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About Aspects and Functions in Socionics
by T. N. Prokofieva
Would everything on Earth be dead,
As if the world has never had
The life in it that flowered,
If no living person yet
The source of life discovered.
Basing on psyche functions Jung described psychological types, but he did not put in terms diagnostic method for real people. That’s why Jung’s typology was considered for long years to be working only when used by its author and is not good for practical work. As we see that this typology is very effective in practice and is certainly needed both for a psychologist and an average person, it would be good to find the means and tools for defining, diagnosing psychological types.
Till the present time a lot of not so experienced socionics try to identify types by eye: “If he reminds of someone whose type I know, then he should belong to the same type”. Similarity in appearance and behaviour can only be a hint to a hypothesis. But for the reliable type identification the scrupulous analysis of information metabolism by all the eight functions is necessary. We will show how we divide information about the world into aspects.
What’s the way to approach the division of information into aspects so that it would reflect the work of the psychological functions described by Jung? There is a very important thing which has not yet been properly marked in socionic literature.
If the functions process all the information about the world, then the division into aspects should be full, that is, take in all phenomena scientifically described. It should not have any “blank spots”.
While studying the information effect on the psyche, we should imagine that any part of information about everything that happens in the world should refer to at least one of the components – aspects – or to their combination.
Let’s describe the information division into aspects in socionics remembering this important requirement.
Starting to speak about the information aspects we should explain what information is and how its meaning has changed by the second half of the XX-th century. The Big encyclopedic dictionary gives the following definition .
“Information (Latin information – explanation, statement) – first – data, passed between people in oral, written or other way (with the help of prearranged signals, technical means etc.); from the middle of the XX-th century –a scientific term, including data exchange between people, a person and an automatic machine, an automatic machine and automatic machine, signal exchange in the world of flora and fauna; characteristics transfer from a cell to a cell, from an organism to an organism (genetic information); one of the main terms of cybernetics”.
To understand the way our psyche processes the information and its effect on our psychological state and relationships with the world, we should divide all the flow of the information getting to a person into separate components – aspects. This will help to model the process of information exchange by the human psyche.
The aspect is the information type. It shows what kind of information is meant, what it is about.
The first division: objects - relationships
Jung started describing psychological types with the directions of human psyche extraversion – introversion.
Every phenomenon in the world can be considered either from the point of view of objects or from the point of view of relationships.
So, we have divided all the information flow into two big parts:
1. information about objects;
2. information about relationships.
Information aspects about objects are called extraverted.
Information aspects about relationships are called introverted.
Both of these mechanisms are necessary for every person’s psyche. A. Augustinavichuite writes: “The necessary condition for the functioning of any organism is the double bond with the world around… For the brain functioning as an information metabolism device it should be provided for with signals both from outside and the organism itself".
Differences in the personality types are determined by the mechanism (one of these two) which is more often, customarily, surely, successfully and effectively used by the person. Let us remind of the fact that we can speak about a harmoniously developed personality when a person uses his strong and weak features almost like the proportion of golden section: approximately 60:40. That is a harmoniously developed extravert in about 60% of cases uses the mechanism of extraversion: is interested in the objects of the outer world, people, affairs etc. And about 40% of his attention is drawn to his inner world: to himself, his own attitude to the objects (people, affairs). An introvert accordingly vice versa .
Discussing the complicated matter of information division into aspects we will turn from time to time to one and the same example to see how it manifests itself in life. Let’s take an example including various information and see how it is divided into aspects.
A mother and a child. That is a many-sided system presuming different information aspects, different ways to see the situation. First there can be two points of view on this family. Some people first of all pay attention to each family member: what kind of person he (she) is, what he (she) would like, what he (she) can and so on. Other people are more interested in the kind of relationships between them. Here two points of view we have discussed are reflected: for the first observers (extraverts) the information aspects of these people as objects are more important, for the second ones (introverts) – information aspects of their relationships.
The second division: statics - dynamics
The second large-scale information division suggested by A. Augustinavichuite is connected with considering phenomena in statics and dynamics. This division concerns both objects and relationships. Following Newton’s mechanics we can state that everything happening in the world can be studied from the statics point of view (“fixing”, “freezing” the studied subject, whether it is an object or relationships), or from the dymanics point of view (moving, developing, in the process of changing).
