Socionics

Socionics LogoSociotype PairSocionics is a theory of personality type and human interaction and is distinguished by its information model of the psyche (called Model A) and a model of interpersonal relations. It incorporates Carl Jung’s work in Psychological Types with Antoni Kępiński’s theory of information metabolism. Socionics is a modification of Jung’s personality type theory that uses eight functions, in contrast to Jung’s model, which used only four. Its theory of intertype relations explains how people balance the (information) needs of the psyche through their relationships with each other.

Among socionists, the prevailing view is that sociotypes are inborn and genetically determined. But, recent research suggests that sociotypes aren’t genetically determined, but rather form as the result of the mother’s biggest concerns during the pregnancy. Also, some socionists believe that sociotypes may temporarily change while in altered states of consciousness or under great stress.

History

Socionics was developed in the 1970s and ’80s by economist and sociologist Aušra Augustinavičiūtė (later shortened to Aušra Augusta), in Vilnius, Lithuania. The name “socionics” is derived from the word “society”, because Augustinavičiūtė believed that each personality type has a distinct purpose in society. It was created partially to explain relationship dynamics and why some relationships are better and easier than others.

Information Elements

The central idea of socionics is that information is intuitively divisible into eight categories, called information aspects or information elements, which a person’s psyche processes using eight psychological functions. Each sociotype has a different correspondence between functions and information elements, which results in different ways of perceiving, processing, and producing information. This in turn results in distinct thinking patterns, values, and responses. Socionics’ theory of intertype relations is based on the interaction of these functions between types.

8 Functions

These information elements correspond to universal concepts: matter (thinking/T, square), time (intuiting/N, triangle), and energy (feeling/F, L block), space (sensing/S, circle). Along with Extroverted (“black”) and Introverted (“white”), they total eight functions.

16 Types

Socionics divides people into 16 different types, called sociotypes. They are most commonly referred to by their two strongest functions, which in socionics are called the leading function (Jung’s dominant) and the creative function (Jung’s auxiliary). Other type classifications are names of famous people of each type, or the social role of the type. Types are written with the last letter (J or P) in lower case to distinguish them from Myers-Briggs’ types.

Like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the 16 socionic types differ on four axes (called dichotomies): extraversion/introversion (E/I), intuition/sensing (N/S), and logic/ethics (T/F), and rationality/irrationality (J/P). Each type has one characteristic from each of the dichotomies, making 16 possible combinations.

Function Name

Four-Letter Name

Social Role Famous Person
Logical Sensory Extrovert (LSE)

ESTj

Administrator/Director Stierlitz
Logical Intuitive Extrovert (LIE)

ENTj

Enterpriser/Pioneer Jack London
Ethical Sensory Extrovert (ESE)

ESFj

Bonvivant/Enthusiast Hugo
Ethical Intuitive Extrovert (EIE)

ENFj

Mentor/Actor Hamlet
Sensory Logical Extrovert (SLE)

ESTp

Legionnaire/Conqueror Zhukov
Sensory Ethical Extrovert (SEE)

ESFp

Politician/Ambassador Napoleon (or Caesar)
Intuitive Logical Extrovert (ILE)

ENTp

Seeker/Inventor Don Quixote
Intuitive Ethical Extrovert (IEE)

ENFp

Psychologist/Reporter Huxley
Logical Sensory Introvert (LSI)

ISTj

Inspector/Pragmatist Maxim Gorky
Logical Intuitive Introvert (LII)

INTj

Analyst/Mastermind Robespierre (or Descartes)
Ethical Sensory Introvert (ESI)

ISFj

Guardian/Conservator Dreiser
Ethical Intuitive Introvert (EII)

INFj

Humanist/Empath Dostoyevsky
Sensory Logical Introvert (SLI)

ISTp

Craftsman/Artisan Gabin
Sensory Ethical Introvert (SEI)

ISFp

Mediator/Peacemaker Dumas
Intuitive Logical Introvert (ILI)

INTp

Critic/Observer Balzac
Intuitive Ethical Introvert (IEI)

INFp

Lyricist/Romantic Yesenin

Model A

Aušra Augustinavičiūtė developed the primary model of personality in Socionics, called Model A, which includes eight functional positions. The numbering of the functions is semi-arbitrary, and represents the mental track/conscious functions (1–4), and the mirror vital track/unconscious functions (5–8). For example, the ILE type has the following version of Model A:

Ne

Ti

Fi

Se

Fe

Si

Ni

Te

1

2

4

3

6

5

7

8

Groupings

Blocks

The functions are paired in four blocks: the ego block, the super-ego block, the id block, and the super-id block. The ego block contains the 1/leading (MBTI dominant) and 2/creative (auxiliary) functions, the super-ego block contains the 3/role (tertiary) and 4/vulnerable (inferior) functions, the super-id block contains the 5/suggestive (opposing) and 6/mobilizing (critical parent) functions, and the id block contains the 7/observant (deceiving) and 8/demonstrative (devilish) functions.

