf, June 21, 2007, at the United Nations
  33. ^ Integral Leadership Review: Beck and Maalouf at the United Nations (June 21, 2007), plus ILR interview by Russ Volckmann
  34. ^ "6th convention Fateh's and the building of a nation", by Elza Maalouf, Common Ground News Service, August 20, 2009
  35. ^ "If This is America's Team, Woe Is America: The Cowboys' scandalous off-field behavior bespeaks a team that lacks a moral compass", by Peter King, Sports Illustrated, April 8, 1996
  36. ^ "Ethics, fan loyalty tested after Michael Irvin scandal grows darker" Archived October 12, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, by Kevin Sherrington, The Dallas Morning News, July 1, 1996
  37. ^ "Cowboys' latest controversy feeds talk shows, tabloids" Archived October 12, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, by Barry Horn, The Dallas Morning News, January 3, 1997
  38. ^ "NFL's Leader in Perception", by Kevin Sherrington, Dallas Morning News, as reported in the Sun-Sentinel, July 4, 1996
  39. ^ "After Atlanta, taking stock", by Ken Murray, June 11, 2000, The Baltimore Sun
  40. ^ Integral Leadership Review Vol. X, No. 1., January 2010, Includes "The Story Behind 'Invictus': Man Aided Team Now on Screen", by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Thursday, December 24, 2009; and "CODA: Reflections on Power, Love, Don Beck and Rugby in South Africa", edited by Tim Glober
  41. ^ Inside Pitch magazine online, website
  42. ^ "74(R) SR 901 Enrolled version - Bill Text". Retrieved 2018-09-25.
  43. ^ National Values Center, Denton, Texas, aka: Spiral Dynamics Group, website
  44. ^
  45. ^ Build Palestine Initiative, website
  46. ^ Dawlabani, Said (2013). MEMEnomics, The Next-Generation Economic System. New York, NY: SelectBooks, Inc. ISBN 978-1-59079-996-3.
  47. ^ "The Master Code and Integral Politics in Polarized America", by Dr. Don E. Beck, Integral Leadership Review, March 2013
  48. ^ "The Master Code: Spiral Dynamics Integral: Lincoln and Polarization", by Don E. BPeck, Integral Leadership Review, January 2013
  49. ^ The Master Code: Spiral Dynamics Integral: The Integral Dance: How a Master Code Pollinates and Preserves the Culture of Bumblebees, by Don E. Beck, Integral Leadership Review, June 2012
  50. ^ Don Beck: In Quest of the Master Code on YouTube, at the Inside Edge Foundation, February 2012, video
  51. ^ "Don Beck: The Theory That Explains Everything" on YouTube, interview by Nicholas Beecroft, February 21, 2012, video, with written introduction by Beck 2-22-12
  52. ^ Don Beck at the Transformational Leadership Symposium on YouTube, November 20–21, 2009, video
  53. ^ A Better World, with Mitchell Jay Rabin, featuring Don Beck on YouTube, April 29, 2009, video
  54. ^ "Changing the World and Work", ABC National Radio (interview transcript) with Dr. Rachel Kohn, March 7, 2004

External links[edit]