This page presents an explanation of the 8 patterns of value systems and the 10 social pattern
variables that the VSQ measures. As with all jobEQ tools, each variable
is measured separately (instead of a "one or the other" dichotomy),
so the VSQ gives you the most information about an individual. Here are
Graves' Value Systems
to the book “Spiral Dynamics”,
by Clare Graves’
students Don Beck &
Christopher Cowan (1996),
we can witness the following value systems in different contexts. The examples here often indicate the extreme
examples, and the reality is usually more moderate.
- Survival (Beige)
- At this first level we are focused on the bare necessities to survive.
Finding food and shelter come to mind. There is little attention for
other people. There is only room for the basic emotions of anger, fear,
disgust sadness and gratification. While this level is present in all
of us, people generally operate at a higher level.
- Safety (Purple)
- This level is more concerned with finding a safe mode of living in
a world which is seen as unpredictable and unsafe. When this values
system prevails, people form more closed groups within their own culture
and preserving traditions is seen as important.
- Power (Red)
- This level is about expressing oneself. It is typified by the warrior
who values power and glory and is on a quest of heroic status. Survival
of the fittest is the common theme.
- Obedience (Blue)
- This is about discipline and law, searching for a world order, an
everlasting peace. However, there is a catch: its style of thinking
is absolutist: there is only one truth and peace can only seem to be
obtained by making sure everyone adheres to that truth. In these cultures
there is a strict hierarchy where one is obedient to those higher up.
- Success (Orange)
- This is about the Scientific-Materialistic value system which focuses
on the material fulfillment here and now. This level is also very much
about competition. This often translates into business spirit and scientific
challenges. The challenge is seen as “making it this life,”
reaching status, and keeping up with the Joneses. Instead of discipline
and law, it’s money that really rules the world.
- Friends (Green)
- This is about a pluralistic, egalitarian, relativistic and subjectivist
world view. The person becomes socio-centric, searching for a personal
fulfillment, coming to peace with their own inner self and being accepted
by others. Progress and profit can be dangerous if not well-managed.
Harmony, equality and social acceptance are key values, as is self-realization.
- Function (Yellow)
- This is about systems thinking. One searches for integrated living,
trying to find a balance between one’s own needs and the needs
of others. The person thinks in terms of competence, they see authority
as contextual, based on expertise. The world becomes an information-based
society, where individual competence, as well as flexibility to adapt
to circumstances, determine your quality of life. You are open to learning
at any time and from any source. Freedom and autonomy are important,
regulations and structures limit one's choices. Creating abundance and
reaching win-win partnerships are the new way of life.
- Global Village (Turquoise)
- This is about achieving ‘Cross-Paradigmic,’ differential
and holistic thinking, which integrates and transcends paradigms. The
focus is on the living system, where everything is linked to everything
else. New knowledge helps to understand the patterns underlying the
chaos, the dynamics linking the parts to the larger whole.
Social Pattern Variables
- Universalism -
A person with a high score accepts rules as absolute, and prefers to
follow rules. This person likes to work in a formal way, such as using
contracts. This person tries to be consistent, and treat everyone the
- A person with a high score claims the right to judge for oneself whether
or not a rule applies to a situation. This person prefers informal networks
and relationships instead of formal rules. He or she accepts several
perceptions of reality.
boundaries - A person with a high score sets a clear, objective boundary
between work and life outside of work. This person may act of think
very differently from context to context.
boundaries - A person with a high score tends to have flexible or no
boundaries between contexts. What happens in one context will be seen
as interfering with other contexts as well.
- Left Brain
- This pattern is associated with logical thinking, words, reasoning,
and a linear style.
- Right Brain
- This pattern is associated with creative thinking, rhythm, pattern
recognition, and images.
- Match and
- These variables illustrate people's discussion styles, and how comfortable
people are with conflict during discussion. They describe to what degree
one matches (looks for patterns, forms correlations) or one mismatches
(looks for exceptions and counterexamples). A matcher will try to avoid
conflict, while a mismatcher will feel at ease during conflict, and
may consider it a normal phase in decision making.
- This pattern relates to meetings and discussions at work. A high score
indicates someone who prefers short meetings or no meetings at all.
- A person with a high score is always looking for multiple answers,
or way to combine options, such as the other social patterns.
Main author: The Value Systems Questionnaire was developed by Patrick Merlevede, jobEQ's lead researcher and
author of "7 Steps to Emotional Intelligence" and "Mastering Mentoring & Coaching with Emotional Intelligence".
He holds a master degree in cognitive sciences and was certified in Spiral Dynamics by Don Beck (SD Level II certification).
Back to VSQ
Back to Products
Samples of VSQ documents
How Value Systems & Cultural Patterns influence work performance