Oct 12, 2011

How Life Circumstances Influence Perception of Socionics

Now that I've criticized socionics in several blog posts, I will present a new perspective that may begin to reconcile different viewpoints on the accuracy of socionics*.


* When I write "socionics," I am referring to intertype relations — the core and purpose of socionics theory.

How acutely a person experiences socionics depends on their current life circumstances. You may go through phases where socionics seems to hold little sway over you, and phases where socionics seems to imprison you or dictate how you feel and what you are able to accomplish.

Here are the kinds of things that influence your sensitivity to intertype relations:
  • How well-adapted you are in general at this stage in life. How stable your work and close relationships are.
  • How much freedom you have to choose and regulate relationships and activities.
  • Whether you are spending more time one-on-one with people or in groups.
  • How much variety is built into your lifestyle.
The "worst" possible situation is when you are poorly adapted, have few friends, unstable work, are stuck with whoever you live and work with and are unable to maintain personal boundaries and spiritual hygiene, belong to no groups, and live a lifestyle with little variety. In these life circumstances socionic relations are likely to be experienced very acutely, with many or most intertype relations producing distress. The range of acceptably compatible people narrows to a very small group that is able to reach you through your chronic stress and defensive position.

The "best" possible situation is when you are well adapted, have several close friends and confidants, a stable work situation, freedom to choose and adjust your partnerships and activities to suit your tastes, belong to groups where you participate in interesting and enjoyable group interaction, and have variety built into your lifestyle such that you are engaging the mind, body, and emotions in a number of different ways on a regular basis. In these life circumstances socionic relations may seem to hold little sway over you, and virtually everyone seems compatible in some way or another. The range of people you are able to connect with meaningfully expands, and your openness and sense of security makes it easy to brush off slight manifestations of incompatibility that you might otherwise be sensitive to.

But beyond the influence of life circumstances, it seems that some inherent and developed personality traits can make a person more or less susceptible to socionics. For instance, a typical extravert (in the popular sense) may find that while they personally don't sense incompatibility with other people, for some reason others often react negatively to them and say they are "pushy," "overbearing," "too talkative," etc. Typical extraverts may generally feel untouched by socionics, while occasionally experiencing periods of intense loneliness when they feel that everyone dislikes them and they have no true friends (or for other reasons). Typical introverts (in the popular sense) may generally feel highly susceptible to intertype relations and only able to tolerate a narrow range of highly compatible people. Occasionally some of these introverts may experience states where they can open up and briefly abandon their sensitivity.

Furthermore, one can develop attitudes that affect how acutely socionics is felt. I'm not sure "develop" is the right word, because I think even this type of development is largely outside of conscious control. For instance, if one comes to believe things like — 1) one's own perception is innately limited and prone to error, 2) all people contain some amount of wisdom to be learned from, or 3) all people experience the same basic things and can thus be empathized with — then a greater openness can be felt towards other people, softening the effects of socionics. Likewise, beliefs such as — 1) I know the truth, 2) it is my duty to bring the truth to other people, 3) some people are good and others bad, or 4) some people are innately defective — will tend to make one's experience of intertype relationships more acute than otherwise.

Some life circumstances allow a person to escape the "necessity" of duality (or let's just say, "fulfilling intimate relationships"). The formula I have discovered for this is:
  • a vastly simplified lifestyle that allows you to keep your mind uncluttered
  • a high degree of freedom and elective solitude
  • large amounts of group interaction
  • frequent new acquaintances with the option of getting to know people quickly and thoroughly
This is the lifestyle of the wandering philosopher, the spiritual teacher, the long-distance hiker or skilled solo traveler. Those in this position get to experience the best of people (their life experiences, accumulated knowledge, hopes and dreams) while avoiding the worst (finding ways to cooperate in day-to-day living). Living this way, you may develop a kind of "love of mankind"; instead of emotionally latching on to particular individuals you know well, you experience positive feelings for everyone you meet and for the world in general. In this state duality and deep intimacy may lose their importance because you are regularly connecting deeply with many different people. This is the lifestyle of Jesus (assuming the New Testament is accurate), the Dalai Lama, Ghandi, and some long-distance travelers I've met. I think some types are more predisposed to develop this way.

(I encourage readers to think about if there are other types of lifestyles that produce similar effects but work for different kinds of people.)

To summarize, sensitivity to intertype relations as described by socionics is highly influenced by how healthy your life circumstances are at the moment, how sensitive you are physiologically and psychologically, what attitudes you have developed, and whether you are traveling.

7 comments:

Edinburgh guy said...

Rick - even in a post where you sort of play down socionics, the effect of socionics type on one's perspective is illustrated.

