Clare W. Graves

The 9 Levels of Value Systems® model is built upon the work of Clare W. Graves (1914 – 1986), an American psychology professor. Alongside his academic pursuits, Graves served as a consultant to various businesses, clinics, and educational institutions for many years. His research was sparked by his students' inquiries about which theorists (Maslow, Freud, Jung, Rogers, Watson, etc.) were correct. Unable to provide a definitive answer, Graves sought a solution and thus began his own research journey.

A central focus of his research was understanding the developmental stages of the human being. He assigned his students the task of writing a report describing the mature human being. He noticed that while these descriptions varied greatly, they also revealed recurring elements and patterns. This realization led him to explore the different developmental stages of human existence.

He began developing his theory in the 1950s. Christopher Cowan and Don Beck first published the model under the name "Spiral Dynamics". Graves himself introduced his model in 1966 in a Harvard Business Review article titled 'Deterioration of work standards', focusing on declining standards in the business world. In this article, he referred to his model as 'Levels of Human Behavior'. Later, Graves described his theory as an 'Emergent, cyclical double-helix model of adult biopsychosocial systems development'. This model is not only highly complex but also offers a multiperspective description of the diversity in human development.

The Gravesian theory is an open model of value theory. It portrays, from various perspectives, how individuals, systems, and organizations perceive the world, based on their biopsychosocial system. The 9 Levels of Value Systems® represent an evolution and simplification of Graves's theory. They combine the theoretical scientific model with a valid scientific analysis tool, along with extensive experience using this system in consulting and coaching practice.