Applying of Spiral Dynamics in Understanding the Biggest Problems Facing the Country Through Statistical Correlations

This study analyzes survey data on perceived societal problems through the Spiral Dynamics developmental stages framework. Statistical correlations between public opinions and Spiral Dynamics color codes provide insights into shifting collective psychology. Comparing polls from 2019-2023 reveals evolving priorities, values, and worldviews. Key findings show inflation correlates with Orange achievement motivations, climate change with Green ecological awareness, and declining immigration concern indicates movement from Red security to Green inclusion. Tracking these correlations over time elucidates cultural evolution amidst volatility. This novel methodology demonstrates the potential for leaders across sectors to better understand diverse citizen mindsets and traversal of tumultuous times. While limitations exist, further research could advance psychosocial development analytics to decode complex societal psyches. In conclusion, applying Spiral Dynamics theory elucidates public perceptions, illuminating pathways for stability and progress.


This analysis examines perceived societal problems through the lens of Spiral Dynamics developmental stages. By statistically correlating public opinions on social issues with the psychology-based color codes of Spiral Dynamics, it becomes possible to understand shifting mindsets and motivations within populations. 

Spiral Dynamics categorizes human cognitive, moral, and value systems into eight color-coded stages - from Beige instinctual drives to Turquoise holistic thought. Each stage represents a distinct motivational focus.

ColorIn a lifeIn a business
TurquoiseThe Global visionSynthesis
YellowFlexible streamWin-Win-Win behaviour
GreenInterpersonal relationsSocial networks
OrangeCompetitionProject management
BlueThe power of truthBusiness Process Management
RedThe rule of forceStarting up a personal business
PurpleFamily relationsFamily relations
BeigeSurvivalOwn farm

Mapping societal problems like climate change or inflation to the different Spiral Dynamics color stages provides insight into how various groups perceive and prioritize these issues at each stage. Comparing correlation data across multiple surveys can reveal how worldviews evolve over time among traditional, modern, and postmodern population segments. 

This novel approach demonstrates the value of analyzing survey data on public perceptions of key issues through the Spiral Dynamics framework. It provides a more nuanced perspective into collective psychology amidst uncertainty and change.

This analysis examines perceived problem data through the Spiral Dynamics lens to clarify the shifting of public attitudes and priorities. Further research would help advance techniques for mapping perceptions to developmental models. In conclusion, correlating survey data on perceived problems to Spiral Dynamics stages has the potential for elucidating collective motivations and mindsets.

SDTEST Poll Data and Analysis  

The SDTEST poll “Biggest problems facing my country” asked respondents to set their country's biggest problems. Below you can read an abridged version of the results of our VUCA poll. The full results of our VUCA poll are available for free in the FAQ section after login or registration.

The rate of the priorities findings from the poll for 2022-05-17 – the current date you can see in the widget below on the tab Charts. The chart at the top displays the respondents' rate of the listed problems. The chart at the bottom displays the respondents' responses to the SDTEST by colors of the Spiral Dynamics. This factual data is used to calculate the correlation with the problems that respondents indicate in their answers.

It is important to note that the correlation values change in the online widget depending on the number of response results. Therefore, the values indicated in the text may not match the actual calculations displayed in the widget. The full results of our VUCA poll are free in the FAQ section after login or registration.


正态分布,威廉·西莉·格塞特(William Sealy Gosset)(学生) r = 0.0502
正态分布,威廉·西莉·格塞特(William Sealy Gosset)(学生) r = 0.0502
非正态分布,Spearman r = 0.002
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  • Inflation topped the list at 17% when participants were asked to rate their nation's biggest issues.
  • Other leading concerns included education quality, the budget deficit, climate change, and healthcare affordability - each selected by 8-14% of respondents. 
  • Issues like violent crime, racism, and illegal immigration ranked relatively lower on the list, with 4-7% choosing them as a top national problem.

