Mar 27, 2007

Extraverted Intuition in Society

Society is a differentiated entity. It contains love, war, caring, aggression, invention, traditionalism, and all other traits found in humans. These traits tend to collect in pockets. If you go into the academic world, you'll find a higher concentration of traits such as strict rational thinking and a lower concentration of traits such as comradery and tenderness than in the population at large. If you enter the world of night clubs, you will find a high concentration of sexuality and a low concentration of rational thinking. Society has places where every human characteristic we have in us finds its full expression. (Stable communities with pockets of certain traits form the sociopsychological realms I talked about yesterday). This applies to information aspects as well.

So, where do we find pockets of extraverted intuition in society?

Concentrations of extraverted intuition are to be found wherever something big is just beginning and the outcome is unknown. "Big" is a subjective concept; it can apply to both an important new theory that might change the way the world views things and to a new acquaintance that might lead to something important later on. At any rate, we are talking about the beginning of things that will cause changes in the outside world, as opposed to internal or invisible, qualitative changes. A new business will be created; a new couple will form; popular conceptions will be overturned. We see pockets of extraverted intuition wherever these things are about to happen. More specifically, this means more people of extraverted intuition types paying close attention to and trying to participate in new developments.

Ironically, as soon as what was expected to happen actually materializes, or the outcome becomes known, the extraverted intuition energy and attention dissipates and heads elsewhere (essentially, extraverted intuition types stop paying attention). If what has been created is a visible, tangible asset that can be owned or taken away, extraverted sensing congregates. If the result is a technology or reliable means of production, extraverted logic gathers. If the outcome is a fun, exciting, or emotionally moving activity, extraverted ethics comes to the forefront.

The race of extraverted intuition against introverted logic in socionics.
I've already discussed the integral type of socionics. So far, extraverted intuition is in the lead. Important connections and insights have been made, but the theory is raw, unfinished, and sometimes contradictory. Many people think something "big" might be done with socionics, but no one knows for sure. As long as this outcome remains unclear, and new insights and connections are being added to socionics faster than existing connections have been formalized and fully integrated into the theory, extraverted intuition is winning. As soon as the introverted logic "termites" crunch through and digest all the existing material and even reach the most recent insights, introverted logic will win out. In the article I linked to above, I discussed the possibility of the integral type of socionics shifting to LII or LSI as socionics reaches the limits of its expansion and applicability.

If introverted logic ever happened to become the primary focus of socionics, it would take a long and convoluted evolution before extraverted intuition became dominant again, if ever. This is because the extraverted intuition types would have mostly left the field or stopped investing energy in it. Something very important would have to change in the external situation to create fundamentally new opportunities for the field to the degree that the surge of extraverted intuition interest would overpower introverted logic traditions.

The same thing that happens on an organizational level happens on the individual level as well. For instance, as soon as I stop writing down new insights (or mental connections) and begin restructuring and reworking old ones, the extraverted intuition emphasis disappears and is usually replaced by extraverted logic (creating material that "works better" for the user) or introverted logic (improving logical consistency and clarity).

As we can see, we are unwitting tools in the hands of larger-scale processes. Each of us is unconsciously drawn into performing certain tasks of group significance that go far beyond our own physical survival, based on our socionic type and other personal traits.

Back to pockets of extraverted intuition in society...
Obviously, every field and activity imaginable will have at least some minor concentration of extraverted intuition somewhere in it, as there is potential for at least some significant change or potentially interesting outcomes in every community or system at certain moments in its development. For example, if we take the field of oil drilling, at the dawn of the oil era extraverted intuition was likely focused on imagining how much oil there was and whether it could be used for anything. As it became clear that oil was a useful resource, extraverted intuition focused on making contacts between businessmen interested in developing the oil industry that might lead to future partnerships and breakthroughs. As oil drilling became a common practice, extraverted intuition shifted to trying to guess where else there might be oil around the world. Today, extraverted intuition is preoccupied with what will happen when the oil runs out and what alternative energy sources might be developed.

Mar 26, 2007

Sociopsychological Realms

I'm continuing the digression from socionics with a very important and interesting topic that relates to social psychology, personal development, and integral socionic types.

I'd like to talk about formal and informal communities of people that exist for some purpose. I don't know if there is a name for these things in psychological literature. Thinker Igor Kalinauskas calls them "sociopsychological realms" (my translation). This is a somewhat broader concept than religions and teachings, which I discussed earlier. It can also include communities that don't have a strong ideological or spiritual component, such as the community of boxing or the community of foreign service diplomats. Even families and closely-knit groups of relatives form such communities. And, within large communities you will always find smaller-scale communities with unique variations on the overall community culture.

People within such communities share a common purpose, common experience, common values, and a common basis for humor and mutual understanding. Strangers from the same sociopsychological realm easily find a common language with strangers from their community and tend to find them quickly in the mob. Certain attitudes, words, appearance, or demeanor give them away.

One's belonging to various sociopsychological realms has a powerful influence on one's self-concept. The "skeleton" of self-concept seems to be one's awareness of belonging to various social groups, with the "flesh" being one's awareness of how one differs from other members of these groups. (This is just my personal definition, though!).

Belonging to certain sociopsychological realms shapes one's values and behavior, but personality also influences one's choice of communities. People with physical, mental, and personality traits that differ significantly from the norm have a higher chance of ending up in a sociopsychological realm that embraces those traits than do people with an average degree of these traits. In the criminal community, you will find a higher frequency of antisocial individuals than in the population at large, but not all antisocial people end up in the criminal community. Likewise, not all people in the criminal community are antisocial. It is simply a statistical tendency.

If you are a member of a sociopsychological realm that devalues intellectualism, the chances of you leaving it are greater the more intellectual you are by nature. However, you will still encounter many "flukes" - for instance, highly intellectual people in communities that shun intellectualism, meek and unabrasive people in communities that welcome aggression and brute strength, etc. Going back to statistics, even people who are two standard deviations or more from the norm on the bell curve still make up 5% of each population.

That is, just because you are an abrasive, aggressive, and possessive individual by nature does not mean that we will necessarily find you in the sociopsychological realms of top managers, compulsive gamblers, or football players. We might find you in the community of Born-Again Christians, Cultural Catholics, opera singers, or... socionists.

Nonetheless, the chances of you rising to the top of the ladder and becoming a formal or informal spokesman for the community is higher in sociopsychological realms that are built upon traits that are innate to you. That is why someone like Mike Tyson is a boxing icon and Richard Dawkins is a symbol of Neodarwinism, and not vice versa. It seems important to self-realization to be a member of at least one sociopsychological realm where you can rise to prominence.

Boundaries of sociopsychological realms
Boundaries are a very important characteristic of any community. Any purpose that unites people also implies boundaries between the community and the rest of the world. If you and I are both fans of stock market investment, getting together to talk about our common interest does not yet make a community. But if we make a pact to work together in some way and achieve some joint goal, we have taken the first steps towards creating a small-scale sociopsychological realm. If we involve others in our activities, form a company, and articulate our company goals and philosophy, internal discipline, and work methods, a community is born that has clear boundaries, goals, and values.

As boundaries solidify, so does community spirit. Our community is better than others (or else why would we be in it?). Our competitors are our enemies. Friction arises as our community rubs up against that of others, even if these "neighboring" communities are remarkably similar to our own. Snowboarders are skiers' worst enemies - not rugby players or country music lovers!

Internal boundaries
In decent-sized communities, there are usually sub-communities or different "schools of thought" within the community that vie for dominance. This mirrors the biological world, where intra-species competition is often no less fierce and brutal than competition between species. Many communities end up finding the "enemy within" - people whose behavior seems to endanger the community mainstream. In any event, every sociopsychological realm has its idea of "bad behavior" that must be fought. In a religious community, this may be insufficient religious devotion, inactivity, indifference, or incorrect interpretations of scripture. In a mountain biking community, it may be people who buy cheap bikes or ride too slowly.

Each sociopsychological realm tries to submit its members to some kind of internal discipline.

Community ideals
Each sociopsychological realm has its "heaven," "hell," and "patron saints." Heaven is the ideal outcome of one's activities in the community. Hell is the lamentable situation people outside the community often end up in. Patron saints are the community's idols.

I'm not an expert on boxing, but in the boxing world heaven would probably be becoming a boxing champ and continuing on as a trainer of successful boxers. Hell would be the wimpy and listless life that most of the rest of humanity lives. Mohammed Ali is a patron saint.

In socionics, heaven is having a crystal-clear understanding of socionic concepts and models and being able to apply them to various situations. Also, typing well and quickly, maybe publishing some books and teaching courses, and making a name for oneself in the socionics community. Hell is the state of ignorance and bad relationships that many people who don't know about socionics endure. Patron saints are Gulenko, Augusta, etc. - whoever you read with the greatest pleasure.

In most religions, these concepts take on a more concrete meaning, but the general idea is the same, isn't it?