The functions within the ego and super-ego blocks are the conscious (or “mental”) functions, and those in the id and super-id blocks are the unconscious (or “vital”) functions. The functions in the ego and id blocks are strong functions, which are used naturally and well, and the functions of the super-ego and super-id blocks are weak functions and are used with difficulty. (In addition, using super-ego functions is stressful.)

1

2

4

3

6

5

7

8

ego

super-ego

super-id

id

strong

weak

weak

strong

Clubs

Clubs are groups of four types that reflect types of work:

  • Pragmatists (ST): ESTp, ESTj, ISTp, ISTj; or SLE, LSE, SLI, LSI
  • Researchers (NT): ENTp, ENTj, INTp, INTj; or ILE, LIE,ILI, LII
  • Socials (SF): ESFp, ESFj, ISFp, ISFj; or SEE, ESE, SEI, ESI
  • Humanitarians (NF): ENFp, ENFj, INFp, INFj; or IEE, EIE, IEI, EII

Quadras

Quadras are groups of four types in which only identity, dual, activity, and mirror relations (see below) occur. They are, therefore, the most harmonious groupings.

1

2

3

4

ILE

SEI

ESE

LII

EIE

LSI

SLE

IEI

SEE

ILI

LIE

ESI

LSE

EII

IEE

SLI

Temperaments

Temperaments are groups of four types that reflect behavioral approaches:

  • Extraverted Rational Temperament (Ej)—ESE, EIE, LIE, and LSE; energetic and proactive behavior; choleric temperament
  • Introverted Rational Temperament (Ij)—LII, LSI, ESI, and EII; slow and methodical behavior; phlegmatic temperament
  • Extraverted Irrational Temperament (Ep)—ILE, SLE, SEE, and IEE; impulsive and unpredictable behavior; sanguine temperament
  • Introverted Irrational Temperament (Ip)—SEI, IEI,ILI, and SLI; lack of motivation, inertia, and unstable moods and energy levels; melancholic temperament

Intertype Relations

Intertype relations describe the nature of interaction and information interchange between two people. These socionic relationships range from very difficult and potentially harmful to very beneficial and pleasant. There are 16 relationship roles for each type. All relations except Request and Supervision are symmetrical (each of the two types experiences the same dynamic). Request and Supervision relations are asymmetric and have two roles: Request–Requester/Request–Recipient, and Supervision–Supervisor/Supervision–Supervisee.

Table of Intertype Relations*

 

