In previous posts I have discussed the pervasive lack of scientific method in socionics. All socionic studies conducted so far have been one of two types:
- Studies of type-related behavior that accepted as a given that participants' types had been identified correctly.
- Studies of socionists' opinions regarding socionics and socionic types.
Neither of these types of studies is of much use to researchers outside the socionics community. None prove the existence of types, intertype relations, or other concepts, or demonstrate the precise physiological or mental characteristics associated with socionic categories. I know of no ways of proving any of socionics experimentally. If you do, please leave a comment after the article.
However, if we broaden our interests to include psychological compatibility, personality differences, and perception, then we can potentially create lots of good studies with real scientific value that would touch on -- but not prove -- theoretical elements of socionics. Here are some ideas for such experiments.
Does psychological compatibility exist?
Try to determine whether different combinations of people living or working together closely experience significantly different levels of compatibility, and whether these levels are dependent upon particular pairings of people.
"Compatibility" could be measured physiologically (levels of hormones in the blood associated with stress, contentment, irritation, etc.) verbally (using questionnaires), or through observation (how much time people spend talking, characteristics of conversation, etc.). A combination of the three would be most informative, but if the subjects knew that the object of the study was to measure psychological compatibility, that might color their responses to the different people they are paired with. To avoid this, questionnaires could be about subject's general emotional state, mood level, and well-being in order to not give hints about the real purpose of the study. Subjects would be told the purpose of the study was to find out more about their physiological responses to living conditions, for instance. Questionnaires and blood tests should be administered once daily at the same time each day. Daily routine would be the same each day. Observation would be conducted through hidden microphones that would record the amount of time each day that the people spend talking. If other patterns are discovered, researchers could analyze conversations for other parameters as well, such as the amount of laughter, emotional tone, or range of topics discussed.
To allow for compatibility to be clearly felt, subjects would ideally need to spend at least one week together in an isolated setting. They should have some kind of work to do, but nothing that would involve anyone other than each other.
Possible settings include:
- a prison where inmates spend most of their waking time in their cells without external contact
- a hospital ward or sanatorium where people are recovering from long-term illnesses in a stationary setting
- an artificial setting, such as a summer camp in the woods specifically for the experiment
Participants of a single sex and heterosexual orientation (to rule out confounding sexual factors) are paired randomly multiple times (say, 4 times over 4 weeks) and made to spend most or all of their time together. Blood tests and questionnaires are given daily at the same time each day. Participants may be given tasks that require them to interact more closely with their roommate. A hidden microphone tracks the amount of time each day that roommates spend talking, and can be used to analyze conversation content. At the end of each week, participants are abruptly moved to a different location (room) where they are paired with another person they have never met before.
Variation 1: Participants could be reunited with one or more previous roommate at some point in the experiment. Researchers would be checking to see whether compatibility levels are the same as the first time together.
Variation 2: Pair partners with people of the opposite sex (if they are both heterosexual) to see how results change when gender factors are introduced. This could make things complicated.
Variation 3: The study could be duplicated for both sexes to allow for comparison of results between the sexes.
Such a study would produce a large and very interesting body of data with a myriad of possible conclusions. Here are some questions that might be answered:
- Do people have stable compatibility levels with others? Or do levels (as measured in the experiment) fluctuate?
- If they are stable, how quickly are those levels achieved? Within one day? Five days?
- Are all people equally susceptible to compatibility? Or are there people who tend to be compatible, or incompatible, with everyone or nearly everyone?
- How widely do compatibility levels fluctuate? Is the fluctuation the same or different for different participants?
- How well do people's self-reports correlate with blood test results? Is their perception of their own state correct?
- How does audio data from hidden microphones correlate with blood tests and self-reporting? Do more compatible partners always talk more? What, if anything, is different about their audible interaction? What about incompatible partners?
- When people are paired repeatedly with the same person, how closely do the results of the second period together match those of the first? Are there any patterns, such as that incompatible partners get even worse, or compatible ones get even better?
Most likely, many other things would be discovered that aren't on the list.
Implications for socionics
Such a study could support or refute some of socionics' basic claims and assumptions about intertype relations and compatibility.