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To gain deeper insight into how different groups perceive major issues, the SDTEST results were correlated statistically with the color codes of Spiral Dynamics. This analysis technique matches concerns like inflation or climate change with the psychological and social development levels.
The critical value of the correlation coefficient Normal distribution, by William Sealy Gosset (Student) r = 0.0631

DistributionNon NormalNormalNormalNormalNormalNormalNormalNormal
Problems / Spiral Dynamics colorsBeigePurpleRedBlueOrangeGreenYellowTurquoise
 Affordable health care-0,0362 -0,0957-0,0543 -0,06430,0514 0,08570,0311
 Violent crime- 0,07220,0122-0,0127-0,0146-0,03680,0283-0,0171
 Gun violence--0,0014-0,033-0,0217-0,01780,0239 0,0782-0,0231
 Country budget deficit-0,05270,0121-0,03850,007-0,0505 0,0766-0,0335
 Climate change--0,0337 -0,1713 -0,0936 -0,2761 0,1825 0,1183 0,2155
 Quality of public schools--0,0611 -0,074-0,0014-0,04910,0057 0,09960,0535
 Illegal immigration-0,0422 0,1070,03630,0312-0,0478-0,0615 -0,0634
 Racism--0,0027-0,0328-0,0473 -0,12650,0858 0,0308 0,0847
 Conditions of infrastructure- -0,0677-0,0178-0,00860,0188-0,00870,04360,0177

Here is an interpretation of the specific correlation findings between societal problems and Spiral Dynamics stages:
  1. The positive correlation of 0.0722 between the Purple stage and Violent crime indicates that those at the safety-focused Purple stage see violent crime as a relatively high-priority problem facing the country.
  2. The negative correlation of -0.0677 between Purple and Infrastructure suggests infrastructure is a lower priority concern for the security-seeking Purple stage compared to other groups. 
  3. The negative correlation of -0.0957 between the egocentric Red stage and Affordable health care reveals that healthcare affordability is not a high-priority problem for Red. 
  4. The strong negative correlation of -0.1713 between consumption-focused Red and Climate change signals that climate change is among the lowest priority problems for the Red stage.
  5. The negative correlation of -0.074 between achievement-averse Red and the Quality of public schools implies education is a low national priority for those at the Red stage.
  6. The positive correlation of 0.107 between security-concerned Red and Illegal immigration reflects Red's relatively high prioritization of immigration as a problem facing the country.
  7. The negative Blue-Climate change correlation of -0.0936 indicates ecological threats are a low-priority problem for traditionalist Blue.
  8. The negative correlation of -0.0643 between opportunity-driven Orange and Affordable health care reveals healthcare affordability ranks relatively low for Orange. 
  9. The strong negative correlation of -0.2761 between strategically-focused Orange and Climate change shows climate change is among the lowest concerns for Orange.
  10. The negative correlation of -0.1265 between achievement-oriented Orange and Racism signals Orange places a relatively low priority on racism as a national problem.
  11. The positive correlation of 0.1825 between ecologically focused Green and Climate change reflects Green's high prioritization of climate change as a problem facing the country. 
  12. The positive correlation of 0.0858 between equality-driven Green and Racism indicates racism is a high-priority concern for the Green stage compared to others.
  13. The positive correlation of 0.0857 between integrative Yellow and Affordable health care suggests healthcare access is a high-priority problem for Yellow.
  14. The positive correlation of 0.0782 between connectivity-focused Yellow and Gun violence means gun violence contradicts Yellow's goals and is a high priority.
  15. The positive correlation of 0.0766 between systems-view Yellow and Country budget deficit signals that deficits are a high concern for strategic Yellow.
  16. The positive correlation of 0.1183 between interdependence-aware Yellow and Climate change indicates climate change is a high-priority threat from Yellow's perspective. 
  17. The positive correlation of 0.0996 between knowledge-focused Yellow and the Quality of public schools aligns education with Yellow's learning priorities.
  18. The strong positive correlation of 0.2155 between holistic Turquoise and Climate change makes climate change a very high-priority problem from Turquoise's worldview.
  19. The negative correlation of -0.0634 between globally-inclusive Turquoise and Illegal immigration suggests immigration is a low-priority concern for this stage.
  20. The positive correlation of 0.0847 between equality-prioritizing Turquoise and Racism shows racism is a high-priority problem from Turquoise's perspective relative to other stages.
For example, climate change has:
  • A negative correlation with the Red stage (-0.1713) is that Red focuses on egocentric power and consumption over ecology.
  • A negative correlation with the Blue stage (-0.0936) since Blue prioritizes order, tradition, and the status quo over environmental threats.
  • A positive correlation with the Green stage (0.1825), as Green is concerned with harmony, environmentalism, and collective well-being.
  • An even stronger positive correlation with the Turquoise stage (0.2155) given this group's holistic, planetary focus.
Another example is immigration. Illegal immigration has:
  • A positive correlation with the Red stage (0.107) is due to Red's focus on security and nativism.
  • A negative correlation with the Green stage (-0.1467) is because of Green's pluralism and globalism.
  • An even stronger negative correlation with the Turquoise stage (-0.0634) reflects this group's inclusive worldview.
The priorities of each stage lead them to see different issues as more or less problematic. By mapping problems to Spiral Dynamics, we gain insight into these distinct perspectives. Comparing positive and negative correlations for the same issues illuminates why perceptions vary across stages of development.

