post by Minds_Eye · 2014-12-24T00:54:43.612Z · LW · GW · Legacy · 17 comments


  Constructive Developmental Theory:
  First Order/The Impulsive Mind
  Second Order/The Instrumental Mind
  Third Order/The Socialized Mind
  Fourth Order/The Self-Authoring Mind
  Fifth Order/The Self-Transforming Mind 
  Subject Object Notation:
  Four Player Model:
  Socialized Mind
  Self-Authoring Mind
  Self-Transforming Mind

In a recent post Gwerley covered Constructive Developmental Theory, and Subject-Object Notation.  I'll be going through a basic description of the ideas, as well as adding related ideas from the Four Player Model.

Constructive Developmental Theory:

Constructive Developmental Theory is a Theory of Mind that splits the development of people into five levels, though the levels each have a unique set of advantages/disadvantages, not being "better" or "worse" than one another.1  This theory is largely based on if the individual is subject to something or able to hold it as an object using meta cognition, such that each level holds the previous levels as special cases.2  This progress makes it so a higher order mind will notice things a lower order cannot.

*With the bulk of people being on this level it's important to keep status with them.  Failure to do so risks loosing momentum on any movement you're working on. (Trans humanism, Cryonics or FAI being the three that jump to mind with this community.)

*While less essential than Socialized Minds, Self-Authoring Minds are a good indicator that your movement is healthy and still able to adapt to changes.  Being the primary source of said changes fourth order minds are important in order to avoid things like an Ann Rand cult.

 *The most useful and the least essential of the groups.  They are able to fill any role needed, but are made fully redundant by a enough lower order minds in the necessary roles.

5I was unable to find the six percent not accounted for above.

Subject Object Notation:

Subject-Object Notation is a way of showing where relative to two incompatible ideas you are.  For example:

The Instrumental Mind (2) and The Socialized Mind (3)








Using Subject-Object Notation on Constructive Developmental Theory yields 21 unique "levels" of development.


1 1(2) 1/2 2/1 2(1)

2 2(3) 2/3 3/2 3(2)

3 3(4) 3/4 4/3 4(3)

4 4(5) 4/5 5/4 5(4)


Four Player Model:

Movers: The ones making changes to the current group behaviour.

Follower: Those who are continuing the current move.

Opposers: Those correcting the current move.

Bystanders: The ones watching for anything else the group should be looking out for.


Socialized Mind

Self-Authoring Mind

Self-Transforming Mind


This a rare state for a Socialized Mind.  The inherent risk to status makes even potentially large gains less appealing.

A natural role for a Self-Authoring Mind, being independent of the group allows them to propose changes, though that is limited by their beliefs and ideologies.

Much the same as Self-Authors Self-Transformers are suitable for filling the role of mover, though with larger amounts of resources to draw from.


At this level people are defined by tribal status making them excellent followers.

Following is not a role a level 4 will fall into unless they arrive at the conclusion on their own.

While not as difficult as it was as a Self-Author following is still the weakest point of the higher levels due largely to the absence of cultural influence in personal thought.


Individuals at this level do not oppose without prompting, and will likely try to smooth over any mover/Opposer conflict.

At least as much as Moving, Opposing suits a 4th order mind, because even if they agree they are able to play Devil's Advocate as disagreement doesn't undermine their sense of self.

Opposing is a role Transforming Minds fill with little work.  The vast amount of viewpoints they can hold allow them to freely choose a good response to Movers.


Similar to opposing third order minds don't make very good bystanders, as that would necessitate leaving the group thought process that defines them.

A Self-Author is a suitable, if slightly biased, Bystander for much the same reason they are good Opposers.

This is the role that this level truly excels in due to the shear number of viewpoints they are able to use.


Authors Notes:

1The lack of "better" levels seems to indicate that each level is a local optima with at least a few required for a stable society.

2This would seem to indicate that higher orders are capable of everything that a lower order is, motivation not withstanding.

3This level includes both human babies and animals.

4In addition to children some animals have pack/herd/pod mentalities that would appear to be at least 2(3).

5I would predict 5+ percent in level 2, and only the wild children in level 1, (those children who are raised by wild animals) with even some of them as level 2.

*This is the relation to Four Player Model


http://developmentalobserver.blog.com/2010/06/09/an-overview-of-constructive-developmental-theory-cdt/ - Three highest levels of CDT

http://sustainabilitythinking.wordpress.com/2012/06/09/constructive-developmental-theory/ - less detailed description of all five

http://developmentalobserver.blog.com/2011/06/08/additional-resources-on-adult-development/ - Assorted links

http://developmentalobserver.blog.com/2011/02/21/kantors-four-player-model-through-the-lens-of-cdt/ - Kantor's Four Player Model

http://malcolmocean.com/2014/10/subject-object-notation/ - Subject-Object Notation

http://www.ccl.org/leadership/pdf/landing/constructivedevtheory.pdf - CDT more in depth


