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Thread: The practice of assigning subtypes

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    Landlord of the Dog and Duck Subteigh's Avatar
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    Default The practice of assigning subtypes

    I feel like there's been many threads on this before, perhaps even one of them was started by me, so this may be a tired topic.

    At time I have a paranoid fear that people place an undue prominence on subtypes - perhaps even focussing more on subtypes than on the base types themselves. I suppose there's not so much "wrong" with that if in the minds of these people, the types are subconsciously ingrained into their minds and so it does not pay to focus too much attention on the types.

    However, it seems that on a frequent basis, key aspects of behaviour are explained away not as being relevant to an individual's type, but to a particular subtype - often seeming as though they are fixed on a type contrary to significant evidence.

    I regularly find that when I attempt to type someone, perhaps as many as three or four types come readily to mind - and then it is clear that it is not time to ascertain a guess on that person's type - it would be better to reflect, and perhaps make more observations and listen to the reasonings of others. It would not do in such a situation to try and explain away things via the subtype method.

    It would be best to keep in mind the core elements of each of the 16 types - and ultimately decide on that person's type. It's rare too that I see a type-subtype combo being used in the context of intertype relations - and if I do, I recall it being do in a slightly confused manner - i.e. the people seem inhuman and\or their actions are broken down to such a level I wonder what would be wrong with simply talking about types and functions.

    Another irk of mine is someone being typed for example "LSE-Te 4w3 Sp\Sx to the Max" or some such, but actually, I don't think I've seen that for some time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Subterranean View Post
    At time I have a paranoid fear that people place an undue prominence on subtypes - perhaps even focussing more on subtypes than on the base types themselves.
    The only one who explicitly stated that the "energy type" was truly more important and easier to determine than the base type was an infamous member of this forum called tcaudillg...

    Quote Originally Posted by Subterranean View Post
    However, it seems that on a frequent basis, key aspects of behaviour are explained away not as being relevant to an individual's type, but to a particular subtype - often seeming as though they are fixed on a type contrary to significant evidence.
    I agree. KrigTheViking translated some DCNH descriptions where the 4 subtypes are described as if they could be determined independently from the base type. Not a good idea in my opinion...

    Quote Originally Posted by Subterranean View Post
    I regularly find that when I attempt to type someone, perhaps as many as three or four types come readily to mind - and then it is clear that it is not time to ascertain a guess on that person's type - it would be better to reflect, and perhaps make more observations and listen to the reasonings of others. It would not do in such a situation to try and explain away things via the subtype method.
    In many cases there are not three or four but exactly two popular typings for a particular person. For example, Captain Picard is often typed as INTj but also often as ISFj. What does that mean? If the members of this forum are not completely stupid, it certainly means that one of those types is Picard's base type and the other one the subtype. I'd say INTj-ISFj.
    Other example: Rick DeLong first typed Barack Obama as INFp and then as ENTj. He obviously has some characteristics of both types so INFp-ENTj would probably be the best guess. Or ENTj-INFp maybe...?

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    I'd like to raise this discussion again, since it seems like a lot of people on this forum take subtypes for granted.

    Subtype theories are used frequently by less experienced socionists, and, as Subterranean points out, as a way to explain away certain aspects of behavior that can't be explained with socionics itself. There is no problem with this on the face of it, but if you don't understand socionics that well, you can't expect subtypes to make things more clear. Personally, I find 16 types confusing enough. How are 64 types going to be any less confusing?

    JohnDo's example is very much to the point. If I think JohnDo is, say, EII, but someone else thinks he's LIE, I can either conclude that at least one of us is wrong, or start calling John Doe an EII-LIE to make us both happy. But the fact is that a lot of typings are just bad, and do not reflect a correct understanding of the person in question.

    That being said, I've made some attempts to categorize differences within types, and the most comprehensive theory IMO is somatotypes (Rick turned me on to that one). The "standard" subtypes are usually a way to say so-and-so is similar to another type (like EII-LIE). I don't find these particularly useful (how can an LII be EP subtype?), and I think people should stay away from them until they have a solid grasp on the basic types.

    I can't emphasize this enough: There are many different behavioral manifestations of each type. People always want to understand these differences when they learn about socionics, hence subtypes. There's nothing wrong with that, but socionics is about the commonalities within each type, not the differences. Subtypes can't help you understand that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Subterranean View Post
    However, it seems that on a frequent basis, key aspects of behaviour are explained away not as being relevant to an individual's type, but to a particular subtype - often seeming as though they are fixed on a type contrary to significant evidence.

