The IM Elements – Part 1: Perceptions

The 8 Information Metabolism Elements, often shortened to ‘IM’ Elements or even ‘IMEs’, are the building blocks of the Socionics theory. They represent the processes by which a person approaches one of the 8 ‘Aspects’ of reality, presented as information from the external world, as well as our internal thoughts and feelings, before metabolising it into our cognitions and behaviours, essentially personality.

In this Two-Part series, I will go over comprehensive definitions of these IM Elements, covering 1) the Aspect of information, i.e. the kind of information we interact with; 2) the process by which we metabolise this information into the output of our personality; 3) a description of how a ‘Strong’, capable usage of this IM Element manifests; and 4) a description of how one would ‘Value’ this IM Element, appreciating its presence and use.

M Elements can be most broadly split into the more observational Perceptions (i.e. what X is/could be) and the more evaluatory Judgments (i.e. how X should be/ought to be done). For Part 1, I will cover the 4 kinds of Perception. To see Part 2, where I cover the 4 Judgments, click here.

Pre-amble (skip to the ‘Descriptions of the 4 Perceptions’ if you want a quicker introduction)

Perceptions can either be BOTH External (i.e. objective and explicit) and Involved (i.e. experienced vivaciously) OR BOTH Internal (i.e. subjective and implicit) and Detached (i.e. experienced without feeling). The former is known as Sensation, while the latter is known as Intuition.

Sensation and Intuition can each be further divided into two kinds based on attitude and approach to that sort of Perception. One could take take a Energising perspective, accumulating more and more perceptions expansively. This is done to perceptions in a Static manner, jumping from one thing to the next in a stop/start motion.

Alternatively, one could take an Integrating perspective, filtering out unwanted perceptions to leave those that are of the most desired or best quality. This is done to perceptions in a Dynamic manner, continuously refining and adapting the perception to be at its best.

This allows us to formulate 4 varieties of perception:

  • First, when applying an Energising & Static approach to Sensation, we get Force (F).
  • Applying an Integrating & Dynamic approach to Sensation gives us Senses (S). 
  • Similarly, applying an Energising & Static approach to Intuition gives us Ideas (I).
  • Finally, applying an Integrating Dynamic approach to Intuition results in Time (T).
These are the 4 Perceptions.
Descriptions of the 4 Perceptions

1. Force (F) :

Aspect: Physical extension. By existing and thus taking up space, something physical necessarily pushes other objects out of their place. Two things cannot occupy the same space at once, and necessarily compete for that space, with those possessing greater density tending to win. In the same way people use their varying wills and resources to compete in the real world, with the stronger prevailing.

Metabolism: The individual engages in direct competition with other people and forces in their life, pushing against reality with one’s will to win it over, claiming the spoils of the conflict and thus increasing power. It requires perception of what things are, the amount of power or resources people have, whether they are a threat to your standing, or you could be a threat to them. It also requires the person wilfully taking the initiative to challenge the other person and to exert one’s available resources in order to win.

Strength: The person is good at perceiving the power and resources of themselves and the people in their immediate environment, knowing where to challenge and where to not challenge. They know from this the strengths to utilise and the weaknesses to exploit. They also know how much they must exert of themselves in order to succeed, controlling their actions, resources and surrounding space to their advantage. Consequently they are good at acting capably in the present and usually make things happen there and then the way they want. [Applies to SEI, ESE, LSI, SLE, SEE, ESI, LSE & SLI]

Value: The person desires impact to be made on their surroundings in a real, confrontational sense. When something is wanted or needed, it needs to be taken decisively. Anything unwanted needs to be fought against and beaten. You decide, you act, there’s no going back. The harshness of life is accepted and the person sees the forces of the world as things to be helped or actively resisted with contrary force. Actions and decisions are made with recognition of these forces, and how it is important to navigate them, steering clear or befriending the strong, while defending, ignoring or exploiting the weak. [Applies to EIE, LSI, SLE, IEI, SEE, ILI, LIE & ESI.]

2. Senses (S)

Aspect: Physical flow. Physical objects bear a relation to each other in terms of occupying a physical environment. This environment is where things happen, flowing from one state to another in the present moment. The flow is best in quality when smooth and allowed to happen naturally, removing blockages and sudden interruptions that feel painful or grind the gears. Similarly, people can acclimate themselves to the flow, existing in harmony with themselves and their surroundings.

Metabolism: The individual attunes themselves to the flow of events in the present moment, feeling the surroundings in detail with their five senses and helping to maintain its smooth, organic and healthy quality. Anything painful or unpleasant that causes stress or damage to the flow is brushed away, with the intention that things are allowed to happen in the way that is most natural and feels good for them. In this way, the present flow is refined in its feel and quality, creating relaxing, immersed experience of the day-to-day.

