This experiment seeks to determine the extent to which perceptual defense and readiness may demonstrate the dominant behavioral characteristics associated with certain hypothesized Levels of Human Existence.

 

Graves has suggested that one may view behavior change as a function of an orderly progression within the nature of the mature human being.1 This is, Graves offers the concept of progression of change, or movement through Levels of Human Existence, as an attempt to incorporate aspects of the behavioristic, psychoanalytic, existential points of view into an enlarged conception of manís nature.

 

Within this enlarged framework, Graves maintains, one may comprehend more adequately change which occurs in the behavioral and institutional world of man. Graves points out that it has been assumed that, since the mature human organism stabilizes for the greater part of his adult life at one biological level, the psychological nature of man likewise remains unchanging. Thus, continued attempt has been made to discover those general psychological principles which explain differences in the mature human being.

 

However, Graves states, one may question whether the mature psychological man varies only quantitatively over the biologically mature years of his life. Rather, one may suggest that manís psychology also changes qualitatively, in an orderly, though complex, manner when manís conditions of existence change. One may relate these changes, moreover, to Goldsteinís observations that normal behavior does not correspond to tension decrease but to tension increases and expenditure, in which new states of tension impel the organism to value new experiences and new activities according to its emerged nature.2

 

Thus, Graves points out, one may view manís becoming as an emergent organism-environmental complex, similar to the development of the cognitive component of the child as described by Piaget. Using the analogy of the computer, Graves suggests that the brain of the mature biological organism is not a system in which the data processing aspects change only quantitatively with time.

 

Within the Levels of Existence conception of manís nature, the mind, if viewed as a computer, must be seen as a computer which changes its programming in a regular and orderly way, as well as one which changes and reorders the data in its memory bank. Thus the mind of the mature human organism moves continuously to metamorphize a new form or quality, each of which is contiguous with but qualitatively different from the previous stage.

 

From this conception of the human organism, Graves suggests, one may incorporate certain aspects of Maslowís hierarchy of needs3, Krechís concept of dynamic neurological systems4, and the epigenetic concept, within an organismic and General Systems point of view, to hypothesize that the psychology of the mature human being tends to pass through a series of hierarchically ordered levels of integration, or Levels of Human Existence.

 

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