    I regularly find that when I attempt to type someone, perhaps as many as three or four types come readily to mind - and then it is clear that it is not time to ascertain a guess on that person's type - it would be better to reflect, and perhaps make more observations and listen to the reasonings of others. It would not do in such a situation to try and explain away things via the subtype method.
    Quote Originally Posted by thehotelambush View Post
    JohnDo's example is very much to the point. If I think JohnDo is, say, EII, but someone else thinks he's LIE, I can either conclude that at least one of us is wrong, or start calling John Doe an EII-LIE to make us both happy. But the fact is that a lot of typings are just bad, and do not reflect a correct understanding of the person in question.
    The subtypes thing annoys me considerably as well. I have arguments with JohnDo and Tcaud especially on the systems they enforce and it seems that for as long as people are that attached to ideas of what type they are, there's not much that can be done about it.

    I think the other group of people who use subtypes are genuinely lacking in a core knowledge of Socionics. A superficial understanding of the basics and a lack of real reflection lead to incredible findings such as the predominance of users with ESE mothers! The problem with socionics is that it's a description of information metabolism which is an abstraction whereas typing is based on mannerisms. Learning the basics takes a significant amount of time as the descriptions will inevitably focus on manifestation of the information elements and end up with "Fe = Emotional Expression", which is a correlation rather than a truth. The type descriptors should be accepted as tendencies rather than facts. An extreme of this is Maritsa's typical reasoning such as "he said efficient therefore he is Te dominant!".

    The VI subsection in my opinion encourages this idea as it means people are basing their entire typing on a snapshot of activity negating the central principles of socionics.

    Quote Originally Posted by Subterranean View Post
    Another irk of mine is someone being typed for example "LSE-Te 4w3 Sp\Sx to the Max" or some such, but actually, I don't think I've seen that for some time.
    Yeah, this bugs me too.
    LII?

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    Quote Originally Posted by buckland View Post
    The subtypes thing annoys me considerably as well. I have arguments with JohnDo and Tcaud especially on the systems they enforce and it seems that for as long as people are that attached to ideas of what type they are, there's not much that can be done about it.

    I think the other group of people who use subtypes are genuinely lacking in a core knowledge of Socionics. A superficial understanding of the basics and a lack of real reflection lead to incredible findings such as the predominance of users with ESE mothers! The problem with socionics is that it's a description of information metabolism which is an abstraction whereas typing is based on mannerisms. Learning the basics takes a significant amount of time as the descriptions will inevitably focus on manifestation of the information elements and end up with "Fe = Emotional Expression", which is a correlation rather than a truth. The type descriptors should be accepted as tendencies rather than facts. An extreme of this is Maritsa's typical reasoning such as "he said efficient therefore he is Te dominant!".

    The VI subsection in my opinion encourages this idea as it means people are basing their entire typing on a snapshot of activity negating the central principles of socionics.



    Yeah, this bugs me too.
    I like this whole thread but particularly this post. It is ridiculous to think that so many people have ESE mothers. And the "he said efficient. . . " and the VI critique. All so true.

    Socionics isn't about absolutes. You can't see a person do something and know from that one behavior anything for sure. It can give clues, point in a direction, etc. But when I see people say, "An ILI would never . . . " I cringe.

    Also, it seems like people use subtypes sometimes to explain mistypings. "I'm ESE, but I'm really good at Ne, so I'm such and such a subtype." No, if you're strong at Ne, you just plain aren't ESE, or you don't understand what Ne is, or you're wrong at thinking you're strong at it. (I intentionally used an example I haven't seen.) But it gives people an excuse to stop considering the possibility that they might just be wrong.

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    So what is worse, having an ESE mother or using subtypes?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aiss View Post
    So what is worse, having an ESE mother or using subtypes?
    heh. its kind of convenient that my mother wasn't ESE so i don't have to use the "no, really!" disclaimer every time it comes up.

    anyway i don't really have a strong opinion on the subtype thing..the two subtype system is something i use regularly and see pretty clearly, any system beyond that (4+ subtypes) i don't understand well enough to feel justified critisizing. its clear to see the potential for abuse of subtypes for reasons already stated in this thread, whether that's a reason to dismiss them altogether...nah.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aiss View Post
    So what is worse, having an ESE mother or using subtypes?
    Both are equally deplorable! I shudder at the though of an ESE-Si Mother...

