Dec 17, 2007

Why the Reinin Dichotomies Are Trivial

The Reinin Dichotomies (more from are a set of 15 symmetrical dichotomies -- or breakdowns -- of the 16 socionic types. They include the original four dichotomies (sensing/intuition, etc.), which are commonly called the "Jungian Foundation." Now there are 11 more, and more is better, right? More dichotomies = more accuracy?...

When I was first studying socionics, I came across two Reinin dichotomies -- "Positivism/Negativism" and "Questioning/Declaring" -- in the works of Augusta. They were mentioned as basically "additional traits that we have observed" -- a sort of afterthought to the main dichotomies, which she discussed in depth. They seemed to fit me, but they did not offer a whole lot of descriptive power beyond a narrow set of situations such as talking about ideas ("questioning/declaring") or giving evaluations ("positivism/negativism"), so I didn't pay much attention to them. Moreover, they had no theoretical explanation within socionics, so they seemed little different than observations that many extraverted sensing males have a similar balding pattern, etc.

Later I got ahold of Augusta's article The Theory of Reinin's Traits (dichotomies), which offered some prospects, but the descriptions once again were too narrow to be very interesting or useful, and many were simply too obscure to understand. I realized that most of the dichotomies came from applying formal logic to the socionics model to "see what it could do." I read through the descriptions several times, made note for a while of things that seemed to apply to various dichotomies, and gradually paid less and less attention to them.

When I got more involved with the socionics community, I noticed that many, many people were using the Reinin dichotomies in incompetent ways. By incompetent I mean that they took Augusta's or others' hypothetical descriptions at face value and were applying them to online and in-person diagnosis without demonstrating a clear understanding of the Reinin dichotomies or even the original four Jungian dichotomies. There was nothing to suggest that they were achieving greater accuracy; on the contrary, there was even more confusion due to the fact that the Reinin dichotomies -- poorly described as they are -- were being given the same weight as the Jungian dichotomies. Plus, the difficulty of using 15 dichotomies is that only four are needed to determine a type, and using more than that greatly increases the likelihood of contradictory results.

Now I view the Reinin dichotomies as an example of introverted logic excess ("let's see what other structures result if we apply all possible postulates inherent in the original structure"). A sign of this is that it takes a great deal of preparation and thought to understand and begin to apply the Reinin dichotomies, and the "return on investment" is positively miniscule. By comparison, I guarantee that if you invest the same amount of time into studying comparative psychology (the psychology of animals), neuropsychology, or brain chemistry, you will gain a much greater amount of useful knowledge and insight than from the Reinin dichotomies.

But do the Reinin dichotomies "exist?" In other words, are there common traits among the types that are grouped in such a manner? I would say -- possibly, to some extent, but the commonalities are trivial -- basically not worth paying attention to. For instance, take any of the Jungian dichotomies. These dichotomies affect all areas of a person's life and operate whether a person is speaking or not, in a good or bad mood, etc. In addition, when a person must use the opposite axis of a dichotomy, he conveys a sense of 1) displeasure, 2) strain, 3) incompetence and/or inconfidence, 4) indifference, or 5) submissiveness and willingness to agree -- depending on the specific situation. Can the same be said about the Reinin dichotomies? Also, Model A and the basic four dichotomies describe ways of processing information. Is this true of the Reinin dichotomies -- for example, of questioning/declaring or aristocrat/democrat? I would argue that it isn't.

Suppose the Reinin dichotomies really were just as significant as the Jungian dichotomies. Then we would recognize a questioner even when he's not speaking. When forced to give answers to questions rather than ask questions, we would see signs of strain, etc. Or we would recognize strain when a negativist gives positive evaluations of things. However, this is not the case.

Newcomers to socionics are bombarded with excessive categories, and many or most do not recognize right off that not all the categories have equal value. Some are the product of empirical processes (lengthy observation undertaken by many people) and are the bread and butter of both lifestyle and interpersonal interaction. Others are mainly the product of logical thought, are the source of constant debate, have an imperceptible influence on lifestyle, and may or may not have an influence on interpersonal interaction. I can guarantee that if a newcomer to socionics never heard about the Reinin dichotomies, this would not hurt his ability to apply socionics one bit.


Anonymous said...

As I'm asking this I'm already nodding my head, but was this source in Russian? Secondary question, happen to know any good texts as far as learning the language of the Rus? Also (sorry to bombard you with inanities), but are there any sources in particular that you would suggest to a neophyte looking to know more about socionic? I've mostly been tackling things from a purely Jungian POV.

Ричард said...

Yes, the source was in Russian. Can't recommend any textbook in particular -- just anything that has a good audio component with real conversations (if you want to learn to speak as well).

At this point, without a single authoritative Book, learning socionics takes investigating different sources and trying to piece things together (asking questions at the16types forum may help).

Anonymous said...

As nice as this article is, I doubt that it will keep Phaedrus quiet or quench his belief in the empirical nature of the objectivist/subjectivist dichotomy.

Anonymous said...

I happened to be looking up Reinin dichotomies and honestly, I don't see it as a parallel to Jungian dichotomies. Jungian dichotomies constitute the most fundamental axis of the whole typology system, while Reinin dichotomies resemble a categorization of observable behavorial traits, which are said to be correspond to certain types.