Integral Review

A Transdisciplinary and Transcultural Journal For New Thought, Research, and Praxis

Posts Tagged ‘stages’

An Examination of the STAGES Scoring System

Kristian Merckoll

Abstract: This article examines two empirical studies which are referred to as validating the STAGES scoring system. The verification claims do not hold up under scrutiny, and the wrong conclusions were reached because the statistical calculations were not grounded in an adequate understanding of the relevant aspects of the scoring theory itself. This is shown by applying simple descriptive statistics that does not require any statistical background to understand. In the subsequent discussion on possible reasons for why the STAGES scoring system has too much scoring error, the conclusion is that a major root problem is that STAGES has defined itself as an extension of an existing developmental construct (EDT, Ego Developmental Theory). This notion must therefore be reconsidered. Standard calculations are provided to demonstrate effects of too much scoring error. The article further discusses the limitation in using only language as the means to assess the latest stages in the STAGES model. A distinction between the STAGES theory and the STAGES scoring system is maintained throughout, and the theory is not discussed or questioned directly. The position is taken that EDT and STAGES should continue to develop alongside each other as two related, yet different, developmental models.

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A Response to “An Examination of the STAGES Scoring System”

Tom Murray

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Final Comments on the STAGES Validation Claim

Kristian Merckoll

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Introduction and Overview: Integral Review Special Issue on the STAGES Model

Tom Murray

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States and STAGES: Waking up Developmentally

Terri O’Fallon

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Seven Perspectives on the STAGES Developmental Model

Kim Barta

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Principles and Practices for Developmentally Aware Teaching and Mentoring in Higher Education

Abigail Lynam

Understanding one’s own development as an educator, as well as the developmental diversity of students can have a significant impact on how educators approach teaching, mentorship, and design learning experiences. Developmentally informed educators recognize the phases of development that students are likely to be in and adapt their teaching accordingly. Recognizing developmental diversity, they adjust the outcomes, processes, and mentoring to meet the students where they are developmentally. Without this awareness and knowledge, educational programs are more likely to teach for particular forms of development, which provide an appropriate stretch for some students but not for others. In addition, educators may be more likely to project their own developmental needs onto students, teaching who they are, rather than who is in front of them. This article offers a review of adult development theory, specifically O’Fallon’s STAGES model, and its application to teaching and learning. It includes the results of research on the impact of learning about adult development for faculty and students in a graduate program and the findings of additional research on the meaning-making and perspective-taking of educators through the stages of development. It concludes with practical insights and principles for teaching and mentoring developmentally.

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The Scenic Route: A Developmental Approach Emphasizes the Importance of Human Interiority in Transformative Approaches to Climate Change

Gail Hochachka

What is effective climate change adaptation, at a time in history where the call for transformative change is on the increase? This article considers how to expand and deepen the largely techno-managerial concept of adaptation, often framed as that of reacting to and accommodating climate change, by integrating human interiority in a more balanced way. While the psychological and social dimensions of the climate change issue have been studied, they are less equally weighted alongside the climate science; some studies suggest that improving the integration of psycho-social change processes will be important for effective adaptation and may bode helpful in enacting transformative change. In this article, I explain my rationale and methods for including the lesser-known discipline of adult developmental psychology to examine how people make meaning of climate change, which may have important implications for adaptation policy and practice. Studies exist on ‘what’ people believe about climate change, but the insights from developmental psychology help to explain ‘why’ meaning is organized as it is. Explaining what understandings people hold is akin to the shortest distance between two points, but considering why meaning was construed as such is the scenic route. I argue that ‘taking the scenic route’ to consider the perspective-taking processes that produce such a spectrum of views on climate change may hold potential for a more comprehensive response to such a complex issue, not only to grasp why these meanings differ so vastly, but also to support improved collaboration and to help engage in adaptation as transformation.

