Dec 8, 2008

Clarifying "Quadra Values"

"Quadra values" is one of many socionics terms that is repeated often and yet understood litte. I would like to venture a technological explanation of the term that will also help to clarify some of the roots of intertype relations.

Everyone acknowledges all socionic functions and believes they have a rightful place in life. For instance, who would object that people in a competition are trying to beat each other? Or who believes that people should never get mushy and sentimental when they're in love with someone? Or that people whose job it is to forecast should not speculate? No one objects when Alex Trebek (Jeopardy game show) bluntly tells people on his show that they are "incorrect." These are approaches that are inherent to the activity.

Thus, if your conflictor is ESE and you are exposed to him or her using extraverted ethics in an extraverted ethics situation, it probably won't bother you, even though extraverted ethics is your "vulnerable function." What will bother you are uses of extraverted ethics in ambiguous situations or, even more importantly, in situations where you feel a different approach is more justified.

What differs fundamentally among quadras and types are responses to situations where a socionic function is being used outside the inherent domain of that function. For example, being robotlike in an interpersonal situation that demands sympathy and warmth, or appealing to personal sentiments in the context of scientific discourse. Or being overly individualistic and attention-getting when cooperation and trustworthiness are called for. If Alex Trebek continued to routinely tell people they are incorrect outside of his game show, many people would view him as being callous and rude (however, most duals will probably view this is a sign of admirable honesty and sincerity), even though it is perfectly acceptable in the context of Jeopardy.

Basically, if the function that is "overstepping" its bounds belongs to the quadra values (the four valued functions of the quadra, corresponding to the four base functions represented in the quadra), it is viewed as a "minor weakness," a "good joke," or a "sign of sincerity." If the function, however, is not among the quadra values (i.e. is one of the four "suppressed" functions), then overstepping the natural bounds of that function is viewed as "showing off," or as something counterproductive, malicious, or even sinister. 

Naturally, people view their own leading function as the most benign thing in the world and don't see anything wrong with applying it freely to just about anything. Then comes the suggestive function, which they may learn to grant the same range of expression (in others, at least) as they grant themselves in their leading function. Everything else, though, needs to be cropped, caged, and harnessed to make way for the free expression of these functions. So, while an ILE grants free reign in applying extraverted intuition and (if he's lucky) introverted sensing to nearly anything in the world, he sincerely believes introverted ethics must be limited to Mother's Day cards and eulogies. When he oversteps the natural bounds of extraverted intuition, it's just "practice" or "fun and games," but one someone else oversteps the natural bounds of introverted ethics, it's a deadly sin. 

So, to recap, peoples' negative reactions to use of certain functions occurs when they perceive someone to be applying the wrong function for the situation. There's nothing inherently negative about one's vulnerable function; one is just particularly sensitive to overuse of this type of activity or approach.

"Dyad values"
Values differ somewhat within quadras as well. For instance, in Beta Quadra, the LSI and EIE dyad (dual types) are more forgiving of overdoing things with introverted logic and extraverted ethics and a little less tolerant of overdone extraverted sensing and introverted intuition, though they still remain generally sympathetic. 

I believe this explanation has some constructive applications. For instance, if you want to avoid conflict, then try to resist natural, lazy impulses to overstep the natural bounds of your Ego functions, and instead try to appreciate (and possibly learn) the "best practices" inherent to each area you venture into rather than compulsively applying your leading function behavior to everything you see. Other types will be sure to point out your "errors."

Nov 11, 2008

Interplay between Leading and Suggestive Function in Self-Realizing Individuals

I have written elsewhere that the suggestive function can become a source of compensatory activities to temporarily take the strain off the leading function. The explanation I gave is that the areas of the brain being used for a certain kind of activity associated with the leading function begin to use up their energy resources after a period of time (generally several hours), producing tiredness, apathy, or irritability. I hypothesized that a shift in focus (not just dabbling, but a real, full-fledged shift) to the suggestive function essentially turned off the neurons that had been active and activated those that were least connected to the worn-out neurons. This would create optimal conditions for the brain to recuperate and beef up its reserves in the depleted areas.

Presumably, over time this exercise would enhance the "firepower" of the leading function, much like weight training strengthens the muscles. In addition, it would support the suggestive function and in effect "lubricate" the brain, meaning that the brain would have less difficulty switching from state to state. The practical result of a "well lubricated" brain is less rigidity in behavior. In contrast, persisting in the use of one's leading function beyond the point of usefulness results in exhaustion and a total lack of will. I think the analogy with muscles and basically all physiological systems is apt. A powerful, but not overdone exercise of any system strengthens it; overworking any system, however, produces negative side-effects and illness. So it is with the brain.

What I have found is that self-realizing individuals -- people who have learned to focus the use of their strong functions (especially the leading function) to produce societally useful results -- almost inevitably have habits that engage their suggestive functions and provide much needed rest from their primary activities. Their main focus is so dominant that these compensatory activities are probably born of necessity. Often there is an element of the 6th function involved in the activities as well. Here are some examples:

1. Albert Einstein (ILE): He would go on rambles through the forest on a near-daily basis, as well as sail his small boat on nearby lakes. These activities exposed him to nature, sun, wind, and natural sounds and sensations, and provided relaxing physical movement. They eased his mind and give him time to reflect upon big issues without the intense focus he would display when working on a specific problem.

Einstein's music hobby also seemed to be a compensatory activity related to both introverted sensing and extraverted ethics. He often played violin with other people, giving him the chance to interact with others on an emotional, rather than mental level. He practiced the violin on a near-daily basis to give his mind a rest. The focus of this playing was not to achieve mastery, but to provide a much-needed diversion.

2. Immanuel Kant (LII): Kant was also well-known for taking walks. However, in contrast to Einstein, his walks -- begun at precisely the same time every day -- took him through the town where he lived (present-day Kaliningrad). People would greet him, and he would feel part of the community in which he lived. As an LII, the compensation Kant needed most was to experience interaction with living people and society, and not so much with nature and the physical world.

3. Winston Churchill (SLE): Churchill is well-known for being an avid and talented painter. Painting, like many other activities, can mean different things for different people, and can activate different functions depending on the painting style and approach. For him, painting was a route to tranquility and inner peace -- a state quite the opposite of the hustle and bustle and confrontation of public politics.

4. Jimmy Carter (EII): Carter is well-known for taking part in public service work such as building homes for Habitat for Humanity. As an EII who professionally uses his introverted ethics to maintain relationships with world leaders and encourage them to talk to each other and do nice things, the most effective kind of compensatory activity is doing productive physical work. Note the introverted sensing focus as well, inherent to the idea of building places for people to live.

I'm sure there a host of other examples, and I will add them as I come across them. Four examples isn't exactly a large enough number to build an entire theory. In addition, there is a certain amount of guesswork involved, as we often don't know for sure what the personal meaning of the activities is, however, extrapolation from personal experience and the experience of people you know, as well as anecdotes from the biographies of these people can give clues.

Not just relaxation, but important food for thought

In my experience, using the leading function in a focused and productive way to do something that is meaningful to you produces a satisfying "flow experience." Then, taking a break for an enjoyable suggestive function pastime provides an sense of wholeness. Inevitably, the compensatory activity provides food for thought that then works its way back into your primary work.

We can surmise that Einstein's long walks and sailing gave him opportunities to reflect upon the nature of the physical world and experience unexpected insight as a direct result of observing physical phenomena. Kant's daily walks around town gave him the chance to observe human society and interaction and reflect upon the nature of human society and culture. Churchill's painting provided him with ... something. Carter's physical volunteer work gives him chances to reflect upon the nature of cooperation, altruism, and other ideal values.

