The Four States: action, cognitive, emotional, relational

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During a discussion on how to make the rationalist community more “Hufflepuff”, the idea was brought up to define what “more Hufflepuff” even means. Words like cooperation, loyalty, diligence, and empathy were written down. As the list grew longer, I realized they all fit one or two of three categories: relational, emotional, and action. These are the three states that Hufflepuffs are most valued for. Loyalty is a relational state, while diligence is an action state. Meanwhile, cooperation is a blend of action and relational, and empathy is a blend of emotional and relational.

The fourth state (cognitive) is more or less what the community was founded on, so it makes sense that the other three are where the community is lacking. People and communities often pick a state to prioritize, letting others fall by the wayside. My experience with other communities show that the cognitive state is often deprioritized, which is why it makes sense that there would be demand for a community that bases itself in such a state. A person coming from a socio-emotionally heavy subculture may find rationality refreshing in its focus on truth-seeking as opposed to what “feels good”, and an imbalance in other communities may cause rationalists to lean too heavily on the cognitive, ignoring other states altogether.

Regardless of whether or not you consider yourself a rationalist, there is probably a state where you see yourself or your community lacking. As with many theories in personality psychology, there is an implication here that balance is best. I don’t want to assume that this is true in all cases, but running a few mental experiments could shed light on the tradeoffs. If a cognitive-heavy community focused on action a little more, what would that look like? If a friend who spends a lot of time in the relational state started setting aside time for emotional processing, what would they lose and gain? On a community-wide level, balance between the states makes the community more open to different kinds of people. A cognitive community with more relational focus would feel more welcoming, and more focus on the emotional state might help it feel more comfortable and safe. But for those who want the kind of community with a high barrier to entry, this may not be particularly wanted. Instead, they may prefer focusing on the cognitive even more, ensuring that the community is full of people with the same interests and values as them. That is not to say that this is a bad thing! Personality psychology claims balance between traits and kinds of traits is better because personality psychology tries to prioritize diversity and see it as a value. Of course, not everyone agrees with this, even in the field of psychology. This is why, though Jung thought it should be a person’s goal to achieve balance between traits like Introversion and Extroversion or Thinking and Feeling, Myers-Briggs types (which use the same traits Jung spoke of) have been sold to the public as a way of being proud of your personality type, not as something that should or would change.

(This is also partly due to Humanistic Psychology’s idea that personality is static over a lifetime and the outside world interferes with finding your “true self”, but that’s a whole other blog post.)

This blog is probably going to focus quite a bit on emotional and relational states, with some focus on action and cognitive states as well. This is less because of how I feel the world should be and more because of my own skill set and personality, especially in relation to the community and other blogs. Of the four, I think I am weakest in the action state, so while I’ll try to mention new discoveries I make here in my attempts to strengthen this side of me, the topic won’t be nearly as well explored as the other three states, especially in relation to each other. I’ve been tagging posts with whichever state they are meant to explore, so hopefully this will be a useful heuristic moving forward.

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