Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Albert Einstein (ILE): Personality Type Analysis

Albert Einstein was a German-born, Nobel Prize winning theoretical physicist, best known for his prolific contributions to science.

His early work can best be summarised in his 'Annus Mirabilis' papers of 1905, where four separate writings in the same year made substantial changes to modern physics and our understanding of space, time and matter. For these

1. He solved a puzzle of the photoelectric effect, i.e. the phenomenon where electrons are emitted when light is shone on an object, by theorising that light existed in discrete quanta, later called 'photons'.

2. He explained the findings of particles appearing to move randomly in liquids, a phenomenon known as 'Brownian Motion', saying that this was due to atoms, too small for the eye to see, colliding with the particles.

3. He was able to reconcile Maxwell's equations on electricity and magnetism with the laws of mechanics by introducing a new theory of 'Special Theory of Relativity', whereby the laws of physics are the same for all observers travelling at the same speed, and that the speed of light is the same for every observer. Previously, Maxwell's equations had run up asymmetries when applied to moving objects.

4. He formulated the 'Mass-Energy Equivalence', i.e. E=Mc2, which set out how matter itself contains energy, irrespective of the potential and kinetic energy that comes with movement.

These papers serve to illustrate the clear breadth focus that is consistent to Einstein. Not only did his writings on the Photoelectric effect make important contributions to the later formulation of 'Quantum Theory', something Einstein later has close involvement in, but in his later work, Einstein created the 'General Theory of Relativity', a direct addition to his Special Theory. Together, Quantum Theory and the General Theory of Relativity make up the two great pillars of modern theoretical physics, describing the laws governing the very small and the very large. In this regard, Einstein cannot be limited to any single area in his field. Indeed, on top of the more than 300 papers published on science in his lifetime, Einstein wrote a further 150 on other subjects.

In his approach to theory, Einstein was also notable in his desire, not to focus on any particular field, but rather bring together multiple fields in understanding a problem. Instead, Walter Isaacson writes that " "He had an urge -- indeed a compulsion -- to unify concepts from different branches of physics." This desire to not be tied down to one area, but to instead look into a multitude of branches and perspectives in theoretical physics, is typical of someone who actively seeks to increase the number of possibilities open to them, rather than limit them to a probable path. Indeed, out of all of Einstein's positive traits, he took greatest pride in his imagination and the desire to seek out and explore new ideas, as seen in his most famous quotes:

"I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious."
"Imagination is more important than knowledge."
"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing."
"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new."

The combination of Einstein's remarkable breadth-approach towards theroretical physics, as well as his clear appreciation of imagination, curiosity and trying new things, serves as a strong indicator for Einstein having had I as the dominant focus in his life (I1), while rejecting T (T7).

Other than his numerous accomplishments in physics, Einstein was also involved in the realm of politics. He consistently occupied the Left-wing, Liberal corner of discourse and did not shy away from radical perspectives, such as  the preference that countries should eventually be abolished and replaced with a single government to protect its world citizens. The pacifistic Einstein abhorred war, seeing it as an extension of aggressive instincts in humanity that needed to be avoided and that only by bringing all nations and peoples together could this happen.

This aversion to aggression and support for a system that protects people from violence appears in his support for Socalism, where he thought that placing the means of production into the hands of society would discourage the aggressive competition between individuals that drives economic booms and busts. He wrote that such competition resulted in a "crippling of individuals" as people educated themselves and worked to advance one's career over others, rather than nourishing human creativity.

At the same time Albert Einstein supported Labour Zionism, i.e the establishment of a Jewish homeland through cooperative efforts of the working classes through kibbutzim. Despite the Nationalism this may imply, Einstein was against the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine "with borders, an army, and a measure of temporal power." Instead, Einstein only got on board with creating the state of Israel as late as 1948. His rationale for Zionism was to him a means of protecting Jews from persecution, following the Holocaust. Einstein's desire was for Jews and Arabs in the area to occupy the historically-meaningful area in peaceful cooperation, rather than compete for territory.

These quotes suggest someone who approaches politics from the view of fostering harmony and peaceful coexistence between people, actively avoiding the use of aggression to achieve one's ends except as a last resort, e.g. signing the letter for the American government to create an atomic bomb only as a means of preventing NAZI Germany from utilising a similar weapon. Additionally, there is a view towards people being given the means to best realise their individual potential and that competitive environments limit this. This sort of peaceful idealism is more to be expected of a type that rejects F in favour of S. This observation, along with Einstein's clear preference for I over T, presents sufficient evidence to say that Einstein had World-Accepting values.

