Dec 22, 2007

Socionics Doesn't Matter 95% of the Time

Did the title catch your attention? Yes, socionics does not particularly influence one way or another our interactions with 95% of the people we meet. That's because these people are cashiers at the grocery store, drivers next to us in the parking lot whom we smile at briefly, people online who send us one message, plumbers who drop by to get the grime out of the bathtub drain, etc. 95% or more of the people we encounter in life have no significant influence on our life or psychology. What matters far more than their socionic type for us is that they abide by certain social conventions and don't get in our way.

Socionics becomes generally more important than abiding by social conventions when we talk of meaningful interaction. Some random passenger on the plane who you talk to about everything during an entire transatlantic flight is meaningful interaction. So is the guy at work whose cubicle faces yours and who e-mails you lame jokes. In these situations you have time to build an attitude towards the other person. This becomes especially important if you expect to interact with the person in the future. Your attitude or understanding of the person helps you to decide how to interact with them. In these cases socionics matters.

Comments on Modern Myers-Briggs Typology

This topic has been written about numerous times before, but I will add a few more comments of my own.

Myers-Briggs Typology has thoroughly sided with the current psychological terms "extraversion and introversion" -- which are based not on Jung's work but on Eysenck's -- rather than their original Jungian meanings. Basically, what took place between Jung and Eysenck is that Jung's terms were qualitative, while Eysenck's were quantitative. In the process of quantifying Jung's original concepts, Eysenck "slid" from the original intention to what was most readily measurable, causing a drift in meaning. Here is a brief summary of the terms from Wikipedia:

The trait of Extraversion-Introversion is a central dimension of human personality. Extraverts (sometimes called "extroverts") are gregarious, assertive, and generally seek out excitement. Introverts, in contrast, are reserved, deep in thought, and self-reliant. They are not necessarily asocial, but they tend to have few true friends, and are less likely to thrive on making new social contacts.

Psychological introversion correlates highly with IQ and moderately with socionics introversion, logic, and intuition. For instance, many highly intelligent people behave like the following:

An introverted person is likely to enjoy time spent alone and find less reward in time spent with large groups of people (although they may enjoy one-to-one or one-to-few interactions with close friends). They prefer to concentrate on a single activity at a time and like to observe situations before they participate.

-- because the dominant culture of most groups is foreign to them, and so they have difficulty getting involved and obtaining recognition in the group. However, if you put them in a group that is a better match for them mentally or where mental powers are perceived positively, many or most of them will behave more extravertedly.

Now this aspect of psychological extraversion and introversion seems most like the introverted intuiter types in socionics:

An introvert is energized when alone. Introverts tend to "fade" when with people and can easily become overstimulated with too many others around. Introverts tend to think before speaking. When given the chance, an introvert will sit alone and think rather than talk with someone else.

It is no accident that 75% of Americans are extraverts according to the MBTI. From my socionics perspective, they have taken most reasonably sociable socionic introverts and put them in the 'extravert' category and have taken many or most highly intelligent extraverts and put them in the 'introvert' category. Basically, all high-IQ people who are not in the entertainment industry are Myers-Briggs introverts. By my observations, approximately 50% of Americans are socionic introverts.

Example: the Myers-Briggs INTJ
(See INTJ page at Wikipedia)

Forming just 1% of the population, the MBTI INTJs are a very special lot. What makes them different from the population at large is their independence of thought, creativity, and ability to go against the grain. They are strongly motivated to express themselves creatively and to elaborate complex concepts and intellectual designs. They are "acutely aware of their knowledge and abilities," which leads to great confidence, making them natural leaders.

As you can see, all these traits are highly correlated to high IQ.

The list of "distinguished INTJs" includes great philosophers, statesmen, scientists, and generals. Of the people in the list I know something about or know how socionists usually type them, here are the probable socionic types:

Friedrich Nietzsche -- possibly EIE
Stephen Hawking -- ILE
Niels Bohr -- ILE or ILI
Peter the Great -- SLE or ILE
Ayn Rand -- probably ILE
Isaac Newton -- ILI
Osama bin Laden -- ILE or EIE
Donald Rumsfeld -- LSI or LSE
General Colin Powell -- SLE
Arnold Schwarzenegger -- LSE
Thomas Jefferson -- LII
Ulysses S. Grant -- probably SLI

(Interestingly, most of these people are probably socionic extraverts!)