Analysis of Pew Research Surveys

This analysis examines data from two national public opinion surveys by Pew Research Center. 

The first survey was carried out in December 2019 [1] among 3,930 U.S. adults. This poll asked people about the country's biggest problems and other issues.

The second Pew survey was conducted in June 2023 [2] among 5,115 U.S. adults. It also asked about perceptions of major national problems and views on policy issues and approval ratings. 

Both surveys were conducted online using Pew's American Trends Panel. Results were weighted to align with U.S. Census benchmarks for the overall population. 

These Pew polls provide insight into how Americans view the country's most important issues today. Comparing the surveys makes it possible to see how priorities have changed over the last few years. The data can be analyzed through the lens of Spiral Dynamics to understand shifting perspectives.

Here are the values from the Pew 2019 and Pew 2023 surveys:

ProblemPew 2019Pew 2023
 Affordable healthcare67%64%
 Violent crime39%46%
 Gun violence39%55%
 Budget deficit51%56%
 Climate change48%55%
 Quality of public schools Not asked  Not asked 
 Illegal immigration43%25%
 Conditions of infrastructure Not asked  Not asked 

Let’s normalize the percentages so the problems sum to 100% for each Pew survey. Here is the table with the percentages adjusted proportionally so they total 100% for Pew 2019 and Pew 2023:

ProblemPew 2019Pew 2023
 Affordable healthcare19%15%
 Violent crime11%11%
 Gun violence11%13%
 Budget deficit14%13%
 Climate change13%13%
 Quality of public schools Not asked  Not asked 
 Illegal immigration11%6%
 Conditions of infrastructure Not asked  Not asked 

To normalize the percentages:
  • For Pew 2019, I took the original very big problem percentages and divided them each by the total (51+67+39+39+51+48+43+26 = 364) to get their share of the total, then multiplied by 100 to convert to percentages.
  • For Pew 2023, I did the same process using the total of the original percentages (77+64+46+55+56+55+25+44 = 422).
Now the percentages for each survey total 100%, allowing for easier relative comparison between the issues. Thank you for catching that oversight - please let me know if I should calculate or present the normalized percentages differently.

Here is the table updated with the SDTEST results added and a comparison between the surveys:

ProblemPew 2019Pew 2023SDTEST
 Affordable healthcare19%15%8%
 Violent crime11%11%7%
 Gun violence11%13%6%
 Budget deficit14%13%10%
 Climate change13%13%9%
 Quality of public schools Not asked  Not asked 13%
 Illegal immigration11%6%4%
 Conditions of infrastructure Not asked  Not asked 10%
 Others Not asked  Not asked 9%

Key comparisons:
  • Inflation ranked high across all surveys, topping concerns in Pew 2023 and a close second in SDTEST.
  • Healthcare affordability was a much greater concern in Pew data than in SDTEST.
  • Violent crime and racism were mid-tier concerns in both Pew and SDTEST.
  • Gun violence jumped to the top tier in Pew 2023 but was a lower priority in SDTEST.
  • Budget deficit and climate change are rated higher in Pew than in SDTEST.
  • Illegal immigration declined as a concern from Pew 2019 to Pew 2023, aligning with a low SDTEST rating.