Distinguishing between compensatory and primary activities

Primary activities are:
- complex and evolving
- entail leadership, responsibility, and initiative
- require focus and energy
- directly associated with the person's most evident personality traits

Compensatory activities are:
- simple and relatively unchanging
- entail no leadership or responsibility; passive and receptive rather than initiating
- require little focus or energy expenditure
- impossible to guess based on superficial acquaintance with the person

In essence, primary activities are what you do to the world. Compensatory activities involve putting yourself in a situation where something will be done to you. To be a compensatory activity, it must be relaxing and non-achievement-oriented. I believe that as soon as one's achievement motivation is engaged, the leading function gets involved and begins calculating the best way to achieve that goal.

A hypothesis

(unrelated to the main subject of the post)

This suggests an intriguing hypothesis that I've entertained now for some time: the leading function is "located" completely or chiefly in the left hemisphere, and the suggestive function in the right. I would go beyond that to suggest that the mental functions (1 through 4) are all in the left hemisphere, while the vital functions (5-8) are in the right. "Right brain" creativity, then, is about having increased access to the vital functions. To some extent this can be trained. Some degree of right hemisphere work is necessary and healthy, but "highly creative" people who have "unlocked" their right hemisphere tend also to be more emotionally unstable. "Too much brain lubrication," you might say...

The mental functions are verbal, involve more conscious cognition, planning, "scheming," public discourse, etc. The vital functions are largely nonverbal and "learn through doing." Doesn't that sound like left versus right hemisphere?

ADDED 12/16/2008:
I've done some reading on the hemispheres and have realized that I clearly don't know enough about the subject to make such broad statements. Furthermore, the pop-psychology understanding of the brain hemispheres is exaggerated or simply incorrect.

Some real-life examples of compensatory activities

SEI: attending public lectures on scientific topics
SLI: attending foreign language evening classes, "for fun"; attending public lectures by people who've traveled to exotic countries; reading Bertrand Russell (IEE) for fun
ILI: jogging daily
IEI: petty crime and "getting into trouble" (sorry, can't think of a more positive example right now)
IEE: nature walks; backpacking
ILE: attending group picnics and campouts
EII: yardwork and fixing things around the house
LII: attending dinner parties where he is a passive participant and is taken good care of
ESE: reading philosophy for fun

Nov 10, 2008

Partner Selection in Tribal Communities

I would like to continue the theme of my previous post in a more speculative vein.

With the low probabilities of finding an ideal partner I showed in the previous post, one might wonder how people in small tribal communities of approximately 150 people* ever experienced emotional intimacy... And these are the conditions where human psychology evolved in the first place.

First of all, with a shorter life expectancy, we can suppose that not 1 in 4, but 1 in 2 people were of the right age range for an intimate relationship. But wait... due to the large number of children in tribal societies compared to our own, the proportion would actually be about the same as it is today, so we'll leave it at 1 in 4.

Next, because of the small size of communities and the inbreeding that was bound to occur, the IQ range present in any one community was almost certainly such that almost everyone was within "reach" of almost everyone else.

If we stop at this point, we have a chance of 1 in 256 for finding an ideal partner for members of tribal communities. This would mean that about every other person could find a potential ideal partner within his own community; the rest would have to settle for "next best" or look for a partner among neighboring communities. This is still assuming, of course, that every "ideal partner" is also available! We have not yet addressed the issue of eligibility ("marital status").

However, type distribution was almost certainly not uniform in tribal communities, which would have tended to develop a dominant quadra or set of types in order to remain stable. This non-uniformity would tend to be more pronounced in smaller communities. This means that for most people in the community, the chance of finding an ideal partner within the community would be higher, and for a minority the chances would be lower. Such people would be more likely to leave the community to find an ideal match or to remain single, which would perpetuate the quadra or type dominance already in place in the community.

So, what we get is a situation where a majority of people in the tribal community can find an ideal intimate partner within their community of roughly 150 people (whether or not that person is available for a relationship), whereas the rest must look outside their community for a satisfying intimate relationship.

We know that tribal communities were (are) never completely isolated, but had considerable contact with neighboring communities, just like any animal community. This increased the "dating pool," so to speak. However, it is safe to assume that most people's closest relationships were with other people in their own community; otherwise, these communities would have ceased to exist as a distinct entity. Most likely, a large portion (40-80%) of people also chose mates from among their own communities, while the rest "spread their genes."

As shown here, the search for psychological compatibility could have been one of the factors contributing to the interchange of genes between tribe, in addition to already recognized traits such as the "explorer instinct."

This may be even more speculative than the above, but it seems to me that the number of psychological types was limited by the size of human communities. If psychological compatibility is at all an important factor for survival and success, evolution could not have produced a situation where, due to the large number of psychological types (say, 256 instead of 16), only a small minority of people were able to experience it.

The size of communities was, in turn, determined by the economics of food consumption and cooperation. These "economics" determined the degree of psychological differentiation possible within human communities, as well as the minimum average number of compatible partners available to members of human communities. That average number cannot be much below 1 if compatibility matters at all to evolution.

* Note: read this article to learn where the number 150 comes from when estimating typical community size.

What Are the Chances of Finding an Ideal Partner?

In this post I will try to model the chances of finding a psychologically ideal partner.

The difficulty of this exercise is distinguishing between "wants" and "needs" in the realm of psychological compability. Someone, for instance, may "want" a partner that makes a lot of money and has achieved professional success, but in reality they may be just as psychologically content with someone without these qualities. Someone may think they need someone who is an accomplished athlete like they are, only to find, much to their own surprise, that they feel perfectly at home with someone who is distant from the world of sports.

For the sake of this exercise we are going to assume that the purpose of the sought-for relationship is friendly, intimate romantic companionship, not establishing a safe haven for children, etc. Therefore, we will consider only factors that definitely impact the possibility of a psychologically intimate and comfortable relationship between two people.

The first division we will make is for gender. Only 1/2 of people are of the right gender for such a relationship (well, for the vast majority of people).

Next, only 1 in 16 has a psychological type that allows in principle for maximum intimacy. It is my belief and experience that the types are distributed rougly evenly, meaning that no type is more than twice as prevalent as any other (and probably quite a bit less than that).

For people who are not convinced of the importance of socionic intertype relations, but have considerable relationship experience, it shouldn't seem too far from the truth to suggest that, with all the kinds of personalities to be found among people, maybe only about 1/16 of people have the right psychological makeup to make ideal living partners and friends.

Next, a generous 1 in 4 of these people are of an age range that would allow for real intimacy. Social stereotypes of acceptable age differences don't necessarily correlate to what is actually possible. For some people the age range will be wider, and for others narrower.

Now, of these people, we will eliminate half for various psychological, physical, or cultural characteristics that make it impossible to become attracted to or deeply intimate with them. This generous estimate includes things like specific temperamental and physiological characteristics that may have a significant effect on real-life compatibility. Many people think they are far choosier than this, but circumstantial factors and long-term exposure to a person often spark friendship and intimacy where neither person would have expected it.

This leaves us with 1 in 256 people being a potential ideal partner. That may sound like too few, but we are talking about the population at large, not eligible candidates looking for a mate of your gender. 1 in 256 applies if you are looking for a partner by calling random numbers in the phone book. 

