I was thinking of starting up a thread where we describe different types apperances, to help everyone type people?
http://www.socionics.us/practice/vis...fication.shtml <- This rocks.
Among western audiences the term "visual identification" — usually referred to as "V.I." — has come to mean typing people using photographs alone. In actuality, socionists type visually not only using photographs, but also any time they meet with people in person. They observe people's behavior, study their appearance, follow eye movements, make note of facial expressions, or use any number of other methods based on visually identifiable patterns that their experience tells them is related to type. In most cases, visual information is registered automatically (subconsciously) and is used as a supplement to verbal information obtained from conversation or interviewing. Experienced socionists have a mental data bank of hundreds or thousands of people they have typed, and look for similarities that trigger type versions that can then be pursued more purposefully.
While most socionists today use a combination of methods to type people, a few rely first and foremost on studying photographs. However, relatively few socionists are willing to sign their name under typings based on photographs alone. In addition, direct observations based on photographs are rarely emphasized in discussion between socionists, because there is no consensus as to which external qualities correlate to which socionic trait. Usually attempts to discuss photographs are quite primitive: "he looks like a Critic," "he has the eyes of a Marshal," etc. Such discussion is usually fruitless, and many socionists feel sheepish engaging in it:
Because socionics is first and foremost about psychic structures and their influence on relationships, the ultimate criteria for determining type will always be perceptual traits and their manifestations in interaction, and not external appearance.
Aushra Augusta and external type traits
Augusta made a number of statements about physiological type traits that have since been more or less debunked, or at least widely ignored because of their consistent inaccuracy:
all irrational types are by nature left-handed, while rational types are naturally right-handed
extraverts' left eye and left side of the face is more "lively" than the right, and the opposite is true for introverts
static types look at things at rest with the left eye and things in motion with the right; the opposite is true for dynamic types
she made a ranking of how wide open different types' eyes are; and types have the most squinting eyes, while and types have the most wide open eyes
(I may have got some things wrong; I have not reviewed these things for several years)
In addition, Augusta's works contain scattered references to various other patterns in types' appearance and movements. For example, she mentioned LSE's stiff, "wooden-like posture."
In Augusta's footsteps, many other socionists developed their own sets of physical traits used for type diagnosis. I have seen people look at the shape of the palm (whether it is flat or rounded) and have people fold their arms to see which arm is on top. More common is to take into consideration peoples' gait, hair structure, mouth and nose shape, and everything related to the eyes (since eyes are the "mirror of the soul"). However, in discussion with other people, most socionists refer to such traits in passing as anecdotal evidence and do not focus on them. Behavior styles, mannerisms, and information structure are recognized as being more authoritative.
An extreme example of typing using anatomic traits is the "Typologist," a socionist from St. Petersburg who teaches "physiognomical socionics." Online translations of many of his articles can be viewed here. Lest one get carried away with his brand of socionics, note that, according to his methods, ILE is the most common type (30%, 90% of people are logical types, 75% are extraverts, and 70% are intuiters (link to article in Russian). Such typing distribution does not satisfy the basic condition of socionics, which is to create an effective typology of relationships. According to Typologist's statistics, no more than 20% of the population has any hope of finding duals, while the rest are doomed to a psychologically imbalanced life. The vast majority of other socionists, however, give a much more rounded view of type distribution.
My observations lead me to conclude that diagnosing types based solely on quantifiable anatomic traits leads to very uneven typing distribution and incorrect assessments of intertype relations, as a result of mistyping people.
Phrenology and physiognomy
I highly recommend browsing the Wikipedia articles on phrenology and physiognomy. The fact that the idea of connecting appearance and character keeps arising again and again throughout history suggests that there is in fact some kind of connection between the two, but all attempts to quantify these correlations so far have failed under the weight of empirical studies. Hence, I don't think we can expect socionic perceptual traits to directly correlate with certain anatomic traits either.
My experience with visual identification
I myself was trained in "visual type diagnostics" through the study of photographs and real-life observation. My teachers (primarily Aleksandr Kushnir, a socionist from Kiev) felt they were using a strict methodology, but in fact it was more a scattered collection of patterns and anecdotal observations with barely the appearance of a strict procedure. I was never able to formalize what I learned into a reliable system. We kept running into "exceptions" to the rules — people who had a different eye shape, for example, but clearly belonged to a certain type. I eventually completely dismissed the idea of an "active eye" or "active side of the face" (supposedly tied to extraversion and introversion), finding that even people who claim to use this in type diagnosis are themselves rarely able to tell for sure which side is active. If they can't see it, who can?
What I use today
Today my focus in visual identification is not on deducing type based on separate traits but on trying to see the big picture of what information people convey to their environment through their expressions and appearance, and what states of mind are reflected in their face and body. I continue to make note of all sorts of patterns in facial features and appearance, but I consider none of these patterns to be authoritative in and of themselves. I believe that the obvious presence of such patterns is what keeps physiognomy alive in its various forms. Each socionic type, however, seems to include many different combinations of traits, and no one external trait is ever absolutely indicative of a type, as it can be found among representatives of other types as well.
To illustrate, let's look at my collection of sensing logical extraverts. At the moment I have six of them on the page — Mike Tyson, Dick Cheney, Quentin Tarantino, Anthony Hopkins, Madeleine Albright, and Colin Powell.
Five of the six have a rectangular eye shape, like this:
Only one of them (Madeleine Albright) has a round eye shape:
Four of the six have markedly arched eyebrows or tend to arch them in various facial expressions. Two have flat eyebrows (Tarantino and Hopkins). These two also have wide, prominent foreheads and more tapering jaws, making them appear more "cerebral" (which in fact they probably are). The others have rounder heads.
Each of them tends to grimace or sneer instead of smiling outright, and each of them has a characteristic look where they tilt the head slightly foreward and look out intently from beneath their eyebrows. However, some SLE's do the opposite and tilt their head back, looking down from above. Their gaze is calm and steady, rarely wild or intruiging, and transmits a sense of confidence and readiness to confront one's environment.
Each of the traits discussed here can also be found among people of other types. Only by studying a collection of photos or observing the person over a period of time can one be sure that the intent of these gazes and expressions is actually to convey a type message — readiness to confront the outside world. Even when SLE's are not very self-confident, they still convey this message.
Constructive discussion of visual impressions used in typing
Impressions of people's type obtained from visual observation are no worse or less authoritative than impressions obtained through other means; the difficulty is conveying these impressions to other people in a constructive way. In all my experience observing visual diagnosis attempts on socionics forums, I almost never see what I would consider constructive discussion. In real-life discussions the situation is not much better. People seem to be too lazy to verbalize their observations and impressions and instead immediately jump to type conclusions.