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My Take on Temperament
22 September 2009

by I/O

Perspective makes us all different, and affects us to the core of our being, to the root processing within our brain. All Socionics types employ the same processing functions but not in the same way nor to the same degree; temperament is a result of fundamental operating perspectives, and type is built on a temperament. This article describes four root temperaments: Observers, Leaders, Explorers and Planners.

INFp, INTp, ISFp, and ISTp tend to be described as observers who try to avoid stress but are very reactionary if cornered or corralled. They usually have a good measure of hidden talent and skill, but are primarily interested in their well-being, only caring about their surroundings or gaining any kind of understanding when it contributes directly to their well-being.

ENFj, ENTj, ESFj, and ESTj try to lead, are rather controlling and tend to react aggressively to protect or ensure well-being; they are primarily interested in honing their abilities and skill, to be the best so as to gain some measure of success and security, but care little about truly understanding issues or about their environment unless those areas are out of control or affect their well-being or status.

ENFp, ENTp, ESFp and ESTp can generally be described as experimenters or explorers, who can be aggressively resistive to any type of outside control. A stimulating environment is most important but once they know everything about it, they like to move on. Their own well-being is unimportant so long as their environment is rich and their situation is invigorating; and they would prefer to leave skill to the underlings.

INFj, INTj, ISFj and ISTj are cautious planners who passively resist any activity that conflicts with their ideas or objectives; the overreaching objective of all their plans is to place some measure of order upon the issue, situation or environment and to ensure a successful conclusion. Skill and their own well-being are not nearly as important as the objectives of the plan and they are driven to execute the plan.

Temperament is the source of the above primal tendencies. Extroversion or introversion is a property of temperament - the former refers to functions that operate from the perspective of being in the external world and addressing memory from the outside, while introverted functions operate within memory and address the external world from the inside. Extroverted functions measure information in memory against external data while introverted functions measure external data against that in memory; the only difference is the point of reference, or perspective. The only other property of temperament is whether input or output is considered dominant. All types need to gather input (intuitive and sensing), and produce output (ethical and logical); however, it is perspective that places one at a higher priority because both are equally necessary. Note that this same priority will also be reflected in the third and fourth functions of a type.

Introverted input functions compare data from the environment with baselines already sorted, classified, and residing in memory. Si and Ni produce comparative data that can be best described as 'feedback', which is employed in a control system where input modifies output and vice versa. A feedback mechanism is ideal for locking onto a subject, thus becoming keenly aware of personal interaction with specific environments, circumstances and actions; however data tends to be somewhat myopic because of its comparative nature. As well, if one of these functions is dominant, data can inundate processing where flight or fight may be necessary to stop it. A flood of data is not always best for honing skills or dealing with situations. Input learns not to stress processing so is usually on the lookout for potential crisis situations that can be avoided. Well-being is important for introverted input, a state from which awareness is most sensitive, and feedback can be delivered most effectively and efficiently.

Extroverted output rationalizes data in real-time; Te and Fe seek to control or deal with external environments, circumstances and issues as they happen by producing immediate responses. These functions operate in and on external data interactively, and analysis is done ad hoc, the results of which are used to refine operating baselines. If one of these functions is dominant, it interactively draws upon specific skills along with real-time data in order to immediately deal with current situations; however, such reactionary processing tends to limit activity to the near-field and brings forth a need to dominate or control this near-field to ensure success. Rationalization demands that data be relevant and timely, and these functions need interactive feedback to build skill. Skill is most important for extroverted output because one survives and gains well-being with skill. Note that there is synergy of operation between extroverted output and introverted input - both operate interactively in real-time.

Extroverted input collects data from the external world tentatively attaching more importance to new information than to the old residing in memory; and Se and Ne are inquisitive sometimes to the point of being intrusive. They are not able to operate from comparative baselines because external data is not neatly sorted nor classified nor easily referenced; they simply try to associate and pigeonhole the new data according to some plan but they're never fully sure they have appropriate or sufficient data. Such data acquisition methodology requires a certain amount of autonomy and isolation from other functions, so the resulting information is generally disassociated. If one of these functions is dominant, a broad spectrum of information will be available to ponder but expect delays in output. Because information may not be relevant nor timely, data needs to be treated tentatively so study and experimentation will likely be in order. A rich, welcoming environment is very important for extroverted input, a place from which information abounds and collection is easy.

Introverted output functions rationalize only information that is resident in memory - essentially they are told what is outside; Ti and Fi sort through data trying to understand in order to formulate plans of action. These functions rationalize information with respect to circumstances or issues; however, data acquisition needs to cease before analysis can begin, all information must be static. This interrupt philosophy permits time to consider a broader spectrum of information but can create significant delays in output. If introverted output dominates type, input is suspended when output is working; autonomy will be given to input only when output says it needs more data - the mind can often be closed. This philosophy will not produce timely responses so processing will need to be able to predict and head off potential risks. This is the price one pays to gain perhaps a more complete understanding of an issue or situation for planning purposes; thus, a solid objective or plan is most important for introverted output but all this creates a tendency believe their plan is always right. Note that introverted output only has synergy of operation with extroverted input - both operate autonomously on an interrupt basis.

From the above, one can see that functions develop in input-output pairs, and pairs operate either interactively or on an interrupt basis. All types employ extroverted and introverted input and output, but one pair dominates with a secondary pair operating in background. Secondary pairs do get their chance to add to or refine memory albeit not often; it usually occurs when the primary pair is overwhelmed or in downtime. When this refinement is done, it is usually the primary pair that ultimately makes use of it. As well, all types need personal well-being, operating skills, a conducive environment, and an understanding or plan of how to survive or move forward. The terms well-being, skill, environment, and understanding are needs or imperatives that are perceived differently among different personalities due to individual life experiences. Four temperaments are created from the hierarchical order of the above described operating processes, and of course, from the fundamental imperatives of each operating pair. When the type of input (intuitive or sensing) and output (ethical or logical) is superimposed upon temperament, we start to see the finer complexities of Socionics type.
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