If you're in college, that proportion jumps to 1 in 64 because all are in the same age range. That means 1 out of every 32 people of the gender that interests you. That's not too bad. If you're in college taking 6 classes with an average class size of 30 people, that's 3 potential ideal partners among your classmates, not to mention extracurricular activities, "friends of friends," etc., which can increase your selection pool dramatically. There's a lot of room to be picky and look for common interests. Assuming, of course, that one is socially active (or responsive) and actually establishes contact with potential partners in one's selection pool.

But we're not done yet. Another factor that has an indisputable affect on people's ability to connect with others is the difference in IQ between them. I have read estimates of between 15 to 30 IQ points being the point at which communication difficulties arise. I will be a conservative and choose 30 points as being the maximum acceptable IQ difference for a high degree of emotional intimacy and psychological compatibility between people. Because of the bell-shaped distribution of IQ, this means that for most people in most circumstances, the influence of this factor will be negligible. For people at the upper and lower extremes, however, potential IQ differences can become as serious a communication issue as any of the others, even among duals of the right gender and age.

Here we will list the percentage of people who are in the acceptable range for people of a given IQ, and below that the chances of finding an ideal intimate partner among the population at large.

100 (average):
94% of people within range
1 in 272

80 or 120:
73% of people within range
1 in 351

60 or 140:
27% within range
1 in 948

40 or 160:
3% within range
1 in 8,533

20 or 180:
0.09% within range
1 in 284,444

Increasing your chances

Things don't have to be as bad as the probabilities I have listed above suggest.

Going to college increases your chances by 4, since all people are in an acceptable age range. Since you don't pay attention to all the people of the wrong gender, you can multiply your chances by 2. If your IQ is above or below average, you can increase your chances of finding an ideal partner by being a part of communities whose average IQ is as close as possible to your own. For example, if your IQ is 140 and you go to a university where the average is 120, your chances of finding an ideal partner from among your college peers are now the same as someone whose IQ is 120 (or 80) from among the population at large. If your job brings you together with people of your IQ range (and interests), this increases your chances, too.

Connecting with communities of people who share one or more of your interests is important in that it provides a convenient context to establish a connection with people who might be compatible with you. People with unusual interests often have difficulty at ordinary dating sites, where their interests are an oddity rather than the norm.

To summarize, the person in the best position to find an ideal partner is someone who is part of a community or communities of people of the same age range, IQ range, and general interests.

The Reinin Dichotomies are Dead

This is a continuation of an earlier post where I discussed the problems with using the Reinin Dichotomies in socionics. Here I am announcing that -- for me at least -- the Reinin Dichotomies are dead. I cannot imagine myself ever applying them in any way either practically or theoretically. I probably won't even mention them in the book I am slowly writing on socionics. I have long been dubious of the Reinin Dichotomies, and now my personal research interests have drawn me in completely other directions which have far more explanatory and descriptive potential. As a student of individual differences and human relationships, I can think of dozens of more productive things to study than the Reinin Dichotomies.

The problem with the Reinin Dichotomies is that anything of substance they have to say can already be explained without them through an understanding of Model A, the socionic functions, and information aspects. What other descriptions the dichotomies provide are so vague and unsubstantiated as to be useless.

Paradoxically, it is the vagueness of the Reinin Dichotomies that has ensured their longevity, much like the ambiguity of Nostradamus' prophecies of the future. If Nostradamus had written more specifically ("In 1734 an evil dictator will rise to power in Naples and brutally crush all peasant revolts"), his name would be unknown today. Likewise, if the Reinin Dichotomies had specific content intelligible to a majority of intellectually minded readers, as well as a satisfactory substantiation of the existence of the traits (a "mathematical" substantiation sounds oh-so convincing, but the existence of personality traits cannot be proven mathematically), they would have long ago been either "canonized" or dismissed. But because they are so vague, they cannot be disproven, and "believers" can easily inject their own interpretations into the dichotomies. This is the simple formula to which all mumbo-jumbo owes its existence.

Superficially, the Reinin Dichotomies seem to fit into the overall theoretical framework of socionics. They show that the basic four Jungian dichotomies are just a subset of 15 hypothetical dichotomies that divide the 16 types into orthogonal halves. An attempt was made to provide tentative descriptions of the other 11 dichotomies. It seems so logical... and yet available descriptions are inadequate, if not simply incorrect, when applied to real people. The vagueness of the descriptions makes it very hard to dismiss them as inaccurate, especially as we are used to fuzzy definitions in socionics. People study the Reinin Dichotomies and, not completely "getting it," decide they simply have more learning to do. Maybe it's Reinin who has more learning to do...?

This raises an important issue: how can one distinguish between mumbo-jumbo and things that are simply hard to understand? My answer is to look at the creator and/or chief proponents of the ideas and see whether they are able to apply them confidently and consistently, and whether they have been able to convey their ideas to other people who can also apply them confidently in a way that is consistent with how the creator applied them. If the new ideas have successfully been turned into a language of discourse among a group of peers (i.e. people who are not obliged by a teacher-pupil relationship to mimic their teacher), then the ideas have substance. I don't believe the Reinin Dichotomies pass this test.

Postscript (added March 2010)

Augusta presented Reinin's Dichotomies as a hypothesis and stated that they needed further investigation. In contrast with her descriptions of the Jungian Dichomoties and the socionic functions, her descriptions of the Reinin Dichotomies are vague and generally muddled. Most Russian / Ukrainian socionists say that her descriptions weren't very good.

So, was Augusta (well, Reinin actually) "right?" Yes, in the sense that these dichotomies indeed exist mathematically. Whether they exist as actual physical phenomena is another issue. I personally have been unable to see how any of the proposed descriptions I've read can relate to reality. The second problem is that I cannot see how the descriptions follow logically from the socionic model. The third problem is that I do not know of socionists who seem able to consistently apply Reinin Dichotomies in typing and successfully convey their understanding to other people.

All this suggests that trying to make the Reinin Dichotomies work might not be worth many people's time. My perspective is that there is far more to be gained from, say, understanding gender differences than trying to master Reinin Dichotomies. Gender differences have a large body of empirical research, are readily observable, and are far-reaching in their effects. In contrast, the Reinin Dichotomies have a small body of contradictory, non-empirical research, are difficult to observe, and are limited in their explanatory power.

Sep 25, 2008

"We Are Hiring Logical Intuiters..."

Today I got a message in Russian from a legal company in Kiev looking to hire logical intuiters:

We are hiring logical intuiters...

We are hiring attorneys of logical-intuitive and intuitive-logical types!

A Kiev-based legal company that provides services to major industrial companies of Ukraine in corporate, business, banking, and other types of law, announces the opening of new vacancies for the position of attorney/lawyer. We invite representatives of logical-intuitive and intuitive-logical types, as well as a Sensing Logical Extravert. 

Our team is made of highly professional young lawyers and attorneys. We provide a complete technology package (laptop, cell phone, company car, etc.). Pay is more than decent.

Requirements: Man (!) between 25 and 35. At least two years' work experience. Full-time work. Knowledge of foreign languages is not mandatory. Work will be in an office in Kiev. We are interested in employees who can devote themselves entirely to their work and perform their tasks quickly and creatively.

Resumes can be sent to... . For inquiries call... 