Throughout his work in theoretical physics, Einstein relied largely on thought experiment and the application of mathematical proofs to aid exposition. There was a notable absence of attempt to support his positions empirically, and usually his theories were vindicated later by more empirical scientists. This tendency towards reaching logical propositions through the imagination is typical of types that combine I with L, rather than P.

Furthermore, although an agnostic, Einstein's approach to theology and the existence of God can be seen as a veneration of L in the absence of belief in an anthropological deity. He claimed to share the views of Baruch Spinoza (LII), i.e. the "admiration for the beauty of and belief in logical simplicity of the order...".

Furthermore, Einstein was quoted as saying this:
Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas.

Additionally, despite making a pivotal contribution to the development of Quantum Theory with his work on the Photoelectric Effect, Einstein never felt comfortable with its basic tenet. To Einstein, the idea that the fundamental laws of the universe were based on probability, rather than something more set and absolute, was disturbing to him. This was likely due to his quasi-religious belief in a "rational" structure behind the universe:

"I have not found a better expression than religious for the trust in the rational nature of reality that is, at least to a certain extent, accessible to human reason."

Until his death in 1955, Einstein tried to disprove the theory he had helped to create, saying that "God does not play dice". When faced with evidence in favour of a universe fundamentally without rules, and instead random, Einstein felt determined to look for the opposite.

These quotes give the impression of someone who believed in an underlying order or structure to the universe, and who possessed a motivation to uncover whatever that structure was. In addition, the sign that there might be no such structure was a disturbing proposition for Einstein, and he could not accept it despite the lack of counter-evidence. This motivation likely drove Albert Einstein towards theoretical physics in the first place and clearly shows, due to its focus on L over P, the presence of Clarity-Seeking values.

The above combination of World-Accepting and Clarity-Seeking values culminates in a type of the Alpha quadra. Within this quadra, it is also apparent that Einstein was moreso in his element coming up with new theories and ideas with the rationale to explain them, than maintaining emotional and physical harmony in his immediate surroundings, suggesting someone with greater confidence in I+L over S+E.

Einstein being a Researcher can be seen in his attraction to the field of theoretical physics for his career, but more importantly, the genius with which he revolutionised this field, utilising non-empirical, thought experiment-based theories that constitute an I+L approach.

Socially, Albert Einstein was no genius. He never felt himself around other people and would imagine a glass plane separating him from them. This lack of social confidence was part of his reasoning for turning down the presidency of Israel, saying:

"All my life I have dealt with objective matters, hence I lack both the natural aptitude and the experience to deal properly with people and to exercise official functions,” Einstein’s said, according to the report."

Furthermore, Einstein was notably absent minded over day to day tasks. Together, these observations make him being a Socialite much less likely.

From these observations, an Alpha Researcher is clear, leaving ILE and LII as the two most likely options. These can be narrowed down through further assignment of IM Elements to functions. It is clear that in his research, Einstein very much preferred the breadth approach to that of the depth, writing on four very different areas in physics during his Annus Mirabilis and proceeding throughout his life to publish over 300 scientific papers and 150 non-scientific works. Einstein's approach of contributing in one place, then rapidly switching to a very different area of contribution, is consistent with a type that is content with jumping to whatever is interesting in the moment, keeping open the possibility of moving onto anything else.  At the same time, the ability to rationalise and explain through formulating a consistent structure, while employed expertly by Einstein, seems to support the whimsical dance of his interests, rather than lead his motivations. His approach to physics has been described as 'capricious', with him appearing convinced of his theories before suddenly becoming convinced of a different position when feeling that his position had been disproved. Furthermore, Einstein preoccupation with breadth over depth is consistent with someone who pays little attention to matters of T. While LIIs frequently use T8 to zone in on a subject worth of depth, so that every perspective and angle on that specific area can be explored (I2), Einstein's approach is far less fluid, i.e. one of maximising all breadth at the expense of much depth. This is all very consistent with I1 and T7, with L2. It can also be said that to support such a breadth of areas in which to apply one's thoughts, and to be able to change one's positions capriciously in each of them, as and when another explanation seemed preferable, would have required the ability to easily and confidently process incoming factual information and assimilate it with what is already known. This dynamic of acquiring new data and organically re-shaping L to explain the data is typical of the L2, P8 combination, where a fluid interplay exists between L and P. Because such a fluid interplay exists between the Logical elements, but not for the Intuitive elements, it is quite clear that ILE is the preferred type for Einstein over LII.