Based on the INTJ description shown above, it makes sense why each of these might be considered an INTJ. Each of them "did things very differently." What the MBTI has done in the INTJ's case is make high intelligence the essential characteristic of the type rather than functional operation. From a socionics perspective we can see that the direct, action-oriented Schwarzenegger has a completely different functional makeup than the theoretically-minded Isaac Newton. Schwarzenegger , for instance, had no need to conceptualize and lay out all his ideas, and Newton had no need to keep his body in continual motion. For socionics, intelligence and uniqueness are secondary traits whose effects are to be studied within the framework of their functional makeup.

Dec 17, 2007

Why the Reinin Dichotomies Are Trivial

The Reinin Dichotomies (more from are a set of 15 symmetrical dichotomies -- or breakdowns -- of the 16 socionic types. They include the original four dichotomies (sensing/intuition, etc.), which are commonly called the "Jungian Foundation." Now there are 11 more, and more is better, right? More dichotomies = more accuracy?...

When I was first studying socionics, I came across two Reinin dichotomies -- "Positivism/Negativism" and "Questioning/Declaring" -- in the works of Augusta. They were mentioned as basically "additional traits that we have observed" -- a sort of afterthought to the main dichotomies, which she discussed in depth. They seemed to fit me, but they did not offer a whole lot of descriptive power beyond a narrow set of situations such as talking about ideas ("questioning/declaring") or giving evaluations ("positivism/negativism"), so I didn't pay much attention to them. Moreover, they had no theoretical explanation within socionics, so they seemed little different than observations that many extraverted sensing males have a similar balding pattern, etc.

Later I got ahold of Augusta's article The Theory of Reinin's Traits (dichotomies), which offered some prospects, but the descriptions once again were too narrow to be very interesting or useful, and many were simply too obscure to understand. I realized that most of the dichotomies came from applying formal logic to the socionics model to "see what it could do." I read through the descriptions several times, made note for a while of things that seemed to apply to various dichotomies, and gradually paid less and less attention to them.

When I got more involved with the socionics community, I noticed that many, many people were using the Reinin dichotomies in incompetent ways. By incompetent I mean that they took Augusta's or others' hypothetical descriptions at face value and were applying them to online and in-person diagnosis without demonstrating a clear understanding of the Reinin dichotomies or even the original four Jungian dichotomies. There was nothing to suggest that they were achieving greater accuracy; on the contrary, there was even more confusion due to the fact that the Reinin dichotomies -- poorly described as they are -- were being given the same weight as the Jungian dichotomies. Plus, the difficulty of using 15 dichotomies is that only four are needed to determine a type, and using more than that greatly increases the likelihood of contradictory results.

Now I view the Reinin dichotomies as an example of introverted logic excess ("let's see what other structures result if we apply all possible postulates inherent in the original structure"). A sign of this is that it takes a great deal of preparation and thought to understand and begin to apply the Reinin dichotomies, and the "return on investment" is positively miniscule. By comparison, I guarantee that if you invest the same amount of time into studying comparative psychology (the psychology of animals), neuropsychology, or brain chemistry, you will gain a much greater amount of useful knowledge and insight than from the Reinin dichotomies.

But do the Reinin dichotomies "exist?" In other words, are there common traits among the types that are grouped in such a manner? I would say -- possibly, to some extent, but the commonalities are trivial -- basically not worth paying attention to. For instance, take any of the Jungian dichotomies. These dichotomies affect all areas of a person's life and operate whether a person is speaking or not, in a good or bad mood, etc. In addition, when a person must use the opposite axis of a dichotomy, he conveys a sense of 1) displeasure, 2) strain, 3) incompetence and/or inconfidence, 4) indifference, or 5) submissiveness and willingness to agree -- depending on the specific situation. Can the same be said about the Reinin dichotomies? Also, Model A and the basic four dichotomies describe ways of processing information. Is this true of the Reinin dichotomies -- for example, of questioning/declaring or aristocrat/democrat? I would argue that it isn't.

Suppose the Reinin dichotomies really were just as significant as the Jungian dichotomies. Then we would recognize a questioner even when he's not speaking. When forced to give answers to questions rather than ask questions, we would see signs of strain, etc. Or we would recognize strain when a negativist gives positive evaluations of things. However, this is not the case.

