Socionics: Are Human Relations Predictable?

Dmitri Lytov, text, translation from Russian, 2002
Lev Kamensky, verification of translation, editing, 2002.
In Czech language published in:
Psychologie Dnes (Psychology Today), Prague, Czech Republic, 2002, No. 12 (December)


Among numerous personality theories, Socionics has a special place. It is the first to suggest a correlation between personality types (in Socionics they are 16) and interpersonal relations. The inventor of Socionics Aushra Augusta (real surname Augustinavichiute) from Lithuania, used the functional personality typology of Carl Gustav Jung, which has already become the basis of several popular tests Myers Briggs Type Indicator, Eysenck Temperament Test, Keirsey Temperament Sorter [1] etc.

What sets Jungs typology apart from other typologies, in the first place is that it classifies psychological types by the mutually suppressive psychological functions, such that the strength of the one implies weakness of the other. This sheds light not only on individual problems, but also on possible informational and actional exchange between people. Secondly, Jungian typology applies not just to the mentally ill (like e.g. Leonhard or Sheldon typologies [5]), but in the same way to healthy individuals. It differentiates people by styles of perception and processing of information [11].

The difference of inborn capabilities of people and thus existence of different personality types is a matter of fact. Personality is variable, capable of developing and changing under the influence of environment, but its flexibility is restricted from the outset. Out of this Socionics makes an important implication: interpersonal relations also have their limits determined by the types of the participants. Thus universal formulas of interpersonal harmony offered by several schools of practical psychology are nothing but myths, just like the myth of the alchemical phi-losophers stone.

At a wide psychological distance relations may be of any kind; but the more intimate the communication between two people becomes, the more their inborn personality types come into play, and the more important the factor of intertype relationships becomes.

We are not talking now about collision of interests, arguments about property, social inequality etc., which are inevitable in any society, but rather about partners signal systems (like those described by I.P.Pavlov), about their capability to react adequately to each others signals, either verbal or actional.

Socionic Types and Relationships.

The difference between any two of the 16 Socionics types are striking as between a cat and a dog. One can only imitate behavior of other types; and each such imitation requires much more efforts than living within ones inborn type. Such problems are well known in psychology: choosing inappropriate occupations, living among inappropriate people etc.

Look at the Table 1 representing all 16 Socionics types. A century ago C.G.Jung just in-tuitively fell upon criteria of splitting mankind into personality types. For example, intuitive types are notorious for their aptitude towards abstract thinking, imagination (at the cost of in-creased distraction of what is actually going on), while sensory types, on the contrary, have well-developed attention, easily focus on details but such sharpened reaction to actuality makes them more aggressive, it is more difficult for them to release tension.

Modern researches of the brain show that intuitive perception is provided by activity of left posterior part of the brain, while sensory perception by right posterior section [8]. The division between other criteria of Jungian personality types is also very significant. It is possible that cor-relation between the brain structure and the personality types is of genetic origin.

This was evidenced by researches of Dr. Je.S.Filatova, a psychologist from St. Petersburg, who since 1991 has been collecting photographs of people whose personality types she had previously tested. As a result she discovered an interesting fact several series of quasi-twins among representatives of each personality type [9]. This is one more testimony in favor of ge-netic origin of Socionics types.

How do interpersonal relations look in the light of these facts?

Socrates was probably the first known man who asked the question, which friend is better the most similar one (which provides optimal mutual understanding) or the most different (in order that strong traits of the one support the weak traits of the other) [7]. Similar discussions exist in the modern psychology, in particular, among Jungians.

Socionics rejects this approach as simplification of reality. As one can see from Table 1, Socionics types are categorized by different traits: the temperament describes the types in dynamics, and the occupational mindset from the viewpoint of their efficiency in fulfilling certain tasks. The question of greater or smaller level of similarity between partners becomes senseless: for example, the logical-intuitive extravert differs a lot from the similar intuitive-logical extravert by its speed of reaction towards irritation, by the grade of internal tension; as a result, they are not easy to cooperate with each other due to different life tempos. At the same time, the relation-ship between the intuitive-logical extravert and the sensory-logical introvert represents a very efficient interaction in solving business tasks. Different kinds of intertype relationships are best suited for different purposes.

In family life the so-called dual relationship proves to be the most stable. The 16 types fit into 8 dual pairs: for example, logical-intuitive extravert + ethical-sensory introvert. Later this theory was confirmed by imperial data. Several years ago psychologists Boukalov, Karpenko, Chikirisova from Ukraine have researched a great plant belonging to aircraft industry. After putting together results of testing of the personnel, they found, that many of them are married with each other. An additional research of the married couples has shown that out of 16 possible intertype relationships, the greatest percentage of family relationships (more than one third) belongs to dual relationships [3]. An independent statistical research of family pairs performed by Filatova has also shown very high percentage of dual pairs (17%) compared to other relationships [10].

Socionics as a Role Training.

When in the early 1970s Socionics has just entered the scene, the Soviet psychology was obsessed by the Marxist-Leninist viewpoint: Personality is a product of adaptation to environment [5]. As a result, researches in the branch of personality types met a lot of hindrances.

Moreover, even now each theory of personality type has a weak point: different psychologists envision the same personality types in slightly different ways, which causes arguments. When a psychologist detects his clients personality type by testing, interviewing or any other method, his work is similar to that of a doctor, but the last, as a rule, knows very well the structure of his patients internal organs, while a psychologist cannot open up his clients skull and look inside. This is why any theory of personality types can be blamed with subjectivity; and Socionics is no exception.

But in view of such obstacles A.Augusta did not surrender, but made a very non-trivial move: she created on the basis of Socionics an amazing role play, or a role training, similar to Eric Bernes transactional analysis. Personality types got very impressive pseudonyms (Don Quichotte, Hamlet, Balzac etc.). Due to a series of publications in popular magazines socionists managed to attract specialists attention to the problems of correlation between personality types and interpersonal relations. Now the time of amateurs is over, and many experimental researches on this problem are performed.

And this means that new discoveries in psychology are about to dawn on us and shed more light on the problem of Personality.


  1. Keirsey D., Bates M. Please Understand Me. Character and Temperament Types. Gnosology Books Ltd., 1984.
  2. . . . 1-2. , Terra Fantastica, 1998.
  3. .., .., ... // , , , 1999, 1.
  4. .., .. . , - , 1997.
  5. . . , , 1981.
  6. .. , , . , 1975.
  7. . .
  8. .. // , , , 2002, No. 4
  9. .. . , &ʻ, 2001.
  10. .. 299 , // , , , 2000, 6.
  11. .. . , , 1995.