"A number of people have sought to develop "tests" which would assess a person's position in the level of Human Existence hierarchy. Some have had a limited measure of success but some have reported that their efforts have not been as successful as their interpretation of my words have led them to hope.

It is my considered opinion that this problem has arisen for one of two reasons: (1) The theory which follows in this book may be wanting. That is always a possibility in work of this type. But (2) this problem may arise because consumers of my words may fail to comprehend what it is that one must assess, if the theory in this book is to be put to the test of experiment and application.

With the case of the 27-year-old female and the 24-year-old Hungarian refugee [referring to two written conceptions of the mature adult personality in operation], I present the first representation of what is central to assessment within the emergent-cyclical theory of adult development. If you should be disposed to develop assessment instruments, in order to test or apply this theory, be certain you understand what is to be assessed.

Those who have tried to develop instruments have based them on what people think, do or believe, which is not the proper base for assessment devices. They should be based not on what the person thinks but how s/he thinks, not on what people do or what they believe but how they do what they do, and how they believe that which they do believe."


[To test his theory, Dr. Graves used a tachistoscope to measure the recognition time of subjects to certain words. These were selected in his data gathering phase in the context of the 1960's.]

"So it was hypothesized that if one operationally defines and designates certain existential states, as per above, a subject whose thinking it thereby designated as representing a particular state will recognize words representing the dominant thinking of the state more quickly than the words representing other states.

The stimulus words used and ordered according to the four most common states in our society are listed per state below."

Stimulus Words for Dr. Graves' Tachistoscope Studies





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Copyright 1977, The Quetico Centre and 1999, Linda Wiens with
Chris Cowan, Natasha Todorovic, & Marian Graves
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Excerpted from Dr. Graves' manuscript to be published in 2001

Copyright 2001 NVC Consulting