Aug 19, 2010

Integrative and Disintegrative Tendencies in Society

I have been listening to an interesting audiobook in Russian called Istoriya Otmorozhennykh v Kontekste Globalnogo Potepleniya about how climate changes have impacted past civilizations and determined cultural development. The main thesis of the book (written by a journalist, Aleksandr Nikonov, with a strong background in climatology and ancient history) is that comparatively difficult climatological conditions breed integrative tendencies, whereas periods of more favorable climate correspond to disintegrative tendencies.

Do integrative and disintegrative processes correspond to quadra dominance? I tend to think so. Looking at the psychology of individual types, it seems like the most integrative types are in the Beta Quadra while the most disintegrative are in the Delta Quadra. By "integration" I am referring to the centralization of power, decision making, and social life. Disintegration would be the decentralization (or individualization) of all of the above.

The types of Alpha and Gamma quadras seem to have a mixture of integrative and disintegrative tendencies and are harder to put in either of those boxes.

Could it be that a worsening of natural living conditions pushes a society towards integrative processes and that an improvement in conditions promotes a growth in local prosperity and autonomy, and hence a decline in unity?

A secondary thesis of the book is that historically conflicts have been won by the side with the less favorable climate conditions relative to the norm for the location. Numerous examples are cited using the global and regional climate records as a guide. No society is able to maintain a linear integrative or disintegrative trend; there are always major fluctuations on the order of 20 to 100 years.

Assuming the first hypothesis is mostly true, the second might also make sense. Locations with the greatest worsening of conditions receive the greatest integrative stimulus. They also have nowhere to go; for them victory may be a matter of life or death. People defending prosperous, decentralized areas may be poorly organized and psychologically unprepared for the privations of war.

Assuming these hypotheses have some truth to them, what types of processes might we expect in the next 50 years or so, considering climate and geographical factors (which are a hobby of mine, for those that haven't noticed)?

At first, global warming initially probably made conditions more favorable for many or most areas of the globe. This would theoretically stimulate a weakening of central contral and integration. As warming continues and begins to create worse conditions for living and agriculture, we might expect centralization to increase. Places where conditions have worsened the most rapidly will be prone to unite more quickly and enjoy a military advantage over others.

As an example, imagine that Lake Mead goes dry (not hard to imagine, since it's already well on its way) and Las Vegas is left without water. In order to survive, people must band together and strictly observe pragmatic rules to make due with limited shared resources. But still there is not enough for everyone. So Las Vegasites start moving out in organized groups to the nearest more favorable sites, which are probably in southwest Utah. There they raid the local farms and bring the region under their personal control, duplicating whichever structural organization they had developed during their tough days in Las Vegas and en route. Utah, meanwhile, is also suffering from mild drought, but not nearly severe enough to make them band together in a social-military unit capable of withstanding the desperate Nevadans.

This is just an example. When I finish the book, I'll probably add some global scenarios and modify what I've written so far.

[added later: nope, nothing to add]

Aug 14, 2010

My Personal Typology

Last edit: 29 Oct. 2012 (sensitivity added)

My personal typology includes not only socionics, but bits and pieces of other systems and observations that I have found to be important in my interactions with other people. My typology is not systematized, but here's what it includes:

  1. Socionic type captures key aspects of how a person interacts with his environment. It is able to answer perhaps 50% of the question, "who is this person?"
  2. Gender encompasses the overarching biological program of the individual and broad communication styles and expectations that can create both attraction and problems between the sexes, regardless of socionic type. Within the genders, varying levels of male and female hormones add additional variety.
  3. Striking characteristics or experience, if any, play a critical role in the lives of people who possess them. Examples include: someone who spends most of their time traveling around different countries, an Albanian immigrant living in the U.S., a WWII-era former spy, a concentration camp survivor, a professional basketball player, a grotesquely obese person, a dwarf or midget, someone with a serious stutter, a CEO, a person who makes a living off selling his own art, etc. In such cases, you can understand a great deal about a person simply by recognizing their striking characteristics, which may override or enhance type-related inborn personality traits.
  4. Somatotype, e.g. levels of endomorphy, mesomorphy, and ectomorphy, help to explain things like why one ILE is physically adventurous while another is mentally adventurous, why one SEI is more comforting and nurturing and another SEI more ascetic and austere, or why one ILI is distant and another chummy. Physical constitution also may carry over into the sexual sphere, influencing the types of movements and touching that people find sexual.
  5. Intellect or IQ, particularly closer to the extremes, adds a confounding factor to intertype relations, helping to explain why people who "should" get along according to socionics and common sense sometimes don't, and vice versa. For people close to the mean, this factor plays a smaller role in their lives.
  6. Sensitivity, particularly whether a person is highly sensitive (HSP) or not.
  7. Sexual attractiveness, including all relevant factors (looks, financial success, status), helps to capture hidden layers of competition and mating behavior (attraction and rejection) occuring between people regardless of their other characteristics.
  8. Activity level, including hyperactivity and speed of speech, sometimes plays a role in interpersonal interaction, helping to explain, for instance, why one SEE tires you and another doesn't.
Points 5, 6, 7, and sometimes 4 often don't play much of a role unless they are striking, which means they could conceivably be included in point 3 -- "striking characteristics or experience."

Aug 8, 2010

Finally, a Socionics Book I Can Recommend

Well-known socionist Ekaterina Filatova of St. Petersburg has finally got a book published in English: Understanding the People Around You: An Introduction to Socionics. It is an English-language version of her popular book in Russian that sold around 75,000 copies. You can order it on

While I have only skimmed the book in Russian, I think it is one of the best introductions to socionics on the Russian market and definitely the best (of three to date) on the English market. Maybe now the pressure will be off for me to write a book on socionics? :)

Filatova prefers to use a simplified 4-function model of the psyche (Augusta's original, so-called "Model J"), but in practice this doesn't seem to affect things much.

Here is the cover of the book: