Introduction to Socionics

What is socionics?

Socionics is a theory of human interaction based on fixed patterns of information processing known as “socionic types.” A socionic type (there are 16 of them) is a description of some very fundamental ways in which a person’s psyche works. These psychic qualities define to a large degree a person’s relationships with others, his or her perception of life as a whole, and the niche he or she strives to occupy among people.

Each person’s psyche is a lopsided construction that attempts to pursue certain kinds of information (stimuli) while minimizing others. This is what socionic type describes. This lopsidedness creates a need for social cooperation. The nature of close cooperation (relationships) between people depends on how well-suited people’s lopsided psychic tendencies are to each other. This is what intertype relations are about.

The origins of socionics

As the story goes, founder of socionics Aushra Augusta (she shortened her last name from “Augustinavichiute” to “Augusta” to make it easier for foreigners) was mulling over fundamental issues of human existence (“why are some relationships good and others bad despite everyone’s intention to have good ones?”) in Vilnius, Lithuania in the 1970s, when she came across a number of typological systems that influenced her thoughts — Kretschmer’s psychosomatic types (i.e. endomorphs, mesomorphs, and ectomorphs), Kempinsky’s (now a forgotten Polish psychiatrist) concept of “information metabolism,” and — most of all — Carl Jung’s typology of psychological types.

Augusta created symbols to represent the functions described by Carl Jung and — together with a circle of fellow researchers/hobbyists — eventually created what is known as the “socionic model of the psyche” — a neat description of the psyche where each of the 8 information elements has its place in each person’s psyche. This was quite a development on Jung’s typology and introduced many new concepts, including the mechanisms that explain how types interact.

Socionic types

The 16 socionic types differ on four axes (called ‘dichotomies’): rationality/irrationality, extraversion/introversion, intuition/sensing, and logic/ethics. Each type has one characteristic from each of the dichotomies, making 16 possible combinations. This does not mean there is a complete absence of the opposite mechanism, however. It means that one is more flexible and multi-faceted, while the other is more rigid and simplistic.

Although types often display similar values, life strategies, general behavior, and facial expressions, such traits such as IQ, musical talent, sports abilities, charisma, “personal power,” etc. are little related to type. A review of how socionists have typed famous people will demonstrate this. No type is inherently “predisposed” for success or failure in life. A common error of socionics enthusiasts is to try to relate non-socionic traits to socionic types.

In addition, socionics does not view type structure as being so rigid that a person can change little in life. One’s positive or negative thinking patterns, overall outlook on life, and emotional health are not tied to type and are quite flexible. However, socionic type is one of the things — along with inborn physiological traits — that does not change, even if outward behavior, emotional states, and attitudes do. Socionic type describes psychic mechanisms so “deep” that they are difficult to gain a full awareness of, much less modify in some way (but then, why would you want to modify them??).

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Intertype relations

The basic difference between socionics and other typologies is socionics’ theory of intertype relations. Socionics is not a typology of personality, but a typology of perceptual traits that define one’s relationships with others. Hence, we should not be surprised to see significant personality differences between individuals of the same socionic type — as long as we see that there is a similar pattern of intertype relations.

Intertype relations describe the nature of interaction and information interchange between two people at a close psychological distance by describing how partners’ psychic functions interrelate. These socionic relationships range from very difficult and potentially harmful to one’s self-realization to very beneficial and pleasant to the psyche. Intertype relations most influence one’s informal relationships with others, where one chooses friends based on pleasure and mutual benefit (cooperation).

Duality and dual relations

Socionics_duality_ILE-SEI   ILE & SEI

A unique aspect of socionics is the discovery of complementary psychic structures. Jung and his followers recognized a particular attraction between individuals with certain leading functions, but these observations were not developed into a full-fledged theory, and the Meyers-Briggs system does not seem to address them at all.

Each of the 16 socionic types has its ‘dual’ type. The essence of dual relations is that the natural information output of one type is the preferred information input of the other. Having a dual or dual around stimulates one to use one’s strengths as much as possible. Even their mere physical presence tends to exert a calming and balancing influence. Dual relations develop around the strongest functions of each partner and keep mental and physical functioning balanced, while directing partners’ energy towards constructive and rewarding activities.

Socionics and the MBTI

At some point Augusta and her associates learned of Isabel Briggs Myers’ and her mother Katharine Cook Briggs’ development of Jung’s typology across the ocean in the United States. Newcomers to socionics in the West often have to face the difficulty of trying to distinguish between the two typologies. They are fundamentally different and cannot be treated as “the same types, but with different type names.”