Strength: The person is good at noticing and recognising small changes and alterations to the flow of physical experience, being able to pick out each detail contributing to and hindering it, while understanding what needs to go to restore quality. They know from looking at things in the moment, that they are all right and good, not needing any intervention, and that they can simply relax, allowing things to continue. Consequently, the person knows how to savour and enjoy their experiences, without doing anything. [Applies to SEI, ESE, LSI, SLE, SEE, ESI, LSE & SLI.]

Value: The person desires flow in their present experience, trying to keep the sensations that feel best for them. They want things to be pleasant and unabrasive, for people to be allowed to do what they will and for past wrongs to be forgiven if no longer causing pain, and for their actions to be in peace and harmony with the life around them. The person tries not to disrupt things that are happening naturally, preferring to go with the flow and enjoy what happens. Similarly, they may withdraw from environments where they feel there is too much disruption to the flow. [Applies to ILE, SEI, ESE, LII, LSE, EII, IEE & SLI.]

3. Ideas (I)

 Aspect: Imagined Possibilities: A possibility is an instance or scenario which has yet to be experienced, but which could happen under the right conditions. These can be events, or alternative explanations, ideas or opinions. Another angle to those already on offer. The range of possibilities available can often be huge, and can bring great intellectual, spiritual and material rewards if considered, but not if they are missed out on, or never thought of.

Metabolism: The individual keeps themselves open to a range of alternative possibilities to those currently being worked on, seeing what could happen and being able to switch to something else if things happening now no longer seem ideal or of interest. Any position has one or more alternative positions and the individual may hold all as potential places to move to depending on the circumstances. In this way, the person’s intentions remain flexible, adapting to multiple circumstances.

Strength: The person possesses a good awareness of the different possibilities and alternatives available to them, seeing the potential in each, and is able to readily adapt to unexpected and unlikely changes without great disturbance. Their lives show breadth and variety. They are able to draw from a wide range of different interests and can bolster their activities with creative insight, trying out unconventional and untried ideas that grant an original edge or stand out from others for their novelty. [Applies to ILE, LII, EIE, IEI, ILI, LIE, EII & IEE.]

Value: The person desires a broadening of their horizons and the possibilities open to them, wanting the potential freedom to do whatever they feel like doing, and not wanting to miss out if they change their mind. They like open-mindedness, being willing to consider alternatives to their opinion and not rejecting things in case they might be wrong. They will be willing to try things out, see how things go, and be curious about the variety that life has to offer. Such people want to accept things, giving them a second chance, readily exploring and appreciating the unexpected. [Applies to ILE, SEI, ESE, LII, LSE, EII, IEE & SLI.]

4. Time (T)

Aspect: Visualised Trends: Events occur and reoccur throughout time in certain patterns or trends which can be noticed and picked out via abstraction and reflection. The strength of these trends point to eventual outcomes that are of greater salience and meaning than the noise of many other situations, and can be picked out as consequences to reach towards or to avoid.

Metabolism: The individual carefully reflects on past events, considering what has happened before and noticing salient trends. Mentally following the path of these trends, they visualise outcomes that are likely to happen and what would ensure or offset routes toward these outcomes. Picking out particular outcomes of importance limits the range of possible instances to those that are probably going to happen, allowing one to plan a path to follow in the long-term.

Strength: The person possesses a capacity for deep thought and reflection on the meaning behind mundane events. With great insight, they can think ahead and predict what will likely come to pass from daily actions, understanding from little concrete data the consequences of what we do. They will have a good idea of how to avoid probable future mishaps, while also being confident in where their life is heading and how to align their actions with a particular path or plan of importance. [Applies to ILE, LII, EIE, IEI, ILI, LIE, EII & IEE.]

Value: The person wishes to narrow the scope of possibilities in their lives to the few most important, wanting to form a clear path to follow in life with an outcome meaningful to them. They will want to carefully make decisions on their future, not wishing to turn back from the plan they have committed to. Distractions will be cut out, the daily lifestyle being pruned to fall in line with the path without distraction. They will also recognise the importance of the past, remembering previous instances to inform future actions. [Applies to EIE, LSI, SLE, IEI, SEE, ILI, LIE & ESI.]

Extra observations

One can be strong at both F & S, OR at both I & T. The former would make someone a ‘Sensory’ type, the latter, an ‘Intuitive’ type.

However, when it comes to valuing information, one can value F & T together OR S & I together. The former would be a type with ‘World-Rejecting’ values, while the latter would be a type with ‘World-Accepting’ values.