Visual Type Identification

Victor Talanov, 2001.
Dmitri Lytov, translation from Russian, 2003.
Lev Kamensky, edition of the translation, 2004.
Disclaimer: this article represents the author’s preliminary conclusions, and thus cannot be used as a type detection methodology.
The author's conclusions are based mostly on Ye.Filatova's series of type portraits published at our site.



Testing without questionnaires means that a psychologist “visually” detects all the four binary dimensions of the client: extroversion/introversion, intuition/sensation, logic/ethic, and rationality/irrationality. This method certain cases gives more precise results than questioning in the following cases: when a client has low IQ or for some other reasons cannot give valid answers to the questionnaire; when a questionnaire is badly validated and does not have correcting scales (like e.g. Keirsey Temperament Sorter); when a client is below 13 and his self-understanding of his own behavior in typical situations is limited; when a client already has psychological backgrounds and is intended to distort the testing outcome. One more natural case of application of visual type detection is also a situation when questioning is impossible at all (for example, when a psychologist needs to detect the type of another person, not being his client).

Extroversion vs. Introversion

EXTROVERTS: open look, lively in communication, active and somewhat superficial curiosity (with no intention to go deeper into the subject), strive to grasp as much as possible, unconstrained gesticulation from the shoulder on, quick movements, tendency to dominate in talks and contacts. During conversations extraverts express rather impressions about the things they've seen than evaluate them.

INTROVERTS: looking from inside a shell, alert, reserved behavior and submission in contacts, slowly awaking curiosity (and tendency to deepen into the discussed topic), reserved gesticulation "from the elbow ". They express rather attitudes than facts (I like or dislike; it is normal or abnormal etc.).

Filatova proposed a simple test: ask a person to write several sentences expressing associations with such words as city, house, lake. An Extravert will try to make objective characteristics: city straight streets, multistoried houses, gardens An Introvert will make remarks like: I do not like a big city, because it is noisy and dirty in other words, he will rather formulate his attitude.

Rationality vs. Irrationality (approx. equal to Judging/Perceiving in MBTI)

RATIONALS (dominant T or F): certain sharpness and distinction of well-coordinated movements, certain tension in their bearing (rigid spine). Their gait is clear, motions sharp. When he sits down, he keeps his back straight, rarely bends aside, even when he leans upon the chair back A Rational person is punctual and is rarely late. His speech does not contain cyclical repeats or excessive associative images, is unlikely to contain Um between phrases, during conversations they either do not gesticulate or their gestures appear later than the phrases illustrated by them.

Characteristic to Rationals, both Logical and Ethical, is their love of planning and hate for unexpected events. A Rational knows for sure where he will spend his summer vacations in three months, what he will eat for supper and when he starts having supper. An Irrational is either not sure or even does not want to limit himself with a schedule, but he feels at home in the flow of quickly changing and unexpected events.

The extreme case of rationality means ignoring the reality. A very rational pupil can accurately solve a series of 20 arithmetic tasks and not mention that the half of them required multiplication instead of addition. An extremely rational person is abnormally normal in his expressions: he judges not what things are but what they must be in his opinion. This is why Rationals usually show increased lie rate in questionnaires (while being quite sure of their sincerity). Rationality strengthens both T and F functions. For this reason sometimes Rational F-types in practice may exhibit greater logic and business skills than some Irrational T-types.

IRRATIONALS (dominant S or N): their whole appearance seems fluid, loose, their body is easily bending, takes the shape of the arm-chair, sofa etc; when they sit down they lean upon the chair elbow-rests or back, and their own back may bend a lot. Their gait is floating, rolling, soaring, their motions may make impression of being unexpected or badly coordinated. When an Irrational stands, some parts of his body are moving separately from the others hands, fingers, torso, or head. It is difficult for an Irrational to keep his body in a steady position. They do not like long meetings, reports or theater performances during them they often want to leave for a minute to have a cigarette, fidget or take a nap.

Their speech is with cyclical repeats (when they complete a thought, it is as if they recall something and come back to what they already said), it is often either too slow (introverts) or tangled and "stumbling" (extraverts). Compared to Rationals, it more often contains parasite words ("here", "um", "like", "you know" etc). Their phrases lack verbs (this is especially characteristic to intuitive irrationals), are often preceded by "Um", or by hand gestures, as if they are catching something in the air from aside it looks as if this person is trying to find the right verbal form for the image he has already created in his mind. Irrationals like an abundance of sensory impressions, especially visual, and get tired of long talks.