Those who look deeply into socionics and the MBTI recognize that socionics’ theoretical apparatus is more systematic and logical in nature — and simply larger. Indeed, socionics was created by a “thinking” type, while the MBTI was created by “feeling” types (a quick review of sites on the two fields will make this clear). That is just the beginning of the differences.

I personally, of course, find socionics to be a big improvement on the MBTI, but I’m sure there are ardent followers of the MBTI that hold the opposite opinion.

The four socionic dichotomies appear to be very similar to the dichotomies used by the MBTI system. However, close inquiry reveals that there are many subtle differences. If you assume the dichotomies are the same and equate each socionic type to an MBTI type, some socionic types will overlap to a large degree with their MBTI counterparts, others will partially overlap, and yet others will seem to be completely different. If the types were truly equivalent, a similar theory of intertype relations would have arisen in the MBTI system — but there is none. On the whole, MBTI and socionics types seem to correlate in roughly 30% of cases. That is not nearly enough to consider the two typologies close approximations of each other.

The socionics community

There is a large socionics community across the Russian-speaking world. In many if not most large cities of the former Soviet Union there are people who hold evening classes on socionics and social gatherings for people interested in socionics. Centers of socionics are Kiev (Ukraine), Moscow and St. Petersburg (Russia), and Vilnius (Lithuania). Here socionics conferences take place where socionists present and discuss papers and studies and most books on socionics are published (there are now maybe 40 or 50 books on socionics, primarily in Russian, but also with a few in Ukrainian and Lithuanian).

At the same time, socionics is a decentralized field of study. There is no central body that is universally recognized as the single authority in the field or that dictates methodology, type identification, etc. Socionics arose outside of the academic world (although Augusta was a sociologist) and has not yet obtained official academic recognization, though it is now often mentioned in psychology courses in universities around the former USSR. Competent and respected socionists generally are known in the community and publish in community journals and participate in seminars and professional dialogue.

Socionics is held together by numerous enthusiasts and scattered professionals — who publish books and journals, teach courses, diagnose types, and consult individuals, families, and even entire organizations.

socionics_infographic

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9 thoughts on “Introduction to Socionics”

  1. They are fundamentally different and cannot be treated as “the same types, but with different type names.”

    “If you assume the dichotomies are the same and equate each socionic type to an MBTI type,”
    Has the fact that the J / P dichotomy in MBTI is “the first extroverted function being J / P” while in socionics, it’s “the first function”?

    “some socionic types will overlap to a large degree with their MBTI counterparts, others will partially overlap, and yet others will seem to be completely different.”

    Can’t we simply trace the differences in type / socion description to the differences in understanding of information elements? If information element descriptions are different between theories, then of course that will produce different type descriptions. But type descriptions are literary text, not fundamental factors. I frankly find it a stretch when people point to the type descriptions and go “see they’re really different”. It’s a piece of writing by a person, like two eye witness accounts… not anything discrete like electron spin.

    “If the types were truly equivalent, a similar theory of intertype relations would have arisen in the MBTI system — but there is none.”

    I don’t know if this is logically sound. MBTI research is pretty slow in the US relatively speaking. intertype relations is focusing on type interactions. This doesn’t have to be the case. And advance hypotheses requires the interest and putting-forth by a researcher. If not enough people, or people don’t inquire into an area, they’re not going to produce a result.

    People talk about best type fits in MBTI. But it is asymmetrical and random, kind of like how Kierley temperaments are asymmetrical. So what? This asymmetry can be a sign of underdevelopment just as easily as an extension of underlying errors. Need more evidence to say either way.

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    1. Absolutely!
      Great observations.

      I mix aspects from multiple personality theories, because I see aspects of each that hold some weight, but what is really needed is a “reboot” of interest in the field and the formation of a new system, altogether.

      Basically, MBTI has good qualities, Socionics has good qualities, and state of the art technology can truly refine and define certain aspects, resulting in a NEW theory (For God sakes, both theories are over 50 years old).

      Now, we have abilities to quantify data about people using wearable monitors, etc., and I have dozens of potential experiments that can understand the psychology of people, as individuals and in groups.

      What I need is:

      – Other people who share a deep passion to further the understanding of psychology and sociology, have a basic understanding of existing theories, and an open mind to accept that those theories, although containing many grains of truth, are all somewhat flawed.

      – The ability to convince somebody, with the needed resources, the advantages of conducting this research.

      For example: what I have in mind would be a perfect project for Google [x], because they have:

      – the resources
      – the technology
      – an open mind
      – enthusiasm for radical, big ideas
      – passion for understanding humanity

      Google [x], in my extensive analyzation, is the ideal place to do the needed research.