In the first case we are interested in ingenuous features of objects or relationships (statics), and in the second one – in processes, happening to these objects or relationships (dynamics).
* Information aspects about the features of objects and relationships stable at the time of observation, are called static.
* Information aspects about the processes of changes, development, movement are called dynamic.
We should mention that there is no pure statics over the time anywhere in the world. “Everything moves, everything changes”. Statics could be taken only as a fact of a certain moment but no object ever remains static (unchanged) from a moment to a moment. Static approach is typical of a phenomenon analysis, that is, for detailed studies of its features.
In the second case information about movement, development is gathered in different time periods for dynamic features study. That is the information synthesis.
Studying any phenomenon in the world can be done either from the static information aspects point of view or dynamic one. This corresponds with two main scientific methods: analysis and synthesis. However, everything early mentioned concerns not only the scientific examining the information, but also everyday life.
Socionic division of information aspects into static and dynamic ones corresponds to personality types division into static and dynamic. The way of information processing is reflected in peculiarities in behaviour and reactions. The first ones – statics – are more static in their manifestation, there are fewer movements, less gesticulation. They are more inclined to observations and analysis. The second ones – dynamics – are more active, even sitting in their place, they more often change their posture, gesticulate. They more often notice changes in a situation.
Let’s return to our example. Those who approach information perception from the statics point of view will pay attention to constant, inherent in people and their relationships lengthy features: their aiming at relationships with people, social status and also innate abilities, habits. Observers perceiving the world mostly from dynamics position will sooner pay attention to changes, development concerning the mother and the child themselves and their relationships as well.
* * *
Combining now the two above-mentioned approaches we get division of the whole information flow about the world into 4 big groups (table 1):
- on the one hand, division into information aspects about objects and relationships;
- on the other hand, division into statics and dynamics.
Table 1. Information aspects about the world
It is evident that any phenomenon in the world can be viewed from one of these four points.
These information groups in their turn are divided into 2 parts each and as a result we have eight aspects corresponding to the eight Jung’s functions.
The third division: evident (explicit) - implicit
Information of each of discussed four aspects can manifest itself in two ways:
- as visible to the “naked eye”, evident, seen, apparent;
- as till proper time invisible, unapparent though existing objectively.
That is, the first group includes the information about evident things, it is notable, perceptible. And the information on the second group is easier to hide, it can be guessed about by indirect signs. Let’s call these groups of information signals evident and implicit accordingly.
Why should we introduce a new term?
A. Augustinavichuite divided the information about objects into inner and outer ones. To divide the information about relationships no such common principle was suggested. A. Augustinavichuite divided relationships in statics into subjective and objective ones. There was no term for the relationships in dynamics. Nevertheless the uniting term for the third information division into aspects is necessary for the clear-eyed understanding of the world and psyche information structure.
First, I also wanted to call information aspects about relationships inner and outer ones for the terminology unification, like R.K. Sedykh had done. But it does not work. The simple question: is a sensation an outer thing? And feeling? – causes bewilderment. This way can bring to great confusion.
It took a long time to choose such common term.
Concrete – abstract?
Factual – supposed?
Subjective – objective?
Sensed – ephemeral?
Evident – incredible?
As a result of a lengthy search we settled on the terms “evident – implicit (hidden)”.
The terms “evident – implicit” are introduced as run-time names. Possibly, in future somebody will offer better ones. The matter of term choice is complicated not only for us at present. Jung spoke about the fact that the terms do not fully reflect the essence of a phenomenon: “In reality we should know what names we give to what things. Psychology is a virgin land where a language has to consolidate its grip” .
Is it worth at all introducing the whole unified division here? First, I had an opinion that there is separate division in every of the previously described groups and they are not interconnected. But observations and logical reasoning suggest such division being clearly indicated. It is not for nothing that intuition, and not feeling, is sometimes compared to logical thinking. It is not for nothing, that a doctor takes into consideration his patient’s sensations separating them from emotions.
Those life spheres where logics and sensorics prevail, we take as sound, solid, ponderable and exact. And the conclusions based on the feelings and intuition are often taken as subjective. Feelings and intuition are said to be ephemeral.
Information about evident, noticeable outwardly is referred to the visible aspects.
To the implicit aspects – the information about the things which can be unnoticeable for a long time, the things about which one can guess by indirect signs, which can be concealed easier.