I have mixed feelings when I see something like this. On the one hand, it's good that people in business are becoming aware of the importance of types and are looking for ways to make their teams more productive. On the other hand, I have doubts as to whether socionics is being applied competently or on a whim. It is well possible that an influential person in the company learned about socionics and got excited about using it to make the hiring process easier. This could be his first try (and quite possibly his last):

  •  The e-mail was apparently sent to all the members of a Russian language socionics forum. Do high-powered, ambitious young attorneys hang around socionics forums? Hm...
  • Why specifically logical-intuitive types? What about the job necessitates that selection? Does the hiring company specifically want to rule out competent and effective LSIs, LSEs, and other types? 
  • Does the company have a sufficient number of sensing-ethical types to make life tolerable for all the intuitive-logical types it expects to hire? 
  • Does the company realize the ramifications of hiring a group of people from opposing quadras? Is there intention to polarize the company and develop groups with clashing work styles? Perhaps each new employee will be working wholly on his own?
  • Why the lone Sensing Logical Extravert? Presumably it will be his job to whip the others into shape or "build a team," while being alienated and scoffed at by the other attorneys?
In other words, it seems that socionics is being applied as an MBTI-esque test of professional abilities with little awareness of intertype interaction and information flow between types. The fact that the e-mail was sent to members of a socionics forum confirms to me that it is a "first-time experiment," following which they will probably revert to more conventional methods of looking for employees to hire. 

Sep 20, 2008

Video Skype chat with Rick

I'm going to try out something new. I have some free time in the afternoons these days and would have fun talking to people about socionics or whatever by Skype video. If you sign up, make sure you have an idea of what you want to talk about (I will not type you during the conversation -- I have a different procedure for that).  My time zone is EST.

I only ended up talking to two people, which is not very much, but if anyone is interested in the future, I can do this again sometime. I enjoyed the conversations.

Jul 6, 2008

Summer Announcements

July 09, 2008

I will be gone and out of reach for over a month and a half starting in just a few days, through the end of August. I'll be spending the time backpacking through the Colorado Rockies, which has been a dream of mine for a long time. I'm very excited! When I get back in the fall, I expect to be doing more socionics related writing and to clean up the site, which has had some server problems and has fallen into neglect.

Have a great summer, everyone!

August 25 update

I'm back! The summer has been terrific. I got just about everything out of the experience that I had hoped, and it has fueled a desire to go on more and longer adventures. I expect to write about it soon and can include a link somewhere if people are interested, but there will be a lot of technical details dealing with gear choices and challenges specific to long-distance backpacking.

September 7 update

Other news is that I will be living in central Michigan for a while, most likely till May 2009. With no job to speak of, I will have even more time to focus on writing (2-4 hours a day). My first project will be a personal website, and also in the works is more socionics info.

September 19 update

I am providing type consultation services again for a reasonable fee. Clients will need to send me a set of pictures, answer some questions on video (so you'll need a web camera or its equivalent), and video skype with me. I have found this to be easier and more efficient than using text based correspondence. You can contact me at contact AT socionics DOT us if you are interested.

Using Socionics to Solve Personal Problems

I really think socionics can be a very practical tool for personal growth and change, not just an abstract discussion topic. Most likely, in some way or another the desire for change in one's personal, intimate life is the primary motive for most people who spend time learning about socionics. However, the personal accounts with all the really interesting and poignant details usually go unsaid in public (I guess forums allow for more anonymity), and attention instead focuses on the theoretical and descriptive shell of socionics. Yet the real driver of socionics is the search for solutions to personal problems. Of course, you can solve all these problems without socionics, just as you can be completely physically fit without ever visiting a gym.

The main motivation for pursuing personal change comes from experiencing problems in one's relationships: with intimate partners (love and close friends), society (social adjustment, work, and casual friendships), and oneself (self-concept and living skills). The strongest motivator is love relationships, because they involve the most aspects of one's being at once, potentially can satisfy the most needs, and hence cause the greatest adjustments and can be the most problematic.

Let's look at some of the common personal problems people who are into socionics may face and what can be done to address them:

"I have never been in a relationship"
In this situation a preoccupation with socionics might not be very helpful at all. It takes hands-on experience to develop the unconscious skill set (effective behavior patterns and natural, uninhibited physical, mental, and emotional reactions) needed to attract a "soul mate," and no socionic or other mental knowledge can provide this. I know of no other way than trial and error. Even if you hit it right the first time and spend your entire life with your first relationship partner, will you really be satisfied with yourself and your successes in this area? (okay, granted a few semi-autistic people would be) So, find the environments for pursuing a relationship that you find the least stressful, and go for it.

What might be wise is to search for information and advice that would address specific fears of yours that might be holding you back from meeting people and having relationships. Simply look for the fear; that is where problems are sure to lie. If the fear concerns rejection, find a place where you can air your fear or find out about how other people have dealt with it. If the fear concerns physical intimacy, find out about stages of intimacy and what to do at each stage, and find a place where you can talk about it comfortably and see how others have overcome problems and fears. If your fear concerns commitment and relationship expectations, learn about different relationship forms and how different people satisfy their needs in different ways. If your fear concerns your own attractiveness, find a place where you can comfortably talk about the specific things that you fear make you unattractive to potential partners. Much fear can be alleviated this way, leaving you more receptive to other people and potentially intimate situations.

"I am depressed or have some other emotional problem"
Look at the types of people you live with and interact with most. Are your Super-Id needs being met? Is your Ego being fully appreciated? This are indeed silly terms, but thinking about socionic functions can help concreticize your personal situation and identify specific problems. People have a harder time being happy and emotionally stable if they do not have a dual among, say, their top 3 confidants and significant friends and partners. Consider changing your living, work, and/or social circumstances to get away from negative stressors and bring a dual or duals into your inner circle. Yes, it really works, even if your choice of duals is somewhat artificial. If you're not sure of your own type or those of others, at least look for people you can trust and feel comfortable around.

"I'm having trouble choosing my path in life"
Learn about your type and what other people of your type have done with their lives. In general, look for people who are living the way you would like, and learn about their biography and background, but focus especially on happy people of your own type. How did they discover their career path and main interests? How did they stumble upon the right opportunities, organizations, and people? What do they consider to be the key to their success? What false roads did they discover along the way? Especially look at people you have met personally, because daydreaming about the lives of famous people can be unproductive. If you have a particular skill or skills that you know would like to base your life on, focus on learning about people with that skill in addition to people of your own type who are content with their lives.

"I can't seem to get along with anybody" or "I don't connect with people"
These are usually sentiments of people who have difficulty or take a long time getting to know and understand other people. Studying socionics theory will help them understand what makes all those "difficult people" tick and will help them to be more tolerant of the things they used to view as "faults" or "defects."

"I'm looking for the right relationship"
Now that you have some relationship experience under your belt, you have probably learned about some of the complexities of relationships and the difficulty of trying to make things work with a seeming vast majority of people. If you've preserved an ideal of what kind of relationship you would like, you're probably ready for some socionics "meat": learning about duality, how your and your duals' types operate, and the roles that different socionic functions play in interaction. It's time to hone your relationship behavior to become as natural, effortless, and spontaneous as possible and provide potential soul mates with what they are subconsciously seeking (I'm speaking of spontaneity in the use of one's functions, not the kind of impulsivity usually associated with irrationality). They will undoubtedly begin to return the favor.

You can get "hints" of how to develop your behavior by studying other people of your type and how they interact with others. Some of what they do may seem "cheesy," but other things will make you say, "I can/want to do that!"