      Upon completion of the research, the improvement or creation of Google products is one way to achieve a massive ROI.

      Google’s primary goal is understanding people, as well as possible (using ethical means), in order to build the best possible products for them. Currently, this is done mainly by:

      1. creating heuristics, based on metrics and feedback, to guide their direction. Not to be condescending, but heuristics are like “best practice templates” or “rules of thumb.” By using their massive collection of data, they can create what generally works best for their consumers. These heuristics are blended with foresight, using past and current trends to guess what their customers “will” want, so they can create products before the customer even realize they want them (that is the goal).

      This personality / psychology / quantified self research could not only give Google a huge advantage, but the data collected could be applied in many areas of life.

      Google [x] could create such applications, collaborate with leaders in these fields, or give (sell) the data to better humanity.

      I have a strong sense of the potential ethical dilemmas of acquiring such data, but have also brainstormed methods and standards to keep ourselves and the technology in check.

      I’ve been encouraged by many people to start my own company to execute my plan, which is tempting as that way I can ensure the ethics and have it be “my thing,” but after considering all the variables, I have come to the conclusion that using Google [x] as the lab and allowing Google first dibs on the data is the smartest method to go:

      – Google [x] already has most of the needed tech, and could quickly build anything it doesn’t.

      – Trying to “sell” my research propositions on their own will be incredible challenging to find investors, since it is essentially a two step project.

      Step one is an advanced technological and sociological R & D project that will cost a lot to complete and have no immediate ROI.

      Step two is the application and integration of that data, to improve and create groundbreaking products — resulting in both a gigantic ROI and ways to improve society.

      A method that I considered is to try and sell step one by convincing of how incredibly profitable step two can be. However, most people are “show me the money NOW,” even if showing the money later could be earth shattering.

      If you are as passionate about the same end goals as me, even if you disagree with some of the details, please shoot me a private email hoeller7@gmail.com.

      I believe that if we can build a core team, refine and unify our vision, and put out heads together, that we can make this happen.

      I do have a few ways of contacting people at Google [x], but in order for me to do so, I want to tighten, refine, and clarify absolutely everything. I have 3-4 others who share the overall vision, are very gifted, and have a diversity of personality types.

      For further details, questions, or examples of the types of research I have in mind, please email me, introduce yourself, and let me know you’re down for it.

      One of the “products” than can be created by this data, potentially could create the first REAL form of Artificial Intelligence (different from the methods / theories being worked on now).

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    2. I’m going to turn that last comment into a blog post / “calling all interested” / beginning of the “Plan.”

      Email me if you share the same overall goal, even if you disagree with certain elements. That’s what “the team” needs: Divergently sharing an end goal. That’s how my Future Problem Solving team worked, and we won all state 2 years in a row.

      Plus, that was 20 years ago talking about AI, globalization, wearable tech, and embedded systems. The time has come for those technologies to erupt, and I’m building a team hell bent on disrupting society for the better.

      I think getting together (chat or skype or hangout), we can create the perfect way to present it to Google X. If they say no, we go to the next ones.

      I’ve already been told that my theory for creating Artificial Intelligence will definitely be invested in a large amount, but if you email me I will explain the challenge with using traditional investors for that….

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    3. I can solve the problems of not having public interest in the subject, but I need to complete my small team of people who do have the passion, and can help me word the right way. I have access to the right people.

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    4. What really needs to happen is a modern theory that accounts for misunderstanding and is simplified in a nice user friendly package. The types ARE the same to their counterpart, but Socionics and MBTI were both made over 60 years ago (and socionics has all been translated from Russian to English). Yes, I talk about those two typologies, because they are the only ones based in science in existence, but would you take a 59 year old headache medication?

      I don’t know how to go about getting the funding for such a project, but I already have roughly 40-60 experiments lined up. We need TODAYS technology to update and come up with one unified theory. The problem is the haters who put it in the same category as Astrology (which truly is a joke). This is what month you were born and there’s actual scientific reasons of how your body’s thoughts go through a certain order of cognitive processes at different energies. I can’t think of anything to gets more scientific than that. Unfortunately, 50 years ago they did not have this technology to be a will to do the stuff for the information that we have now and I mean Eirik I really think that in the right environment with the right funding we could we could create a better unified theory of personality types next to get to the bottom of this and find out the scientific explanation behind it all.

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    1. Thank you for your support. I’d love to get my hands on the resources to develop a new, modernized theory that is user friendly, since I feel like this science helps us to understand not only ourself, but others as well.

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