Scott Schremmer, Elena Ames and Viktor Guilenko
Socionics was developed in the former Soviet Union during the 1970s by the Lithuanian researcher Aušra Augustinavičiūtė. The name "Socionics" is derived from the word "society" because it is theorized that each type has a distinct purpose in society.
The central idea of Socionics is that information is divisible into eight categories that when combined, result in different ways of perceiving, processing and producing information. They are roughly equivalent to the eight functions used by MBTI, however, they differ in several key ways. First, the focus of the Socionics model (Model A) is on the underlying processing of information rather than behavioral traits. This allows for a deeper understanding of a person, but also makes the process of typing an individual more complicated - interviews rather than simple tests are frequently used.
Second, Socionics considers the contributions of all eight functions in describing a person. This allows for the illustration of values as well as strengths and weaknesses within a type. The quality and character of relationships between two types can also be deduced, resulting in a theory of intertype relationships.
It is important to understand that despite the similar names and symbols used for the Socionics information elements, they are not the same as MBTI functions. What follows is a description of the information elements, a brief outline of Model A and a summary of the theory of intertype relationships.
L (Ti) - Introverted Logic is focused on logical consistencies and correctness, generating complex systems from well understood parts and drawing conclusions from validity and symmetry. Types valuing L question the consistency of beliefs that are taken for granted in everyday life. They make decisions based on their own experience and judgment and usually rely upon external sources only as a last resort.
R (Fi) - Introverted Ethics is focused on understanding psychological distance, making judgments about relationships and personal morals. R types have the ability to almost instantly recognize whether someone is a friend or an enemy or whether there is good will or ill will. Types that value this element enjoy close personal relationships and tend to form groups based on strong connections between individuals.
T (Ni) - Introverted Intuition is focused on understanding how things unfold over time, visions of the past and future, cause and effect relationships on a time scale, connections between events at different times, as well as rhythm, speed and urgency. Types that value this element tend to have a high imagination, focus less on the current moment and may limit time spent in pure leisure activities.
S (Si) - Introverted Sensing is focused on understanding the internal physical state of people and objects. This can include understanding one’s health and the health of others, the motion of parts in a mechanical system, temperature or dirtiness/cleanliness. Types that value this element tend to like peace, comfort and enjoyable activities and pursue goals to these ends. The prime motivation for these types is to avoid discomfort and tense psychological atmospheres.
E (Fe) - Extraverted Ethics is focused on the ability to recognize and convey emotions, such as passion and excitement. These types like to set the mood emotionally to create a positive atmosphere and to aid in building a sense of community. Types that value this element enjoy a loose open group atmosphere, tend to forgive minor transgressions and communicate with emphasis and embellishment.
P (Te) - Extraverted Logic is focused on the outward characteristics of events: understanding what works and what doesn’t, improving efficiency and evaluating information for usefulness and accuracy. These types evaluate their external reality - work, events, finances, procedures, relationships, conversations - from the perspective of factual accuracy, frugality and efficiency. Types that value this element are involved in productive activities and communicate in a straightforward manner.
I (Ne) - Extraverted Intuition is focused on the ability to recognize possibilities, potential and hidden value in objects and people, as well as the rapid generation of ideas. These types are curious, try to stimulate curiosity in others and can have a talent for reconciling differing perspectives and viewpoints. Types that value this element tend to try out opportunities, frequently changing course and enjoy discussing unusual ideas and insights.
F (Se) - Extraverted Sensing is focused on the outward characteristics of objects and people, understanding authority, territory, power and the appropriate use of force. These types have the ability to organize people and guide them toward a common goal. Types that value this element value direct behavior leading to an immediate impact.
In Socionics, each individual uses all eight information elements, unlike with traditional MBTI, which deals with only four functions. In Model A, the functions are divided into four blocks of two functions each: Ego, Super-Ego, Super-Id and Id. These can be described by three dichotomies: weak vs. strong, valued vs. subdued and mental vs. vital.
