Understanding the People Around You: An Introduction to Socionics

Ekaterina Sergeevna Filatova
MSI Press (2010)
ISBN 9780967990767
Reviewed by Josh Cramer for Reader Views (04/17)

“Understanding the People Around You: An Introduction to Socionics” by Ekaterina Sergeevna Filatova is a unique take on the theory of Socionics.

I have read a lot of books on personalities, and understanding yourself and the people around you, (Personality Plus, DiSC, Sinn-Delaney and Behavioral Styles, Myers-Briggs, etc.).  Never, though, have I had the book or theory try and tell me that I have a “lanky body”, “hollow-cheeked face” and an “elongated nose” (p. 68).

For the most part, if you have an understanding in Myers-Briggs or any other behavioral / personality-based type indicator, then you will understand the basic premise of this book. The premise is this: each person can be generally categorized into one of 16 psychological types (though people individually may be subdivided even further).  So far, so good, right? This is what you see in other such philosophies.

However, the biggest difference is that this theory tries to go one step further and argues that “Socionics” has reveled the connection between human psyche and physical characteristics, thus demonstrating the genetic determination of psychological traits” (p. 16). The author describes this connection as “purely experimental fact” (p. 16). Now, the author does include some photographs of people (who are apparently not twins) who share the same psychological type, but only for a couple of the types. In order to argue this, you would need to have pictures of multiple ethnicities and compare traits across these racial lines, right? However, these pictures do not show any kind of diversity at all. Plus, this idea makes me think of eugenics (which is not a good thing).

Of course, this is not a review of the theory of Socionics; it is a review of the book “Understanding the People Around You: An Introduction to Socionics”. This book includes three sections: a short foundation to the different aspects of Socionics, the psychological types themselves, and then how these different types actually relate to one another (which is the most important aspect of the book).  A sample test for you to estimate your psychological type is included as is a paper applying Socionic ideas to the characters from “Gone with the Wind”.

The best part of the book is the descriptions of how to better interact with other people who have these personality characteristics. That said, as interesting as this theory is, the book needs to further explore the idea of physical traits as being important in more detail if it is such an important part of the theory of Socionics.

Ultimately, and this may be more own lack of understanding, I cannot recommend “Understanding the People Around You: An Introduction to Socionics” by Ekaterina Sergeevna Filatova as it stands because the physical traits aspect just needs more. Right now, it seems unnecessarily confusing.

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