Einstein's weaker IM Elements can also be assigned to functions. It is notable that Einstein's approach to matters of S was seen by many as eccentric. Einstein decided to stop wearing socks, because he did not enjoy the feeling of holes he got from them and reasoned that it would be simply better if he ceased to wear them at all. This, in addition to his generally dishevelled look gives the strong impression of weak S. Despite this, it is clear that Einstein valued S with his preoccupations for smoking his pipe, playing his violin and sailing being methods by which he sought a calm relaxation. It seems most likely that Einstein saw the maintenance side of S as something to be outsourced to another person, a tendency typical of S5. This is especially clear in the letters towards the end of his first marriage to Mileva Maric:

"'A. You will see to it (1) that my clothes and linen are kept in order, (2) that I am served three regular meals a day in my room. B. You will renounce all personal relations with me, except when these are required to keep up social appearances.'' And: ''You will expect no affection from me . . . You must leave my bedroom or study at once without protesting when I ask you to.''

Not only does the letter reveal that S needs, i.e. having his day-to-day, physical requirements satiated, are the one thing Einstein demands fulfilment of in exchange for staying in a marriage, but it is notable that he considers in this letter a life where S is provided for completely at the expense of R, e.g. intimacy with a significant other. Indeed, it is in matters of R where Einstein shows his greatest area of neglect. Einstein had 10 different mistresses throughout his life, having 6 alone during his first marriage. Not only was he unfaithful to his wife, but he openly flaunted this betrayal. Such behaviour towards his supposed closest relationship would be most unusual for a type that understood the importance of R. Even his second marriage, to his cousin Elsa, could be described as a 'marriage of convenience'. This unashamed ineptness in his marital relationships can be added to a lack of closeness with his own family members, suggesting someone who readily failed to establish appropriate psychological closeness, serving as good evidence for R4.

While willing to outsource S matters to other people, Einstein invested more of his own efforts in matters of E. In the 19th century, a common avenue for such emotive expression was in chamber music, which Einstein adopted as his great love, aside from physics. It is important to note that where Einstein stood out was in the expression of himself through the medium of music, rather than in a meticulously perfected technique with his doctor János Flesch candidly observing:

“There are many musicians with much better technique, but none, I believe, who ever played with more sincerity or deeper feeling.”

Einstein saw himself as naturally musical, remarking that:

"If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music."

This suggests someone who was perhaps more engaged with with emotive and expressive kinds of information, than one would expect from a 1D function. Not only this, but Einstein aspired to perform pieces of music to a public audience. While more often seen in comedy or some more active performing art today, Einstein's attraction to music serves as mild evidence of E6 in historical context.

To conclude, Albert Einstein was a theoretical physicist with Alpha values who took a predominately I1+L2 approach to his theories, ignoring T7 and likely drawing from P8. While he seems to have made a public effort at his musical hobby with E6, he seemed to prefer S5 to be outsourced to others. Furthermore, with a clear disregard for R4, it makes sense to say that the best fit for Einstein would be the ILE.

To learn more about ILE, click here.

If you are confused by our use of Socionics shorthand, click here.


Annus Mirabilis

No Socks

Capricious with theories and with his love life

Letter to his first wife

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Galileo Galilei (ILE): Personality Type Analysis

Galileo Galilei was an Italian philosopher, astronomer, scientist and mathematician; best remembered for his work in support of Copernicus' heliocentric theory of the solar system. Galileo also observed that the Milky way was in fact made up of millions of individual stars, discovered the phases of Venus and discovered the moons of Jupiter. For the sake of his life, Galileo recanted his views of the validity of the Copernican model in 1633, admitting that the earth did not spin on its own axis. It is unlikely that the recantation was sincere in any sense and nevertheless remained under house arrest.

I argue, at least what can be agreed upon by historians who can confirm this biographical information, provide some clues towards what Galileo's type might be. As a young man, Galileo was unsure what to pursue in terms of a long-term career, more specifically having to choose between becoming a Catholic priest or a doctor of medicine. He inevitably chose to study medicine at the University of Pisa, taking his father's advice about putting his practical knowledge to use. During his first few days on campus, Galileo's curiosity led him into an introductory mathematics lecture that captured his interest in such an awe-inspiring way, that he decided to change his career path again. Galileo's preference to maintain as many potential alternative careers to choose from and basing his decision to choose from one of these alternatives on pure interest, already points to I and S as World-Accepting quadra values, over F and T.

