Introduction to Personalities, Relationships, and Socionics

Among my many hobbies, one of them is figuring out people’s personalities and how they compare with other friends of mine. One of the most popular personality typing systems, Meyers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), is reasonably good for this type of discussion. 

Another, much less popular system, is Socionics. It is kind of like a cousin to MBTI in that they both have 16 different personality types and the types roughly match up to each other. There are some disagreements however, and you need to be extremely careful when transitioning between the two. Socionics also has some special additions which make it especially nice for comparing personalities.

Some popular Socionics websites include:
Socionics Wiki – This is usually my first source for looking up information
Socioniko – a more difficult to use but more authoritative source of information
I will be referencing these throughout the post.

The biggest difference between MBTI and Socionics is that rather than focusing on 4 dichotomies for classifying types, Socionics focuses on just two of those dichotomies but expands their definitions. It can be defined in terms of 4 dichotomies as well, but the different approach makes it much more useful.

The original 4 MBTI dichotomies are Thinking / Feeling, Intution / Sensing, Introversion / Extroversion, and Judging / Perceiving.
Socionics, when described using 4 dichotomies has the same Thinking / FeelingIntution / SensingIntroversion / Extroversion, set, but replaces Judging / Perceiving with Rational / Irrational.
Socionics can also be described using just Thinking / Feeling and Intution / Sensing, but splits each of them into Introverted and Extroverted versions. Each of these new versions is called an Information Element. When considering a person’s personality type, they get just 2 of the new Information Elements, one from each dichotomy. Also, they can’t both be Introverted or Extroverted Information Elements. They have to be one of each. In addition to the Extroversion / Introversion dichotomy, each of the Information Elements also corresponds to one side of the Rational / Irrational dichotomy. All of the Thinking / Feeling Information Elements correspond to Rational while all of the Intuition / Sensing Information Elements correspond to Irrational.

Taking all of the possible combinations of Information Elements and following those rules gives you 8 types. However, of the two information elements that a person has, one is dominant over the other. Considering both possibilities of dominance for each combination of information elements gives you the original 16 personality types. To translate back to the original 16, you just use the Introversion / Extroversion and Rational / Irrational type of the dominant Information Element. There is a one-to-one relationship between types, so you shouldn’t get confused.

Early on, people figured out that different Information Elements relate to each other in special ways. Extroverted Thinking relates best to Extroverted Thinking and Introverted Feeling. It finds Introverted Thinking confusing and Extroverted Feeling irritable. For tasks involving cooperation, they also found out people relate best to other people with the same part of the Rational / Irrational, so that they make decisions in the same way.
Here is a better explanation of Functional Analysis of Socionics Relationships.
Note that each shape corresponds to a different half of a dichotomy and the fill type corresponds to Introversion Extroversion.

When I say relate, I mean a couple different things. These relationships work regardless of sexual attraction or romantic interest, though that can help. They work logically the same between guys and girls, but still feel different. (Or maybe that’s because of sexual attraction?) Two people with a close Socionics relationship will exchange jokes, talk more easily, and be generally more comfortable around each other.

While I will get into the specifics later, Socionics has classified each of these relationships and many of them have very distinguishing characteristics. Many of the relationships between types are equivalent, so there are 14 classified relationships. This allows you to verify the types that for people by building a network of relationships, focusing on personalities and relationships that are more clearly discernible and using them to verify other personalities and relationships. In my experience, this all works pretty well, though I need to work on it quite a bit more.

Unfortunately, figuring out your own (and other peoples) personality type can be very difficult, especially if you’re new to this. The most common method uses a series of questions, but the questions are sometimes ambiguous or people answer what they want to be, not what they are. Another method uses the Socionics relationships to narrow down the possibilities, but that takes experience. One of the most interesting methods uses celebrities as examples, and you compare yourself to them. Sometimes, it is very difficult to show a celebrities personality because people often act very differently and unnaturally under the camera or in public.

I am planning on analyzing the personalities of popular fictional characters so that people can use them as a reference. I will focus especially on comic and book characters because they come from a single author. I will also consider Cartoon, video game, and other sources for characters. These characters tend to be more expressive than people in real life, so it is easier to recognize their facial expressions. Also, there are a lot of free webcomics I can use as references.

Why is this useful? The simplest use is that it helps you understand yourself and relationships with your friends. For people interested in falling in nerdfighterlike, they can filter out potentially bad matches or recognize a very good one without ever having to go on a date.

Probably the most fun use is analyzing the relationships of the fictional characters. This can help authors make sure that their characters stay in character and have sufficient variety. You can even match characters across series or torture a character with a mildly bad but still workable relationship.

On my next Socionics post, I’ll probably focus on a personality that I already have a bunch of examples for.


About Bryan Rosander

I am a Reformed Baptist Christian who likes critical thinking and analysis, especially of things that have been ignored or under-analyzed.
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