MBTI vs Socionics – The Conversion Dilemma

term-life-conversion

Question: “Would you say INFJ in MBTI is the same as INFp in Socionics, and ESFP in MBTI is the same as ESFp in Socionics, or are there exceptions?”

The short answer is: Yes.

The long answer is…

There are three lines of thought when it comes to the MBTI and Socionics type conversion issue.

One belief is that you can convert the types exactly one-to-one with their letter codes. Meaning, ESFP is ESFp (SEE), INFJ is INFj (EII) etc. However, that starts to make little sense when you take into account the functions and Information Elements, where INFJ in MBTI has Ni-Fe, but INFj in Socionics has Fi-Ne as their first two functions.

The second belief is that both systems are entirely incompatible, or at least two different systems that should be dealt with separately. In that manner, you can be ESFP in MBTI and INFj in Socionics. Again, when you consider the functional differences, this does not make much sense. How can someone who is supposedly an Extrovert with the first function being Extroverted Sensing in MBTI be an Introvert with the first function being Introverted Feeling in Socionics? Even if you believe that the functions and information elements are completely or even just slightly different from each other (which is a bit odd, considering  they even have the same names and same source material), that still makes not too much sense.

The third view is the one alluded to in the question, which is the assumption that generally the functions and Information elements are compatible, as in they describe the same things from different angles. For example, Extroverted Sensing in MBTI emphasizes being aware of the sensory external environment, while Extroverted Sensing in Socionics focuses more on the individual being proactive and forceful in that environment (because of that ability of being so well-aware of it).

Consequently, a person who correctly types as ESFP in MBTI will match ESFp (SEE) in Socionics, and INFJ in MBTI will match INFp (IEI), because the first two functions will be the same in both systems (Se-Fi, and Ni-Fe respectively).  This is the view I, and e.g Victor Gulenko and Dario Nardi, subscribe to.

Gulenko, positive negative.jpeg

You may argue that it is odd you have to “switch” j/p for the introverts when you convert the MBTI types to Socionics, and that this supposedly proves the systems are incompatible.

It is true that MBTI and Socionics view Judging and Perceiving, or Rationality and Irrationality somewhat differently, or rather, they weigh those aspects differently. Keep in mind that MBTI has mostly been used for typing employees. In that light, it is only natural MBTI would emphasize someone’s Extroverted function and whether that is Judging or Perceiving, because this would have a bigger impact on observable job performance. Socionics is more focused on what an individual is truly like first and foremost, and less how they appear to be on the outside. That is why the individual with Ni-Fe in their Ego is a p in Socionics – their first function being Perceiving; while in MBTI they are a J, because they primarily use Extroverted Feeling, Judging, when impacting the outside world.

You may still be skeptical, and mention how people keep typing themselves differently in both systems. You may even be one of those people yourself.

I suggest you, and/or those other people, are mistyped in one of the systems. Mistyping yourself or others can be easy, and is especially common for the introverted types.

This is connected to the fact that most people identify themselves the most with their first function, unless they are the extroverted subtype – and with introverts, this is problematic, because while their first function determines their j/p in Socionics, it does not do so in MBTI.

That is how a Ti-Se individual could (mis)type as ISTJ or even INTJ in MBTI, and as ISTj (LSI) in Socionics, because they (unconsciously) identify with their Ti, Judging, (and their tertiary/HA Ni) that much. Add to that the issue of the Keirsey Temperaments, where the SP Temperament heavily focuses on Se. Only a Ti-Se individual who has the Se subtype could relate to the SP temperament, and even then it might be a stretch. ESFP and ESTP or SEE and SLE fit rather well into the idea of the SP Temperament, but Fi-Se and Ti-Se individuals often struggle with that, because their first function is Judging/Rational.

This issue could only be solved when the Ti-Se or Fi-Se individual studied the functions in MBTI, and recognized that their first two functions are Ti-Se or Fi-Se, and not Si-Te or Si-Fe. Based on that alone, they will usually accept the SP Keirsey temperament affiliation, even though they cannot entirely feel connected to it. (By the way, I strongly suggest ignoring Keirsey for the most part, and instead to focus on these groupings: NF, NT, ST, SF, because they actually focus on valid functional strengths).

