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.
  • "...one 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.


thehotelambush said...

The thing is, socionics has identified some core traits that, while not comprehensive, have a definite effect on the quality of most relationships, and I highly doubt it will be contradicted by anything else we discover.

As long as these sites keep adjusting for new data without coming up with some consistent theory like socionics, they are going to be left in the dark.

For instance, why should levels of hormones be correlated with compatibility? (And if they really are, why don't they just measure them directly, instead of via vague multiple-choice test questions?)


OMG no Ti. Schwartz's (IEE?) "system" is not really a system, it's just a list of characteristics. While the individual characteristics and their effect on compatibility are probably important, she doesn't relate them together at all.

Anonymous said...

nice summary of the info in the linked article.

the article doesn't really define "instability". rick, what is your take on how this is defined?

Rick said...

thehotelambush, good point about measuring hormone levels directly. I wish I knew more about that, but I don't actually recall ever hearing about people having dopamine or seratonin levels measured -- it seems like their levels are simply inferred behaviorally, which seems like a cop-out.

My intuition is that the levels of different hormones have a lot to do with compatibility, at least on the intratype level.

I understand your criticism for not having a system (and Schwartz's idea of one isn't really a "system" :)), but I see their vast and impressive experience leading them to a possible partial convergence with socionics. These people are doing the kinds of things or at least thinking about the kinds of things that could give socionics a big practical boost.

>> the article doesn't really define "instability". rick, what is your take on how this is defined?

I think they're just using the term loosely. I imagine it has something to do with "neuroticism" levels as defined by the Big 5 (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Five_personality_traits#Neuroticism), or lack of control of one's emotional reactions. People who are high on that or any other negative scale might have general compatibility issues with almost all people, and only the most carefully chosen and patient partners would be able to tolerate them in day-to-day life.

Brilliand said...

I think the similarity observed in happily married couples is more likely the result of the good relationship than the cause of it.

Specifically, a dual who is allowed to become close may well "remake your super-id in his own image" - and if you do the same to him, you will seem alike to those who don't put too much pressure on these "new strengths".

*Using generic "he"

Rick said...

Well said, Brilliand. If the job of remaking your Super-Id in his/her image is too difficult because you "don't have what it takes," there will be disappointment and a likely break-up. So the dual has to see the right potential there for him to imprint his values, preferences, and behavior patterns on you. He has to see that you're trying to do or would like to be doing the things that he believes in.

Frederick Arthur said...

just a thought - pause: glad to see this blog so fruitful; returned to c waz up..cool! - .. don't adults gradually relax into all these hormanal value behaviours? It's probably more obvious in kids. An interesting thing i have thought of: dopamine does not really do anything...only being an inhibitor mediator substance..so-as when there is alot of inter-brain activity...say between forebrain(planning),ocsipital(3d ref perhaps) and hippocampus (memory formation)..then with all the inter-activity dopamin tends to be secreted alot. I was'ent popular in school, explaining extra Dopamin and less Seratonin; however, as in adulcy...now that the timings and course of life is set more...i feel those characters more. Being ILI/intp testosterone is only something i felt when enraged and seeing a total failure of systems...into adultcy, this has become more common..as one takes on a sense of responsibility for others weaknesses. In school i allowed myself many creative binges.. concurrently noting that logical females all of a sudden became weak kneed (till silence became my more comfortable wall). In general.. i don't know what to think of this... but it is good and with merit