Integral Theory Map

Since we're on a roll with developmental models this week, let's also take a look at Ken Wilber's Integral Map. The image looks busy because it is - but if you start on the top right corner with the four quadrants, it may become clearer. Click on the image for a larger view.

Integral Theory helps explain modern life's complexities, combining insights from all major fields of study including arts, humanities, and sciences. The four quadrants describe individual and group, as well as interior and exterior views. Individual Interior is the "I" (e.g. psychology), Individual Exterior is "It" (e.g. biology), Group Interior is "We" (e.g. culture), Group Exterior is "Its" (e.g. social systems and institutions).

Picture Credit:
Picture Credit:

Within each quadrant, we find various lines of development - on the Interior side they are levels of depth, on the Exterior side they are levels of complexity. They "co-arise and tetra-mesh", meaning there are correlations between the various levels within all four quadrants.

Different degrees of Ego Development and developmental attitude are expressed in the different colors, and can be overlaid on the quadrants "to highlight the nested quality of levels transcending and including each other" (

All quadrants also contain various States, e.g. States of Consciousness, which are defined as temporary occurrences.

The quadrants also honor different patterns: You'll note that men and women of all personality types are represented across the board, and that our preferences predispose us to different interpretations of the quadrants, emphasis of lines, and how we follow the various development paths.

Again, I like the dynamic nature and growth potential this framework illustrates. Another benefit is that it's scalable; whether you're looking at your own personal experience or are trying to understand your company's or government's actions better, the four quadrants are a good place to start a process of enquiry.


Image by Alan Cleaver, Flickr, Creative Commons License.