In general, you will need to make sure you have opened up more to Super-Id input and that you are providing "real goods" with your Ego functions, and not just talking or boasting (see also this article). Let's say you're an SLE. Do you dig wackiness and imaginative fun? Do you actively motivate your partners and provide them with real-world adventures? If you're an LII, have you learned to resonate with Joy, or is all you care about the Truth? Do you help others resolve their organizational difficulties and mental madness? If you're an IEE, are you open to the many varieties of physical experience, and do you initiate new opportunities for your partners, and not just talk about yourself? etc. etc.

Many people may find they need to work on reducing inhibitions against "imposing" on potential partners with their strong functions. Your duals are unconsciously expecting to be "imposed upon" (even the feminist ones) in certain ways, and do not perceive your Ego-block initiative as an intrusion on their personal space. In fact, if you don't "intrude" upon their suggestive function, they won't feel deep down that you really care for them.

Finding the right relationship is basically finding yourself. The more you are "yourself," the more likely you are to find the right relationship, and vice versa. This is not because of any romantic mushy-mushy stuff, but because the "right" relationships are grounded in compatible physiological automatisms and impulses (my opinion).

Jun 16, 2008

Online Compatibility Tools

I recommend reading the article "How Do I Love Thee?" about online dating sites which use some kind of compatibility algorithm. The creators of these websites have gotten pretty far using personal experience, insight, and data processing tools. There is enough money in this field to propel the work along -- probably more than in the field of just psychological types (i.e. MBTI), much less socionics.

I won't pretend that knowing socionics gives one an advantage over these guys. After gaining extensive personal experience with socionics you will start to wonder what distinguishes the duals you really click with from the others that you are relatively comfortable with but indifferent towards, and why you are drawn to certain non-duals and not to others. And that puts you at the beginning stages of trying to understand compatibility. So, let's not be too smug about our "hidden" knowledge :-)

Let me pull out some of the important conclusions that these people have come to:

  • The more peripheral your traits (intellect, abilities, etc.), the fewer good matches you will have. This makes patience essential.
  • " of Warren’s longtime observations: namely, that the members of a happy couple are far more similar to each other than are the members of an unhappy couple. Compatibility, in other words, rests on shared traits."
  • At the same time, "You don’t want two obsessives,” he explained. “They’ll drive each other crazy. You don’t find two control freaks in a great marriage."
  • "Fifty percent of the ball game is finding two people who are stable." Instability may mean incompatibility with nearly everyone.
  • “Long-term satisfaction is not the same as short-term attraction. A lot of people, when they see their initial matches, it’s like, ‘This is crap!’” In other words, long-term attraction tends to grow on you.
  • "Don’t have sex if you don’t want to fall in love.”
  • "The problem with sites like eHarmony, she believes, is that they place too much emphasis on similarity, whereas, in her view, falling in love depends on two elements: similarity and complementarity." (My own limited encounters with eHarmony confirm this)
  • “We also want someone who masks our flaws,” she explained. “For example, people with poor social skills sometimes gravitate toward people with good social skills. I’m an Explorer, so I don’t really need a partner who is socially skilled. That’s not essential to me. But it may be essential to a Director, who’s generally less socially skilled.” Of course, this totally jives with socionics. However there are different ways of "lacking social skills" (think SLE vs. LSE's weaknesses).
  • "Schwartz’s Duet model consists of a mere forty-eight questions and focuses on eight specific personality characteristics: romantic impulsivity, personal energy, outlook, predictability, flexibility, decision-making style, emotionality, and self-nurturing style. On the first four, she believes, a well-suited couple should be similar; on the last four, however, a couple can thrive on either similarity or difference."
Also interesting is the fact that so much of our personality depends on levels of different hormones and/or the genes that determine these levels:
"Genes for the activity of dopamine are associated with motivation, curiosity,
anxiety, and optimism. Genes for the metabolism of serotonin, another
neurotransmitter, tend to modulate one’s degree of calm, stability, popularity,
and religiosity. Testosterone is associated with being rational, analytical,
exacting, independent, logical, rank-oriented, competitive, irreverent, and
narcissistic. And the hormone estrogen is associated with being imaginative,
creative, insightful, humane, sympathetic, agreeable, flexible, and verbal."

A big part of the article is about trying to figure out which traits need to be similar and which need to be different for optimal satisfaction. I've written some of my own ideas here. The search goes on.

Jun 15, 2008

SLI Type Description

SLI in a nutshell

The SLI is an experience-oriented type that welcomes adventure and new impressions while maintaining sensory balance and internal integrity. The SLI strives to maximize enjoyment, ease, and utility while preserving autonomy from strong emotional stimuli.

Typical characteristics

introverted sensing as a leading function means that the SLI learns about the world primarily through direct personal experience rather than through contemplation, analysis, or talking about things with people. "An experience is worth a thousand words" might describe the SLI's attitude towards learning. SLIs strive to have direct experiences with things they are interested in rather than being content with simply learning of their existence as, say, extraverted intuition types often are. As an introtim, the SLI is less interested in the objective facts of external reality than in their impact on the individual. Ultimately, the SLI is most interested in building a world where he and those close to him can be comfortable and have their needs met.

The SLI easily and naturally provides for his own physiological needs and usually has a need to take care of others as well: pets, close friends and family, houseplants... SLIs typically empathize with those whose physical needs have not been met and usually are quick to respond to genuine signs of helplessness and neediness in others, as long as the person who needs assistance is not hyper or melodramatic. SLIs tend to have a strong maternal (parental) instinct and tend to be attentive parents and leaders with a lenient management style. They are against forcing anyone to do anything and look for ways of motivating people by offering satisfaction of their individual needs and desires.

SLIs are attentive to the day-to-day behavior patterns, lifestyles, and tastes and preferences of those around them, as well as what and how they eat, how they dress, how they respond to different stimuli, and many other details of their physical existence. Only when they have directly experienced these aspects of a person do they feel that they truly know them. Contrast this to ethical extratims who can come to know people well through emotional interaction (conversation) in a matter of hours. The SLI's mechanism is slow, but thorough; SLIs are limited in how many people they can know well, but they learn about them "inside out."

SLIs tend to feel distant from all people whom they do not physically interact with on a day-to-day basis. As soon as they begin to interact with a person on a near-daily basis, that person begins to occupy their consciousness and affect their inner life. In contrast, many other types are able to effectively ignore people around them and keep distant others in their thoughts. SLIs easily forget about those who are not near them and thus rarely take the initiative in digging up old contacts. The inherent potential of these distant and myriad contacts is most often lost, and the SLI is left to cultivate the opportunities directly around him, believing that if something distant and external is really important, it will find him itself. This is due to extraverted intuition as a suggestive function.

Despite their often emotionless and indifferent exterior, SLIs are fun-loving and adventurous. They feel most comfortable interacting with people informally in situations with some physical or hands-on component, such as watching at something together, building something, walking around, touching things, or otherwise involving their senses and body. The more formal and purely verbal interaction is, the less involved they feel and the more unsure they are of how to behave.

All SLIs share an affinity for simplicity -- a reduction of all that is extraneous, superfluous, unused, unneeded. Since their inner world is most affected by their day-to-day living habits and the objects and people they interact with on a daily basis, complexities in these areas make clear thought and feeling difficult. SLIs are resistant to fashions and ideas that increase complexity and demonstrate independence and a lack of stereotyped thinking in their lifestyle choices and personal habits. It is almost impossible to get an SLI to do something that is more complicated than what he is already doing. The same holds true on a mental level; SLIs admire people who are able to reduce phenomena to their essential characteristics, thus making it easier and easier to think about things.