When you write (reversing order to make my point better):

"beliefs such as — 1) I know the truth, 2) it is my duty to bring the truth to other people, 3) some people are good and others bad, or 4) some people are innately defective — will tend to make one's experience of intertype relationships more acute than otherwise. "

Well, the above can easily be seen as the traits (or caricature versions thereof) of LSIs, and secondarily ESIs: strong, black-and-white Ti and Fi certainties with regard to "the truth" and people's characters. So, no surprise that such people would be perceived by an IEE more glaringly in terms of intertype relationships. What you said is, well, LSIs (and ESIs) have beliefs that make their relationships more sensitive to socionics - well, of course it would seem that way to an IEE.

And before that you said, "for instance, if one comes to believe things like — 1) one's own perception is innately limited and prone to error, 2) all people contain some amount of wisdom to be learned from, or 3) all people experience the same basic things and can thus be empathized with — then a greater openness can be felt towards other people, softening the effects of socionics". Sure. That is a self-description, and a description of Deltas generally and IEEs in particular: it's a NeFi perspective. Of course that would appear as the "best one" to you.

What you have said boils down to: "if people are more like IEEs, then they can have relationships less susceptible to socionics effecs. If they are more like LSIs, then their relationships will be more susceptible to such effects".

In other words: the way to make socionics effects irrelevant, according to you as an IEE, is for everyone to be as little like a LSI, and as much as an IEE, as possible. I beg to differ. I think the solution is for everyone to be more like my own type, and less like my conflicting type.

Edinburgh guy said...

@eagledove9

This trait, in your words:

"they feel that they know 'the truth' that the rest of the world doesn't know. They may feel desperate to convince the public of this truth, or else we are all going to die, very soon, when the world's climate gets destroyed. So they feel a sense of fear and urgency to convince people that they have to change their entire lifestyle right this instant, or we will all die."

This sort of "messianic mission based on a certain knowledge of the truth that most others are too dumb or blind to see" is most typical of the Beta quadra, based on Ti,Se, and Ni acting together. But it does not follow that only Betas, or only LSIs, will show those traits. My point with my previous comment was this: for Rick as an IEE, the elements he dislikes the most when used by other people are Ti and Se. LSIs are the most obvious users of such elements, but by no means the only ones - that is why I wrote about people acting like LSIs, rather than being LSIs necessarily.

On climate researchers and that MBTI article, I would say that those type statistics are nearly irrelevant as far as socionics types are concerned. But to the extent that climate researchers show the traits outlined by the paragraph I quoted, I would say that they are of types prone to "act like LSIs". Among the most famous climate researchers, I see these types: James Hansen - EIE; Michael Mann - SEI; Gavin Schmidt - SEI; Kevin Trenberth - LSI; Ben Santer - SEI. Roger Pielke Sr & Jr are LSE and IEE, respectively, in my opinion - which fits their lack of inclination to act with "Ti certainty". Judith Curry may well be an ESI.

Edinburgh guy said...

Rick - on this, which you list as a trait likely to make you more susceptible to socionics effects: that is, if you incline towards thinking that "some people are innately defective".

That is perhaps the antithesis of NeFi. But "defective" is a matter of perspective. For instance, what made an EII friend of mine dislike the whole idea of socionics was the implication that a colleague at work, whom he could not stand, was "beyound hope" - because she was a SLE, as I typed her. From his point of view as EII, that SLE woman would be "innately defective" if she was stuck with being a SLE - which appalled him. Of course, that would not be how she saw herself. And that is precisely the point.

Rick said...

@Edinburgh guy, regarding your first post.

There might be a bit of truth in what you say, and I think I saw things that way some years ago. However, now I am convinced that some people are inherently easier to get along with than others, regardless of their type. Some people grate on most others, while other people are appealing to most others. And there is no one type or set of types that is "more appealing." I tend to think that each type has a roughly equal percentage of "grating" and "appealing" individuals.

This post was actually precipitated in large measure by spending nearly 2 weeks in very close quarters with an ESE who grated on literally everyone around us, including the following types: IEE, SLI, SEI, ESE, EIE, LSI, IEI.

The characterizations of LSIs and ESIs and IEEs that you give are typical of socionics lore, but I mostly disagree with them. I can think of plenty of counterexamples from real life, including likeable LSIs that have tempered some of their inherent plainness and directness with a healthy awareness of their own limitations, and even an IEE who few people like because of his absolutist views and authoritarian air.

I believe Ne, Te, Fe, Si, etc. can all be "black-and-white" just as much as Ti or Fi. "Black-and-whiteness" is not a characteristic of one socionic function or another, but rather a reflection of unsophistication in the development of a function. Someone with leading Ti can develop a sophisticated understanding of the world that recognizes the value of different kinds of people just as much as a Fi or Ne person. Likewise, an ESI can develop a sophisticated system of ethical judgments that recognizes that there is a mixture of different qualities in each person.

>>In other words: the way to make socionics effects irrelevant, according to you as an IEE, is for everyone to be as little like a LSI, and as much as an IEE, as possible.