I would also add that Galileo believed that mathematics was far more interesting than medicine and that it played a more crucial role in developing our the understanding of the world. Writing many papers about the novelty and application of mathematics in his leisure, (i.e. analyzing the mechanical movement of a pendulum, the length of a lute string and its relationship to the note it produced) was really the main focus of much of Galileo's work earlier in his life, with a focus on tying the "object of interest" with its mathematical reasoning. That alone points to preference of L over P as a quadra value, which would point to Clarity-Seeking values and thus make Alpha Galileo's likely quadra.

Furthermore, Galileo was not alien to the philosophical side of life, holding the position that 'the book of nature is written in the language of mathematics'. Not only was he greatly influenced by Greek philosophy, but he also calculated that there was a metaphysical distinction between the primary and secondary qualities of bodies. He held the position that only the former is essential and inherent in objects, whereas the latter can exist - only if they can cause certain effects in the minds of the observers. That at least suggests T as a stronger function, along with substantial confidence in P his own ability to quickly learn through pedagogy without much strain or exertion. Everything previously discussed about Galileo would, without a doubt, provide reasoning for a Logical type with likely T7 and P8 in the Id.

Within two years of the invention of the telescope, Galileo shared his astronomical observations and concluded that the geocentric theory which held that the earth was at the center of the universe, was seriously flawed. Galileo's findings attracted such sharp criticism, to the point where he felt compelled to offer in his defense and reply to his critics in The Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina in 1615. In the letter, Galileo argues that scientific and theological matters should not be confused with each other. He firmly held the position that science could not cast doubts on religious doctrine, but inversely strengthen it. Nonetheless, his argument was overlooked by the Inquisition in 1616, but was publicly condemned by the Inquisition in 1633, when he was forced to recant his views.

Galileo's first approach in doing this was to gather public attention on an incorrect way of thinking about the planetary model of the solar system. In this way, he often caused quite a stir in advocating for his thoroughly researched model and wasn't afraid of publishing his own mathematical reasoning, especially if it got the point of what he was communicating across. It would be reasonable to say that was a person who Galileo did actively participate in the social scene of Italy back in the day, acted as a communicator of science, willingly went out of his way to reduce his work to where it made sense in layman's terms. Because of this attentiveness to free expression in communication, driven mission to go out of his way to educate the public without realizing that this information would be unintentionally inappropriate to the religious dogma at the time - points to a type with valued, but weak E, most likely E6.

(As a footnote that might be useful to support the previous argument, in his own lack of cautiousness in voicing his own views through free expression, whether if he truly didn't foresee this criticism or did foresee it but didn't mind having to defend it, still solidifies the idea of devalued T.)

Thus far what has been mentioned about Galileo Galilei provides reasoning for L+I in the Ego block, most likely I1 and L2 with the principles used in service of the grand theory. Along with S5 manifesting in fear of leaving his family and comfortable surroundings because he had to take a position at the Court of the Medici family. (This isn't as adequately expressed in more detailed accounts of his personal life). With this and the remaining E6, T7, and P8 explained in the articles above. In conclusion, I believe Galileo Galilei is a very good representative of the ILE type of information metabolism.

To learn more about ILE, click here.

If you are confused by our use of Socionics shorthand, click here.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Pliny the Elder (LSE): Personality Type Analysis

Gaius Plinius Secundus, generally known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, historian, and naturalist, as well as a career army officer and civil servant of the Roman Empire who lived in the 1st century AD. All of his known books are lost except the Natural History, the oldest known encyclopedia. Details of his life are known mainly from Pliny's own remarks in that work, from the writings of his nephew and adopted son Pliny the Younger (IEI), who also left summaries of Pliny's other books, and from archaeological evidence. I argue that the available information suffices to make at least a reasonable case for his most likely Socionics type.

Pliny was born in Como, Italy, in the early years of the Emperor Tiberius (ILI), to a family of equestrian rank, that is, the junior aristocracy, below the senatorial rank. Pliny pursued throughout his life an equestrian public career, suggesting that he either lacked the means to rise to senatorial rank - as his adopted son eventually did - or that he found an equestrian career personally more rewarding. In any case, as a young man, now in the reign of the Emperor Claudius (ILI), Pliny first served as a military officer in several postings along the Rhine frontier with Germany. In what today is Xanten, Germany, Pliny wrote his first book, a small military manual, 'On the throwing of spears while on horseback'. Returning to Rome, where he worked as a lawyer for a while, he wrote his second book, more ambitious, a biography of his old commanding officer, 'Life of Pomponius Secundus', of great historical significance as the first biography in Roman literature we are aware of. He then wrote an even more ambitious book, ten times the length of the previous one, "History of the German Wars". Afterwards, in the politically dangerous later years of the Emperor Nero (SEI), Pliny kept a low profile, avoiding potentially political subjects, writing two rather safe books: a textbook on the teaching of rhetoric, "The Student", and "Problems in Grammar".

