Through reading the book Developmental Education, I arrived at the psychological research surrounding ego development. While researching, I came across this Spiegel essay presented here from February 2019, well before the Corona outbreak and everything that has happened since. In this respect, one can look at these considerations with knowledge of today’s political as well as social situation. And that is not uninteresting.
Research on ego development can be traced back to the U.S. developmental psychologist Jane Loevinger, who collected and published a great deal of data and analysis on personality development over a period of 50 years.
She conducted tests on thousands of people and worked out that their thoughts, feelings and actions developed in a similar way throughout life. Accordingly, each ego follows a fixed sequence of developmental stages, and it becomes more and more differentiated and complex in the process.
According to this, people, but also entire societies, go through about ten distinct stages of development, whereby each of us can never be completely assigned to one stage, but is distributed among four or more stages of character. But one level is obviously always dominant, so that one can read from it how a society presents itself in its differentiated composition.
The current research in this field (of course disagreeing about the usefulness of such a model) now paints a clear picture:
Put simply, the more people are at later stages of development, the more self-determined, open and democratic society can be.
Individually, these different levels of development can lead to tensions in an increasingly differentiated society, as we experience every day in our disputes. What this means, whether in the workplace, business, politics, or (as is currently the case) sports, is that the world needs better leaders who know mediation. Or how the article ends:
But one thing is already clear: If our society should really shift its focus to level E7 at some point, then leading politicians and senior executives should ideally already be at level E8.
According to the theory, these would be people who are able to operate in highly complex and also contradictory worlds. People who think multi-perspectively, question themselves to a high degree, and take into account the views and needs of a wide variety of groups.
In other words: There is still a lot of room for improvement with our current leaders … 😉
Very readable and insightful, this article. Highest recommendation!