For example, an action and a feeling. The action is evident, noticeable. If the actions has been done, it is obvious for the people who have witnessed it that it has occurred and they can confirm that. The feeling appears in a person’s soul. He can manifest it with words, gestures, actions and he can choose not to manifest it. But observers can not assert that they know what a person really felt, they can only guess about that.
Eight Information Aspects
Let’s consider each of the four groups mentioned in table q separately and try to put in words definitions of the information aspects basing on A. Augustinavichuite’s  and I.D. Vaisband’s  works.
To make writing it down more comfortable A. Augustinavichuite gave graphical signs to each of the aspects. She marked the information aspects about objects with black signs and the information aspects about relationships – with white signs.
Statics of objects – Dynamics of objects
The first two groups of aspects are the information about objects: statics of objects and dynamics of objects. They are located in the upper line of table 1. We will show them in a form of a separate table.
Table 2. Information aspects about objects
Statics of objects. This is the information about the features of the object itself. A. Augustinavichuite has picked out the object’s inner and outer characteristics. Outer (evident) static object features are its form, size, beauty, effect. Inner (implicit, hidden) static object’s features are its inner organization, structure, abilities, capacities. All the information about objects in statics which can be analyzed in included in these two groups.
Why do we refuse to use the terms inner – outer here? The reason is not to mix it up with the division into extraverted and introverted aspects which are also sometimes called outer and inner. To be precise: extraverted and introverted aspects are outer or inner ones for an observer accordingly. Speaking about evident and implicit features of the object itself (or relationships) we mean outer and inner features of this object (or relation), that is referring to the considered object.
- Information aspect about an object’s evident features, outer ones: its form, beauty, strength, will, concentration is called will sensorics.
- Information aspect about an object’s implicit features, inner ones: structure, capacities, abilities is called intuition of opportunities.
Let’s return to our example of a mother and a child. According to table 1 four groups of observers are already watching them. Now we take the first of these groups: extraverts – statics. These people first of all pay attention to objects’ features in statics. What do they see? There are two sub-groups here. One of them – sensorics – first see the outer features of each of the family members: how confident and beautiful the mother is, how well-groomed and well-dressed the child is. Observers from another group – intuits – first of all will pay attention to inner, hidden from eye features, capacities, opportunities: a talented mother has a good potential for self-actualization in life, and a child who is fast learner, can become a well-educated person.
Dynamics of objects. If we look at an object in dynamics we should speak about a process, about the things happening to the object. A. Augustinavichuite suggests the following division of the process features. She refers movements, objects’ actions and work done by them to outer (evident) process features. And to inner (implicit) ones – inner changes, stimulus for actions which happen in the inner world of a person, inner energy, emotional state of people. These two groups of informational signals are dynamics signals: outer (evident) and inner (implicit, hidden) ones.
- Information aspect of the object’s evident dynamics: actions, movements is called logics of actions.
- Information aspect of the object’s implicit dynamics: inner energy, activation, stimulus for action and emotional state, mood is called ethics ofemotions.
The second group of observers – extraverts-dynamics – will see in the considered family first of all the objects’ dynamics. And here again there are two sub-groups. The first one – logics – first will pay attention to actions, movements of the people being watched: the mother continues working, providing the child with everything necessary, the child gladly does physical exercises, plays outdoor games. The second sub-group – ethics – will sooner be interested in emotional state of these people, their energy: the vigorous mother fearlessly starts new activities, solves arising problems, the emotional child likes music, merry games, but often becomes capricious.
Statics of relationships – Dynamics of relationships
We have considered the information about objects (the upper cells of table 1). Now let’s consider the information about relationships (the lower cells of table 1). It can be considered the same way: relationships in statics and relationships in dynamics (table 3).
Table 3. Information aspects of relationships
Statics of relationships. These are relations between static objects. A. Augustinavichuite divides relationships in statics into 2 groups which she called objective and subjective.
Objective relationships: distances between objects, positional relationships, comparison characteristics of their sizes. Subjective relationships between objects: attraction – repulsion, people’s feelings and interrelations. According to our agreement we will use unified terms here: objective relationships are evident relationships and subjective relationships are implicit ones, they are not always manifested, sometimes hidden, not everything in them could be seen with naked eye.
