What’s the difference between a personality type and a personality trait? Well, in Jung’s theory of types, developed in his book Psychological Types (1921), he developed 8 different categories of types of people, based around the psychological functions (how people perceive the world, and make decisions) of consciousness. He examined the tensions created by personality complexes created around these functions.
It’s heavy stuff, and can be confusing, but the main idea of the theory of Socionics, developed much later (1970s and 1980s) is that one could figure out, to some extent, people’s behaviour within groups, based on their personality types and the tensions that arose in interpersonal dynamics within groups. It takes into account Jung’s theories on personality types and character traits, as well as the Informational Metabolism theories developed by the Polish psychiatrist, Antoni Kępiński, which explores how people interact with their environment, via signals.
In other words, Socionics explores how people interact with their environment based on their personality (the area psychology concerns itself with), and how they process information signals in their environment (sociological element of the theory). It’s a fascinating area of study, since not only does it attempt to catagorize complex human behaviours and perceptions into an order which can be expressed diagrammatically, it can also be used to attempt to predict and shape behaviours.
It doesn’t take much of a leap of the imagination to see how these theories might have some relevance to the consideration of social media groupings as Multi-agent systems, with people communicating on various media platforms (MASs being defined as self-organizing computerized systems, see also Agent-Based Models (ABS), comprised of intelligent agents), although the initial theory of MASs examined the interplay of strictly artifical agents, and a further implication of being able to diagrammatically organize a theory around the processes at work with human agents operating within a constructed environment consisting of perameters defined by the system.
While the MAS idea may suggest interesting correspondences to the theory of Socionics, it also presents problematic issues if the models are compared or examined for comparative purposes, since with human interactions both personality traits and characteristics come into play, and often override the mechanical, stimulous/response element of the computerized communications theory. Much of the material I looked at wasn’t current, with materials on the topic spanning the 1960s to the 1990s, and after that time, online research papers becoming sparser, although the MAS model has been more extensively employed in computer technology communications fields, such as Gaming Theory and the field of Artificial Intelligence, in disciplines such as Informatics.
So is Socionics a failed theory? Maybe. Certainly my short investigation into it yielded surprisingly little literature discussing practical current applications, at least on the relationship between the two, though they seem to be at least tangentially related, in that they both are theories which involve decision making in a computing environment. There is, however, unarguably, a point at which the humans and machines must intersect, and interact, and messages are communicated, and some interesting applications of the conjunction of humans and machines can result in new technologies and modes of communication developing, such as when bots imitate human modes of interaction, acting as influencers or agents of change within groups, with a higher level of autonomy envisaged for the future, via the rate of technological advances being made in this direction, in the field of computing.
What does the future in these fields hold? The designers of this robot, called Sofia (now the first robot citizen ever) would like us to believe that sentience is an achievable goal, but can computers ever truly be human, and do they behave as humans do? Authors such a Stephen Pinker have argued that our brains behave like computers, but can a computer ever really be said to behave in a subjective way? Might it ever?