For quite some time I have been a strong advocate for socionics, a typology system based on Carl Jung’s work. Socionics is like the MBTI but developed on the other side of the iron curtain. Beyond what MBTI can teach us, I believe that there are lessons that require us to turn our eyes east. For a lengthy introduction, you can look at my blog, but for this article, we’ll start with the basics: how an INFJ uses their functions according to socionics, intertype relationships, and romance styles.
Like the MBTI, socionics uses a model with eight cognitive functions. The four “valued” functions (we value those over their alternative) are the same as the function stack in MBTI. There are also quadras (groups based on type), 11 additional dichotomies, different characteristics to each function position, and romance styles. These are all too vast, broad and deep to go into in one short article. However, we can take a look at how socionics describes the INFJ personality type and how it is similar and different from MBTI descriptions.
How the INFJ personality type uses their functions according to socionics
In socionics, the dominant function for the INFJ, Introverted iNtuition (Ni), is really strong, able to adapt, create and monitor any information that flows through it. It doesn’t get more sophisticated than this position. This is the function that the INFJ lives through and can be summarized by time, trends, symbolism, and archetypes.
The INFJs “creative” function, Extraverted Feeling (Fe), is merely a tool. It’s a tool they are good at using, no doubt. The INFJ doesn’t have to put much effort into using Fe, but it is nevertheless a tool. INFJs can intuitively read people and the context they are in and know how to influence it to their advantage.
INFJs can intuitively read people and the context they are in and know how to influence it to their advantage.
The two weaker functions, tertiary Introverted Thinking (Ti) and inferior Extraverted Sensing (Se), or what socionics collectively calls the super-id, is where the difference gets interesting. MBTI talks about a repression of these functions and that holds true in socionics as well. But what doesn’t stay the same is how we feel about these functions. They are repressed but they compliment our dominant and auxiliary and are strongly valued. Therefore, we seek help in using them, inferior even more than tertiary.
INFJs tertiary function, Ti, energizes them. This energy in use can come from themselves or another person. However, compared to inferior Se, it quickly becomes overpowering. The inferior function, which socionics calls our dual seeking function, is something we want help with from other people because we can’t create a supply of it within ourselves. In the case of INFJs with Se, this shows a desire for motivation, action, and force to pull through ideas and ideals.
In favor of Ni and Fe, INFJs tend to ignore Introverted Feeling (Fi) and Extraverted iNtuition (Ne). They do this even though they technically have the strength to use them skillfully. The weaker, unvalued functions, Introverted Sensing (Si) and Extraverted Thinking (Te), are largely repressed and avoided. They are a less valued alternative to their ego (Ni-Fe).
How the socionics INFJ description differs from the MBTI
I won’t get too deep into the INFJ description, but if you’re interested in more, I have written about it in a separate post, here. Instead, I will get into the practical applications of socionics and what it can add to your understanding of yourself and other people. What it provides is what the MBTI — to a large extent — lacks. I will limit this to two things: the intertype relationships and the romance styles (which overlap to an extent).
Understanding the intertype relationships
The intertype relationships are one of the most controversial parts of socionics. With a static map of relationships between all types, there are bound to be misconceptions and exceptions. However, with the right use, it can provide additional understanding. For the INFJ, the most optimal relationship — romantic or not — is with an ESTP. While this might seem surprising, both through what I’ve seen many INFJs say and in theory, it does make sense. The strength of an ESTP is the weakness of an INFJ, and vice versa.
For the INFJ, the most optimal relationship — romantic or not — is with an ESTP.
These types also share valued functions and focus on many of the same things. This relationship is in many ways optimal for growth since one type can influence the other toward strengthening their lower functions. It also gives them opportunities to help someone with their strong, ego functions. Other positive relationships, though maybe not romantically, are with the other types within their quadra, “beta,” which means INFJs, ENFJs, ISTPs, and their duals, ESTPs. Because of the INFJs dual seeking function, Se, there is also a lot of potential growth in relationships with ESFPs.
The worst intertype relationship conflict is with an ESTJ. There are two primary reasons for this conflict. The first one is that they’re a part of the opposing quadra. The other cause of conflict is that the ESTJs ego functions, Te and Si, are the weakest and least valued functions of the INFJ.
Another negative, but an asymmetrical relationship, is what socionics calls supervision. Three different functions characterize supervision: the dominant (what our life is built around), the auxiliary (our tool of choice), and our point of least resistance, the weakest, unvalued and most repressed function. The “supervisor” of an INFJ is the ENTJ. In this relationship, the ENTJ is in control, and the INFJ tries to, unsuccessfully, comply. The other way around, where INFJ is the supervisor, can be found in their relationship with ESFJs, for the same reasons as above. These descriptions are static and not always applicable. While it doesn’t necessarily predict the success of a relationship, it is useful in explaining problems and advantages in INFJ relationships.
Understanding romance styles
The other practical lesson we can get from socionics is their approach to romance styles. This is based on the perceiving ego function of a type, Ni in an INFJ. All NJs share the same romance style, which we call “victim.” Bear with me; it’s not as bad as it sounds. One of the most central aspects of this is the romance style they are seeking, in this case, Se, or the aggressors. NJs can be characterized by the want to be conquered by someone — to be fought for and won. This is because they tend to be unsure about their feelings, and would prefer someone else to be the more engaging partner. More information about the victim romance style and the other romance styles can be found here.
Learn more: MBTI and Socionics: Legacy of Dr. Carl Jung
More to learn from socionics
There is much more to learn from socionics: how our functions look in different positions, additional dichotomies for each type, quadras, and other small groups. Socionics can be used to learn about other people through intertype relationships and romance styles. Beyond that, we can even look at patterns in society at large through quadra progression.
(Want more information about your personality type? Take the TypeFinder Personality Test.)