Newcomers to socionics are bombarded with excessive categories, and many or most do not recognize right off that not all the categories have equal value. Some are the product of empirical processes (lengthy observation undertaken by many people) and are the bread and butter of both lifestyle and interpersonal interaction. Others are mainly the product of logical thought, are the source of constant debate, have an imperceptible influence on lifestyle, and may or may not have an influence on interpersonal interaction. I can guarantee that if a newcomer to socionics never heard about the Reinin dichotomies, this would not hurt his ability to apply socionics one bit.

Dec 6, 2007

Examples of Vulnerable Function Fixations

(continuation of previous post)

As you can see, fixations can be self-justifying or self-destructive. Every fixation in real life is quite specific; those listed below just indicate general areas where fixations can form.

ILE: "I will prove to them that I am nice to everyone" or "I will prove that I am a blundering ass"
SEI: "I will prove to them that I can be highly productive" or "I will prove that I am useless"
ESE: "I will prove to them that I can foresee events" (??) or "I will prove that I have no foresight"
LII: "I will prove to them that I can be nasty and aggressive" or "I will prove that I am defenseless"
EIE: "I will prove to them that I am healthy" or "I will prove that I am sick"
LSI: "I will prove to them that I see the whole picture" or "I will prove that I am narrow-minded"
SLE: "I will prove to them that I am nice" or "I will prove that I am heartless"
IEI: "I will prove to them that I can make money" or "I will prove that I am destitute"
SEE: "I will prove to them that I can follow rules" or "I will prove that I am unable to follow rules"
ILI: "I will prove to them that I have emotions" or "I will prove that I don't feel anything"
LIE: "I will prove to them that I am healthy and fit" or "I will prove that I am can't maintain my health"
ESI: "I will prove to them that I have potential" or "I will prove that I have no talents"
LSE: "I will prove to them that I know what's going to happen" or "I will prove that I have no thought for the future"
EII: "I will prove to them that I am disciplined" or "I will prove that I am hopelessly scattered"
IEE: "I will prove to them that I am logical" or "I will prove that I am illogical"
SLI: "I will prove to them that I am happy" or "I will prove that I am depressed"

A healthy vulnerable function isn't out to prove anything, but serves primarily as an area for personal reflection.

Vulnerable Function Fixations and Their Resolution

Excessive focus on the vulnerable (4th) function can lead to a sort of mental paralysis or unhealthy obsession that robs the individual of his spontaneity and ability to interact with others effectively. The person feels like he must prove something to the world and defend his right to exist on this planet. An intense, prolongued focus can probably lead to severe psychological problems. Most likely the solution (if the problem is not yet too severe) is to have the person move to a more favorable environment with "better" socionic types and responsibilities that activate his Ego and Super-Id functions more, thus drawing away focus from his unhealthy fixations.

Here are some different scenarios that create long-term distress for the vulnerable function, and their possible resolution:

Someone in your immediate family or social or professional circles constistently criticizes you for not meeting their standards/expectations in the area of your vulnerable function and lets their opinion be known publicly. The situation is compounded severely if this person has a higher position of authority and you are somehow dependent on him or her.


  • An ESI parent criticizes an SLE child for being unkind and heartless and for being unable to get along with others.
  • An LII criticizes an IEE for his ideological (political, religious, etc.) views and constantly reminds him publicly of the disagreement.
  • Professionally oriented parents expect their SEI child to make wise professional choices based on financial and career prospects and stick to those decisions and criticize him for doing otherwise.
  • No one believes that a LSE's business activities will lead anywhere, and they criticize him for trying to accomplish things too fast and not seeing all the intermediate steps that must be done first.

The "victim" has a deep sense that he or she has been wrongly judged and must correct the misunderstanding in order to continue his life. However, each attempt to explain the true situation to the "offender" fails, because the offender cannot see what the person is trying to get at, simply does not try hard enough to understand, or quickly forgets the point the "victim" was trying to make and repeats the criticism again later. If this continues long enough or if there are more than one person making the same criticism, the victim may feel like the whole world is against him and that he must prove to them that they are wrong about him. Then the person begans carrying the issue around him and "proving" it to people who couldn't care less, which makes them lose interest in him and alienates him even more.