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Women’s Authentic Leadership Development

Natasha Mantler

This qualitative study used Moustakas’ transcendental phenomenological approach to provide a comprehensive understanding of the social construction of authenticity and how this is experienced throughout the stages of adult development. In particular, the intent was to augment women’s leadership development programs to prevent further entrenchment of gender and leader biases. Initially, 33 women who had already completed a developmental STAGES assessment, completed a survey about authentic leadership experiences. Using unified stratified sampling, 10 women were selected from the 33 for interviews, spread evenly across different developmental levels. Data were analyzed using the four processes of phenomenology: epoche, reduction (textural), imaginative variation (structure), and synthesis (composite). Findings indicate that women leaders experienced and understood authentic leading and leadership differently throughout developmental stages with more advanced stages being more complex with ever-widening perspectives and understandings. Women leaders with a socialized mind had a theoretical understanding of authenticity with momentary experiences of the phenomenon. The embodied experience of authentic leading arose in the self-authoring mind. Awareness of gender biases related to leadership became objective within the self-transforming mind accommodating the very insidious nature of biases. The sole women leader with a self-transcending mind (a neologism introduced in this research) understood authentic leading as unity within body, mind and soul. These phenomenological findings and their interpretation contribute to understanding women’s authentic leading characterized by the pervasive nature of gender and leader biases.

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Integrating Adult Developmental and Metacognitive Theory with Indo-Tibetan Contemplative Essence Psychology

John Churchill & Tom Murray

In a world that (according to the World Health Organization) has approximately 450 million people suffering from some form of mental disease, there is a deep need to re-envision mental health care. Indo-Tibetan contemplative psychology is a practice-based evidence lineage tradition of between two-and-a half to nine millennia dedicated to the reduction of suffering and the full flowering of human potential. Whilst mindfulness meditation is becoming increasingly popular and effective in the reduction of mental suffering in contemporary culture and psychotherapy, the full contemplative psychology, of which mindfulness is but a foundational skill, is still relatively unknown. Therefore, there is an increasing need to understand and translate the theoretical foundations of such a psychology into a language that psychologists and educated laypersons can understand. In addition, we can explore how modern science can deepen the wisdom and adoption of such traditions. Using the theoretical perspectives of adult developmental psychology and metacognition, this project reveals the psychology of the Indo-Tibetan tradition as a sophisticated developmental psychology that, when practiced, facilitates a fundamental transformation in identity, or the basis of psychological operations, from which an individual experiences the world. Such a developmental process has the potential to eradicate the fundamental suffering caused from cognitive fusion with the basic structures of experience (body, self, thought, emotion, time, dualistic perception, and the attentional-intentional system), allowing for a transition to a fundamentally open boundless experience of identity, within which arises the experience of interconnectedness and the ensuing altruistic motivation to benefit the social good. Among contemporary adult developmental theories we believe that the STAGES model is most compatible with the principles of Indo-Tibetan Contemplative Essence Psychology. We use the STAGES model to show how eastern and western methods can inter-inform each other. This study is one brick in building the bridge between East and West, a bridge that honors the psychology of the East as being a rigorous, technical, and socially relevant psychological framework that, yet, can still evolve.

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Leadership Coaching Leads to Later Stage Development

Antoinette Braks

This paper explores a multiple case study based on the effects of a developmentally informed, transformative leadership-coaching methodology. After an average of eight 90-min coaching meetings over 12 months with a Synergist executive coach, 83% of the 12 strategic executive leaders in the case study shifted a full stage, mostly from Achievist to Catalyst; the other 17% shifted two stages from Achievist to Synergist. The paper presents the eight drivers emerging from a thematic analysis of >100 hours of coaching conversations (>100,000 words) that enabled universal later stage development. It draws on the STAGES model to explain the significance of transforming the organisational context and undertaking shadow work. The dynamics of development led to an emergent Vertical Development Theory.

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Finding Truth Within: Exploring the Importance of Reflective Practice in Deepening Self-Knowledge

Jason Miller

OhioHealth is the largest healthcare system within the Central Ohio region, with 29,000 associates providing care through over 200+ locations. It is also one of the most successful healthcare systems in the country in terms of profitability, quality of care rankings, and associate culture brand (OhioHealth, 2019). Healthcare as an industry is undergoing significant and rapid change with a paradigmatic shift from sick-care to preventive care for well-being (Goozner, 2019). This industry shift is demanding a new skill-set from OhioHealth leaders that is marked by the need to drive transformative change in the face of unprecedented uncertainty, ambiguity, and complexity. A meta-competency that is critical for success in this context that we are building in our leadership development efforts is emotional intelligence (EQ).

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Hope Examined Through a Developmental Stage Perspective

Lisa Buckley

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STAGES Child Research: Preliminary Report


The Loevinger Lineage (Loevinger, Torbert, Cook Greuter, O’Fallon) has much data related to adult development. This includes adults that score at very early levels of development, including Egocentric (late first person perspective in the STAGES model), “Rule Oriented” (early second person perspective), and “Conformist” (late second person perspective). Many of the adult populations comprising the Loevinger lineage research-base at the earliest levels come from adults that are compromised in some way. However, very little research has been done related to first and second person expressions of children, which are the primary ages that take these perspectives. This article describes our first attempt to examine the expressions of children at these levels who have normal healthy expressions of these earliest human perspectives.