Translator's note : the meaning of "rationalityirrationality" in colloquial language is somewhat different from the original Jung's (and socionic) understanding of this term. The colloquial meaning of this word pair should be attributed rather to another dichotomy, logic-ethic (or T/F in the Myers-Briggs theory).

Although the J/P criterion in the Myers-Briggs theory resembles rationality-irrationality by its description, it's not the same. As it was proved by Gregory Shulman, J/P is not dichotomy (i.e. it does not split the 16 socionic types into 2 equal parts). It is a pseudo-dichotomy that represents two poles with multiple transitional options; in other words, one or two types in socionics may be called "super-J", and another one or two types "super-P", while other types tend more or less to one of these poles. This explains, for example, why ENFP or ENFJ in socionics may both get scored ENFP according to MBTI, etc.

One more remark: according to I.Myers' hypothesis, rationals correcpond to EJ and IP, while irrationals to EP and IJ. However, socionic statistics disproves her hypothesis and speaks rather in favor of identification of J/P with rationality/irrationality (although not 100%, as it was said above).

Logic vs. Ethic (or Thinking vs. Feeling in MBTI)

LOGICAL: his face is contemplative; emotions are contrasting; his interests are related to objective reality. Eyebrows are lower compared to the Ethical types and approach eyes. Look is somewhat dull, "without a glimmer". Sensing Logicians, though, may have a fixed and attentive look, but anyway it remains unlively and cold. Dynamics of emotions are vaguely reflected on the face, but can manifest in voice modulations. Very often Logic types make impression of being unflappable. They pay attention to facts and possess great erudition. Often they allow themselves unethical remarks, because they do not want to hide the truth. Their speech, compared to the Ethical types, is more strict, dry and logically relevant. They easily operate long complex or compound sentences. Their speech often includes foreign words or special terminology.

ETHICAL: their faces are changeable, depending on their mood, exhibiting a spectrum of feelings and shades of emotions. Their interest lies in people and their relationships; their own mood is depended on the mood of others. They are touchy. They often have a smile on their faces. Eyebrows are often raised over their eyes, and even bent upwards. The speech of an Ethical type seems to a Logician to be fragmentary, as if built on hints. However, the "hints" of the Ethical types can be distinguished from the associations often used by Intuitive Logicians by lacking the second associative layer", their seeming incompletion is perceived by the Ethical type himself as total completion: he marked up an object with a certain emotionally colored word and thus gave it complete characteristics why can't you understand then what I meant?

Speaking of somebody, an Ethical type makes estimations: good, bad; by contrast, a Logical type prefers to avoid personal estimations and instead of this to express only facts.

Sensation vs. Intuition

SENSING: Sensors look well groomed, their clothes are selected with taste, fingernails are in order. Women Sensors have perfect manicure and makeup. Their gaze is focused and attentive, as though scanning the collocutor's eyes or the surrounding space. Their interests in conversations are practical (career, money, purchasing a new TV, cottage, car etc.). Sensors like to often call their partners and ask about the progress in their common activities this is because they, unlike Intuitives, cannot replenish missing information by their imagination, and so strive for being always up on what's going on, to keep the situation under their control. Their workplace is in satisfactory order, but sometimes contains things necessary only for garnishing the place. In general, the Sensory function provides a person with sound egocentrism, practical thinking and relation to the necessities of the real life and respectively, presence of such traits allows us to conclude that the person's a Sensor.

INTUITIVE: they are keen on ideas rather than practical needs, not here-and-now but rather abstract concepts. Non-focused look (into infinity or somewhere above the partner, which is especially observable on photographic pictures) is characteristic to Intuitive types. An Intuitive perceives general, large-scale, but does not perceive details. In conversations tends to make generalizations. Very often Intuitives are negligent in dress, their rooms are disorderly. Their speech, compared with Sensors, is more associative-figurative, often with humor or irony, rich in adjectives and nouns, but poor in verbs.

Filatova proposed a simple test: show a picture containing many details for about 10 seconds. A Sensor will then list almost all of them by heart. An Intuitive will describe only general ones (subject, large-scale details), but won't mention trifles.

In addition to the markers of the 4 Jungian dichotomies (S/N, T/F etc.), each of the 16 sociotypes has its own integral features manifesting in their behavior, look, body language, face shape, positioning of face wrinkles etc.

Literature (in parentheses language and year of publication):

  1. Filatova Ye.S. Personality in the Mirror of Socionics (Russian, 2001).
  2. Filatova Ye.S. Socionics in Portraits (Russian, 1996).
  3. Talanov V.L., Malkina-Pykh I.G. Practical Psychologist’s Manual (Russian, 2002).