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-12-24T03:49:02.381Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm someone from a background of the neobehaviorist perspective in psychology with some cognitivist leanings. I usually just dismiss work like this offhand as most likely pseudoscience. Strike one is that this work is partially derived from theories which I already know to be pseudoscience such as Maslow's theory of self-actualization. Strike two is that he is dismissive of many elements of behaviorism. However, I'm willing to be persuaded. What are the key elements of falsifiability within these theories? What experimental research has been conducted to test the validity of these theories; either in whole or in part? It doesn't help your cause that your in-depth link contains in the abstract:

Although the literature has produced a number of propositions, the notion that a leader's order of development should impact his or her leadership effectiveness or managerial performance has generated the most research. We found mixed support for this proposition as well as a number of limitations in the research in general. To have a greater impact on the leadership field, constructive-developmental theory needs to generate more robust research, to link more clearly with on-going streams of leadership research, and to explore the contribution of aspects of the theory beyond individual order of development.

Replies from: Minds_Eye
comment by Minds_Eye · 2014-12-24T15:41:32.011Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ok, I'm sorry if this post looks like it's speaking for CDT being correct. As listed in the header this is written based on Gwerley's post, and was intended to simplify the idea. (and add context to better imagine it)

I felt the idea sounded like it would be something to look into, as at least the first two levels seem like they are (more or less) correct. (I still wouldn't think this would be a terribly useful theory if applied to humans only, as the orders of mind seem like they're more evolutionary (notes 3 and 4) than developmental.)

Replies from: ChristianKl
comment by ChristianKl · 2014-12-25T00:26:16.215Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I felt the idea sounded like it would be something to look into

Then why didn't you look into the evidence for it before writing a post?

Replies from: Minds_Eye
comment by Minds_Eye · 2014-12-25T01:49:06.892Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

3 reasons:

  1. I'm the dumb kid on the block when it comes to less wrong. (If any of the census or my behavior in posting something that signals against the Less Wrong tribal stance are any indicators.)

  2. I'm not (yet) a scientist, and I couldn't find any studies on this. Take into account that less wrong is "heavier" in scientists than usual for an online community, and I hoped that it would be something someone would either know about or find interesting.

  3. This is the discussion forum, and I was hoping that there might be just that, discussion.

Replies from: ChristianKl
comment by ChristianKl · 2014-12-25T10:35:20.774Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In this case, the problem is that you accept the theory based on it seeming reasonable and not based on it making any useful empiric predictions.

You also haven't make another case for the usefulness of the model.

Beliefs have to pay rent and you haven't demostrated how this model pays it's rent.

You make hard statements like "35% of adults are on this level (The Self-Authoring Mind)" without indicating where the number comes from. Is this a number from a study based done in the US? Europe? Is the number simply made up?

Use of numbers like that is a mark of pseudoscience. It seems like you simply believe those numbers without critical reflection.

You find that there are well received posts on LW about psychological issues such as Brianne's post What its like to notice things that are coming directly out of academic psychology and scientific studies. Posts like that are still welcome because they are based on Brianne's own empiric experience. Brianne doesn't try to put numbers on things that can't be well supported.

There's no use to talk about models that don't have personal experience of the author that indicates the usefulness of the model or scientific experiments that back up the model.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2014-12-24T04:51:46.176Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Minor point: The colloquial use of "deconstruction" is very vague. I suggest "analysis" or "description".

Are there really good statistics about what proportion of people are at these levels?

Shouldn't there be something about how consistently a person can maintain one of the higher-numbered points of view?

Replies from: Minds_Eye
comment by Minds_Eye · 2014-12-24T15:42:19.703Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Fixed, thank you.

comment by fubarobfusco · 2014-12-24T02:35:45.495Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Timothy Leary's version goes up to eight.

Replies from: skeptical_lurker
comment by skeptical_lurker · 2014-12-24T09:14:11.728Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Maslow's hierarchy of needs ... on acid!

Its worth a read for sheer comedy value IMO.

Replies from: Minds_Eye
comment by Minds_Eye · 2014-12-24T16:46:14.397Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If that's what it takes, I just wanted people to look this over and say what they thought, otherwise I wouldn't have posted to Discussion.

Replies from: skeptical_lurker
comment by skeptical_lurker · 2014-12-24T23:26:49.580Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In case it wasn't obvious, I was laughing at Timothy Leary's version, not yours.

Replies from: Minds_Eye
comment by Minds_Eye · 2014-12-25T01:52:31.737Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thank you for the clarification, but it doesn't bother me either way.

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-12-24T09:26:50.165Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In which of those categories do you see yourself? [pollid:804]

Replies from: TheAncientGeek
comment by TheAncientGeek · 2014-12-24T16:01:47.867Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

So far the rarest group is the most common group. Who'd a guessed?

Replies from: Minds_Eye, ChristianKl
comment by Minds_Eye · 2014-12-24T16:13:30.889Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That might be due to my reference to HPMOR, and it's tribal signaling. In hindsight that may have been a poor decision.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-02-02T15:08:45.744Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Given that this is supposed to measure complexity of thinking and were at LW, I don't think the results contradict the stated numbers.

It just as far of the norm as LW's IQ numbers are in the census.

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-12-24T09:25:22.902Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In which of those categories do you see yourself?