Socionics is a theory of information processing and personality type, distinguished by its information model of the psyche, called Model A, and a model of interpersonal relations. It incorporates Carl Jung's work on Psychological Types with Antoni Kępiński's theory of information metabolism. Socionics is a modification of Jung's personality type theory that uses eight psychic functions. These functions process information at varying levels of competency and interact with the corresponding function in other individuals, giving rise to predictable reactions and impressions—a theory of intertype relations.
Socionics was developed in the 1970s and '80s, primarily by the Lithuanian researcher Aušra Augustinavičiūtė, an economist, sociologist, and dean of the Vilnius Pedagogical University's department of family science. A. Augustinavičiūtė has later shortened her last name from "Augustinavichiute" to "Augusta" to make it easier to spell for foreigners. The name "socionics" is derived from the word "society", because A. Augusta believed that each personality type has a distinct purpose in society, which can be described and explained by socionics. 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 description of the psyche where each of the 8 information elements has its place in each person's psyche.
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 to arguments, all of which are encompassed within sociotype.
There are 16 types in Socionics that result from combinations of 4 dichotomies (a dichotomy is a binary trait that divides phenomena into one of two opposite categories):
- Intuition/Sensing (N/S)
- Logic/Ethics (T/F)
- Extraversion/Introversion (E/I)
- Rationality/Irrationality (j/p) - note: the j/p assignment in socionics is different from MBTI J/P since MBTI uses Judger/Perceiver dichotomy instead of Rational/Irrational, therefore type conversions between MBTI and socionics are not direct
Each type has a four-letter code that serves as a shorthand designation as to where the type falls within these dichotomies. For example, ESFj type is extraverted (E), sensing (S), feeling (F), and rational (j). INTp type is introverted (I), intuitive (N), thinking (T), and irrational (p).
Another way to designate types is by using three-letter shorthand code e.g. ESI, LIE, etc. These three-letter codes correspond to 1) type's leading function 2) its creative function 3) and extraverted or introverted orientation of the leading function. This is the minimum of information needed to specify a type. These three letter codes can be easily deciphered. For example ESI stands for ethical sensing introtim, which means that this type's leading function is ethical or feeling one (F), its creative function is a sensing one (S), and orientation of leading function is introverted (Fi-Se). LIE stands for logical intuitive extratim, which means that this type's leading function is a logical one (T), creative function is an intuitive one (N), and orientation of leading function is extraverted (Te-Ni).
Rationality (j) or irrationality (p) is assigned on basis of type's leading function. N and S are irrational, perceiving functions, therefore types leading with either one of these are designated with letter 'p' at the end. F and T are rational, judging functions, thus types leading in either are designated with letter 'j'. For example, ESFj is assigned letter 'j' because its leading function is Fe, which is a rational, judging function. INTp is assigned letter 'p' as an irrational type since this type is leading in irrational, perceiving function, Ni.
Grouping types by their valued elements we obtain four quadra: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta. The types were also grouped into four temperaments by their leading function.
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, which results in erroneous over-attribution. While studying socionics, it is a good idea to try to delineate for oneself where its limitations lie.
In addition, one's positive or negative thinking patterns, overall outlook on life, and emotional health are not tied to type. 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 cognitive mechanisms so are ingrained so "deeply" that they are difficult to gain a full awareness of, much less to consciously modify in some way.
Intertype relations describe the nature of information interchange between two people interacting and working together at a close psychological distances. These relationships range from very difficult and potentially harmful to one's self-realization, to very beneficial, pleasant and rewarding.
What relations exist between the types is determined from the interactions of their information elements located in different functions, which give rise to Reinin dichotomies and furthermore, to complimentary or conflicting cognitive styles. It should be noted that most interactions over the internet can be described as casual - they occur at relatively large psychological distances - hence they are not very reliable for determining one's intertype relations. Intertype relations manifest most clearly when people have to cohabit or work together for prolonged periods of time, which brings them to close psychological and physical proximity to one another.
A unique aspect of socionics is the discovery of complementary psychic structures called duality. 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 MBTI does not address this 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 partner around stimulates one to use one's strengths as much as possible. Even their mere presence tends to exert a calming, soothing, balancing influence (note: this relaxing effect does not imply romantic attraction). 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 MBTI
The four socionic dichotomies appear to be very similar to the dichotomies used by the MBTI system. However, close inquiry reveals that there are some important differences. The j/p letters of Socionics types are assigned according to type's dominant or leading function. The j/p dichotomy is thus known as Rational/irrational, depending on whether type is leading with a rational T/F function or irrational N/P function. In MBTI the J/P letters are assigned according to highest level extroverted function. If the type extraverts a judging function as its leading or auxiliary then it is a judging type, otherwise it is a perceiving type. The J/P dichotomy of MBTI is called Judger/Perceiver and should not be mistaken with Socionics Rational/Irrational dichotomy. Thus type conversion between MBTI and Socionics is not direct.
Another important distinction is that in Socionics information elements are allocated into functions that have defined roles according to Model A, whereas in MBTI functions are simply ordered 1 to 8 on basis of their "strength" or "weakness", which is not true of socionics model.
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 is where socionics conferences take place where socionists present and discuss their ideas and publications.
Socionics is a decentralized field of study. 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. 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 recognition, though it is now often mentioned in psychology courses in universities around eastern europe. A few individuals have gained name as respected socionists and are generally well known in the community. They publish in community journals and participate in seminars and professional dialogues.
Socionics Tests and Useful Links
Socionics Resources and Links
Recommended Reading for Socionics Researchers and Enthusiasts
Information Elements: A Primer
Basic Jungian dichotomies, The 4 Jungian Dichotomies
The Socion: Overview of the 16 Sociotypes
Model A: Ego, Superego, Id, and SuperID blocks
Aspects in the Valued Functions by Dmitry Golihov
Explication of Je/Ji and Pe/Pi
Type and Subtype Descriptions by V. Meged, A. Ovcharov
Plus/Minus Functions and Quadra Values by Victor Gulenko
Dimensionality of functions
Reinin Dichotomies, Dichotomies on Wikisocion
Forms of Cognition by Victor Gulenko
Defining Specialized Logical Functions by V. Gulenko
The Clock of the Socion: Energy Dynamics of Quadra and Benefit Rings by Gulenko
On Vectors of Social Progress by A. Dovgan
On Waves of Aging and Renewal: Progress Orientation in Combination with Jungian Aspects by V. Gulenko
The Concept of Energy Exchanges in Model "A" and Construction of Two Main Vertical Subtypes by V.V. Meged, A.A. Ovcharov
Accepting-Producing Characteristic of Functions
Chapter 10 from Psychological Types by C. G. Jung
Metabolism of Information
What the IEs are not
Project and Implementation Groups by Gulenko
Stress Resistance Groups by Gulenko
Gulenko Communication Styles
Classification of Intertype Relations According to Their Purpose and Energy Dynamics
About Aspects and Functions in Socionics by Prokofieva
Psychological functions and Information metabolism models by T. Prokofieva, M. Kuzmina
Advice for each type when facing daily life problems — by Reinin
Descriptions of Small Groups — by Reinin
Information Element Descriptors
Quadra Progression by dolphin
Quadra Progression by Gilly
Classification of Art Movements by Quadra
Philosophical Motivations of Types by V. Gulenko
Gulenko VI Method
Classification of Art Movements by Quadra
The Mathematical Basis of Reinin Dichotomies
MBTI and Socionics: Speaking Different Languages, Striving for the Same