Introduction to Socionics

Socionics is a theory of how individuals select and process information. It can be categorized as a type of nomothetic psychology. Although information metabolism is at the theory's most elementary level, most applications of socionics focus on the direct and indirect manifestations of a person's information metabolism. This primarily includes studying the effect of information metabolism on one's personality (behavior, mannerisms, etc.), but it also extends to studying interpersonal relationship dynamics, group dynamics, potential careers, societal role, and more. Socionics has 16 sociotypes, with each sociotype representing a specific and unique mode of information metabolism. A person only has one sociotype.

Origin of Socionics

Socionics was initially conceived, created, and developed by Lithuanian researcher Aushra Augusta in the 1970's. Aushra Augusta was an economist, sociologist, and psychologist; she was the dean of the Vilnius Pedagogical University's department of family sciences. Aushra used both Carl Jung's work on Psychological Types as well as Antoni Kepinski's theory of information metabolism in developing the foundation of socionics, and the influence of both Jung and Kepinski are obvious in the theory.

One of Aushra Augusta's primary motivations for creating socionics was to better understand and describe intertype relationships, and this remains one of the main applications of socionics today. However today, the application of socionics has expanded to not only include using it to explain and predict interpersonal relationship development, but it is also used in general to describe and assist in the following: personality, information metabolism, personal values, relationship between oneself and the world as a whole, group interactions, career choice, group and societal role, etc.

Socionics Theory

The study of socionics can be broken down into two primary components: structure and behavior. The structural component of the theory delineates the formal rules and axioms; in general, the structural component is clearly defined and applied. On the other hand, the behavioral component deals with the more amorphous aspect of describing the application of the theory as it relates to real world phenomena. This entails careful observation and analysis of human behavior and interaction. As such, the behavioral component is a much more debated and contested aspect of the theory (than the structural component), and it continues to evolve.

Described below are the major aspects of the theory. The foundation of the theory is built on the four Jungian dichotomies and Model A, essentially the synthesis of information elements and functions as a means of modeling information metabolism. The more structurally light (and behaviorally dense) topics include descriptions of the individual (i) sociotypes, (ii) small groups, and (iii) intertype relations. If you are new to socionics and want to learn about the theory from the ground up, it would be ideal to read through the topics in the order they are listed. If you are merely interested in learning about your own particular sociotype, then skip to "the sociotypes" topic.

Model A: The foundation of socionics theory.

As mentioned previously, Aushra developed socionics, and at its core, she created a model of personality called Model A. Fundamentally, Model A describes how a person metabolizes information through the use of eight information elements in eight different functions. Model A is the synthesis of Jung's work on psychological types and Kepinski's work on information metabolism. There are a number of characteristics associated with each function in Model A, including what functions are strong, what functions are valued, etc. Refer to the Model A page for details on all of these various characteristics.

Functions: The 8 structural components of the Model A psyche.

Model A's eight functions are grouped into blocks that describe their role in the overall psyche: ego, super-ego, super-id, and id. The ordering of these eight functions remains constant for all 16 types: the ordering is as follows:

  • Ego Block
    1. Leading Function
    2. Creative Function
  • Super-Ego Block
    1. Role Function
    2. Vulnerable Function
  • Super-Id Block
    1. Suggestive Function
    2. Mobilizing Function
  • Id Block
    1. Ignoring Function
    2. Demonstrative Function

Although the order of the eight functions remains constant for all 16 types, the ordering of the information elements assigned to each of these functions is different for each type. There are various rules as to what information elements can go where in Model A, and you should go to the Model A page for more details on the ordering rules, but in summary: the information elements in the first block, or the ego block, dictate the positions of the remaining information elements in Model A.

Information Elements: The 8 subjective properties of the psyche used to metabolize information.