Personally, I used to struggle with the J in MBTI myself. Now it makes sense why – because I am the Ni subtype as well as Ni lead, I do not relate that much to being predominately a Judging type. I used to wonder whether I was INFJ or INFP for quite a while, until I discovered the functions and learned about Ni and Fe. Since then, I could settle into the INFJ type much more easily. I was certain my first two functions were Ni and Fe, and the type that matched that the most was INFJ, so that is how I accepted being INFJ in MBTI, and later INFp (IEI) in Socionics.

My conclusion and advice is to study and understand the functions and Information Elements, and type yourself according to which type in either system fits your first two functions the best. Or alternatively, to book a typing session with an expert. 

This is why the idea of ESFP being ESFp/SEE or INFJ being INFp/IEI is not so much about converting one type to the other, but rather about finding the type that matches your first two functions the most/best. 

P.S: That’s why I would like to introduce the method of simply stating a type via their first two functions, like saying you are Ni-Fe or Introverted Intuition + Feeling, opposed to having to deal with the issue of INFJ vs INFp and confusing people of either system.

9 comments

  1. “One belief is that you can convert the types exactly one-to-one with their letter codes. Meaning, ESFP is ESFp (SEE), INFJ is INFj (EII) etc. However, that starts to make little sense when you take into account the functions and Information Elements, where INFJ in MBTI has Ni-Fe, but INFj in Socionics has Fi-Ne as their first two functions.” – wow, this is bullshit. I mean, Fi i MBTI is pretty much like Fe in socionics and vice versa, so in this case it DOES make sense??

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  2. I think we also need to take into account how Socionics, after being studied and developed for so many years in Russia, have integrated many characteristics of people they studied into the type they supposedly represent. So for example, their INFj type (Fi-Ne) over-all description does sound a lot like an MBTI INFJ type, simply because they integrated behaviors and characteristics of actual INFJs into what Fi-Ne is supposed to be. And in that process, confuses Fi-Ne and Ni-Fe completely, leading them to misplaced the function stacks in the function blocks and all that.

    But then again, in the end, one might find it more useful to look at both MBTI and Socionics and find truth in both systems. As an INFJ, while I consciously lead with Ni-Fe, I do feel like my goal in life tends to orient into a Fi way, and appearing as though my forgivingness, philanthropy, and universal love is Fi instead of Ni-Fe (but it does come from Ni-Fe).

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  3. MBTI and socionics do not share their vocabulary – the same words or letters often have different meanings. Let me emphasize this : DIFFERENT MEANINGS.

    MBTI describes functions (a process of the brain that we use more or less, depending on our profile), while socionics describes eight elements of how information can be viewed (information metabolism), and then, only then, describes how each profile has developed the function that processes one type of information.
    (for MBTI’ers : think of Fe as a dominant function and Fe as an inferior function, not quite the same thing, right? This approach is at the core of socionics for describing a function).

    A few examples when the same letters do not mean the same thing.
    J in MBTI means “the function with whom someone interacts the most with the environment/with other people is a Judgment function”.
    j in socionics means “the lead (means : number #1) process of a profile is a Judgment function”.
    Ti in MBTI means : an inside-powered function that filters everything through objective and logical grids.
    Ti in socionics means : a process that studies the dynamic properties of an object, when interacting with something. Let me give you an example about that : take the Earth planet. Ti will study how the Earth interacts with the Sun (gravity, motion), Ti will study how the Earth interacts with the Sun light (night and day, seasons), Ti will study how the Earth interacts with magnets or electromagnets (magnetic field, poles), and so on. Ti will not study the intrinsic properties of the Earth (it’s a sphere, made of lands and oceans), it will study __specific__ properties of the Earth __within a given environment or interaction__.

    In the MBTI language, my profile is INTP.
    In the socionics language, my profile is LSE (aka ESTj). Not INTj, because the Ti Te Fi Fe Ni Ne Si Se definitions do not match from one system to another. Each system describes which functions I use or how I deal with information in a different way.

    I hope this helps.

    Alexandre

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    • Isn’t information metabolism literally… how the brain metabolises information? That is not different from the functions. It’s like saying toma-toe vs toma-toh.