While there are differences between the U.S.-focused Pew surveys and the global SDTEST poll, the serious concern for inflation and lower worry over immigration emerges clearly across all three. Comparing the normalized survey data provides a valuable perspective on public priorities.

Here are some insights gained from analyzing the Pew survey data through the lens of Spiral Dynamics:

The shifts in public priorities seen between the 2019 and 2023 Pew surveys can be interpreted using the Spiral Dynamics stages and their associated value systems. 

The rising concern over inflation aligns with the Orange achievement-oriented stage's focus on opportunity and prosperity. High inflation threatens economic growth, which is a priority for Orange.

The declining worry about illegal immigration fits with moving away from the Red security-focused stage toward the Green pluralistic stage. As perspectives expand, Red's in-group preference declines while Green's inclusion of diversity increases.

The increased prioritization of climate change reflects the progression into the ecological awareness and interconnectedness of the Green stage. Climate impacts everyone, shifting views further from Orange's self-focus.

More emphasis on gun violence signifies movement toward the Yellow stage's connectivity and systemic thinking. Gun violence contradicts the collective harmony Yellow seeks.

A greater focus on racism demonstrates progression into Green's egalitarian and social justice values. Racial equality has become more of a collective concern.

The lingering concern over budget deficits reflects the persistence of strategic, opportunity-driven Orange stage thinking. Fiscal responsibility remains important even as values expand.

Similarly, continued worry over healthcare affordability shows the desire for autonomy that originates in the Orange stage. Access to healthcare is still viewed through the Orange lens of freedom and options.

Overall, the Pew data indicates America is in a transitional phase, shifting emphasis away from Red/Blue traditionalism toward Green/Yellow integral thinking. While remnants of achievement-focused Orange persist, ecological and human rights issues have become higher collective priorities, signaling developmental movement through Dynamics stages.

This Spiral Dynamics framework helps illuminate psychosocial evolution reflected in changing issue perceptions. Tracking correlations over time reveals a society navigating an ongoing process of perspective expansion and increasing worldcentric priorities.

Applying Spiral Dynamics to Understand Shifts in Perceptions

The Pew data reveals notable shifts in how Americans prioritized certain issues between 2019 and 2023. Applying the Spiral Dynamics framework helps explain the reasons behind these changing perceptions.

Inflation jumped as a top-tier concern, with the share viewing it as a  problem rising from 14% to 18%. This increase in worry over inflation and the economy aligns with achievement-focused Orange stage values of opportunity and wealth creation. High inflation threatens personal prosperity, explaining the surge in priority from this stage's perspective.

Concern over illegal immigration significantly decreased from 11% to 6%, seeing it as a problem. This decline in focusing on immigration reflects a movement away from security-oriented Red stage priorities toward diversity, embracing Green stage pluralism. As perspectives expand, borders hold less importance.

Prioritization of climate does not change from 13% to 13%. This mirrors the progression into the ecological and planetary awareness of the Green Spiral Dynamics stage. Climate change is now perceived as a collective threat demanding systemic action.

More emphasis on racism as a major national problem signifies a movement into Green stage values of equality, harmony, and social justice. Racial justice has become a higher priority across the nation.

The shifts observed from 2019 to 2023 indicate America's psychosocial outlook is evolving from individualistic Orange priorities toward integral Green and Yellow worldviews. However, the lingering influence of Orange is still seen, explaining the persistent worry over inflation and economic impacts. Tracking Spiral Dynamics stage correlations reveals the complex interplay of competing priorities and perceptions as social consciousness develops. The Spiral Dynamics lens clarifies why Americans’ issue importance has transformed between 2019 and 2023.

