Jan 20, 2010

Socionics in Public: Ukrainian Politics

An article just came out on a leading Ukrainian news site, Pravda.com.ua, called "Between SLE and ESI: a Socionic Portrait of the Leading Candidates" (article text provided in English through Google Translate; original is in Ukrainian).

Some readers may know that Ukraine just had its first round of presidential elections since the Orange Revolution of 2004-2005. This article talks about the types of the three main figures from the Orange Revolution. Yuschenko became president, Tymoshenko spent much of the past 5 years as Prime Minister, and Yanukovych was defeated in the past election and spent the 5 years as the head of the opposition. So, these three figures have been the most prominent politicians of recent Ukrainian history.

The article's author, the "head of a socionics academy" (my experience suggests this is an exaggeration; "socionics instructor" would likely be more accurate) proposes the types of SLE, ESI, and LIE for Tymoshenko, Yanukovych, and Yuschenko, respectively. Setting aside the issue of whether these types are correct (my opinions can be found on my wikisocion page), I want to look at the usefulness of this article in general.

First of all, do the descriptions provided fit the individuals? Yes -- they are perhaps 80-90% accurate, as least as far as the average reasonably informed viewer/reader is able to judge.

Were the type descriptions modified to be more relevant to the specific person being described? Yes, obviously so. For instance, as an LIE Yuschenko "craves freedom of speech and individual actions in society." With her EIE subtype Tymoshenko is able to "achieve her ends with military cunning and punish demonstratively." Obviously, these are "politicized" type portraits that would have much less relevance for your average representative of the type.

How are multi-faceted aspects of their personalities addressed? Using subtypes -- not one, but two. Tymoshenko's IEI subtype allows her to "portray a weak woman when needed." Her EIE subtype allows her to "sense and provide what her audience wants to hear." Yuschenko's ILE subtype allows him to "study ethnic characteristics and value and develop ethnic culture," etc.

Are non-Ego functions at all described? Yes. Some of these are addressed under the headings: "Sympathises with," "Needs," and "Is activated by."

Are intertype relations addressed? No. For instance, how does Yanukovych and Yuschenko's supposed dual relationship manifest itself, if at all?

What do you think of these kinds of socionic portrait appearing in mass media?


Rick said...

I liked this one: as an ESI Yanukovych is good at "buying and reselling real estate profitably" :))

MiNiStEr Of pLaYiNg said...

o.O socionics in mass media!!!! Yay finally you blogged. I've been waiting for your post for the past 4 months!!!!

Expat said...

Well if you propose a main type - SLE - which then has two subtypes - EIE and IEI - then you can fit almost any type on anyone. So, such socionics portraits mean, essentially, nothing. Besides, even if what the author described was indeed all that there is to Yulia Tymoshenko (which I disagree with, as you know), the author would be on safer ground if he typed her as EIE and left it at that - not my own typing of her, but that's not the point.

Expat said...

By the way, Rick, my present view is that the most likely types for that trio are LSI for Yanukovych, LIE for Tymoshenko, and EIE for Yushchenko (not LSE as I thought). It seems to me that Yushchenko and Tymoshenko's relationship followed a pattern I have often seen in EIE-LIE: that is, it works very well, professionally and even personally, as long as it's clear - especially publicly - that the EIE is the LIE's boss. So they could work well together as long as YT was VY's deputy prime minister. The moment she became prime minister, with a claim to own authority independently from the president's, the relationship soured as VY saw her actions as deliberately trying to undermine him politically - I think he said as much. As for Yanukovych, my typing as LSI stems from a mix of what is known of his life, his public image and how he comes across and some of his comments - anyway LSI more likely than SLE, the other type I considered.

Anonymous said...

The application of socionics in political analysis is of limited use, though it might be worth to elaborate some kind of models of it.

It might be also case that socionics could be a bigger explanatory factor in those societies where personalities of politicians play a bigger role, i.e. in presidential democracies, autocracies and/or fragmented institutional regimes.

For example, if B. Yeltzin had known about socionics, he would not have chosen V. Putin as his successor (if he really cared about democracy at all). Because, although before geting into power, V. Putin publicly presented himself as true democrat and opponent to strong-hand-rule, later his actual behavior has proved be entirely different, and in this story his socionic type might have played not the most minor role.

I have also read quite interesting (and indeed well elaborated) research paper which drawing on grounds of cognitive psychology showed how the personality of M. Gorbachev affected the fate of the Soviet Union. It might be that socionics could somehow to suplement such line of analysis. The idea, that the personality of one man could be so important for the fate of the whole political system is based on the empirical fact that the very system was of pyramid shape, and the individual on the top could make voluntaristic decisions, that would be hardly imaginable in democratic polities, where the effective institutions of check and balances exist and etc.

So if the system allows the voluntaristic (or individualistic) choices of some persons that could go against the path of development of the very system, then socionics might contribute analysis with quite interesting insights.

Also one could mention some works of Gulenko (about prevailing beta and gama political systems) and etc, that are of some philosophical merit, though taking into account the present shape of political sciences, it could be only poorly integrated (if not marginalised).

Finally, talking about such analysis in media, one cannot overall reject possibility to apply a socionic framework to produce a popular article based on good analysis and contributing with interesting facts. But always one has to be very cautious about the causal status of socionic factors. In most cases, social phenomena are produced by structures of multiple or conjectural causality, so the very attempt to show evidence, that the type of personality (and only the type) is a single determinant factor predicting behavior of one or another politician, in most cases should appear too strong and unrealistic.