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.


Anonymous said...

Very interesting exercise! Only on my third reading of the story (in my effort to answer the question for deltas) did I observe when it happened!

I'm an "IEE." Makes sense if I consider that IEE's/ENFP's aren't known for being clockwatchers, like to approach things unmethodically and at random, and are concerned more with capturing the big picture and essence of something than minding mundane details. I just enthusiastically dove into the story and blasted right by the "last week" part!

Here's what I picked up on 1st reading: the character is concerned with his perception of reality, he was eating a juicy hamburger, and that a fat, lazy cat screeched at him, causing him to ponder his relationship with the cat and, since he didn't know why the cat did that, he questioned his own perception of reality.

On the second reading, I caught that he was eating the hamburger at home (rather than at a restaurant), that the hamburger was probably homemade, and that the cat was his mom's, not his, so he was eating at his mom's house.

Thanks for sharing this experiment!

Anonymous said...

IEE again: Oh, yeah, I forgot to comment above that I also caught on 1st reading the hidden perspective of the "relationship." Of course! IEE's are concerned with relationships/patterns a lot. After the 1st reading, I was asking myself "why," even though the story doesn't explain why the cat screeched at the guy.

Dancing Butterfly Mama said...


I'm IEE too and "the other day" (which I say often) was my answer to when.

And I too was contemplating why the cat screeched. But since the story never said so, I was disappointed and felt it left out the whole point of the story. :) I also of course had my own idea of why. :)

thehotelambush said...

Funny, I could see all the information elements easily except Ti.

The story is a bit too short and fragmentary to make any consistent impression. Depending on the genre, it's probably more engaging for a story to have more prolonged use of an element - though if it goes on for too long, readers may become exhausted (just as with any other activity that involves concentrated use of an element).

It's also interesting to note how it really is easier to transit from, say, Si to Te than from Te to Fe.

And one question: why is "normal" Ti but "bizarre" Ne? They seem to be two sides of the same coin.

Rick said...

>> The story is a bit too short and fragmentary to make any consistent impression. Depending on the genre, it's probably more engaging for a story to have more prolonged use of an element

I'm sure that's a good suggestion. But it will require a lot more effort to do! :)

>> And one question: why is "normal" Ti but "bizarre" Ne? They seem to be two sides of the same coin.

The Ti part was trying to describe repeating behavior and categories. It probably isn't "pure" Ti.