SLIs easily lose their clarity of thought when people direct anger and negative emotions at them, and discord in their personal relationships makes them feel depressed and helpless. They prefer an atmosphere of polite good will or at least businesslike emotional neutrality and tire of strong emotions such as anxiety, worry, or bad feelings between people, but also euphoria and overenthusiasm.

SLIs tend to be "down to earth" and "laid back" and become excited only by positive sensory experience or when others approach them with playful, good-natured humor and "positive energy." Otherwise, SLIs can become uncommonly stubborn if people use too much emotion, abstract reasoning, haste, or pressure when dealing with them. To get through to an SLI, give him personal sensory experience (introverted sensing), a dispassioned account of the facts (extraverted logic), fascinating prospects (extraverted intuition), or a warm and sensitive attitude (introverted ethics).

Apr 3, 2008

Socionic Types and Professional Inclinations

Here I want to talk about career patterns I have observed among types. My sample sizes are too small to draw far-reaching conclusions, but my observations so far make sense from the standpoint of Model A.

A large percentage of people do basically random jobs that any type with the same basic skill set could do, so I will ignore those and pay attention only to the patterns and especially professional positions where people of the type seem to be particularly engaged.

A common thread is that people tend to become leaders of organizations whose overt purpose closely matches their leading function, for instance:

  • extraverted sensing types -- controlling material assets and resources
  • extraverted intuition -- information hubs, directing development of potential
  • extraverted ethics -- engaging in social and entertainment networks
  • extraverted logic -- managing and increasing production output
  • introverted intuition -- guiding imaginative creative and spiritual endeavors
  • introverted logic -- overseeing systems of knowledge and governance
  • introverted sensing -- providing well-being and balance
  • introverted ethics -- educating and enculturating

ILEs like to be doing things that are new and innovative that many people don't know (or care) about. Here they are different from IEEs, who are also concerned about doing something that people care about that will win them social recognition. ILEs are more interested in formal recognition (organizational recognition, positions of "importance," degrees, and professional awards, for instance). I have known ILEs who were heads of research institutes, NGOs, language teaching schools, and consulting companies. Many more held various positions in all kinds of organizations where they had a great deal of independence. The common feature of all engaged ILEs seems to be that they are working on some far-reaching personal project that has yet to come to full fruition. ILEs don't like to manage tangible assets, so they generally avoid accumulating them, preferring instead to stock up on intellectual property, unique skills and knowledge, intellectual influence, and strategic positions. The potential to make money is more important than actually having money.

If we ignore "unengaged" SEIs who are in random jobs, we see that SEIs tend to gravitate to artistic pursuits in the most general sense of the word -- visual arts, culinary arts, design, the healing arts, humor, etc. Even in your typical stale office environment, they tend to find niches for this "artistic" expression, even if it is as mundane as e-mailing funny pictures and stories to other office workers. The common trait of all engaged SEIs seems to be that they have found ways to impact and steer people's interaction through their creative activities. Whereas introverted ethics types are more concerned with impacting people's lives (an "internal" sort of steering), SEIs and other extraverted ethics types seem to focus more on enlivening people and generating stimulating interaction. They may hope to impact people as well, but the road to this is through overt emotional communication among people -- bringing people's sentiments and emotions out in the open. Compared to ILEs SEIs seem much less interested in the strategic position or formal recognition and must have a more intimate connection with the people they serve.

ESEs are more expansive than SEIs and are more motivated to bring their messages to the masses and be known among a wider group of people, even if that means spending a lot less quality time per person (SEIs tend to invest more in a smaller number of people, because their leading introverted sensing makes them identify more with their day-to-day life activities; if you're not a part of that day-to-day life, then they connect less with you). ESEs can connect rapidly with people who express the same sentiments as they. The professional activity of engaged ESEs very often boils down to going around expressing sentiments and continually connecting with others who feel similarly. Their passion can be attached to nearly any field, but it always seems to be something that can have a direct impact on people's emotional life or well-being. ESEs especially like to start new social endeavors. I have known ESEs who led social networks, ESE entertainers, and many who were excellent communicators and linguists. Engaged ESEs seem to be somewhat less focused on their actual professional activity and knowledge and more on conveying the impact and passion of that activity and knowledge to others.

Compared to ILEs, LIIs are less expansive, and their interests and personal projects tend to be a lot more closely aligned with their main field of activity. Or rather, they tend to choose professions that are right where their interests and convictions lie. Whereas ILEs can explain discrepancies between their long-term interests and their work ("because I'm learning something new"), LIIs would see this as a terrible mistake (key decisions should be made with introverted logic, not extraverted intuition). So they tend to identify strongly with their chosen field of activity and the views they espouse within it and feel distraught and rudderless if they have not yet found their correct professional "alliance" (unless they are in their teens, of course). I have known engaged LII organizational managers as well as analysts, scientists (mostly theoreticians), humanities professors and thinkers, and people of arts. In each case they have possessed some system of knowledge and have tried to instill their views through their organizational position.

EIEs, like ESEs, simply must have work with a high social component to feel engaged. I have known EIEs in recruiting, PR, politics, art-related fields (again, in the loose sense of the word), and teaching the humanities and arts, among others. Compared to ESEs, EIEs seem to have a greater sense of their status in society and have a greater need to align themselves professional in a way that will raise their status and bring them closer to centers of power and decision-making. This means exercising a lot of foresight, developing a long-term plan, and choosing their alliances carefully. EIEs in their profession have a need to rub shoulders with those who wield power and influence; ESEs are often content being a favorite of kids, a friend to everyone they meet, and building a reputation as an exciting and stimulating person, even if their fame exceeds that of a more calculating or long-term oriented EIE. EIEs often "work" for their alliance -- whether material or cultural -- by being a mouthpiece of its cultural values and instilling these values in others.

LSIs generally strive for organizational influence (except perhaps those whose maternal role takes first seat) and decision-making powers. They know they have what it takes to make organizational decisions and keep track of all parts of the organization. Psychologically engaged LSIs seem to be within or at the head of organizations with a clear structure whose purpose is not so much production as administration and management. Even if their profession is arts, humanities, or science related, they emphasize and deal with the organizational aspect of it as they become more and more successful. I have met many LSIs who were heads of all sorts of organizations which wielded real authority (as opposed to, say, NGOs), probably because the LSIs cared most; their level of self-identification with their position and organization is high. I have seen LSIs as heads of administrative organizations, government bodies, universities, etc. In these positions LSIs strive to increase their organizations' clout and status.

SLE be continued (yeah, you've heard that one before)

Mar 17, 2008

Real-Life Socionics: A Missionary Experience

I have said elsewhere that I believe socionics accounts for a large portion of the feelings and issues that people experience when they deal with other people on close terms (in close relationships, friendships, and work partnerships). This confidence comes from having lived for extended periods of time with dozens of people of practically every socionic type.

One experience in particular stands out as being a particularly intense "socionics incubator" -- that of spending two years as a missionary for the LDS (Mormon) church. Unfortunately, back then I knew nothing of socionics, otherwise I would have paid closer attention to certain things and gained a lot more information than I can in hindsight.

At that time, I believed that my relationships depended on my attitude and people's good will and personal effort, but my analysis in hindsight has not borne out this point of view. In no case was I able to significantly improve, much less overcome, the dynamics of poor relationships with other missionaries I had to work with. All other missionaries I knew had similar experiences, some with the better relationships grouped towards the beginning of their period of service, others -- like me -- with the better relationships towards the end. By asking around after my missionary service, I found that most former missionaries considered 1/4 to 1/3 of their mission partnerships to be "good relationships," with the rest being various shades of difficult or ho-hum.