After the generalized revolt against Nero, with Nero's suicide, and one year of civil war that led to the ascension of the Emperor Vespasian, Pliny's star could rise again, especially as he was friendly with Vespasian's son, Titus. He began writing a serious book of contemporary history, 'A Continuation of the History of Aufidius Bassus', probably covering the period from Tiberius to Vespasian (ESE). However, he ordered that it should be only published after his death, so that people would not think he wrote it to flatter Vespasian and Titus (EIE), to whom he was close. In the new regime, Pliny's political career took off, with him appointed procurator (i.e. chief financial officer), in quick succession, in provinces in today's France, Spain and Tunisia. During those years he wrote his largest work, and the only one surviving today, his 'Natural History', making use of his personal observations in those many locations, which was probably published in the later years of Vespasian. At about this time he was appointed prefect (i.e. commander) of the fleet based at Misenum, at the bay of Naples, remaining there when Titus became emperor upon Vespasian's death.

Pliny's Natural History is the ancestor of all modern encyclopedias, aiming at summarizing all the scientific knowledge of the time: it contains chapters on astronomy, geography, zoology, botany, biology, geology, mining, medicine, agriculture, and art. Like modern authors - and unlike almost all ancient writers - Pliny actually references the authors of the books he consulted. The book reads, however, much more "chaotically" than a modern work as he interjects his own personal "on the ground" observations while summarizing the information from other books. The result is a book that contains a vast amount of "raw" information, much of it validated by direct observation, but in an often disorganized way. The whole book is of huge historical value; however, from a scientific point of view, it mixes reliable facts and descriptions with questionable ones, and even plain nonsense. Nevertheless the book was "the" encyclopedia during the Medieval period, its accuracy only beginning to be challenged in the Renaissance of the 15th century.

I argue that the information so far already gives clues to Pliny's Socionics type. First, for a man with literary ambitions, it is remarkable that all of his work was non-fiction: natural science, history, biography, grammar, a military manual. By contrast, his old commander, Pomponius Secundus, the subject of Pliny's biography, was a prestigious poet and author of tragedies, some written while he was in prison under Tiberius. Pliny's own adopted son. Pliny the Younger, also preferred to write poetry. The relevance of this is that Pliny the Elder's literary choices, exclusively non-fiction, suggest that these were the subjects he wanted to write about and found more congenial writing, which in itself, at face value, already points to P as stronger, and/or more valued, than E, that is, that Pliny the Elder was a Logical type or, if Ethical, at most one with P6.

I would add that the "on-the-ground" nature of the Natural History, plus its quirky way of looking at many different subjects, aiming at presenting as much detailed information, and direct observation as possible while being at the same time a rather cumbersome read, points to a P preference over L, that is, Pliny was far more concerned with providing information than categorize, organize or analyze it.  The strong focus on direct observation and the wide scope of subjects also point to S and I as quadra values, rather than F and T. The information so far, together, points to Delta as Pliny the Elder's likely quadra.

Going back to Pliny's life. While based at Misenum as commander of the fleet, the younger Pliny was living with him, and he left a description of Pliny the Elder's habits - essentially of a man who did not stop working, reading, and writing, a rather hyperactive man. At face value, this points more to an Energizer type. Finally. it was during that time, in 79 AD, when the famous eruption of the Vesuvius took place. From his position in Misenum, across the bay of Naples, Pliny was at first fascinated from a scientific point of view (he was familiar with volcanoes, like Mt. Etna) and intended to sail close to it on a small ship, But, made aware of the human disaster taking place, he assembled the available ships from the fleet and sailed towards the range of of the eruption on a rescue mission. That was completely unsuccessful as the fall-out from the eruption prevented the ships from getting close to Pompeii or Herculaneum, and the winds prevented them from sailing back, so they were trapped into sailing on to Stabiae on the Sorrentine Peninsula, where friends of his had a villa which was not being hit by the worst of the eruption. According to Pliny the Younger, while walking to get a closer look at the eruption, the elder Pliny just collapsed suddenly and died; his nephew attributed that to poisonous fumes, while modern historians suggest that a heart attack was more likely.

