Socionics Subtypes

When individuals of the same socionic type can be grouped into subcategories by certain traits, we speak of "subtypes." Many socionists use some kind of subtype system to help describe intratype differences.

Subtype Systems

There are a number of subtype theories in use, with the 2 subtype theory being the most used subtype system and DCNH, among others, being used less. The 2 subtype theory, in its various forms, basically states that a person may prefer either his base function, his creative function, or have no preference (no subtype). A preference for the base function positively strengthens all of the inert functions (functions 1, 4, 6, and 7) and correspondingly weakens all of the contact functions (functions 2, 3, 5, and 8). A preference for the creative function positively strengthens all of the contact functions (functions 2, 3, 5, and 8) and correspondingly weakens all of the inert functions (functions 1, 4, 6, and 7). Despite the connotations of the subtype system's name, the possible subtypes are continuous rather than discrete; i.e., the possible subtypes are not binary but rather they exist along a spectrum.

The DCNH subtype system is a system of 4 subtypes. It is quite different from the 2 subtype theory because it incorporates new dichotomies to define the 4 subtypes. While the 2 subtype system generally stays within the bounds of classical socionics, the DCNH system essentially adds entirely new concepts. And although DCNH is now accepted by a small minority of the socionics community, it is still empirically vacuous--lacking descriptions and other observable evidence as to how these 4 subtypes are distinguished from each other. Because of this, uses the more accepted 2 subtype system. Because all subtype systems are largely theoretical constructs that attempt to describe intratype differences, it is important to remember that determining one's sociotype is much more valuable and important than determining one's subtype.

Subtype Notation

There is no single universally accepted subtype notation system; however, one's subtype is generally added following the person's type; e.g., ESE-Fe. Although the "Fe" notation does not, by itself, state whether the person has a base or creative subtype, this can be deduced by referencing the type's Model A, e.g., in the ESE-Fe example, because ESEs have Fe in their base function, an ESE-Fe denotes a base subtype (and "ESE-Si" would denote a creative subtype). This notation however fails to describe the strength of the subtype--it's position along the socionics circle. Therefore, adds a numerical notation that denotes the strength of the subtype, e.g., ESE-2Fe. The range is set between 0 and 3:

  • 0: no discernible subtype
  • 1: weak subtype
  • 2: moderate subtype
  • 3: strong subtype

Distribution of Subtypes

Subtypes display a normal distribution with a mean of 0 or no discernible subtype. The vast majority of individuals have either no discernible subtype, a weak subtype, or a moderate subtype. It is rare ( < 5%) for someone to have a strong subtype. Another way of saying this is that most individuals cluster around the center of their quadra values, without favoring one set (e.g., Ti & Fe) heavily over the other set (e.g., Se and Ni).

Effect of subtype on Model A functions and information elements

As mentioned above, increased expression of one function (1) suppresses the opposing intradichotomy function and (2) suppresses the opposing intrablock function (and vise versa). In other words, a leading function subtype strengthens all the inert functions and weakens all the contact functions (to the extent of the strength of the subtype) and vise versa for a creative function subtype. While this doesn't change any of the binary definitional traits of the functions, it can affect how they are manifestly expressed. Furthermore, and more importantly, subtype has two important affects on the information elements in those functions: (1) one's subtype directly affects the strength of the information element--i.e., the ability of the person to use the information element, and (2) how much one values the information element.

Effect of subtype on intertype relationships

Because subtypes directly affect the relative strengths and values of the information elements in Model A, intertype relationships are affected as well. Without getting into the details of how this works, the main thing to understand is that because subtype affects quadra values, complementary intraquadra intertype relationships share the same subtype (e.g., both persons have a leading subtype) and contradictory intraquadra intertype relationships have opposing subtypes (e.g., one person has a leading subtype and the other has a creative subtype). This can be explored further using the intertype relationship calculator here.

Subtype Descriptions

To learn more about each type's subtypes, check out their descriptions by various socionists:

Romance Styles
Model A
Information Elements
Intertype Relationships