ILE

SEI

ESE

LII

EIE

LSI

SLE

IEI

SEE

ILI

LIE

ESI

LSE

EII

IEE

SLI

ILE

Id Du Ac Mr Rq+ Sv+ Cp Mg Se Ex QI Cf Rq- Sv- Cg Sd

SEI

Du Id Mr Ac Sv+ Rq+ Mg Cp Ex Se Cf QI Sv- Rq- Sd Cg

ESE

Ac Mr Id Du Cg Sd Rq- Sv- QI Cf Se Ex Cp Mg Rq+ Sv+

LII

Mr Ac Du Id Sd Cg Sv- Rq- Cf QI Ex Se Mg Cp Sv+ Rq+

EIE

Rq- Sv- Cg Sd Id Du Ac Mr Rq+ Sv+ Cp Mg Se Ex QI Cf

LSI

Sv- Rq- Sd Cg Du Id Mr Ac Sv+ Rq+ Mg Cp Ex Se Cf QI

SLE

Cp Mg Rq+ Sv+ Ac Mr Id Du Cg Sd Rq- Sv- QI Cf Se Ex

IEI

Mg Cp Sv+ Rq+ Mr Ac Du Id Sd Cg Sv- Rq- Cf QI Ex Se

SEE

Se Ex QI Cf Rq- Sv- Cg Sd Id Du Ac Mr Rq+ Sv+ Cp Mg

ILI

Ex Se Cf QI Sv- Rq- Sd Cg Du Id Mr Ac Sv+ Rq+ Mg Cp

LIE

QI Cf Se Ex Cp Mg Rq+ Sv+ Ac Mr Id Du Cg Sd Rq- Sv-

ESI

Cf QI Ex Se Mg Cp Sv+ Rq+ Mr Ac Du Id Sd Cg Sv- Rq-

LSE

Rq+ Sv+ Cp Mg Se Ex QI Cf Rq- Sv- Cg Sd Id Du Ac Mr

EII

Sv+ Rq+ Mg Cp Ex Se Cf QI Sv- Rq- Sd Cg Du Id Mr Ac

IEE

Cg Sd Rq- Sv- QI Cf Se Ex Cp Mg Rq+ Sv+ Ac Mr Id Du

SLI

Sd Cg Sv- Rq- Cf QI Ex Se Mg Cp Sv+ Rq+ Mr Ac Du Id

Key: Du – Duality; Ac – Activation; Sd – Semi-duality; Mg – Mirage; Mr – Mirror; Id – Identity; Cp – Cooperation; Cg – Congenerity; QI – Quasi-Identity; Ex – Extinguishment; Se – Super-ego; Cf – Conflict; Rq+ – Requester; Rq- – Request recipient; Sv+ – Supervisor; Sv- – Supervisee

* Each cell in the table shows who the type in the left column is to the type in the top row.

Intertype Relation Function Dynamics Characteristics
Duality The leading function of one is the suggestive function of the other, and the creative function of one is the mobilizing function of the other Mutual benefit, inspiration, and support; optimal for friendship, intimacy, and marriage; rewarding and satisfying for both; the natural information output of one type is the preferred information input of the other; one stimulates the other to use his/her strengths as much as possible by directing energy towards constructive and rewarding activities
Activation One’s dominant function is the other’s mobilizing function; both are in the same quadra and share either introversion or extraversion Similar to duality; often romantic if both partners find each other attractive; very easy to start; introvert activation relationships appear reserved, while extravert activation relationships appear hectic
Semi-duality Both lead (by leading function) each other’s dual-seeking (5th) function but lack each other’s creative function (to assist their mobilizing functions); both have the least confidence in the same area of the psyche (thinking, feeling, sensing, or intuition) Similar to duality; both often perceive elements of duality from the relationship but feel the other partner is misplacing the emphasis; relationships can become very close for moderate periods of time until correspondence is broken indefinitely; often begin or rekindle because of mutual interests or friends held in common
Mirage One’s creative function is the other’s mobilizing function; but the dual seeking (5th) function is the other’s role function Often become quite close; are easy to begin because both are able to communicate effectively with one another because they share a preference for thinking, feeling, sensing, or intuiting.
Mirror Same ego functions, yet different emphases on them; the dominant function of one is the creative function of the other Similar actions and motivations; mutual understanding; often drawn out dialogue
Identity Both have the same type Both will perceive similar situations and problems, and will take similar actions; usually understand the motivations behind the other’s actions; mutual understanding, self-development, and learning; each is interested in the other’s ideas and sees their value; can become exhausting and boring due to familiarity
Cooperation Both have the same creative function but a different dominant function Often do similar activities or have similar fields of interest, but do not understand each other’s internal motivations; often approach their related fields with vastly different agendas and have conflict when working as a team
Congenerity Both have the same dominant function but a different creative function Often see each other as interesting people and can see each other’s motivations, but interact in ways the other partner is unskilled or uninterested; often similar to mirror relationships where ideas are communicated through drawn out dialog; easy to begin because both partners share a similar type of intelligence and easy communication
Quasi-identity One’s ego function is the other’s demonstrative and observant function Mutual misunderstanding; often have similar interests (id blocks and ego blocks contain the same functions) and become involved in similar activities, but they rarely understand each other’s motivations or ideas; often identify themselves as being very different from each other
Extinguishment Both are confident in the same area of the psyche but place different emphases on each function Similar lifestyles but different thought processes; similar interests and areas of expertise; little trouble communicating with each other, but can come to vastly different conclusions about specific ideas or events
Super-ego One’s ego function is the other’s super-ego function Different values, discomfort, and mutual misunderstanding; total opposition in values to the other
Conflict Opposite temperaments The most dissimilar values; rarely understand each other’s motivations or lifestyles; usually are interested in each other, but also easily exhausted by each other
Request The request recipient’s dual seeking function is the requester’s creative function Asymmetrical—one type requests another; the recipient often takes an interest in the requester; the requester finds the recipient a highly uninteresting person; frequently ends with the departure of the requester
Supervision The supervisor’s creative function is the supervisee’s base function Asymmetrical—one type supervises another; the supervisor often perceives the supervisee as an interesting person and understands the supervisee’s lifestyle; the supervisee is often on the defensive and perceives the supervisor to be evil incarnate, while the supervisor wonders why the supervisee reacts so poorly to his objective and benevolent assistance

Methods of Type Identification

Socionists often use several methods when determining a personality type:

  • Tests
  • Analysis of behavior, interview, biography
  • Analysis of nonverbal behavior/gestures. Nonverbal behavior (also called image method) is a popular supplementary identification method popularized by Aušra Augustinavičiūtė, but rarely used as primary method.