The conditions I was in were virtually ideal for a large-scale socionics experiment:

  • Missionaries lived and worked in twos (occasionally threes) and were required to be together 24 hours a day and manage all their affairs together, including housework, planning their proselytizing activities, running meetings, and teaching lessons together. This ensured maximum contact with the other person's personality and internal makeup and minimized the effect of common interests and non-socionic factors which are very important during the initial stages of making friends.

  • Missionary "companionships" were unisex (i.e. only boys with boys) and were selected by mission leadership with almost no input from the missionaries themselves. Missionaries generally considered these choices to be inspired and so generally had an initially positive attitude towards their new partners and generally put in a good-faith effort to get along. This meant that people's expectations of their mission partnerships were generally the same. There was some "interference" in the fact that mission leadership often had an idea of what missionaries thought of each other, and this caused a slight loss of randomness in companion selection.

  • All missionaries were required to do basically the same tasks, and all positions in the leadership hierarchy were determined by mission leadership. This reduced the role of rank and power in missionary relations. However, one missionary in each pair was "senior," the other "junior" (almost always determined by length of service), which may have produced a slight bit of "interference." Also, since our mission was in Russia and 95% of the missionaries had to learn a new language, their differing degrees of language acquisition also may have affected interaction and "pecking order" to some degree. However, my experience is that these things -- while often cited by the missionaries themselves as influencing their partnerships -- actually changed little, and these were just surface factors that people could easily latch onto to explain the relationship difficulties they were having.

  • Companions generally spent from 1 to 3 months together -- a sufficient amount of time for interaction patterns to develop and solidify. My experience was that by the second or third week together the basic pattern had taken shape that would determine the rest of their time together.

  • Missionary life provided a number of objective indicators of relationship quality. For instance, when walking around missionary companions would very often inadvertently maintain a certain distance between them that corresponded to their degree of psychological comfort around each other. For some this distance was negligible (they would almost always walk side by side), while for others the distance could be 5 yards or even as much as 100 (!) yards. Another objective indicator was whether or not missionary companions studied together in the mornings as they were supposed to. I found I was able to study together on a regular basis only in the best of companionships, and that in all others I would subconsciously avoid this awkward activity.
A lot of time has passed, and I have not yet been able to figure out absolutely every companion's type, but each year brings a few more pieces of the puzzle. Here I will talk about how my interaction played out with mission companions of different types (my intertype relation with them is listed after their types).

IEI - Extinguishment

I spent my first five months with an IEI during a period when I didn't know anybody and was often listless and depressed. Part of these feelings were the result of our relationship, which I would characterize as "love-hate." On the one hand, I could air my thoughts and feelings and say what I felt around him (that's generally the effect IEIs have on people), and on the other hand, his mannerisms and "everything about him" would suddenly intensely irritate me, and I would feel like physically pushing him away from me and getting him out of my life space. This physically aggressive reaction was very bizarre for me, and I see it as him drawing out of me a complementary extraverted sensing reaction, which for me (IEE) is a source of negative energy, not positive as it is for extraverted sensing types. I likewise "forced" him into something of a introverted sensing role, and he took on most of our food-buying and cooking responsibilities.

On a less personal note, I was highly impressed with his communication abilities, especially compared to many other missionaries who seemed to entirely lack such skills. It seemed he could talk to anyone and smooth over any conflict. Despite his mild and meek nature, displays of aggression never seemed to intimidate him, even when I was totally scared. At the same time, I was constantly disappointed by the kind of people we were teaching (especially lots of Beta quadra old ladies), because I couldn't connect with any of them, and felt almost entirely cut-off from any kind of network of friends. Furthermore, something about our interaction was making it impossible to keep anything remotely like the strict schedule we were supposed to be adhering to, making me feel like a chronic rule-breaker and a "bad" missionary.

I spent two days with him once after my mission. I had the best of intentions and wanted to be friendly, upbeat, and genuinely interested, but the same love-hate pattern resurfaced almost immediately, and I left dejected about my inability to change anything.

Since then, I have been drawn to and confounded by similar qualities in other IEIs I have become friends with.

SLE - Super-Ego

I was with this person for 4.5 months during a period when we both had different administrative positions and worked in different rooms of the same office. Remarkably, we managed to limit our interaction to a bare minimum, punctuated by rowdy and awkward attempts at being friendly or jolly around each other, as well as heated arguments with raised voices and accusations. He would accuse me of subtly treating him like dirt, and I would harp on his bad attitude and lack of interest in self-improvement. Once we began shouting at each other (which is extremely bizarre for me) at the office after almost everyone had left, and another missionary had to intervene to get us to calm down.

At the time, I considered this by far my worst partnership ever, but when we met after our missions, I was amazed to feel no bitterness whatsoever toward him, only a kind of distance and respect, and sensed the same from him. We were both friendly, and I felt no emotional entanglement with him, unlike the IEI. I couldn't fathom what had been the cause of our "terrible" relationship as missionaries.

Subsequent relationships with SLEs have never been close enough to "blossom" into the same pattern, but I have noted the same awkward and rowdy friendliness that comes from each mimicking the other's behavior and speaking style and ending up jarred and worn out from overusing the Super-Ego functions.

LSE - Activation

I never lived together with an LSE companion, but I had regular long-range friendships with them (in contrast to the SLIs, who only seemed to recognize and maintain friendship if they were living with the person or shared activities with them). The friendships went like this: Something about them would make me sense they would be receptive to my personal, unconventional views on mission-related topics, and I would start to unload my accumulated insight onto them. They would listen and respond with great interest and start telling me about some of their observations and experience that supported my insight. Sometimes my choice of these people would surprise me, because they generally seemed like more involved, traditional, and go-by-the-book people (sometimes strikingly so) than I was, and yet they would find what I was saying highly interesting and useful.

Each of these friendships was more talk than action. I don't remember actually materializing anything with any of them, but it was highly therapeutic for me to be able clear my mind by laying out all my insight for other people. I think the "therapy" for them was having a context where they could talk about people and social relations around them (Super-Id topics for them).

I have found my other relations with LSEs since then to be more talk-oriented, with less joint activities than with SLIs. I have also discovered pitfalls in trying to do business projects together (each fancies himself to be the leader and makes decisions unilaterally).

SLI - Duality

I had two dual mission companions, and both periods were positive and brought me many new ideas and new projects. With each of them I could freely voice all the products of my imagination, and this would naturally lead to a desire to experiment with some of them together. With the first companion, for instance, we almost immediately began a complete housecleaning that even had a conceptual foundation (!). We renewed the proselytizing activities that had gone slack with the previous companion (the SLE) and had far more fun, but were only together for 1.5 months.

I was with the second SLI right after the first and had time to go much farther. Our joint projects included studying The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People together and an ambitious attempt at self-perfection and approaching our work from an entirely new angle. We felt that our mastery of communication and instruction had increased tremendously, but I didn't realize at the time that this improvement was contingent upon the relationship itself and would not last long without it. We also tried experiments with nutrition, exercise, and health (typical, though not universal introverted sensing areas of interest). We also began learning Ukrainian together for fun (he was a Russian-speaking Ukrainian).

