Monday, December 19, 2016


Some words used to describe Te occasionally are efficiency or optimization. However, these do not exactly capture what Te is about in the sense of trying to manage resources and use them effectively. There is, however, a neologism that captures it much better: satisficing.

The idea of optimization  to find the absolute best method of doing something  contains an element of Ti in it as well, in the sense that you have a fixed goal or framework and need to work within that. Using Te means having a much more holistic attitude, and realizing that perhaps a particular problem is not even worth the use of resources in the first place. Wikipedia gives the example:

A task is to sew a patch onto a pair of jeans. The best needle to do the threading is a 4 inch long needle with a 3 millimeter eye. This needle is hidden in a haystack along with 1000 other needles varying in size from 1 inch to 6 inches. Satisficing claims that the first needle that can sew on the patch is the one that should be used. Spending time searching for that one specific needle in the haystack is a waste of energy and resources.

A Te ego type is much more likely to go the pragmatic route of using the first needle that can do the job, as opposed to optimizing according to the needle-length quantity, while a Ti type (most typically an LSI, the type who cares most about detailed, well-defined standards) may take needle-length as being the thing to optimize. When you have multiple variables there is generally not a unique way to mathematically optimize them together  thus requiring a more situational approach.

There is a quote often attributed to Bill Gates (LIE): "I choose a lazy person to do a hard job, because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it." The quote seems not to be by him (which makes sense, as it is really more of an Si-with-Te statement) but it does capture the Te attitude towards resources.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Colbie Caillat

Most people in the public sphere seem to be of Se valuing types (in particular Beta and/or extroverted). This presents a problem: if we use celebrities as examples for people to learn from, then there is a deficit of certain types, which leads to a lopsided understanding. More of a conscious effort needs to be made to address these less common types. Today I will present a very clear example.

Colbie Caillat is a singer-songwriter in the "folk pop" genre, which generally means an acoustic guitar paired with one or two singing voices. Already this shows a preference for soft, pleasant, and naturalistic sounds (Si), as opposed to the predominant "Top 40" pop sound, which tends to be harsh and impactful (in both sound quality and themes, like violence, drugs, and sex), electronic, and good for dancing or pumping up the energy level (Se).

Although she did intend to pursue a singing career, her actual ascent to pop-stardom happened somewhat by chance: a friend posted her music to MySpace, where she developed a grassroots following, and got signed later because of this. In fact, it doesn't seem like she is the kind of person who naturally seeks fame or is even comfortable with it: she says about her experience of failure on American Idol: "I was shy. I was nervous. I didn't look the greatest. I wasn't ready for it yet. I was glad, when I auditioned, that they said no." She also describes the physical difficulties in touring and playing music according to a strenuous schedule, as famous artists usually do. This attention to physical qualities is ever-present in Caillat's thinking, which indicates most likely an Si leading or Si ego type. She also worked as a masseuse earlier in her life, a very Si-heavy occupation, and has visual art interests like photography and painting.

While Caillat is friendly and open emotionally she does not express a very wide range of emotions or seem to be prone to emotional excitement. But she emphasizes her relationships with (and maintains a strong connection to) her immediate family and friends and her local community. In fact, her father produces some of her music — she praises his skills, but with her fame clearly she could have chosen somebody else for the job. Her music also tends very much to the "sappy", "sweet" side rather than the emotionally charged or uplifting, which is typical of folk pop. (I don't advocate using an artist's creative work as a sole method of typing, but depending on how much creative control they have, we can see some strong correlations.)

So, overall SLI is most likely. LSE is worth considering also but it would have to be one of the two. Overall there seems to be much more emphasis on Si than Te, although her use of Fe might indicate greater strength than Fe Vulnerable. Caillat made a song about the use of Photoshop that betrays a very common Se vs. Si conflict that may be described as "naturalism vs. control." One area where this conflict arises is in physical appearance.

"I'm against the ways of the world where people feel like they always need to make things look too perfect."

This is a typical (though not universal) approach of Se ego types, which is easy to see in other pop stars like Taylor Swift (SEE), Justin Bieber (ESI), Sia (LSI), Rihanna (LSI or ESI). Si ego types overall prefer a natural, earthy, sensual appearance, while Se ego types tend more towards the constructed, impactful, glamorous, or sexualized. The media turned this message into a soundbite: "Colbie Caillat hates Photoshop" (and then, upon attempts to clarify the nuances of the message, another soundbite: "singer Colbie Caillat actually likes Photoshop!"). More generally, Se seeks to take control of things and make them the way you want them to be, while Si seeks to allow things be the way they naturally are. Se types are also more naturally accepting of the fact that you need to "play the game" and compete for whatever territory is there, even if the way of getting there seems less than savory.

"Too perfect"?

Some videos

She says she doesn't come up with ideas for songs "in the grocery store" for example, but has to be at home on her guitar, suggesting weaker Ne and stronger Si.


Lots of Si themes both in her music and lyrics, as well as Fi.


[when asked for advice for new artists] "Learn your craft, whatever it is."
"I'm super mellow"
"Music's supposed to make you feel good and smile"
"Family comes first."