Choosing and switching sociopsychological realms
Some communities we just "fall into" by virtue of being born in a particular country and into a particular family with particular political, religious, and professional values. Others we grow into as we mature and develop particular skills and interests. Abandoning a sociopsychological realm and joining another one is a major event that does not happen that frequently. When it does, it is accompanied by a major shift in self-concept, values, and even behavior.

Often, these switches are a good thing, especially if one moves from a community that resonated less with his innate traits to one that resonates more with them. This can be a landmark experience of "finding oneself." Living outside of any sociopsychological realm seems to be impossible, and if one leaves one realm, one inevitably finds oneself in another, even if it is less clearly defined.

Mar 13, 2007

More Insights on Communities from "The Economics of Religion"

A blog reader gave me this link with an interesting discussion titled "the economics of religion." It's over an hour long, but provides a viewpoint that complements what I have written about religions, teachings, and movements at this blog.

First of all, let me say that economics is basically a extraverted logic view of human behavior. The core assumption of economics is that human behavior is fundamentally rational (i.e. serves a useful purpose). Economics takes a few basic working ideas and discovers many applications, while fields such as socionics have complicated ideas with few applications :)

Generalizing from religions to communities
The speakers demonstrate quite well that from a functional standpoint, religions are not much different from other forms of closely-knit communities. Each long-standing, closely-knit community takes on certain habits, language, and values that distinguish its members from other communities. "In return" for adopting these key features - which often involve sacrifices of some kind - members of the community gain emotional and material rewards. They obtain a social "safety net" that satisfies their need to belong, can count on others' comradery and loyalty, and often even receive much-needed material assistance at crucial moments. This is true not only of religious congregations, but also of closely-knit academic, ideological, and professional communities.

One aspect of religion that an economic approach - as well as my socionic approach - does not address is the specific content of religious and other teachings. In other words, these approaches can say nothing about which religious teachings are better than others, which academic or ideological hypotheses are more correct, etc.

Community superiority
An attribute of all close-knit communities is that their members tend to believe that their community is better than others. This can be a feeling of intellectual superiority, a sense that one's group is more emotionally cohesive or more powerful than other groups, or a belief that one's community provides the single possibly way to heaven/good health/a drug-free life/an optimal psychological state/etc.. Community members, having "chosen" their group over competing groups, must establish some rationale for their choice. No one wants to feel like they're members of a random community. Fanatical communities simply take this feeling of superiority to a greater level than the average group.

Transcendent community experience
The speakers mention the "transcendent" aspect of religions and many other communities - for example, sports fans. People often have a transcendent ("trans-personal," or "supra-individual") experience at sporting events as they watch the game. For some reason, people have a need to be a part of something greater than themselves.

Some people might add that one can experience transcendent feelings without belonging to any community - as a result of personal religious practice or other personal experiences. In this case, you're experiencing not oneness with other members of the community, but with the divine, with nature, with the universe, etc. I can't argue with this, but it seems that most people are drawn to experience oneness with other people more than with these other things. Such people form the core of nearly every community.

Competition between communities
In the case of most communities and religions, if my team wins, yours loses (or, if my religion is true, yours is false). This is called a "zero-sum game." In addition to serving members' needs, communities are also units of external competition that try to withstand the pressure of competing communities and maintain and extend their own influence. We can probably assume that if for some reason humans did not believe in God, they would still form communities of adherence, commitment, and mutual assistance that would functionally differ little from religions.

I found the hypothesis interesting that a free society - where people are allowed to establish communities as they please - spawns "more competitive" religions (and by analogy, communities of other types) than closed societies where communities are established by the state. This seems intuitively to be the case, and it is clear that western religions have been much more successful in entering the post-Soviet and Asian markets than have Asian and Eastern European religions in opening up the American market.

Communities' different routes (or information aspects?)
Another interesting statement in the discussion is that all these communities provide similar "services" to their members, but use different means to do so. It's like filling the stomach: some people do it through complex hunting rituals, some people carefully grow different kinds of plants, and some people practice medicine in exchange for food. Religious and other closely-knit communities also differ markedly in the way they satisfy members' needs to belong, be provided for, and transcend the limits of their own ego. I think my descriptions of the socionic aspects of religions and spiritual teachings reflect these different routes pretty well. The economists mentioned different routes, but they did not describe them in any kind of structured way as socionics can.