The events above reveal an interesting characteristic of Pliny's: that he would literally sail into a terrifying volcanic eruption, first out of scientific curiosity, then in order to attempt to rescue the locals, seemingly without realizing that he could be getting himself into a trap, not looking before he leaped. That is a trait pointing to a type with F stronger than T, and very weak T, probably T4.

Delta Energizer, with very weak T. and much more focused on P than E. I argue that the available information, however limited, consistently points to LSE as Pliny the Elder's likely type.

Sources: besides Wikipedia, an alternative summary of Pliny the Elder's life and works can be found in the site. A full translation of his Natural History can be found here , and the letters of Pliny the Younger, including his eyewitness description of the eruption of the Vesuvius and his summary of his uncle's works, here .

To learn more about LSE, click here.

If you are confused by our use of Socionics shorthand, click here.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Tiberius (ILI): Personality Type Analysis

Tiberius Claudius Nero, later Tiberius Julius Caesar, best known simply as Tiberius, was the second Roman Emperor, for 23 years, from 14 to 37. His reign is one of the best-documented of all, with many preserved speeches and letters, as well as observations from contemporaries and very detailed information on his personal decisions and preferences, providing material for his typing. His character and personality puzzled and fascinated contemporaries as well as historians, ancient and modern, and he is one of the most studied Roman Emperors. A prestigious Spanish physician, Gregorio Marañón, went as far as to analyse Tiberius’s psychology, in his classic “Tiberius: a Study in Resentment”, a book praised by Ronald Syme, the 20th century’s foremost Roman historian. I argue, therefore, that there is plenty of reliable material with which to deduce his Socionics type.

Tiberius belonged by birth to the ancient patrician clan Claudius, one of the most prestigious during the centuries of the Roman Republic. He was however born in the Republic’s final years, and his mother Livia divorced his father, when Tiberius was around four, to marry one of the men chiefly responsible for burying the Republic, the Triumvir Octavian, later known as the first emperor, Augustus (LIE). Tiberius grew up in the household of this stepfather, who promoted the politico-military careers of Tiberius and his younger brother Drusus. The brothers became the Empire’s foremost military commanders, chiefly responsible for the Empire’s expansion to the Danube and for expeditions across the Rhine, until Drusus’s death in 9 BC. Tiberius’s personal and political life then went through several ups and downs in the next few years, some of the downs arguably self-inflicted, including a period of political oblivion in retirement on the island of Rhodes. He bounced back, however, becoming Augustus’s adopted son (rather than merely stepson) and undisputed second man of the Empire, becoming Rome’s second emperor relatively smoothly upon Augustus’s death in 14.

Tiberius’s reign of twenty-three years was marked by never-ending political crises involving his own succession, since he was already fifty-five when becoming emperor. In a nutshell: his obvious likely successors, his adopted son (originally nephew) Germanicus, and then his own biological son Drusus, died within a few years of each other, in allegedly suspicious circumstances in Germanicus’s case. That led to a climate of political and personal bitterness between Tiberius and Germanicus’s widow, Agrippina, who hated Tiberius and suspected him of having had a hand on Germanicus’s death. Agrippina became the head of an informal “political party”, mostly a circle of people wanting to be in her good graces when Tiberius died, as her two elder sons were the likely successors. This left Agrippina vulnerable to suspicions that she was “conspiring” against Tiberius, made worse by her popularity (and Tiberius’s unpopularity) among Rome’s general population. This led Tiberius to relocate from Rome to the island of Capri, from where he continued to govern the Empire, and leaving Rome under the control of his trusted Praetorian Prefect, Sejanus. Sejanus launched an implacable political persecution of Agrippina’s circle, exploiting any chance to prosecute them for conspiracy or treason against Tiberius, the cowed Senate mostly agreeing to condemn them and Tiberius seldom interfering. This eventually led to Agrippina and her two elder sons being imprisoned by orders from Tiberius himself, leaving her youngest son Gaius (the future Emperor Caligula (EIE)) as the likeliest eventual successor, but with Sejanus the second most powerful man in the Empire. Suddenly, however, Tiberius, from Capri, launched a sort of undercover coup against Sejanus (he did not feel secure in his power to just dismiss him), whereby Sejanus was put under trial in the Senate by surprise, executed almost immediately (along with his immediate family) and with a bloody purge of those seen as Sejanus’s closest associates. After that, the remaining six years of Tiberius’s life and reign consisted essentially of him continuing to govern from Capri and the surroundings, never returning to Rome proper, until he died at the age of seventy-seven in 37, leading to the smooth ascension of Caligula as emperor, to the general relief of the Senate and the people of Rome (at least until they got to know Caligula better).