Two basic misconceptions

Today I want to talk about some misconceptions that people have with socionics. Certain misconceptions about socionics tend to come up again and again (along with confusions with MBTI and Jungian typology).

The first is that, if something is type-related, then it necessarily applies to all people of a type (or quadra, or other category). As described previously, there are different manifestations of each socionic category. While many characteristics are typical, very few are universal. It's important to become familiar with many of the major manifestations for typing purposes. For example, one SEI may have a "goofy" or silly demeanor while another one may be more chill and laidback. If I use one of these as evidence of someone being SEI, it doesn't necessarily negate the other one — it's simply a different manifestation.

The second misconception is that type-related traits can't be positive or negative. I see where this one is coming from. In systems like Myers-Briggs you essentially have certain types that are better than other ones. In socionics this is not supposed to happen: every type has its place in the world. But again, this does not mean that every manifestation of IM is neutral. All of the types can display poor behavior — but they tend to do so in very different ways. Again, failing to recognize this prevents you from accessing a lot of useful information, since people's foibles are almost invariably "colored" by their sociotype, and therefore can be used as evidence of it.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Two Kinds of Betas

Betas are known for their "activism", or having a general drive to shape greater society or community for the good in some way. This comes from valuing Ti, Ni, and Se all together: Ti results in having certain principles that one expects the world to work in accordance with, Ni means having a broad vision and tendency to exclude opposing worldviews or see them as harmful, and Se means fighting to establish these principles and overcoming the opposing worldviews. Fe then means trying to express the message of one's values to the world and have them recognized as being important (with the goal of them eventually being adopted, as others realize the value in what you are saying). Hence, activism. However, like many examples in socionics, this is only one possible manifestation that can result from the underlying category (Beta values). We can call this manifestation the "conscientious" or "cause-oriented" Beta.

Another manifestation is what I call the "cynical Beta", who for whatever reason is skeptical or jaded about the prospect of changing society, and focuses more on their own life. They may see themselves as somewhat of a rogue agent or a rebel, and in fact find the idea of activism to be laughable. (I suspect some Betas mistype themselves for this reason.) In more pathological cases, this can devolve into a kind of hedonistic life of self-indulgence, like Jim Morrison (likely IEI). Nietzsche (also Beta NF) advocates a form of cynicism, but paradoxically turns it into an ideal of its own, where you have the most complete and authentic self-expression (Fe) of your personal values (Ti) by asserting your will (Se) over lifewhile at the same time maintaining a strongly individualistic stance on life. (This is the basis of existentialism which, if not Beta, is a very typically Ni philosophy.)

In any case, this cynicism often comes from a Beta trying to change larger society, and ultimately realizing that they could not quite effect the change that they initially wanted to. This realization can also be dealt with healthily, without hedonism, resulting in a more mature, balanced, and down-to-earth worldview. (WSS had an interview in which an IEI described this process very clearly in the context of becoming a parent. Unfortunately, this interview is not public.)

The cynical worldview need not come after the conscientious onesome Betas go the other way. Some seem like they simply don't care too much about activism, whether because they haven't seriously considered the possibility, or because the concerns of their own lives seem more important. "Cynical" probably isn't the right word for this, "individualistic" is maybe better but still not quite right. SLEs seem the least likely to push for causes, having suggestive Ni. Even when they do try to influence society it's in more of a chaotic way that need not have any coherent vision behind it. The dichotomy here is just the scale of the impact that they want to haveSLEs are usually roguish even in positions of power.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Behavior vs. Self-Description

This is intended to be a sister site to my articles site, Whole Socionics, which lays out some of my theoretical views on socionics. It turns out that it's a nontrivial task to put information into article format, so I created this blog as a supplement. I will mostly focus on examples of socionics concepts in the news and online. Anyways, let's get started.

This post came up in a socionics group:

The question as always is, "what type is this?" The primary things we see here are Se and Fi valuing viewpoints. There is the "all or nothing" approach of Se valuing types (which is also related to Ni, in the sense of committing to one option and excluding others that are incompatible with it), and there is a dislike of superfluous emotional interaction that isn't meant to directly serve the relationship (or worse, is incongruous with the relationship) (Fi > Fe). So, the type this is most characteristic of would be ESI or possibly SEE and ILI.

However, there is actually a combination of things going on here. We have, not an observation of someone engaging in this behavior, but a person's description of their own values. Beta types may very well identify with certain parts of it, and it wouldn't be atypical of an LSI to engage in this kind of behavior. Even types whose values are farther removed from Fi and Se could, situationally, do things like this.

However, fewer types would actually describe themselves in this manner. This immediately shuts down many Forer-type arguments, like "well, I identify with this and I'm not that type!" People mostly use their valued functions to interpret the world, and are most comfortable verbalizing the strong functions. This is why I rely very strongly on verbal cues when typing people. In many cases you can get a sense of someone's type very quickly if they have an obvious preference for conveying information in terms of certain vocabulary and concepts. Understanding their behavior on a "macro" level gives more insight but is also a lot harder.

Looking a bit more into this person's type (he has a Twitter) there is still a lot of Fi and Ni, less so Se but likely still valued. IEI may actually be more likely. However, my point is not to actually come to a typing conclusion but to explain some of the information we can use to get there.