    Quote Originally Posted by Mariella View Post
    Also, it seems like people use subtypes sometimes to explain mistypings. "I'm ESE, but I'm really good at Ne, so I'm such and such a subtype." No, if you're strong at Ne, you just plain aren't ESE, or you don't understand what Ne is, or you're wrong at thinking you're strong at it. (I intentionally used an example I haven't seen.) But it gives people an excuse to stop considering the possibility that they might just be wrong.
    Exactly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ashton2 View Post
    Recent post I made on this:

    Subtypes are fine so long as it's demonstrable that the subtypes are of the same base type—for example, between a hypothetical Te-ENTj and Ni-ENTj, both should share properties of being Gamma and EJ; if they don't, then something's not right. In this sense, subtypes aren't necessary per say—i.e. it would be fine and well to simply call both of them ENTj and leave it at that if desired. But if applied in a way that keeps the core ideas intact and coherently extends from them, subtypes can be a useful layer of clarification to help sort out intra-type differences.

    What gives subtypes a bad rap is when people use them sloppily w/o any sort of consistent methodology, typically resulting in attempts to justify typings that don't fit the base type, and only adds to mounting ambiguity.

    There's also a practical limit IMO on how many subtypes there should be per type. I cap it at 2, if only because I don't have a large enough data pool to trust any further precision beyond that. 4 subtypes might be plausible… but when it gets into 8 and 16+ subtypes, that's a bit unwieldy and ridiculous. Instead of actually explaining anything, it only seems to exponentiate the odds of someone using such a subtype argument as ad-hoc justification for a typing.
    This post does make sense. Subtypes should augment (and hopefully improve on) an already firm understanding of socionics. However, I'm still not sure I can convince myself that subtypes are no more than nurture and experience's effect on a person. I do agree though that there is a spectrum to every type's "ability" with each function and grouping people on this may be of use.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ashton2 View Post
    This can also stem from attempts to apply Socionics as a catch-all theory to explain anything and everything about human psychology. This isn't a good idea. Especially when there are hundreds of existing theories (w/ actual research) explaining many of these aspects far better. IMO, Socionics at best can explain only a narrow cross-section of cognitive/information processing, and suggest some implications about how this influences interpersonal interactions. Keeping the theory in an appropriate context would help allay some of the superfluous subtyping stuff.
    Yep.
    LII?

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    You fail to understand. Subtypes are a concept designed for professional use... the system was not designed for mass consumption, only for people who have the psychological prowess to process personality in all of its detail.

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    ROFL

    TC

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    I have successfully mapped the 256 short type descriptions in the "MBTI and Socionics" book to the 256 dual types. To give a glance of "how short" these are here's the INTj-INFp one:
    This type spends a lot of time thinking about people and humanity. He has the most difficulty with reality as he lives in his own mind. They mistype themselves as INFJs, but their weak Te hints at their more airy nature.
    The system he uses is very strange though, as are the diagrams accompanying each subtype.
    Last edited by Crispy; 01-21-2011 at 11:17 PM.
    ILI (FINAL ANSWER)

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    INFp EMs in general think about humanity. But I give him credit for trying.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slacker View Post
    Also, it seems like people use subtypes sometimes to explain mistypings. "I'm ESE, but I'm really good at Ne, so I'm such and such a subtype." No, if you're strong at Ne, you just plain aren't ESE, or you don't understand what Ne is, or you're wrong at thinking you're strong at it. (I intentionally used an example I haven't seen.) But it gives people an excuse to stop considering the possibility that they might just be wrong.
    Ironically, I happen to make this exact assertion for myself (that I am that specific type of ESE depicted above) so I may be guilty as charged for asserting this. Here is my explanation:

    It is the combination of emotional openness, people awareness and friendliness/warmth, and flat-out enthusiasm in most aspects of my vocalizations, expressions, etc. that makes me feel that I am an -dominant types. I am more than anything else.

    I also am NOT strong necessarily at . The type of creative brainstorming that I see dominant types do has always impressed me, and is something that I do only moderately well. While I am good at hanging with ILEs and LIIs, I cannot claim that the way my brain works is necessarily similar to the alpha-NT way of thinking.

    What I CAN say is that I gravitate towards the type of areas of interest where dominant types immerse themselves. The academic world...the world of witty puns, novel theories, ideas, and information, an interest in discovery and exploration, etc. is a place that feels quite homely to me. I can hang out and live in that world of deep curiosity forever....however, I kinda suck in terms of sheer mastery of stuff. So this is where I separate from the alpha-NT types. Yet, while this lack of proficiency removes me from ILE, LII, or IEE, I still think that this can place me as a potential C-ESE type. Since raw is somewhat different from the creative subtype, I could be the latter rather than the former. This is what I am currently leaning towards.
    Mike
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