      To repeat: J in MBTI is “observable” performance, aka external behaviour, extroverted behaviour. Hence Extroverted Judging in the first two functions makes you J in MBTI. Socionics has a different focus on j, yes, they focus on the first function. I described how that can confuse people who are Ti first and Se second, if they don’t use their Se as routinely and focus strongly on their main view on the world, they likely will not relate to the “SP temperament” in MBTI, but the sj temperament in Socionics is overly biased by Big 5’s conscientiousness (just like “SJ” in MBTI, this is a flaw in both systems IMO, watch this). The p/j thing is the only way that MBTI and Socionics differs on paper, but at the end of the day, the function element itself does not change. In both cases, Introverted Thinking is regarded as a Judging function. Advanced MBTI acknowledges that Ti is introverted judging. But they simply choose to focus on the extroversion over the person’s primary “objective” when determining the type. Which is fair, it helps with typing people in the “real world”. MBTI is more concerned with typing people’s outside behaviour and Socionics with typing people’s interior or “true self”, you could argue it is a Te vs Ti way of approaching personality type. (In practice, I have found that many people type others correctly more often when applying MBTI than Socionics for that reason.) But at the end of the day, the functions are the same, and each type does act a certain way in the outside world, so based on that you can assess their “true self” as well (if you do it well).

      Yes Ti does not concern themselves with facts so much, as only to prove a point or explain a logical phenomenon. However, Ti can study anything it wants, in combination with Sensing it will be mostly about physical realities and in combination with Intuition it will be mostly about theoretical constructs, but it can overlap, based on the individual.

      Obviously, I would suggest you are mistyped in one or both systems. Even if Ti is different in both systems or j/p is different when naming a type, it makes little sense for you to be an intuitive and an introvert in one system and a sensing and extrovert type in the other, imo. If you follow bad MBTI stereotypes based on Big 5, then this might work (e.g mistaking sociability for extroversion), but finding the “true” Jungian type is about disregarding bad stereotypes and finding the essential type. I am trying to accomplish this by illuminating the weak spots and the commonalities between both systems, which I mostly did in my functional description article. I’d be curious to know how you’d type yourself based on my descriptions there: https://typevolution.com/2018/07/26/jungs-functions-defined-sensing-feeling-thinking-intuition-part-2/

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  4. When making a translation from a language to another, you should be aware of “false friends” words. симпатичный in Russian, sympathetic in English and sympathique in French have three different meanings.

    Your claim in this article is that Te, Ti, Ne, Ni, Se, Si, Fe, Fi mean the same thing in MBTI and in socionics. [And, if this is the truth, then translating codes is simple and easy (ESTP=ESTp, ISTJ=ISTp, ISTP=ISTj and ESTJ=ESTj, same for NF/SF/NT)].

    However, if you read the description of each MBTI function in a dominant position and compare it to the description of each socionics function as a lead function : could it be a possibility that some of them are false friends? Could it be a possibility that other pairs could be a better match for making a translation?

    Let me know when you find the answer (you’ve got my e-mail or you may post here). Cheers!

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    • I just described how the j/p letter is problematic in both systems. The letter coding is not the same as the functions, unfortunately. Hence I tend to avoid the 4-letter code in Socionics. Honestly, I find the j/p stereotype incredibly misleading due to the conscientiousness factor, so if it was up to me, I’d leave it out entirely for both systems, at least when it comes to the letters.

      I stand by the idea that the functional descriptions differ but that they ultimately attempt to describe the same phenomenon. Some descriptions do so better than others. Neither system is “perfect”. Not even Jung himself described the functions perfectly or without contradictions! Reading the original, some aspects that he calls Extroverted Sensing could overlap with Introverted Sensing or other aspects, for example. But I do believe that Jung was the first one who really zoomed in on a personality type phenomenon in a way no one else before him ever did. And it is up to us all to get to the bottom of it.

      I find it very misleading and frankly false to type as both N and S, and I and E in either system, when both systems ultimately attempt to describe the *same* phenomena, but fair enough, we simply differ in perspective here.

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  5. My own profile is consistent if I call it INTP (in MBTI) or LSE/ESTj (in socionics), providing that these profiles describe some use of Te-lead (Ti-dom in MBTI), some use of Ne and Si (one being creative or auxiliary, the other being mobilizing or tertiary), and some use of Fi-suggestive (Fe-inf in MBTI). A Delta quadra profile, with some order of the functions.

    And I don’t mind that MBTI and socionics may disagree about their order (and which profile I am within the quadra). If we can convert all the functions (with the right translation that I explained above), all the dichotomies (even the ones that have the same letter with a different meaning), and all the profile descriptions (no stereotypes, of course), then the answer to this last question will come in time.

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