Let me finally move on to Tiberius’s most obvious personal traits, which were constant throughout his life. First, twice he chose voluntarily to move away from Rome, and even from people of his broader family and social circle, onto islands, first Rhodes, and then Capri. In both cases, by all accounts, he took along one very close friend of senatorial rank, as well as a limited entourage of Greek scholars of literature and astrology, his favourite subjects (besides the obvious servants, guards etc.). On Capri, as Emperor (and therefore with unlimited freedom of choice of what to do), he maintained the routine of scholarly discussions, very private dinners with a small circle, while governing the Empire by correspondence, and receiving – very selectively – Senators who asked to go see him, besides his trusted henchman, the Praetorian Prefect, Sejanus. His favourite villa on Capri, ruins of which can still be visited, the Villa Jovis, is of very difficult access upon a cliff, illustrating his desire for isolation.

This already points very clearly to man who would be called very introverted in the social sense, that is, a man who is clearly most comfortable in isolation, in the company of a very limited circle of individuals whom he likes or at least trusts. His style of governing the Empire also reflects this: at that early stage historically, being Roman Emperor meant governing with the help of the members of the Senatorial class, but in an atmosphere of sociability, with the Emperor having to know each Senator personally and judging how to manage their careers, rather like the CEO/HR manager of a large corporation, trying to keep as many as possible happy. Augustus excelled at that; Tiberius clearly hated it. He reacted in two ways: first, he kept the same provincial governors at their posts for many years, so minimising the “HR” part of his job (most famously the Prefect of Judaea, Pontius Pilate, for ten years); second, he outsourced a large part of that job to Sejanus, especially for more junior positions. In that, Tiberius’s style of governing is very similar to that of the later Emperor Antoninus Pius (SLI).

All ancient historians who described Tiberius, with basis on contemporary evidence, describe him as a man of very poor social skills, even as “the gloomiest of men” by Pliny the Elder (LSE). Further, although his predecessor, Augustus, behaved in public pretty much like a modern politician, seeking popularity among the general public by personal accessibility and populist gestures like giving, and attending, shows, races and the like, Tiberius had an aloof personality, seeming to disdain the seeking of general popularity, and he even reduced the number of shows and races in Rome to a minimum. Among his social near-equals, Tiberius was equally distant, with an inclination to sarcastic remarks mocking flattery and stupidity. When a delegation from the city of Troy came to see him to present their condolences on the death of his son Drusus – several months late – Tiberius replied, “and may I give you my condolences, gentlemen, on the death of Hector”. Further, most of his personal relationships ended in disaster in one way or the other: his marriage to his second wife, Julia, ended in mutual contempt and hatred; he was suspected (almost certainly wrongly) of conspiring to murder his own adopted son, Germanicus; he was unable, and perhaps unwilling, to address the poisonous relationship with his own step-daughter Agrippina, despite the catastrophic political consequences; and he placed his complete trust on Sejanus, a man who eventually betrayed him and whom he had to destroy through a scheme since he had made him too powerful. He also broke relations with his own mother, Livia. Nevertheless, Tiberius was known to have deep personal relations with a very limited number of individuals: his first wife, Vipsania, whom he had to divorce for political reasons (and which left him deeply depressed, by all accounts) and his brother Drusus. When he heard that his brother, based on the Rhine frontier (near where Mainz is today) was dying, Tiberius travelled there from Rome on horseback to see him, establishing a speed record that remained unbroken one hundred years later.

The above already points to a man with very weak E and R, but who values R far more, suggesting E4 or at most E3, and R5 or R6 most likely, already pointing to the Gamma or Delta quadras. Further, Tiberius’s approach to relationships was not generous but vindictive or resentful, with him able to hold grudges for decades, acting savagely on them. Once, in the Senate, already Emperor and secure in his position, he made a point of attacking one Marcus Lollius, dead by now, who had been his political enemy during his Rhodes years, while talking about a barely related matter. One story goes that, while in political oblivion on Rhodes, he applied to attend the lectures of a famous local teacher of rhetoric, who told him to try again in seven days; he might then have a vacancy. When, years later, the same teacher was in Rome and tried to pay his respects to the Emperor, Tiberius sent him a message, telling him to come back in seven years. Although his second wife Julia had been condemned to exile by her own father, Augustus, upon becoming emperor some twenty years after the event, Tiberius did not make her conditions of imprisonment easier, on the contrary, he made them harsher, although the opposite would have been even politically useful from a PR perspective. Because of those examples – and many more – Marañón described Tiberius as a man whose personal relationships were based on “resentment”, not “generosity” – except, again, to very few select individuals. That already makes Gamma a far likelier quadra than Delta, with R clearly blocked with F rather than I.