Free Online Socionics Tests

Type Dynamics

Sailboat diagram of dominant and auxiliary functions

Extravert Sailboat and Introvert Sailboat

Type dynamics, or personality in motion, refers to the hierarchy and interaction of the four mental functions (intuiting, sensing, thinking, and feeling) of your Myers-Briggs type. Although disputed in its scientific basis, type dynamics provides a theory of general personality development throughout life. Type dynamics is important because personality type is not just about your four preferences, but also about how you use these preferences together.

The four mental functions and two orientations (introversion and extraversion) to each function together make a total of eight combinations. These functions or mental processes are divided into two categories: perceiving and judging. The second letter of the personality type code represents the preferred means of perceiving, or obtaining information (intuition “N” or sensing “S”) of that personality type. The third letter represents the preferred means of judging, or organizing and evaluating that information (thinking “T” or feeling “F”).

The first letter (E or I) is the orientation of the dominant function. One of the two middle letters in your code will be your dominant function and explain how you prefer to approach situations. The last letter (J or P) was added by Isabel Myers (the rest came from Carl Jung) to specifically help with type dynamics. The J or P indicates which of the middle two letters you extravert—the judging function (T or F) or the perceiving function (S or N).

These functions are written by capitalizing the function letter and using a lowercase or subscript letter with it to denote the orientation (i.e., extraverted feeling would be Fe, introverted intuition would be Ni, etc.).

Functions

Primary Functions

Dominant Function

The dominant function is the mental process that guides the personality, the one that you habitually use more than the others, the one you rely on the most to guide you through life—especially during the first half of life—and the default choice that you use and trust the most. It is your strongest, most developed, and most comfortable to use function; seems automatic and effortless to use; and, increases your energy when you use it.

You use all of your other primary functions (auxiliary, tertiary, and inferior) “in service of” your dominant function; your other functions provide your dominant with alternative perspectives to guide you through the world.

Auxiliary Function

The auxiliary function balances and guides the dominant. You use this function most after the dominant.

Tertiary Function

The tertiary function gives you a way to energize and recharge. It serves as a backup to the auxiliary function and often works in tandem with it. This is often is how you express your creativity, and how you are playful and childlike.

Inferior Function

The inferior function is the least developed of these functions and the one that you have the least conscious awareness of. It is the most problematic and energy draining to use, as it is completely opposite your favored function. It can show up in situations of high stress (sometimes referred to as being “in the grip”). However, it can teach you valuable life lessons, and it is considered by Jungians to be the function that bridges the conscious and the unconscious.

*           *           *           *           *

Along with these four primary functions, there are four other functions that you use, but usually in a less skilled/comfortable way. There are various theories on these other four functions. One theory sees them as “shadow functions” with the same mental function as the corresponding first four, but with the opposite orientation (i.e., dominant Ni’s fifth function would be Ne; auxiliary Fe’s sixth function would be Fi, etc.).

Shadow Functions

The other four cognitive processes operate more on the boundaries of your awareness, like they are in the shadows and only come forward under certain circumstances. You usually experience these processes in a negative way; yet when you are open to them, they can be quite positive. They are the opposite orientations of each corresponding primary role (i.e., Ni shadow = Ne).

Dominant Shadow

This opposing role is often how you get stubborn and argumentative. It provides depth to your leading role process, backing it up and enabling you to be more persistent in pursuit of your goals.

Auxiliary Shadow

The critical parent role is how you find weak spots and can immobilize and demoralize others. It often emerges in stressful situations when something important is at risk.

Tertiary Shadow
The deceiving role fools you into thinking something is important to do or pay attention to. This role is often not trusted and seen as unworthy of attention, because when you use it you may make mistakes in perception or decisionmaking.

Inferior Shadow
The devilish role can be quite negative. When using this role, you may become destructive of yourself or others. Usually, you are unaware of how to use this role and feel like it just erupts and imposes itself rather unconsciously.