  • The SLE talks to everyone about interpersonal ethics and tries to prove that interaction should be based on extraverted sensing (for instance, challenging other people, making demands on them to see if they can perform them, and testing one's strength and will with those of others), not introverted ethics (for instance, being sensitive to people's feelings, avoiding potential sore spots, and distancing oneself from people with whom conflicts may arise). Obviously, few people will sympathize with this kind of viewpoint, so the more the SLE focuses on it, the fewer people like him. If the SLE makes agreement with this viewpoint a criterion for friendship, he will end up with few friends. The fixation on ethical issues leaves him unable to be spontaneous with his creative introverted logic (generating logical reasoning off the top of his head for fun and being playfully combative in logical arguments, which is typical for SLEs), which is an SLE's key to establishing contact with other people.
  • The IEE talks to everyone about his disagreements with the LII, trying to pick apart the LII's logical errors from a broader perspective and show that he is wrong, even when listeners aren't really interested in their disagreements. Since defining, elaborating, and defending viewpoints is not an IEE's strong point, the more he focuses on this, the less likeable he becomes to other people. Instead of the spontaneous, mild, and fun and accepting person that he could and "should" be, people begin to see him as an ideologically preoccupied person who is not much fun to be around. (Incidentally, LIIs -- who are naturally more ideologically focused than IEEs -- can forget about ideology in a second and respond to emotionally playful and engaging activities that have nothing to do with ideology. When an IEE is ideologically focused, however, it seems like a fixation, because the person does not respond well to other kinds of signals.) The fixation with introverted logic keeps the IEE from seeing the people around him and responding creatively to the emotional canvas of each situation he is in (in short, creative introverted ethics).
  • The SEI talks to everyone about how life is not just about work and production, but also about enjoyment and following one's true desires. This is a mundane assertion to many people, and the more the SEI focuses on criticizing all people who value their corporate positions and who think first about financial and career benefits, the less people around him are able to sympathize with him and the more it seems like he has a chip on his shoulder. This "campaign" against "bad extraverted logic" saps the SEI of emotional energy that is better spent having fun and generating lively and stimulating interaction (extraverted ethics) with others, which is the SEI's main tool for building relationships with others.
  • The LSE tells everyone of his business plans and how he is sure to achieve his objectives despite what other people say. He talks to others about his chosen way of making money and tries to prove that it really has great financial prospects. Most people aren't that interested, though, and wonder why he is pushing the issue so much. The LSE may seem obsessed and unhealthily single-minded, as if his whole plan for life depended on a single undertaking that seems like a gamble to most other people. This over-focus on what he believes his activities will lead to (introverted intuition) leaves him unable to sufficiently focus on satisfying real needs that have already surfaced (introverted sensing), which is an LSE's greater strength. And if an LSE can't do that, then he has little basis to build relationships with other people.

NOTE: Here I have described situations where the "victim" tries to fight and disprove the criticism. However, sometimes people react the opposite way -- by purposely neglecting the criticized area. For instance, the SLE becoming even more mean and heartless, the IEE giving up all attempts to logically express his views, the SEI purposely doing unproductive things, or the LSE ignoring all preliminary steps even more than before. Ultimately, this drives others away just like the fixations described above.

The victim physically and emotionally distances himself from the offenders and gets involved with people from his own quadra who help to straighten out his values and self-perception and stimulate him to focus on his real strengths. Gradually the vulnerable function fixation dissipates, and over time the former "victim" recognizes the fixation and learns how to avoid such situations in the future.