Strong functions are able to use information in a more sophisticated manner for the benefit of oneself and others, while weak functions tend to oversimplify their conclusions and are more dependent on assistance from outside sources.
Valued functions make up the foundation of a person’s type. An individual likes to use these functions and be around others who use these functions. Note that the four valued functions correspond to the four functions associated with a type in traditional MBTI. Subdued functions oppose the preferences of the valued functions and produce stress or dissatisfaction when used.
Mental functions tend to verbalize information and form the core of an individual’s intellectual activity, i.e. the ability to think, talk and teach. Vital functions tend to manifest as spontaneous sentiments and actions rather than as a part of a person’s thought processes, i.e. accepting irritants and directly reacting to them.
Functional Blocks in Model A
Ego Block (I know): This block contains the Base and Creative functions which loosely parallel the Dominant and Auxiliary functions in MBTI. The information elements in this block are strong, valued and mental. These represent the aspects of reality a person perceives with the greatest clarity and those which a person trusts their own judgment most relative to others. These functions are also the most observable to others. For example, the Logical Intuitive Introvert’s (LII) ego block contains Ti and Ne.
Super-Ego Block (I must): This block contains the Role and Vulnerable functions which have no parallel in MBTI. The information elements in this block are weak, subdued and mental. These functions oppose the strong and valued Ego functions and thus their use is limited to specific areas in which they are needed. They are a source of stress and self-consciousness and one prefers to avoid people who heavily use these elements. For example, the LII’s Super-Ego block contains Fi and Se.
Super-Id Block (I want): This block contains the Suggestive and Mobilizing blocks which loosely parallel the Inferior and Tertiary functions in MBTI. The information elements in this block are weak, valued and vital. Use of these elements in one’s environment aids in the use of the Ego functions by suppressing the need to use the opposing Super-Ego functions. These are functions a person enjoys using but lacks ability and confidence. For this reason, one tends to seek out people who use these information elements. For example, the LII’s Super-Id block contains Fe and Si.
Id Block (I can): This block contains the Ignoring and Demonstrative functions which have no parallel in MBTI. These information elements are strong, subdued and vital. As people value their Ego functions, their use is limited and they tend to be viewed as boring and uninteresting. Despite this, they can be an important part of a person’s world view. Functions in this block tend to represent things done without much thought. For example, the LII’s Id block contains Te and Ni.
Note that the placement of information elements into the above blocks follows a strict pattern and knowledge of the two Ego block elements is enough to determine the element placement for the entire type.
One advantage of Socionics is that the identification of functions in the blocks above allows for an understanding of how the types should interact. For instance, types which value the same elements tend to make good friends and romantic partners. Those who have the same strong functions (but perhaps different values) tend to be able to work productively together.
The best of these intertype relationships is called “duality”. A dual pair values the same elements, but are strong in the valued elements in which their dual is weakest. The Ego block of each individual stimulates the Super-Id block of the other, covering weaknesses and aiding in use of the strong Ego functions.
The opposite relationship to “duality” is the “conflictor”. These types value different functions and are strong in the weak, uncomfortable functions of the other person. Their egos stimulate the Super-Ego of the other. These relationships could be difficult because the Super-Ego is often a source of discomfort and lack of confidence, where one does not want direct help.
Lastly, some of the relationships are asymmetrical in nature. In the relationship called “supervision”, one partner exerts psychological pressure on the other while the other person is not able to exert similar pressure. This can be a difficult relationship for the person in the weaker position.
Socionics and MBTI both descend from the same Jungian roots but are rather different in their approach. With its focus on the processing of information, more precise information elements, functional models such as Model A and the model of intertype relationships, Socionics offers a different and more detailed view of an individual's strengths, weaknesses and compatibility with others. In this paper we barely scratched the surface of what Socionics has to offer; see our website for more information including an online test and descriptions of the various types!