Since then I have found that inventing new joint activities related to self-improvement and self-education are typical results of a dual friendship with an SLI. However, at a distance these relationships are tougher to maintain through the years than with LSEs. SLIs can be notoriously difficult to keep in touch with, and they rarely invest much time in things and people that aren't part of their lives at the moment. Perhaps it is also that the dual relationship strives for a closer distance than is possible through correspondence, while the more talk-oriented relation of activation is well-suited to letter-writing.

to be continued shortly.

Mar 14, 2008

Introverted Extratims and Extraverted Introtims

One of the challenges of socionics is figuring out how to associate levels of social extraversion with socionic extraversion and introversion. Myers-Briggs Typology has essentially incorporated social extraversion as one of its four dichotomies, but in socionics it is not so simple. While there may be some correlation between social extraversion and socionics extraversion, it is too weak to be a consistently useful typing instrument. Also, equating the two closely can lead to potentially harmful stereotypes that suggest that people "should" be behaving more or less extravertedly than they actually are.

Social extraversion itself can be a bit hard to diagnose, but is generally more apparent than socionics extraversion and introversion. A person's current mood, state of health, interest level, and feelings towards the people around him may strongly influence his level of initiative and gregariousness, so it may take some time to get an accurate impression of a person. Some people may be easily diagnosable as typical extraverts, others as typical introverts, but a large percentage of people are somewhere in the middle.

If you meet a pronounced social extravert who is always in the center of attention, always getting people together, and always making lots of noise and monopolizing situations, chances are he or she is also a socionics extravert ("extratim"). The same goes for pronounced social introverts who don't like meeting new people, prefer listening to speaking, and are wary of everything new and unfamiliar. But these are not the only types of people.

The extraverted introtim

These people tend to be socially involved and feel comfortable expressing themselves publicly without feelings of self-consciousness. They tend not to think a lot or hesitate before speaking out loud and are highly verbal. In social situations they often appear to be using an extraverted function (often their creative function, but not always), but their values and perspective come from their leading function. The difference between an extraverted introtim and an extratim is that when they are being "active" and "extraverted," introtims are not really keeping track of the world around them, but are focused on themselves, whereas extratims are following and studying their environment at the same time. Also, their attitude towards the extraverted function they are applying (especially their creative function) is more careless, as if they don't attach much importance to it and are just engaging in it for fun. When an extratim uses his or her leading function, there is a greater sense of purpose, awareness, and urgency. The extratim has the intention of actually affecting others with his leading function, whereas an introtim using his or her creative function seems to be just playing around for personal needs or enjoyment.

The introverted extratim

Many, if not most extratims do not use their leading function for social expansion in every situation they find themselves in. Some actually do, but many others are quite deliberate, observant, and socially detached. Even people with leading extraverted ethics or extraverted sensing can be like this. These extratims generally speak and act deliberately, often with a bit of hesitation and reservation. They seem less open about their intentions and always seem to be considering something in their minds. They don't have the need to air their thoughts to practically everyone they meet like more gregarious extratims, but are more selective about when to express themselves. In social situations they often appear to be using their creative function (or another introverted function), but their values and decisions come from their leading function. What makes these extratims different from introtims is that they barely respond to other people's initiative, whereas even extraverted introtims are usually receptive and supportive of others' initiative. When an introverted extratim uses his creative function (and other introverted functions), he does so "carelessly" or "for fun" -- more just to get a kick out of it (suggestive function) or because he is in the mood at the moment (creative function). When an introtim uses his leading function, there is a sense of seriousness and greater concern and carefulness about what he is saying and doing.

Compare, for instance, the playful theorizing of ILEs and SLEs with the weighty thoughts of LIIs and LSIs. Or the haphazard and situational emotionality of SEIs and IEIs with the deliberate and focused emotions of ESEs and EIEs. The situational technical solutions of SLIs and ILIs and the productivity and efficiency-based life philosophy of LIEs and LSEs. Or the playful and changeable friendliness of SEEs and IEEs with the long-term alliances and moral awareness of ESIs and EIIs.

Each function can be used to observe and think/feel as well as to act and speak, regardless of whether the function is introverted or extraverted. "Introverted" people observe and think more, while "extraverted" people act and speak more readily. Hopefully, the above descriptions will help realize how to tell apart some of the less obvious extratims and introtims without assuming that such people are acting "out of type."

Jan 11, 2008

Typing Teachings, Movements, and Communities: Traders

By "traders" I am referring to the community of stock market and currency traders. Just as in backpacking, there are many different approaches to trading. Some people espouse a very technical approach, analyzing the technical characteristics of each trend in great detail, while others maintain an intuitive approach (in the non-socionic sense). Some people trade alone, while others discuss every move with their colleagues. On the whole, however, the integral type of the trading community seems to be LIE.

extraverted intuition: If there is a 'search' in trading, it is only for new information and approaches. However, this information is finite and potentially accessible to other traders, so when it is found, it is generally kept to oneself. Compared to backpacking -- a much more adventurous activity -- extraverted intuition receives even less emphasis among traders. Traders don't "go" anywhere, really.

extraverted sensing: Willpower and the desire to succeed and overcome obstacles is emphasized a lot more. The nature of trading means that many must fail in order for others to succeed. This fact injects a great deal of extraverted sensing into the community. People share stories of their financial ups and downs and how they pulled themselves together and overcame losses. However, this is not the primary subject of discussion among the community of traders.

extraverted logic: Technical details are the main emphasis in the trading community. People try out different trading platforms, indicators, methods, algorithms, systems, etc. and talk about the pros and cons of each in great detail (while taking care not to give their "secrets" away -- contrast that with the LSE backpacking community). People discuss facts about companies, markets, news, events, economic growth and decline, etc. and talk about how this might effect their stocks or currencies. We can see already that extraverted logic is applied in the context of introverted intuition (what is happening and what will happen; how one event is connected to another) rather than introverted sensing (what is needed and how to satisfy needs).

extraverted ethics: This aspect is just as repressed among traders as among backpackers. Trading is largely an individual pursuit, and success is experienced individually or in a small group, so there is no way group bonding or "fun" can occur.

introverted intuition: A great deal of foresight is required to trade, and traders encourage each other to try to envision what might happen and to be prepared for it and keep their calm when it does. Compared to backpacking, trading by definition involves a focus on the past and the future. "What do you think will happen?" is one of the most common questions among trading circles.

introverted sensing: Satisfying needs and taking proper care of yourself is deemphasized, as it seems to be almost irrelevant to success, which depends far more on the ability to guess right and see the future.

introverted logic: Just as in backpacking, in trading there are many viewpoints, but no "doctrine." In fact, the very nature of trading breaks down any doctrine; as soon as too many different people start thinking the same things and acting the same, someone else can step in and steal all their profits. This fact preserves a plurality of "doctrines" and makes practice and correct vision much more important than how well one understands trading gurus' writings. Success in trading is measured in dollar signs, not the ability to elucidate one's views.

introverted ethics: Ethics and morals are largely irrelevant to a trader's work. Compared to backpacking, there may be less value placed on introverted ethics among traders, or perhaps it is paired with extraverted sensing (emotionally supporting those you have material ties to) rather than with extraverted intuition (being nice to everyone in the world) as in backpacking? Compared to backpacking, the competitive and speculative nature of trading means that people are often nastier to each other. At the same time, if someone has experienced failure, the trading community will give him moral support and encouragement (after all, most people fail, so learning to keep one's head up and try again is key), whereas the backpacking community would chastise the person for any dumb mistakes made.