Psychological Stage 2.5

2.5 Stage of Development (Conformist)

Concrete. Collective. Interpenetrative

In this stage, which often first develops in adolescence, the tentative agreements at the 2.0 rule oriented stage give way to clear rules and rituals that support moderation of the range of experiences that come in through the senses, and bring order to collective life. At this stage you are much more adroit in your capacity to visualize, to have auditory memory, to experience emotions on a more subtle level, and to prioritize all of these experiences, and thus to delay gratification. You can learn to wait for something you want rather than to demand what is here and now and you understand that some rules are more critical to follow than others, and that punishments should equal the crime.

You now own your own rules, and enforce them not only on yourself but apply them to other people, sometimes judging harshly if those rules aren't followed. You can see into the past and learn from consequences and you follow the rules of your collective often without question. In order to be accepted by others you do what you can to be acceptable. This may include wanting to look the same, to own the same things, and to go the same places with your peers. Belonging is very important, and you may frown on outside groups because they are different from your identified social group. "Going along with the crowd" is a common experience for you, and thinking for your self is not as common. The group norms rule your behavior. This can be a sublimely beautiful time for you if you are accepted by your peer group, and a devastating experience if you are not.

The capacity to prioritize experience and delay gratification brings about new cognitive capacities; you can naturally engage with concrete planning and prioritizing. Thus you can hypothesize concrete experiments and carry them out, such as how to build something and the steps to get there.

As an adult at this stage you can bring your life experiences to support greater wisdom and a capacity to conform to an adult life style, which may include work, family, and church activities, a mythic understanding of divine authority, which may include following the teachings of God, or a Supreme Being who knows and sees you. You have expectations that others believe and act as you do, and you, likewise believe and act as others in your identified community. This is sometimes described as "keeping up with the Jones" where everyone has a similar lifestyle, dress, home, family and productive work or what ever fits the norms of the group you are identified with.

Emotions become more subtle for you at this stage and they are generally related to rules, such as feelings of responsibility, respect, duty, loyalty, right and wrong, shame, and guilt. You may appreciate rewards, including certificates of appreciation or recognition for your deeds. On the other hand feedback or criticism can be devastating to you, especially if received from a trusted peer or authority figure. Gossip, thus, is a way to show displeasure of others without having to confront them directly. Assertiveness is not a trait you have much access to especially related to others in your peer group. However this is the final stage of the concrete tier, so you may feel you "know" the truth about this concrete world, and thus you may have quite a strong fundamentalist sense of concrete righteousness.

People experiencing this stage

  • Can visualize themselves next to another, seeing what they see. They know that others see them in return. Thus, it is important to "save face".
  • Find it is important to feel like they belong to own family, group, nation, belief system.
  • Operate in a time frame that includes today and the past, following tradition; do not project into the future.
  • Operate in space that is ethnocentric — anyone outside of the identified group is a threat.
  • Deflect feedback that threatens loss of face. Unable to give critical feedback to others inside the social group.
  • Can delay gratification and anticipate consequences: guilt and shame is a motivator.
  • Can't question group norms – they conform to rules of their identified group.
  • See a hierarchy of rules; some rules are more vital to follow than others.
  • Find symbols, status, appearance, material goods, reputation and prestige are meaningful.
  • Are committed to routines, ritual, order, and stability.
  • Tend to like small groups, hierarchy, clear authority.
  • Are motivated by a sense of higher purpose, mission.
  • Are usually nice and polite and often create a pleasant, work environment.
  • Tend to be strong in their views, beliefs, and norms.


At this level people, who are often at adolescence, can determine a gradation of behavioral rules, some being venial and others mortal. In other words, some rules are better or worse than others. The capacity encourages people wanting to be the best, or better than others. They may begin to project their behavior onto others, and introject others behavior into themselves as they attempt to keep up with the Jones'. They also have the capacity to create their own rules when the ones in force don't work; thus they may create a plethora of interlacing rules, some of which may disagree with others, creating bureaucracies. If they get too focused on creating rule based hierarchies, they may perseverate on rules and have difficulty making the leap to the next tier, the subtle self.

At the later part of this stage, one adds subtle emotions and feelings that are directly tied to keeping or breaking rules at this stage. The feeling of responsibility, pride, respect, love, sorrow, and other similar emotions sourced from within arise, related to rules and experiences that come from following them or not. If there is a trauma at this stage they may struggle with a sense of self-esteem, of caring and love of self, and body image. This may result in eating disorders/addiction as way to both self soothe and to also discharge/numb disturbing feelings/thoughts.

Long term delayed gratification becomes stable.

Roles that have been born in the rule oriented stage can get codified to the extreme; for example, the rebel without a cause just for the sake of being a rebel, and the role of caring can be codified into life long co-dependency.