  • The SLE moves away from home and gets involved with friends from his quadra who help him to see that it's more important to be fun, exciting, and vocal than nice and sensitive (extraverted ethics value vs. introverted ethics value) and who accept his challenging interaction style and welcome his logical abilities. Over time the SLE builds up his own rules of thumb for interacting with other people that are based on things like considering the logic of the situation (introverted logic = what kind of situation it is, what position each participant occupies within the situation, etc.) and welcoming and responding to displays of emotion whenever they come up. This helps him to ultimately address the introverted ethics weakness his parent had criticized and find the correct place for introverted ethics in his life while not focusing on it directly.
  • The IEE distances himself physically from the LII and gets emotionally involved with friends who help him to see that it's more important to be productive and get things done effectively than to have the most correctly systematized point of view (extraverted logic value vs. introverted logic value) and who value his spontaneous insights and bring out the friendly and emotional side in him. Over time the IEE builds up his own rules of thumb for dealing with differences of opinion and logical disputes based on an understanding of the emotional aspect of the situation (introverted ethics helps to recognize when the emotional distance is suitable for a deep discussion of viewpoints and when it is unsuitable) and attaching more value to discussions that lead to productive cooperation. This helps him to ultimately address the introverted logic insufficiencies the LII and others had noted and find the correct place for introverted logic in his life while not focusing on it directly.
  • The SEI moves away from his parents and finds a more accepting social group that is fun to be in and helps him to see that it's more important to have a systematized concept of your activities than to try to obtain profit from everything (introverted logic value vs. extraverted logic value), and who value his relaxed and fun-loving nature more than his attempts at productivity. The SEI comes to realize he is liked more for his ability to get people involved and emotionally enlivened. Over time the SEI builds up his own rules of thumb for making professional choices based not on a direct profit-loss analysis but on an understanding of the emotional implications of his decisions and the positive support that organizational systems provide in his life (extraverted ethics and introverted logic focus over extraverted logic). By being part of a logical system where he also has fun and enjoys himself, he is able to resolve the productivity issues he had before and be part of a group that will take partial responsibility for his professional decisions.
  • The LSE gets involved more closely with types with strong extraverted intuition and introverted ethics who help him to see that it's more important to develop your personal potential (interests and talents) than to choose the right high-potential enterprise and put all your eggs in one basket (extraverted intuition value vs. introverted intuition value) and who value his ability to get useful things done. By considering different new and interesting areas that show potential, the LSE comes to realize that he had closed himself off to many interesting possibilities and had been ignoring tangible needs and achievable goals for the sake of a single illusory goal. By having strong extraverted intuition types around him, the LSE can safely shift his focus from trying to see into the future to useful activities that satisfy real needs while being sure that others near him are picking up on high-potential areas of development and can give him the tips he needs to not fall behind the times.

Dec 5, 2007

Experimental Text

At the recent socionics seminar in Düsseldorf, Germany I tried out an idea I had had about reading people a story containing all information aspects and then asking them questions to see which of the aspects they were better able to catch from the story. I was skeptical about the idea in the first place but decided to try it for fun. I composed the story myself and have been changing a few words here and there to improve it. It is meant to be read aloud just once:

A Story
A bizarre incident happened just last week which overturned by perception of reality and still has me puzzled to this day. I was chomping greedily on a thick, juicy hamburger -- the kind where the grease drips onto your plate with each bite and the lettuce keeps getting up your nose. By the way, by far the best ground beef for homemade burgers can be bought right across the street for just 3 Euros a kilogram and is supplied fresh daily. So I was blissfully biting into my burger when my cat gave a heart-rending screech and began hissing violently and grimacing at me like a maniac. Normally, my cat -- which is a pure-bred Siamese -- lies all day on its Persian rug, getting up just 4 or 5 times daily to take a walk around the house. He's such a lazy bum that I sometimes can barely control my urge to fling his fat, furry ass out the window or at least have my mother haul him away. My sweet mum has a tender spot in her heart for cats and other soft, furry creatures and is able to make even the most embittered pets feel welcome and at home. Ever since this mysterious occurence, I have had the strange sense that my cat is moving in a different direction in life, and our future together seems ever more uncertain.

(while not perfectly done, each sentence was intended to focus on a particular information aspect in the following order:
extraverted intuition, introverted sensing, extraverted logic, extraverted ethics, introverted logic, extraverted sensing, introverted ethics, introverted intuition)

Participants were asked to write their answers to the following questions without consulting anyone else:

  • (general question): What is this story about (your own interpretation)?
  • (extraverted intuition) When did this take place and why?
  • (introverted sensing) Describe the hamburger.
  • (extraverted logic) Where and for how much does the author recommend getting ground beef, and why?
  • (extraverted ethics) What did the cat do, and how?
  • (introverted logic) What kind of cat is it and what is its usual behavior?
  • (extraverted sensing) What does the author want to do with the cat, and why?
  • (introverted ethics) What does the author's mum do and why?
  • (introverted intuition) What does the author feel as a result of this event?

There were a number of interesting answers from listeners that showed that they had ignored certain aspects of the story or had added something that wasn't there, but for the most part answers were not very differentiated and thus not very informative.

One participant noted a possible hidden extraverted intuition introverted ethics perspective that theoretically shouldn't have been there; the story is about a realization concerning a relationship. Another participant noted that he wasn't able to focus on all the details in the story because they seemed to have no point in the plot.

This type of test is interesting because it aims to get at differences in the perception of information that make types different in the first place. However, new approaches need to be tried to find something that will effectively differentiate between types.