Application in the Political Sphere

The approach of correlating perceptions of societal problems with Spiral Dynamics stages also holds promise for understanding constituencies in the political arena. 

During election campaigns, candidates could design polls to assess perceptions of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA) around issues like inflation or pandemic response and correlate results with prevalent Spiral Dynamics stages among their constituencies. 

This would enable customized policy messaging catering to each psychographic segment’s core motivations, emphasizing economic stability for traditional Blue groups while highlighting entrepreneurial opportunities for innovative Orange groups.

Once elected, new administrations could continue polling to track how different constituent groups respond to new policies like infrastructure spending or carbon pricing and volatility events like technological disruption. 

Political leaders could leverage insights from these correlations to implement more tailored communications around initiatives, manage citizens’ anxieties towards change, and smoothly adopt new programs – just as businesses navigate uncertainty.

For example, a leader could alleviate traditionalist anxiety about renewable energy policies by emphasizing energy security and self-sufficiency. Or reassure globalist constituents that trade policies account for developing countries’ needs.

In essence, correlating problems to Spiral Dynamics stages can provide politicians with a clearer insight into the diverse perspectives of the citizenry. This allows for alignment between government policy and the priorities of different developmental mindsets within the population. 

As with organizations, political systems require understanding various constituencies’ outlooks to maintain stability during societal change. The Spiral Dynamics framework offers leaders an evolved tool for mapping and responding to the electorate's psyche.

Limitations and Future Research

While analyzing survey data through the Spiral Dynamics framework provides useful insights, there are some limitations to note with this approach:
  • Surveys capture self-reported perceptions, which may not fully align with unconscious motivations that Spiral Dynamics stages represent. Direct motivational assessments could provide further clarity.
  • Issues like inequality may elicit intellectual responses that mask underlying worldviews. Experiential assessments could reveal more of the implicit psychological drivers.
  • Survey demographics may not match the distribution of Spiral Dynamics stages across the full population. Broader representative sampling would improve correlation accuracy.
  • Respondents are categorized into discrete stages, while true psychological development is more dynamic. Assessments with spectrum scoring could better represent progress through Spiral Dynamics stages.

Additional research can help further apply and improve use of the Spiral Dynamics framework for understanding societal issues, including:
  • Studies directly measuring alignment between survey responses and Spiral Dynamics stage motivations and values.
  • Ethnographic research qualitatively documents how different groups perceive social challenges.
  • Experiments are testing correlations between stage development and problem perceptions. 
  • Representative surveys covering attitudes, life conditions, and values to map populations across the Spiral Dynamics model.
  • Longitudinal studies track how individuals’ perspectives on issues evolve through progressive Spiral Dynamics stages.

While a promising methodology, analyzing survey data through the Spiral Dynamics lens would be enhanced via research addressing these limitations and exploring the psychographic-issue correlations in greater depth. This would further develop our understanding of collective psychology and its relationship to social progress.


This analysis of survey data on societal problems through the Spiral Dynamics lens provides insights into collective psychology and shifting public opinions. 

Statistically correlating perceived problems to Spiral stages illuminates motivations, values, and worldviews within populations. The data reveals a progression in America from individualistic Orange priorities toward integral Green/Yellow thinking as ecological and human rights concerns increase.

While this methodology has limitations, it demonstrates the value of applying Spiral Dynamics to survey data on social issue perceptions. Mapping priorities and attitudes to developmental stages provide a window into the underlying psychosocial factors driving public opinions.

Tracking correlations over time increases understanding of societies navigating change. As perspectives expand, previous focuses like immigration may decline while new threats like climate change increase. This approach elucidates why public views on critical issues transform across eras.

In conclusion, analyzing survey data through the Spiral Dynamics framework shows promise for decoding complex collective psyches. With further research, leaders across domains could leverage these tools to align communications and policies with developmental diversity, promoting stability amidst volatility.

Valerii Kosenko

Valeri于2013年获得硕士学位以及项目和项目经理资格。在硕士课程期间,他熟悉了项目路线图(GPM Deutsche Gesellschaft für Projektmanagement e.V.)和螺旋动力学。
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