Despite the dark picture painted of Tiberius so far, from the point of view of the Empire as a whole he was a conscientious, capable, reasonable and benevolent ruler. He reversed Augustus’s policies of investing heavily on public works, causing maybe located “recessions” but compensating that by actually reducing taxes, while running a budget surplus throughout his reign. Tiberius explicitly ordered his provincial governors to not overtax the population; granted tax relief to regions hit by earthquake, and was responsive to the specific religious susceptibilities of the Jewish population in Judaea – Tiberius actually ordered Pilate to remove standards with his own image from the area near the Temple (where Pilate had placed them to show his loyalty to Tiberius), and eventually relieved Pilate of his position due to complaints by the locals. The historian Tacitus, who read all of Tiberius's speeches and preserved many of them, observed that Tiberius was not noted as an engaging or inspiring orator, but rather a master in weighing his words precisely, being as clear, or as obscure, as he wished. Among the speeches reproduced by Tacitus, there is one where Tiberius discourses at length, in the Senate, on the Empire’s macroeconomics, in response to a complaint, by some, on what were by comparison trivial economic matters, demonstrating clearly that Tiberius knew what he was talking about, and they didn’t. Finally, Tiberius's fiscal policies, added to archaic usury laws, led in 33 to a “financial crisis” comparable to modern ones; yet Tiberius reacted inventively by acting as a “central banker” and quickly solving the crisis.

With the exception of that small minority of the Roman elite caught in the political machinations of Sejanus and Tiberius, Tiberius’s policies as a ruler led to general peace and prosperity (in the context of the time), not necessarily because Tiberius was a kind or generous man, but because he was concerned with good and efficient government throughout, and he was justifiably confident in his own abilities to provide it. That provides evidence of a much stronger P than E, confirming what was already observed regarding his very weak and devalued E.

The information so far points to a Gamma of very low E and R, with confidence and strength in P. That already points to LIE or ILI. Looking at Tiberius’s F, though, what we see is this. Despite being able to successfully lead armies into battle, Tiberius was known as a very cautious commander – often too cautious for Augustus’s taste. His own personal inclinations, though, once he wasn’t under Augustus’s orders, were clearly towards low-level physical activity, preferring to govern from his desk. Even when toppling his own Praetorian Prefect – military and politically in a much weaker position than he – Tiberius still preferred an indirect approach based on cunning and strategy, rather than a more direct, confrontational approach. Finally, in the final years of his life, when he was based on Capri and the surrounding areas, Tiberius several times “tried” to visit Rome, on occasion getting close, but changing his mind at the last moment, once because of a supposed bad omen. All of that shows a man far more cautious, and indecisive, than decisive, pointing to F that seems weaker than even F6. It is also relevant that the man he chose to have as his most trusted sidekick was the famously tough-guy Sejanus, whom Tiberius called “partner of my labours”, and he often referred publicly to how laborious it was to govern on his own. This points to F5 rather than F6.

As with Integrating (i.e. “introverted”) lead functions generally, it is not easy to spot Tiberius's T1 directly, but hints to it can be seen in his confidence in strategic thinking, his focus on longer-term trends, and even his preferred activities for relaxation, as in discussing scholarly subjects and astrology.

What we have is maybe a somewhat depressing portrayal of man able and confident in ruling a huge empire efficiently and benevolently, and who longs for close personal relationships, but also extremely suspicious, vindictive, resentful, often indecisive, and very poor in public relations and social skills, seemingly indifferent to those even. The type that best fits what is known of Tiberius is ILI.

Sources:  as mentioned above, my  general impression of Tiberius’s psychology was first shaped by Gregorio Marañón’s Tiberius: A Study in Resentment, and the extensive ancient sources. The texts of the ancient historians,  Tacitus, Suetonius and Cassius Dio, can be found here,

To learn more about ILI, click here.

If you are confused by our use of Socionics shorthand, click here.