- Information aspect of the evident statics of relationships, of correlation between objects: positional relationships, distances, measuring of an object by an object is called logics of relationships.
- Information aspect of the implicit statics of relationships, of subjective relationships: attraction – repulsion, sympathy – antipathy is called ethics of relationships.
In our example the third group of observers – introverts-statics – first of all will be interested in the analysis of the mother and the child’s relationships. There are also 2 sub-groups here. The first one – logics – will see first of all objective relationships: the mother is taller than the child, the things at home are arranged in a good order – every thing is in its place, the child takes the high position in the mother’s priorities, the mother, in her turn, strives to get a high position in the social hierarchy. The second group of observers – ethics – will pay attention to the relationships: the mother and the son love each other tenderly, they love their relatives and are polite and tactful in communication.
Dynamics of relationships. Everything turned out to be a bit more difficult with the description of dynamics of relations than with the previous things. Unfortunately, there is no exact data on this group of aspects in literature. More often that are ready statements almost without explanations. As a result there is a great number of gaps in understanding these aspects between different socionic schools. In one sources sensations are described as inner ones and changes in time as outer ones. But that is not about the process of relationships! In others – vice versa: anticipation is inner one but then sensations are outer ones. Both are not very clear. It was not easy to find explanations.
What is the matter here? The fact is that mostly extraverts-statics dealt with describing aspects. That is why extraverted static aspects are described quite exactly in books on socionics. Descriptions of extraverted dynamics and introverted statics are also clear. But introverted statics turned out to be black-out, displaced, not adequately realized. That is why it is described in most works in terms of extraverted aspects. The truth is that the author, also extravert-static at first found it difficult to find the right way to describe these aspects. I had to turn to socionic method: to involve introverts-dynamics in discussion. As a result of long argues and reasoning we arrived at the following conclusions.
Dynamics of relationships includes as the very process of relationships course and relationships between dynamic processes as well. Here dynamics of relationships is always changes happening in these relationships.
This group of aspects as the previous one has two sides.
Changes can be noticeable, evident. These are visible manifestations of the process. Everything that is perceived, sensed with any organs of sense, things of current importance, occurring now and here, are included here. This is the process state changing, a person’s state of health.
The state of health is the relation with one’s body in dynamics: better – worse. Sensations, comfort are the relations with the environment, space. Aesthetics, harmony are connected with our attitude to the things we have seen, heard, sensed.
State is not a static, but a dynamic aspect. State is always described in comparison with the previous or possible following states. For example, in medicine the state of health is spoken about as dynamics: “clinical course”, “recovery process”, “dynamics of in-between state”. State, by its semantics is the position between one and another thing. And it is not statics, this happens, continues, there are its own accelerations and turbulences. State is changeable, it flows (to compare: disease activity).
Thus, sensations are evident dynamics of relationships. Why?
- Sensation is dynamics: we sense taste only when it is changing, otherwise our receptors adapt themselves to it and stop responding. Our organs of sense only react to changes in taste, smell, colours etc. There is no statics of sensing, when adaptation appears, we stop sensing.
- Sensation is relation: our perception of taste, colour, pain depends on us: everyone has his own taste, somebody likes “sweet pain” and the sensations of “pleasant fatigue” is very relative.
- Sensation is evident: sensed.
They characterize the state of relationships.
So, we have come to the conclusion that the process of relationships development is characterized by state, but not only that. Process is a transition of states .
It is characterized by changes occurring in time, changes in speed of the process, development of the situation in time. These changes can be accumulated latently. This is a hidden, implicit side of the relationships process. It is to be developed ( like a film ).
What can be referred to the implicit, hidden dynamics of relationships? These are the things not seen with eyes and not registered with other organs of sense. This is the process “ripening”. Nothing evident has happened yet but inner changes are accumulated. These changes can not be noticed but can de anticipated. By small features, so slight that they are registered without the conscious, we foresee what will happen. Our psyche, as if solving a dynamical problem tells us the possible nest stage of the process after some time with the starting conditions and the speed of development.
The history of the process is included here. What was previously, what will happen – it is not seen at present but it is registered by our organs of sense. Inner changes in the process, unnoticeable, occur. The process “ripens”. It is important here: the history of the process development, time and speed. This gives anticipation, foreseeing, forecasting.