I would put it differently: "develop a worldview that is inclusive, friendly, and sophisticated rather than exclusive, unfriendly, and black-and-white." Would you still disagree with that?

After writing this much, I can say that I probably unfairly focused on attitudes alone in the "additional factors" section. Attitudes are, indeed, an IEE specialty. In practice, however, we observe that attitudes are only one of several classes of phenomena that can drive people away from you and make your relationships difficult. Others include things like whether you are fair, equitable, respectful, considerate, give rather than just take, generous, and have a healthy body or not. I'm sure you would agree that IEEs don't have an edge on other types in these categories, even though they indeed may tend to have more sophisticated attitudes regarding the value of other people.

Rick said...

>>Rick - on this, which you list as a trait likely to make you more susceptible to socionics effects: that is, if you incline towards thinking that "some people are innately defective". That is perhaps the antithesis of NeFi.

Actually, this "defective" thing is something I have heard from LSEs, SLIs, and LIEs. It seems to be more of a Te sentiment.

>>But "defective" is a matter of perspective. For instance, what made an EII friend of mine dislike the whole idea of socionics was the implication that a colleague at work, whom he could not stand, was "beyound hope" - because she was a SLE, as I typed her. From his point of view as EII, that SLE woman would be "innately defective" if she was stuck with being a SLE - which appalled him. Of course, that would not be how she saw herself. And that is precisely the point.

But if she apparently views her own type characteristics as the general ideal, then she will grate on people unnecessarily, which is precisely my point:))

Edinburgh guy said...

"But if she apparently views her own type characteristics as the general ideal, then she will grate on people unnecessarily, which is precisely my point:))"

Ok, but let me clarify a few things.

I was careful to say "acting like a LSI" rather than being a LSI, because, as I said, the traits you were listing as making people more susceptible to socionics effects can be easily described as manifestations of Ti backed by Se (and Fi, to a lesser extent). Since those elements are those that an IEE would find most "grating", I think it all fits together - and as far as that goes, I see no reason to change my argument.

Which brings us to the other point I think you made, that is, that - as individuals - LSIs or ESIs or whatever don't necessarily have to be the most grating when using Ti and Se. Which I agree with.

So the two issues, together, boil down to this: as an IEE you'd be most annoyed by aggresive, clumsy, grating Ti+Se; raising the question: who would be most likely to be annoying when using Ti and Se?

Actually I don't think that LSIs would be the culprits in most cases. Being confident in those elements - and noticing how many other people react to an "overbearing" use of them - LSIs would actually be likely to contain themselves.

I suggest thst it is people with a "chip on their shoulder" with regard to Ti and Se that would be the most likely to overcompensate - aggressively, clumsily - in Ti and Se; and such people would indeed be grating to most others - but particularly so to an IEE.

Some examples:

- SEIs who won't admit to being wrong about their understanding of something, and who react aggressively to counter-arguments (one example is Michael Mann, whom I mentioned in a comment here, above)
- EIEs who are paranoid about their supposed social status, or hierarchical position, being challenged, questioned, or ridiculed - which may also include "being right" about something
- IEIs who, like SEis, will stubbornly cling to what they think they understood, only they are less likely to be personally, openly aggressive (one example: Robert Mugabe)

Going beyond Ti and Se, other examples of people being grating because of over-compensating on their superid would be:

- LIEs who sort of want to rub it in how powerful and successful they are, how hot their wives are, etc (example: Sarkozy)
- SLEs who will mock and ridicule a person in a group - sometimes even their own partner - for the sake of being perceived as funny by the whole group (Bill Shatner may be an example)

I think you know what I mean, even if you don't necessarily agree :)

I suggest thst those people - of any type - who most others find grating are those who, for whatever reason, have a huge chip on their shoulder in their superid, and that, in your case in particular, you're more likely to find the overcompensation in Ti+Se grating.

Actually, what you said about Te types being more likely to see some people as innately defective is consistent with what I am saying - it would be anovercompensation of their Fi.

Finally, interesting that you complain about such people being grating, that is, unpleasant. Sure, nobody likes unpleasant people - but please note that a susceptibility to people, or the environment, being unpleasant is a manifestation of Si as a suggestive function.

I will stop here and give you the last word - if you care to reply - since I realise I may be getting "high-Ti and zero-Si" grating, myself.

Rick said...

>>I suggest thst it is people with a "chip on their shoulder" with regard to Ti and Se that would be the most likely to overcompensate - aggressively, clumsily - in Ti and Se; and such people would indeed be grating to most others - but particularly so to an IEE. ...

I suggest thst those people - of any type - who most others find grating are those who, for whatever reason, have a huge chip on their shoulder in their superid, and that, in your case in particular, you're more likely to find the overcompensation in Ti+Se grating.


Fair enough. This is an astute observation — thanks!:)