Community founders and leaders
Another important aspect is the role of the community founder or leader that I discussed in a previous post. Founders of communities such as religions, teachings, or movements seem to have a more incessant need to do things their own way than other people. The need is strong enough that these people are able to do and say things differently even if they are the only ones doing it. Perhaps they have less fear of ostracism, are less considerate of others, or are more self-absorbed than the average person. These leaders draw others who like the way he or she does things, but might not have dared to do it, or wouldn't have thought of doing it, on their own. Some of the followers are leader types themselves who drop by to learn before continuing on their way.

This kind of leadership I'm referring to isn't necessarily a quality that society looks up to or even approves of. A "leader" in the common, positive sense of the word is not the same thing as a person who creates a new community. Nice folks like Carl Rogers and Mother Teresa were founders or leaders of communities, but so were hard nuts like Ayn Rand and Stalin. Each of these people ignored the status quo and did their own thing, taking away territory from existing communities in the process.

Your average manager at work is probably not a person who founds a new community after his own image and likeness. Communities can be of any size, and he might lead a community of friends who gets together to fish on Sundays, but here we're talking about larger-scale communities that bring together strangers. The stronger one's need to do things one's own way, the larger the community one creates.

Speaking of "incessant needs," we're obviously referring to qualities related to one's leading functions. These are the areas where one is most likely to insist on satisfying one's needs in original ways. Try finding a extraverted intuition type who is conservative in extraverted intuition and insistently creative with extraverted sensing to the point of creating a extraverted sensing based community. It doesn't happen. A extraverted intuition type with a strong interest in or talent for typically extraverted sensing things might create a extraverted intuition niche in a extraverted sensing community, but he won't create the extraverted sensing community in the first place.

For an example from socionics, we can look at Gulenko's "Humanitarian Socionics" community. Gulenko himself is LII, but his community seems like it would be centered on ethics, but that's just the name of his school. In reality, the whole spirit of the community is introverted logic.

I'm beginning to ramble, so I'll end here.

Socionics and Careers

I'll start off this topic with a question: Which of the following would provide the greatest assistance when making a career choice?

a) a socionic type test
b) the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory
c) the Keirsey Temperament Sorter
d) a career preference test

I hope you chose d) ! That is correct. Of these, the socionics test would be least useful, and the MBTI and Keirsey test somewhere in between. Why is that?

The career preference test will give you results specifically related to careers, based on questions about various work activities. The socionics test will have neither of these. Keirsey and the MBTI are more predictive of career choices because, compared to Jung's "original typology," the Myers-Briggs and Keirsey typologies have over time become more closely associated with professional behavior and professions (especially in Keirsey's case) than was true in Jung's time (essentially, I'm claiming their type distributions and type definitions have drifted). This is probably due to the high demand in the U.S. for all kinds of business applications (the U.S. has a extraverted logic dominant culture).

Socionic type, in comparison, has less relation to profession. Why this is the case has been discussed indirectly in my article "Socionics and Evolution" in the "Group Strategies" section. Each profession consists not only of individual specialists who are performing work unique to the profession, but also all sorts of auxiliary functions, as well as complex relationships between all people and work functions involved. When we think of a profession like "physicist," we usually think of someone who looks like this. However, what about all the physicists who do this? In almost every profession there are different roles that require different capabilities. In each industry (such as the medical industry, or the film industry) the range of roles is yet greater.

The irony of career counseling is that most of today's careers really aren't that different. Most people don't become "physicists" or "teachers" or "artists." Most people end up doing some sort of office work. Where is the career preference test that gives you a realistic answer: "you are best suited for general administration work that involves sitting at a computer, creating and editing Word and Excel documents, writing several dozen e-mails a day, and attending the occasional meeting or luncheon. Some kind of auxiliary skill - such as legal knowledge, programming abilities, or tax expertise - may prove worthwhile." It seems that there is a discrepancy between what we are "best suited for" and what we actually end up doing. This is because the economy exists to produce goods and services, and not to ensure the self-realization of all participants :)

So, if socionic type is not very predictive (or not predictive enough) of profession, can it be used in career counseling at all? Probably not, in my opinion. It would be better to use traditional instruments such as career preference tests, and then talk to an experienced and talented counselor who can recognize your strengths, interests, and preferences and help you to formulate them.

However, socionics could be useful after one has chosen one's profession and is trying to find one's niche within the field - assuming that one is essentially satisfied with one's choice of profession. For example, one-on-one counseling with an experienced socionist could be useful for artists and actors who are trying to find their "voice," or for managers and other professionals who are trying to develop the work style that works best for them. For such cases, I can't think of anything more insightful than socionics.

Mar 9, 2007

Typing Religions, Teachings, and Movements: Socionics

Let's see how far we can take this approach by trying to analyze socionics, which is not a religion, not quite a teaching, but certainly a movement. Note that, just as in the previous two cases, we are not actually examining the specific content of the literature - or doctrine, as the case may be - but are looking for information emphases in the field as a social entity, or group of practicioners.

Aushra Augusta, the founder of socionics, was an ILE, and this has been decisive for the field's development. Augusta discovered a logical system and formulated its key principles, but left much work undone. After her main period of work on socionics, she drifted into esoterism, and I know nothing about her post-socionics development - only that it is outside the realm of contemporary socionics. For most ILEs, the search is never over...

The initial period of socionics' development in Vilnius, Lithuania was highly extraverted intuition oriented. Participants of her "brainstorm group" were involved in an exciting process of searching for and testing new ideas. This doesn't mean that only extraverted intuition types enjoyed the process, though! People of many different types were involved.

Some of these people went on to become socionists, and a few are still active today. Other early enthusiasts from other cities - Kiev, St. Petersburg, and others - are now the old-timers of today's socionics. Some of the early figures have discontinued their activities, and some have parted ways after bitter disputes. This mirrors the kind of early-stage development that religious movements experience. I would guess the same thing happens in movements of all kinds. The only difference is that in religious movements the losing parties are usually threatened with damnation. In other movements the stakes aren't as high.

One of the early ambitious followers was Aleksandr Bukalov (ILE), who formed the International Institute of Socionics in Kiev. This is the most dominant socionics entity today and retains the ILE spirit. The institute prints a number of journals with articles on all sorts of speculative and open-ended topics, in addition to socionics. There are plenty of other socionics groups and organizations with a different atmosphere and emphasis, but the institute remains the most influential and is the most natural heir to Aushra Augusta, who died two years ago.

Now, socionics isn't a spiritual teaching, but we'll see that this doesn't make our typing principles at all irrelevant. If we look at the socionics "culture" that expresses itself whenever socionists of any level get together at formal and informal gatherings, we see very clear information emphases. We'll use the same process as for the previous two examples.

extraverted intuition: Ever-present. Intriguing ideas that might lead to new insight or connections are valued everywhere. Most of the time you get the impression that people and the group as a whole are searching for something that they hope to find, but might not.

extraverted sensing: Not at all emphasized, except for the occasional SEE speech about how to "conquer" the opposite sex using socionics.

extraverted logic: Not at all emphasized. If people ever do anything "productive" with socionics, it's only on the periphery of the field or within small teams of like-minded socionists who are developing some joint project. Otherwise, this aspect is mostly left out of discussion at gatherings.

extraverted ethics: Quite emphasized. Not as a "religious" experience of course, but the process of trying out new ideas and hypotheses on each other is seen as a fun activity that brings people together.

introverted intuition: Hard to imagine that this is at all emphasized in the community as a whole.

introverted sensing: Aspects of introverted sensing such as diet and physical exercises are rarely mentioned, but introverted sensing is present in the assumption that people are applying socionics to attain balance and health in their lives. At times socionic factors (one's type or the intertype relations one is in) have been related to physiological processes, one's state of health, and disease. This suggests a latent introverted sensing value.

introverted logic: Heavily emphasized. Even at informal socionics gatherings where people are out to enjoy themselves, people discuss socionics concepts to try to understand them better. People ask each other, "Have you read this? Have you read that?" Discussion of conceptual systems is part of the common language of socionics enthusiasts everywhere.

introverted ethics: There is a sort of implied value of introverted ethics, since socionics is about relationships, but in actuality little attention is given to one's treatment of others. Heated arguments are common at socionics gatherings, and it is common for people to type each other without considering how it will affect other people's feelings (a reflection of introverted logic valued above introverted ethics).

As is the case with the spiritual teachings discussed in previous posts, all information aspects can be found in sub-groups of socionics. However, when people from different sub-groups get together, the overall group information emphasis takes over, and they revert to the "language" of the general group.

Might socionics ever become an introverted system?
I can easily imagine this happening some day. The most likely result would be a LII or LSI integral type. This would happen if the search ever stopped for some reason - for example, if some new, promising fields appeared which overlapped with socionics and drew away people who were in the searching mode. Or, socionics might reach a dead-end of sorts, which would cause extraverted intuition and other extraverted types to leave earlier than others. Those who are most attached to and identify most with specifically socionic concepts would stay and form the new core of the movement. Among these, introverted logic types would probably dominate.