This is may be more of an article than just a post....but I think if you get through it, you'll find a good explanation for many of the discussions and conflicting viewpoints on this forum.
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SINGLE- AND DOUBLE-POLE SOCIONICS
I have pointed out a number of times that there are different versions, or “schools” of Socionics. I will now outline the underlying basis of these versions in terms of the relationship between the primary and secondary functions.
Quite simply, it has become apparent in considering numerous posts on this forum that peoples’ different understanding of Socionics can be attributed to having one of the following two views:
(1) The primary function and secondary functions are highly unequal in their importance in the ego block. Primary conscious awareness is with the 1st function only, while the 2nd function plays only a supportive role. The way a function is expressed as a secondary function is very different to how it’s expressed as a primary function.
(2) The primary and secondary functions are (at least potentially) relatively equal partners in the ego block and behave similarly whether they’re primary or secondary.
I will call the first view single-pole Socionics and the second view double-pole Socionics.
Let’s look at some of the consequences of these two different understandings of Socionics.
In single-pole Socionics, the distinction between rational and irrational types looms large. This is because single-pole Socionists see the first function as having a significant weight, far outreaching any other function. Single-pole Socionists are often skeptical of the existence of subtypes, or else they see subtypes as minor variations of type and not very important over all. They also tend to be weary of what they may see as overly simplistic generalizations about the quadras. This is because in their view, the types are further apart; INTp and ENTj in the single-pole view are very different, because one is very and the other is very .
Single-pole Socionists also tend to see all “j” types as showing clear “rational” behaviors, such as thinking of life in terms of a series of decisions; and they see all “p” types as showing clear “irrational” behaviors, such as thinking of life in terms of a series of states or experiences. They see the impact of being a “j” type is being decided, wanting closure, structure, etc….and the impact of being a “p” type as being in a state of attention to experiences, intuitions, etc.
IMPACT ON DETERMINING TYPE
To a Single-pole Socionist, determining a person’s type becomes relatively straightforward once one decides the “rational” vs. “irrational” question. For example, if a person is primarily “intuitive” and logical type and an introvert, then that person is an “intuitive logical introvert” or ILI, end of story. In this view, lack of -like behaviors doesn’t rule out ILI, because ILI’s is only as a secondary function, which ILI uses to make logical sense of his ideas and articulate them to others.
As you might have guessed, the primary advocate for single-pole Socionics on this forum is Phaedrus. Literature support for single-pole Socionics comes mainly from Dmitri.
In contrast, many of the comments of this forum reflect double-pole Socionics. In double-pole Socionics, people in mirror relations are very similar to each other. For example, in this view, INTp and ENTj are very close, both being disciplined, organized, and knowledge-driven, reflecting . Similarly, ENTp and INTj are both seen as impractical inventors and explorers, reflecting .
Double-pole socionists like to use quadra descriptions as a primary method to determine type, and may favor terms like “alpha NT” or “gamma NT” over the 16 types, since in their view, these mirror dyads are so close as to almost be hard to tell apart. For example, in this view, the difference between the two “alpha NTs” may be simply that INTj is more “calm” whereas ENTp is more “impulsive.”
Double-pole socionists tend to be more open to Gulenko’s subtype theory, since they see the 2nd function as potentially playing a much larger role than single-pole socionists would think possible. They may also tend to downplay generalizations about “rational” and “irrational” types, since they see, for example, ENTp and INTj as being almost the same, having the same two functions in the ego block.
Interestingly, the functional analysis of double-pole socionists is more harmonious with MBTI theory than single-pole socionics. That’s because their descriptions of behavior tend to focus on the more extraverted function. If you look at the posts of double-pole Socionics advocates, you’ll see that in describing the behavior of, say, INTjs and INTps, their analysis focuses a lot on and .
On this forum, the biggest advocates for double-pole socionics have been Hugo and SteveENTj.
RADICAL SUBTYPE THEORY
While these two views may seem irreconcilable, there is one way to reconcile them that I have proposed. I call this radical subtype theory. The idea is to view subtypes not as minor variations of type (i.e., as they’re generally understood), but as potentially much more far-reaching in impact. In this view, the accepting subtypes work according to the single-pole Socionics theory. However, as one veers more toward the producing subtype side, one’s type dynamics follow more double-pole Socionics.
And, in the extreme producing subtype, the rational/irrational behavior becomes reversed from what would be predicted in single-pole Socionics.
Let’s take, for example, the case of someone who is primarily intuitive, logical, and an introvert. In single-pole Socionics, that person must be intuitive-logical-introvert, i.e., ILI. But with radical subtype theory, that person may also be I(N)Tj; that is, his intuition may be instead of ; and its primacy in his consciousness may be due not to being the 1st function, but rather to being the preferred, albeit 2nd, function. The difference between I(N)Tj and ENTp becomes more subtle; the former is more introverted and finds primary inspiration in , but is focused on just as the ENTp is.
THE ULTIMATE TEST
As I have outlined, the differences between single- and double-pole Socionics have profound implications in terms of typing people. The question, of course, is which version of Socionics is “correct.” To understand correctness, I think we must see this as being basically equivalent to the question of which version best supports the intertype relationships, particularly in terms of predicting dual and conflict relationships.
Unfortunately, intertype relationship descriptions are generally too vague to be used to make a clear determination here. While some of these descriptions suggest extremes of confict with one’s conflict and super ego relations, in actuality, mature people may not experience such extremes of conflict with any type. Moreover, conflict and super ego relations are described as “communication-based,” suggesting that in some ways, these relations may seem easier or more straightforward than the more subconscious, “energy-based” dual and activity relations.
What’s needed, therefore, is a fleshing out of the intertype relations of every two pairs of types. Dmitri has started that on his site, but so far only has the descriptions of dual types. Even these descriptions focus mostly on the behavior of couples rather than on finding telltale signs of duality.
Once the intertype relationships are fully understood and fleshed out, an empirical basis can be devised for evaluating the relative merits of single- and double-pole Socionics.