Extraversion and Introversion Orientations

For Extraverts (E is the first letter of your code), what you extravert is your dominant function, and therefore the auxiliary function is introverted. For Introverts (I is the first letter of your code), it is the opposite—what you introvert is your dominant function, and what you extravert is your auxiliary. Therefore, Introverts use their strongest functions in their inner world hidden from others, and show the outside world their second-strongest function. And Extraverts are the opposite—since they prefer to deal mainly with the outer world, this is where they show their strongest function.

One way of getting a mental picture of Extraverts having their dominant function on the outside and Introverts having their dominant function on the inside is to imagine a sailboat. It has to have a sail (the extraverted, visible function) to catch the wind and a keel (the introverted, hidden function) to keep it upright and moving in a straight line. For an extraverted boat, the sail is large (dominant) and the keel is small (auxiliary). For an introverted boat, the sail is small (auxiliary) and the keel is large (dominant).

With the extraverted boat, the large sail catches every little breeze and moves the boat along. But, because of the small keel, there is not much below the surface to keep the boat stable and in a straight line. Thus, the boat moves along quickly, changing direction as the winds change. With the introverted boat, the large keel is more responsive to the currents below the water than the winds above and can stay in a straight line longer. But, since the sail is small, the boat does not move as fast.

Determining Your Type Dynamics

To determine your type dynamics, follow these steps (and see the table below):

1. Determine which function is extraverted. This is determined by the last letter. For a J, the judging function (T or F) is extraverted; for a P, the perceiving function (N or S) is extraverted. The other middle function has the opposite orientation from this one.

2. Determine the Dominant function. The first letter tells you which of the middle two functions (N/S or T/F) is dominant. For an Introvert, the introverted function is dominant; for an Extravert, the extraverted function is dominant.

3. Determine the Auxiliary function. The auxiliary is the other middle function and opposite orientation from the dominant.

4. Determine the Tertiary function. The tertiary is the same type of function (N/S or T/F) as the auxiliary, but the opposite orientation.

5. Determine the Inferior function. The inferior function is the polar opposite of the dominant in type of function and orientation.

Type Dynamics Chart of the 16 Types

ISTJ

Dom. – Si
Aux. – Te
Tert. – Fi
Infer. – Ne

ISFJ

Dom. – Si
Aux. – Fe
Tert. – Ti
Infer. – Ne

INFJ

Dom. – Ni
Aux. – Fe
Tert. – Ti
Infer. – Se

INTJ

Dom. – Ni
Aux. – Te
Tert. – Fi
Infer. – Se

ISTP

Dom. – Ti
Aux. – Se
Tert. – Ni
Infer. – Fe

ISFP

Dom. – Fi
Aux. – Se
Tert. – Ni
Infer. – Te

INFP

Dom. – Fi
Aux. – Ne
Tert. – Si
Infer. – Te

INTP

Dom. – Ti
Aux. – Ne
Tert. – Si
Infer. – Fe

ESTP

Dom. – Se
Aux. – Ti
Tert. – Fe
Infer. – Ni

ESFP

Dom. – Se
Aux. – Fi
Tert. – Te
Infer. – Ni

ENFP

Dom. – Ne
Aux. – Fi
Tert. – Te
Infer. – Si

ENTP

Dom. – Ne
Aux. – Ti
Tert. – Fe
Infer. – Si

ESTJ

Dom. – Te
Aux. – Si
Tert. – Ne
Infer. – Fi

ESFJ

Dom. – Fe
Aux. – Si
Tert. – Ne
Infer. – Ti

ENFJ

Dom. – Fe
Aux. – Ni
Tert. – Se
Infer. – Ti

ENTJ

Dom. – Te
Aux. – Ni
Tert. – Se
Infer. – Fi

Type Development

Type development is a theory about when these functions develop. Generally, people develop their dominant function as a small child, then the auxiliary as a teenager, the tertiary function in their late 20s and early 30s, and the inferior function at midlife.

When someone is discouraged from developing his or her naturally preferred dominant and/or auxiliary functions, and is instead pushed to develop another less-preferred function first, this is called type falsification and can negatively impact the person’s ability to trust his or her decisionmaking process or to confuse ways of accessing information in his or her life.

*           *           *           *           *

Thus, type dynamics gives you a means of seeing how your type incorporates all the functions into a working whole—how you use different preferences at different times in your life, and how each function can add a new depth to your personality.

Next, we’ll look at another type system, Socionics, which adds yet another dimension of understanding of yourself—how you use your type in relation to others.