As mentioned above, socionics uses eight information elements; these are used in Model A to describe how the psyche metabolizes information. More specifically, the positioning of these information elements in Model A describes more subtly what aspects of reality are prioritized, devalued, etc. The eight different information are:

  1. Introverted Logic, Ti, L: Often referred to simply as Structural Logic, or more abstractly, as the external statics of fields. See the Ti page for more details and an in-depth description of Ti.
  2. Extroverted Logic, Te, P: Often referred to simply as Practical Logic, or more abstractly, as the external dynamics of objects. See the Te page for more details and an in-depth description of Te.
  3. Introverted Sensing, Si, S: Often referred to simply as Experiential Sensing, or more abstractly, as the external dynamics of fields. See the Si page for more details and an in-depth description of Si.
  4. Extroverted Sensing, Se, F: Often referred to simply as Force/Power, or more abstractly, as the external statics of objects. See the Se page for more details and an in-depth description of Se.
  5. Introverted Ethics, Fi, R:Often referred to simply as Relational Ethics, or more abstractly, as the internal statics of fields. See the Fi page for more details and an in-depth description of Fi.
  6. Extroverted Ethics, Fe, E: Often referred to simply as Ethics/Emotions, or more abstractly, as the internal dynamics of objects. See the Fe page for more details and an in-depth description of Fe.
  7. Introverted Intuition, Ni, T: Often referred to simply as Temporal Intuition/Time, or more abstractly, as the internal dynamics of fields. See the Ni page for more details and an in-depth description of Ni.
  8. Extroverted Intuition, Ne, I: Often referred to simply as Intuition of Possibilities/Ideas, or more abstractly, as the internal statics of objects. See the Ne page for more details and an in-depth description of Ne.

Dichotomies: Further defining the sociotypes.

In socionics, there are a myriad number of dichotomies related to various aspects of the theory. To begin, there are the four Jungian dichotomies (or first-tier dichotomies). These include Extroversion and Introversion (E/I), Sensing and Intuition (S/I), Ethics and Logic (F/T or E/L), and Rational and Irrational (j/p).

Eleven additional dichotomies are derived from these first four Jungian dichotomies; these are often referred to as the Reinin dichotomies because they were first identified by the socionist Grigoriy Reinin. The Reinin dichotomies are more formally called the second through fourth tier dichotomies based on their mathematical proximity to the first-tier Jungian dichotomies. The Reinin dichotomies, although mathematically proven, have limited practical applications with some of the dichotomies being more useful and empirically discernible than others. See the dichotomies page for detailed information on the Jungian and Reinin dichotomies.

In addition to the 15 Jungian based dichotomies, there are a number of function dichotomies; i.e., dichotomies that divide the functions of Model A in half based. These function dichotomies are: Mental/Vital, Accepting/Producing, Strong/Weak, Inert/Contact, Valued/Subdued, Evaluatory/Situational, and Bold/Cautious. As with the Reinin dichotomies, some of the function dichotomies are more important to socionics than others: e.g., the Valued/Subdued dichotomy plays a critical role in interpersonal relationships, whereas the Bold/Cautious dichotomy is much less important for that.

As with the function and Jungian dichotomies, the information elements also have inherent dichotomies. The obvious ones, are that each information element is either introverted or extroverted, rational or irrational, and static or dynamic. The IEs can also be divided by quadra value: because each quadra values half of the IEs, these two dichotomies can be called the Alpha (Ne, Si, Ti, Fe ) and Gamma (Se, Ni, Te, Fi ) dichotomy and the Beta (Se, Ni, Ti, Fe ) and Delta (Ne, Si, Fi, Te ) dichotomy. Apart from these five dichotomies, there are two more mathematically derived IE dichotomies (derived in a similar manner as the Reinin dichotomies) that serve little practical value.

Intertype Relationships: How the types relate to each other.

Intertype relations in socionics refer to how the types (limited to two usually) interact with each other. There are 14 total intertype relationships. Out of these 14 intertype relations, there is a general consensus among socionists that certain intertype relationships are more positive while others are more negative, with the most beneficial or positive intertype relationship being duality (Dual ) and the most negative relationship being Conflicting. Go to the Intertype Relationships page to learn about each of these 14 relationships in more detail. Also, check out the intertype relationship calculator to see how each intertype relationship positively or negatively affects the person's Model A.

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