Proportion of all vMemes (Spiral Dynamics) by country


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I have finally finished calculating the country ranking for the four main vMemes (levels of consciousness). The purple vMeme does not really apply to developed countries, but rather to animistic tribal societies. The yellow and turquoise vMemes are too rare to included separately, but would otherwise be included in the green vMeme as it is the closest in values.

The table below shows the approximate percentage of people in each country that belongs to each vMeme. Of course it is only an approximation. What's more, many people are transitioning between two vMemes, for example red to blue, or blue to orange, which makes it all the more difficult to classify. The proportions below are an indication of how common each of the four set of values are by country. I only listed countries for which I had enough data for all four vMemes of course.

You will notice that the values for each colour do not correspond exactly to those in the overall score for each vMeme. That is normal as the total would not be exactly 100%. I had to recalculate the percentages based on the total of the four colours for each country. The orange vMeme was the only one calculated based on the actual percentage of the population that had jobs matching the vMeme's values. This is because it is the only vMeme closely linked to income levels and employment status. However as I could not include all high-paying jobs (top executives, high-ranking officials and politicians, actors, famous writers, etc.) I added 5 points to the orange vMeme for each country to compensate. Overall the percentage for the orange vMeme in the USA and the UK corresponds roughly to people earning 50% more than the country's mean individual income.

The proportions of the three other vMemes are pegged to the orange vMeme, which acts as the balanced value for the percentage of population. I doubled checked the consistency for big countries like the USA and UK. For example, 9% of American men will go to jail on their lifetime and 8% have already been convicted for a felony. 70 million Americans (21% of the population, or 27% of the adult population) have been arrested at least once. The table shows 19.5% of red vMeme (linked to crime and violence) in the USA, which sounds like a reasonable number in between the percentage of arrests and incarcerations. Furthermore 30% of American adults personally own a gun, which is somewhat correlated with the red vMeme values or mindset.

40% of American believe in Creationism and 44% say that one cannot be moral without believing in God. These are strong expressions of the blue vMeme. The table shows 33.5% of blue vMeme but it will also include people transitioning from red to blue and from blue to orange, so some of the strong believers may overlap with red and orange.


The percentage of strong believers in god tends to be quite close to the percentage of blue vMeme for all countries.

Another interesting observation is that the percentage of orange vMeme is higher in more egalitarian societies like Japan, France, Belgium, Czechia and Nordic countries. That's because the richest 1% does not monopolise a too large portion of the GDP, so that a larger segment of the population can actually become well-off (as compared to the average income in that country). American society may be considered materialistic and consumerist, but only a small percentage can actually afford to be. Several recent surveys (e.g. here, here and here) have shown that about 70% of US citizens have less than $1000 in savings on their bank account and only 10 to 16% have at least $20,000 in savings. That's why the orange vMeme is comparatively low in the US.

Green percentages may seem high in northern and western Europe, but that is because religiosity (blue vMeme) is very low and because most western and northern Europeans are concerned about the environment, recycling, climate change, loss of biodiversity, and are quite socially liberal for such things as LGBT rights, empowerment of women, etc. When considering all this, it is normal to see over 50% of green vMeme values in most of these countries.

Japanese exceptionalism

The percentage of red vMeme in Japan may seem high (11.6%) for such a peaceful country. But let's not forget that it was not so long ago very strongly red, be it in the age of samurai or during the early 20th century militaristic expansionism. Besides, Japan still has gangs (the yakuza) and the Japanese tend to exploit people from developing countries, which is why it got a bad rating for modern slavery. The red vMeme is discreet nowadays, bu it's present. The blue vMeme in Japan is not linked to the belief in god (as Buddhism and Shintoism don't really have any, strictly speaking), but in the Confucian values of discipline, self-sacrifice, respect of elders, and so on.

Spiral Dynamics is particularly difficult to apply to Japanese society due to its unique blend of animistic religion (Shintoism), Buddhism and Confucianism. Animism supposedly corresponds to the purple vMeme, but that is mostly for tribal hunter-gatherers, not modern societies. It is true that many Japanese people believe in the spirits of Nature and in ghosts, but they don't practice magic and curses and the very same people embrace the Confucian values of respect for order, discipline and authority. That's why depending on the survey and the way questions are asked, there may be 69% of Shintoists in Japan or just 3% with 62% of irreligion. Likewise between 30 and 66% of Japanese consider themselves Buddhist, but very few actually practice Buddhist meditation or even know much about Buddhism. No Japanese would think of Confucianism when queried about their religion, yet virtually all of them subscribe to Confucian values. To make it even more complicated, some schools of Japanese Buddhism like Shingon (most common in Shikoku) are a syncretic form of Buddhism and Shintoism known as Shinbutsu-shūgō. With purple Animism, red Mahayana Buddhism, blue Confucianism, orange materialistic consumerism and an increasing green concern for the environment and liberal tolerance, the Japanese tend to blend vMemes like nobody else. It may be the hardest country to classify. That's probably because the concept of Spiral Dynamics was developed with Western and Middle Eastern (Judeo-Christian and Muslim) values and cultural history in mind.
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