This turned to be the most mysterious aspect. It’s not for nothing that such difficult to describe categories as mystical feeling, forecast of the future, hope.
We will sum up with the following.
Sensorics is a local view of the process of relationships changing. Intuition is global: it sees the relationships on the whole, in their development. For example, on the surface the relationships have become worse, but on the whole the positive dynamics of the development can be seen, if it exists.
Let’s compare: “I feel “sense” cold” – “I feel (anticipate) future changes”, “it seems to me”. The first one is evident, perceptible, the second – implicit, indistinct.
- Information aspect of the evident dynamics, of a state: state of health, features of space, of the things happening at the same time is called sensorics of sensing.
- Information aspect of implicit dynamics of relationships, of timing proportions between processes following each other, events is called intuition of time.
And again about the mother and the son. What will the fourth group of observers – introverts-dynamics- see in the considered family? Dynamics of relationships. This group again will be divided into two sub-groups. One of them – sensorics – will notice what is going on now and here, the state of health, comfort: the mother takes care of her own and her son’s health; it is cozy, warm at home; their food is tasty and healthy, relationships here and now seem clear and unclouded. However, the second group of observers – intuits – will first of all think about the family history and the forecast for the future. They will say that not everything is so smoothly, as seen at first glance. Growing older the child becomes more capricious, demands harder fulfilling his whims; the mother is getting more and more involved in her work, relying on teachers’ and tutors’ experience in her son’s development. Everything is well yet but the things go on like this, in future it can bring to not very pleasant consequences for the child. That is the opinion of the last group of observers. Nothing has happened yet but they forecast the future events, foresee, anticipate the future changes.
At the beginning of this paragraph we mentioned that dynamics of relationships includes relationships between dynamic processes besides the very process of relationships passing. It is necessary to take into consideration the mutual influence of processes on each other (one starts the other changing its state). Two parallel processes can be compared by speed proportion and state proportion. There can be dynamics of speed and dynamics of states (for the constant speed is statics).
If we compare states of health, states in one and the same process, we should talk of dynamics ofstates. If we compare speeds, for example, in the case when processes reach the same state with different speeds – that is dynamics of speeds.
Thus, states proportions, parallel processes going on at the same time proportions are referred to evident dynamics of relationships. Temporal relationships, events’ speed proportion, tempo of the development are referred to implicit dynamics.
Let’s compare dynamics of objects and dynamics of relationships now. If evident dynamics of object is movement, actions, work being done, then evident dynamics of relationships is their state.
* * *
So, the first and a very important socionic theory step is dividing all the information flow coming to a person into 8 components and information about any phenomenon in the outer in inner world is referred to one of the eight aspects or their combination (table 4).
We should emphasize that information about the world could be divided into aspects in any way. Why this one has been chosen? We mentioned earlier that dividing information into aspects should be full and should reflect the work of psyche functions described by C.G. Jung to study information effect on human psyche.
Table 4. Information aspects about the world
Information division is full. Why?
- The first division of the flow into information about objects and relationships cover all the information about the world. It would be more exact if we say that this is just the view on any phenomenon: from the point of view of objects’ features or from the point of view of relationships. Here no information has been lost.
- The second division of information is also full. We considered every phenomenon in the world either in statics (“freezing” it for analysis of its features) or in dynamics (considering it moving, changing developing etc. and synthesizing, gathering all this changing information). Here we have not also missed any information.
- And the last division – to evident and implicit (hidden) features of any phenomenon whether it is an object, relationships or a process. Evident features can be easily seen, perceived and registered. The implicit are the ones about which we can judge indirectly, guessing. This is again the full division. Nothing has been left without our consideration.
It can be shown graphically in the following picture (picture 1)
Picture 1. Information aspects about the world
- Big encyclopaedic dictionary. M. 1991
- A. Augustinavicuite. Information metabolism model. //Sosionics, mentology and personality psychology, ¹ 1, 1995.
- C.G. Jung. Psychological Types. – SPb.: “Uventa” – M.: “Progress – Univers”, 1995.
- A. Augustinavicuite. About symbols. Meaning of symbols used in socionics. //Socionics, mentology and personality psychology, ¹ 2, 1998.
- I.D. Vaisband. Who am I? A bit about socionics.// Znanie – sila, ¹¹ 1,3 – 10, 1992.