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Investigating the Validity of the Ogive Aggregation Method, Including the use of Rasch Analysis for the Sentence Completion Test and the STAGES Model

Tom Murray

This project assesses psychometric aspects of the STAGES sentence completion test (SCT) using data from 740 scored surveys, and some of the analysis applies to all variations of the SCT for ego development (meaning making maturity). The goals of this research project include: (1) to apply item response theory (IRT) and Rasch analysis to determine item-level psychometric properties of the SCT that were previously unaddressed in SCT research; and (2) to further investigate suspected problems with the ogive cutoff method for aggregating item scores in the SCT and propose alternatives. The psychometric analysis includes: within-test item normality, item standard deviations, test length analysis, factor analysis, characteristics of and correlations among each item, overall test strength, and construct levels discrimination. A range of issues with the standard ogive cutoff method are described, and a new item aggregation method is then proposed.

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The STAGES Specialty Inventories: Robustness to Variations in Sentence Stems

Terri O’Fallon and Tom Murray

The STAGES developmental model is a variation of prior ego development frameworks that defines developmental levels in terms of three parameters: object of awareness (concrete, subtle, or metaware), individual vs. collective focus, and active/passive orientation. STAGES, like prior frameworks, uses a sentence completion test (SCT) assessment. Prior frameworks rely on exemplar-based scoring that is closely tied into the specific sentence stems. In contrast, STAGES scoring system is based on language properties that do not depend on the sentence stem. Thus STAGES is the first such assessment to be able to freely incorporate alternative sentence stems without the labor intensive process of discovering the full range of specific responses. Though the STAGES theory and assessment methodology easily allow for using alternative sentence stems, the validity of using alternative stems needs to be shown. In this paper we report on internal consistency studies of several “specialty protocols” which are SCT surveys with 6 to 10 of the original 36 stems replaced by stems focused on a particular specially area. Results show strong reliability scores, via the Cronbach’s alpha statistic, for six specialty inventories, on: leadership and organizations, love, education, psychological reflection, climate change, and a children’s SCT.

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Integral Polarity Practice and the STAGES Developmental Model

Trish Nowland, John Kesler, and Thomas McConkie

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Luhmann’s Life Work and Tier Patterns: The Analysis of Differences and Contingent Patterns

Roman Angerer

The article undertakes an archeological investigation into the writings of the German Sociologist and cybernetic Systems-thinker Niklas Luhmann. His writ-ings spanning almost four decades of uninterrupted stage growth and text pro-duction are good fodder to dissect ruptures between and plateaus of semantic-syntactic structures called developmental stages. By this an architecture is exem-plarily revealed that spans four Tiers including sixteen Stages with four sub-phases at each niveau of relative stability which sometimes is called Center of Gravity. The article is structured as an oscillation between genetic and structural-ist phases that enrich Luhmann`s Life Work by multiple references to other thinkers at the integral and post-integral stages. The final section that then pre-sents the complete model is also a critique of other developmental models specif-ically directed towards and suggesting critical revision of Terri O`Fallons STAG-ES model. This happens through introducing four common fallacies develop-mental models commit, when trying to appropriate the transcendental and phylo-genetic realm preconditioning our conscious growth, through the contingencies our very self-referential and themselves-thematizing observations. Additionally, in discerning between genesis and structure, descenders and ascenders, inside and outside perspectives and ultimately an Aristotelian and an Platonist Type of stage growth it is the attempt of a seamless intervention between both modes, uniting them and ultimately deluding them of their most prominent errors: the ne-cessity of a first distinction mistaken for the creator and their ultimate purpose mistaken for the divine.

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Methodological Principles for Future Enactions

Trisha Nowland

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Deconstructing Developmental Constructs: A Conversation

Thomas Jordan and Tom Murray

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The Generality of Adult Development Stages and Transformations: Comparing Meaning-making and Logical Reasoning

Tom Hagström and Kristian Stålne

Abstract: Human development theories differ in “context sensitivity,” covering those stressing development stages and those stressing continuously progressing changes. The former theories differ in whether, how and why the stages are regarded as being generalized across domains, i.e. their generality claims. Piaget’s developmental stage theory of logical complexity of children and adolescents fulfill “strong” such claims, including fixed stage sequentiality of increasing complexity levels and higher stage structures integrating earlier ones. His theory has inspired a number of adult development stage theories with varying generality claims. These provide suggestions of stages and stage transitions reaching beyond “pure” cognition, integrating more of e.g. emotional, value and moral dimensions. From a neo-Piagetian perspective, core generality aspects seem to concern on the one hand logical reasoning and on the other hand meaning-making. This raises questions of how these aspects are related to each other in terms of stage structures and transformations.

