The Value Of Evolutional Thinking For HSPs

Does the world sometimes seem ridiculously messy? Does it seem impossible to deal in an effective way with the infinite number of different human beings?

Do you ever want an easier way?

What Is Evolutional Thinking?

Evolutional thinking is a way of getting a handle on the complexity of the human race. Evolutional thinking is how one uses the new research on evolutional psychology to manage people and situations better.  It provides a lot of insight into how people come to be who they are and think how they do. It gives you a window into the ever changing nature of human identity so that you can feel less “at sea” in working with people differences.

The value of evolutional thinking is in how it help HSPs navigate different cultures and social situations with improved decision making and social skills. What is it? Evolutional thinking is a different and more complete way of thinking about the inevitability of differences in people, communities, organizations and countries in all areas of life.

It is a tool that makes it possible for highly sensitive people to be more easily constructive in their interactions. Evolutional thinking helps HSPs process social information so that they become less stressed and can handle information more easily. Evolutional thinking considers the context of any situation so it accepts each person and situation within the larger human evolutional framework.  It is a way of having and maintaining perspective which helps to reduce stress.

Where did this come from? During the last half century, one of the most important areas of research has been psychological and human evolutional patterns. One of the most important  researchers was Dr. Clare Graves, a psychology professor at Utica College in New York.  Dr. Graves conducted many studies to identity psychological identity.  In doing so he identified the evolutional model that became the basis of the book, Spiral Dynamics by Don Beck and Chris Cowan.

Dr. Graves evolved a different idea about intelligence.  According to Chris Cowans’ website on Spiral Dynamics, the Gravesian model integrated biology, psychology and sociology into what he called biopsychosocial systems. This approach sees different and multiple intelligences at work at all times based on the realities of the life conditions at hand.

The Spiral Dynamics website elaborates further: “The term, bio-psycho-social, reflects Graves’s insistence on the importance of a multidisciplinary, multidimensional approach to understanding human nature:

  • “Bio” for the neurology and chemical energy of life and the organismic part of us
  • “Psycho” for the variables of personality and life experiences, our temperaments and sense of self and relationships to other
  • “Social” for the collective energy in group dynamics and culture as the interpersonal domain influences human behavior in collective settings ranging from small groups and families to corporations and entire societies
  • “System” for the interdependence and action/reaction of these three upon one another in a coherent whole according to principles laid out in General Systems theory and other approaches to how things work and interact”

Graves demonstrated that there are certain stages of human evolutional development that become the basis of our self-identity. These stages of human evolution arise from the current living conditions of the people which results in a world view that then creates a social, cultural and economic structure. The worldview also is the basis for defining the identities and behaviors of the people in the system. The person it defines is the person who will support the structure, so the person and the structure are mutually reinforcing.

Since these cultural structures have values, feelings that support the society are supported and feelings that are not are rejected.

The Emotional Values Of Spiral Dynamics

The emotional values that Spiral Dynamics identified emerged from the real living conditions of the people and their interpretation of those living conditions which gave rise to their worldview. Each worldview was limited by the existing knowledge and experience of the people involved, and as we learned more was revised or discarded as new more up-to-date world views emerged. We are a work in progress.

This table is a very simplified view to give an idea of how identities and strategies are related to the stage of human development and evolutional thinking:

StageInterpersonal Strategy
Tribalappease: individual participates in tribal life to
appease spirits
Conquestdominate: exploit, act egocentrically
Religiouscontrol: authoritarian, demands total obedience
and conformity
Entrepreneurialwin: pragmatic, results oriented, achievement
Communalshare: life is fluid and we are all in this
Chaoticopen: flexible, questioning, accepting
Chaordiccollaborate: interconnected and

Using Evolutional Thinking

Highly sensitive people are naturally attuned to more holistic views of reality.  The Graves Model is a more holistic view of human nature and be useful when trying to understand people who are different.  It is particularly beneficial for highly sensitive people who are seeking a way to handle a complex social world with greater ease and reduce their social stress and anxiety as a result.

The New World Of Work for HSP’s

Work is a challenge for highly sensitive people.

At least it has been under the capitalistic economic system.

As the center of gravity in our society shifts from an individualistic to a communitarian approach to life and work, a new world of work is opening up for HSP’s.  The Age of Accumulation is giving way to the Age of Sharing.

For HSP’s, it cannot come soon enough.

The Evolution View Of Work

For centuries, we humans have created different societal structural models to support each step of our development.

This process has been documented in the book, Spiral Dynamics by Don Beck and Chris Cowan, based on the research of Dr. Clare Graves into psychological identity.

Dr. Graves was a psychology professor at Utica College, who conducted numerous surveys into how people perceived themselves. He found that people tended to define themselves in similar ways and that these identities correlated to distinct ages of human development: The Tribal Age, the Age of Empires, The Age of Religious Dominance, The Capitalistic Age, etc.

One of Dr. Graves findings is that the psychological identities of each age were created to serve the societal model not the other way around. Dr. Graves also found that we have tended to alternate a communitarian age with an individualistic age.

Recently we have been living in an individualistic age.  It has brought us indoor plumbing – nice –  and lots of pollution – not so nice.  It has enabled us to grow from a marginal species to a group of 7 billion.  Natural resources used to be plentiful; now we are plentiful and the natural resources not so much.  So now we have to go from an age of abundant resources to an age of abundant sharing.

What The New Age Means For HSP Work

How does this relate to work for HSP’s?

In 2008, Dave Logan, John King and Halee Fischer Wright published Tribal Leadership about different types of  human work arrangements, what they are like, and how effective they are.  The authors align the patterns they identified in their studies with those of Spiral Dynamics, because they found similar patterns in effect.

Tribal Leadership shows how the current individualistic system inevitably creates a depressed class of people to support the “stars” and shows the pitfalls inherent in that approach.  The book illuminates how the new emerging communitarian model in which work group cohesion is based on values and mission is a more productive and effective way of working. This new model is high on trust and sees the intelligence in all people.  Tribal Leadership offers numerous real life examples of the implementation of the new model.

The New Communitarian Age

We have benefited from the amount of learning that has taken place to attempt to improve human life.  It has become apparent, however, that individual knowledge and disciplines are not enough.  Each discipline has to find its way into the common fabric of life to realize its value. Each discipline adds value and has limitations as well.  They do not exist in isolation.

The new communitarian age will be an age of the synthesis of human knowledge where we identify the strengths and weaknesses of many disciplines so that we can find what really works and what does not.  For HSP’s, synthesis is our expertise, and this new model may open many doors for us and make work a joy again.

For More Information:

Spiral Dynamics