The aim of the article is to discern general features in adult development stage structures and transitions, in terms of logical reasoning and meaning making. This is carried out by a “thought experiment” interrelating two theories that differ in these respects but that are both based on Piaget’s theory, namely Robert Kegan’s constructive developmental Subject-Object Theory (SOT) and Michael Common´s behaviouristic Model of Hierarchical Complexity (MHC). This comparing approach concerns the 3rd, 4th and 5th order of consciousness as well as transitions between these according to SOT, and order 9 to 12 and corresponding transitions according to MHC. The thought experiment indicates that the generality claims of both models can be argued for without one of them necessarily being subordinated to the other one. Both theories are interpreted as differing but partly overlapping structures of coherence, while also being involved in transformative thesis-antithesis-synthesis processes. The possible interrelatedness between logical reasoning and meaning making is considered and discussed, as well as the relevance of differing generality claims, and contrasting subjectivistic and objectivistic “scientific positions.” Finally, it is argued for the need of contextualizing adult development theory and research by relating it to postindustrial societal demands and challenges in terms of e.g. a “transform-actional” approach.”

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The Meaning-making of Dag Hammarskjöld

Kristian Stålne

Abstract: Dag Hammarskjöld, United Nations’ second Secretary-General 1954-1961, is getting recent attention for two reasons: he is going to front the new Swedish 1000-kronor note, the highest value; and this September it was 50 years since he was killed in an airplane crash in UN service in Congo. With that event, the most successful career in an international service that a Swede has ever had was terminated prematurely, a service that would set an unmistakable imprint on the UN organization as well as on the world stage of politics. But what made Dag Hammarskjöld such an exceptional leader and how did he view the world and his role in it? He was not only exceptional as a leader and world-centric visionary; he was also a mystic and an aesthetician with a highly analytic mind. What is unique is the fact that large parts of his thinking and personal struggling are available to the world through a dense material of his speeches and personal writings. This has made it possible to analyse the stages of development represented in them. Using ego development theory, described by Jane Loevinger as well as Robert Kegan, I offer the analysis that his writings, including during his most severe personal crisis, indicate he passed through a transition between the individualist and autonomous stages.

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Using Developmental Theory: When Not to Play Telephone Games

Sara Nora Ross

Abstract: As a powerful way to help understand the behaviors of people and social groupings of all kinds, developmental stage theory attracts attention and use outside of purely academic environments. These uses take the form of written materials and many kinds of interventions. The level of accuracy of developmental theory information generated and used outside of academe demonstrates wide variety. This variety is reflected in materials and interventions. The information used in materials and interventions becomes increasingly distorted as it becomes further removed from original theoretical sources. This has major implications for the ethics and expertise issues that are inherent in applied developmental theory. A classification scheme of information-use behaviors, many of which contribute to distortion processes, is used to code actual cases of creating and disseminating distorted developmental theory information, invoking the metaphor of telephone games. Case evidence indicates that casual, illustrative figures in a 2006 book by Wilber were used by others for various serious and theoretical purposes, and resulted in major distortions of developmental theory. Wilber’s figures represent problematic issues and errors, including distortion of theory, if they are used—as they indeed were—for any purpose more serious than his original purpose. Stemming from those issues and errors, a highly distorted picture of cognitive development and a pseudo-version of Commons and Richards’ Model of Hierarchical Complexity theory emerged, telephone game-like, in the cases discussed. Errors were widely propagated on the internet. Because outside of academe, specialized expertise in developmental theory is difficult to acquire, the sub-field of applied developmental theory requires not only accurate information but also strong communication ethics to govern behaviors of information providers. Such providers need to protect themselves at the same time they protect and inform consumers of their information. This process of knowledge sharing and knowledge building can be shaped by adopting guidelines and a basic operating principle proposed here. Guidelines and principles, without institutionalization, are insufficient support. A new Institute of Applied Developmental Theory could provide the supports, standards, and effectiveness the sub-field of applied developmental theory needs if its power to address 21st century challenges, which sorely need it, is to be realized.

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