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Enneagram personality type overview

Enneagram Types

Overview of Enneagram types and the Enneagram of Personality model

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Learn about the Enneagram types and the Enneagram model, and take our free personality test: the Enneagram Type test to discover your detailed personality type.


How the Enneagram Works

Introduction to the Enneagram and Enneagram Types

The Enneagram of Personality is a model that expresses the human psyche of individuals via the typology of nine interconnected personality types. These nine personality types (also known as "enneatypes") represent a point on the Enneagram geometric figure displayed below:

 

enneagram model

 

Though at first the Enneagram model might look complicated, it is actually quite straightforward. It is composed of a circle, which represents the totality of life, and intersecting lines that represent integrations of growth and stress. Each point is a type, and its position on the Enneagram model illustrates the other types that it has a wing relationship with. Moving clockwise, the types move one to nine and back to one.

Each type has 2 arrows, and 2 wing types.

 

arrow type 2

 

The Three Centers of the Enneagram

The 9 Enneagram types are categorised into three centers:

  • Body type: the instinctive center - Types 1, 8, and 9
  • Heart type: the feeling center - Types 2, 3, and 4
  • Head type: the thinking center - Types 5, 6, and 7

Body types are instinctive, they follow their 'gut'. They connect with others based on their instinct and on a physical sense of comfort, reacting to the world around them with their senses and their body's reaction. Body types like to maintain an aspect of independence, and are often involved in worldly events. They can be overly controlling when stressed, or passive when cowered by confrontation. The three Enneagram Types that are part of the instinctive center are Type One, Type Eight, and Type Nine.

Heart types are feeling centered, they react with their emotions first. They relate and connect to other people with empathy, and understand the world through their feelings, which guide them in their relationships with others. They value being around others, giving or receiving emotional support, including others and giving them recognition. They can lack the tools to deal with confrontation when stressed, and they are better followers than leaders. The three Enneagram Types that are part of the feeling center are Type Two, Type Three, and Type Four.

Head types are thinking centered, they react with analysis. They connect with others on an intellectual and rational level, and react and understand the world about them with theoretical systems and perceptions that underlie their experiences and observations. They can be overly reliant on security and stability to keep them grounded, and they can feel uncomfortable when they lose their sense of control. The three Enneagram Types that are part of the thinking center are Type Five, Type Six, and Type Seven.

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Enneagram Types also have arrow types in which the Enneagram personality type will follow the arrow and then act like the other connected Enneagram type when stressed or relaxed. For example, a core Type One may begin to act, think and feel like a Type Four when stressed, or a Type Seven when in a period of growth.


Enneagram Core Type and Wing Type

While it's tempting to think that the Enneagram model suggests that there are only nine distinct personality types, it is likely that you'll find a bit of yourself in most, if not all, of the personality types. Nevertheless, one of the types will be the one closest to yourself and this is your core personality type.

According to the Enneagram, everyone has a core personality type (a dominant type), and this is what determines our beliefs, our development and our behavior. In other words, we are born with a dominant type. However some people have enough traits from another type to say they have a 'wing type'. For example if someone is mostly a Type Nine but they also display a lot of Type One behaviours, we say they are a 'Nine Wing One' or '9w1'.

 

enneagram model wings

 

Of course, with the Enneagram model, each type is adjacent to two other types. For example, Type 1 is also adjacent to Type 9 and Type 2. It is common for many people to have a wing type with one of the adjacent types. So instead of being just a Type 1, you could be Type 1 with a wing 2, or Type 1w2. This means that while your dominant personality type is still Type One, you display many qualities that are associated with Type Two.

blue star

Our research shows that 80% of people do not have a wing type; most people are significantly dominant in one Enneagram type to say they are a 'core type'.

In order to have a wing type, the person's second-highest scoring type has to be adjacent to their highest-scoring type, which happens in only 20% of the population. See our separate pages on each Enneagram wing types to view our research data for each Enneagram type.


Identifying Your Enneagram Type

If you do not know what your dominant Enneagram type is, take our free Enneagram Personality test to determine which one you are.

Let's take a look at each Enneagram type in more detail below.

Type One

The Reformer

Enneagram Type 1s are driven in life to make positive change in the world. They have a strong moral compass that guides their every action. A Type 1 advocates for change and progress and is often unhappy with leaving the world as it is. They have high standards that make them exacting, cautious and prone to perfectionism.

The main traits of a Type One:

  • Type Ones have strong integrity
  • Type Ones are practical, exacting, and cautious
  • Type Ones set high standards for themselves
  • Type Ones are guided by their moral code
  • Type Ones are driven by intrinsic, principled motivations
  • Type Ones are gifted at guiding, teaching, and instructing

Read more about Type One.

Type Two

The Helper

Type 2s are naturally compassionate, caring, and help others as much as they can. They are both empathetic and sympathetic, and readily prioritize the needs of others above their own. Type Twos gear themselves to be relentlessly selfless, helping, protecting, supporting and caring for others. However, Type Twos are keen to avoid conflict and give others what they want, at times to the detriment of their own interests.

The main traits of a Type Two:

  • Type Twos have considerable compassion
  • Type Twos are exceedingly generous
  • Type Twos have a natural predisposition towards kindness
  • Type Twos readily form bonds with others
  • Type Twos have an innate selflessness that drives their major decisions
  • Type Twos are harmony seeking and people-pleasing

Read more about Type Two.

Type Three

The Achiever

Type 3s are inherently industrious and self-motivated, spending tremendous energy in striving for achievement. They have high levels of drive and motivation, and work doggedly at achieving their goals. These goals however are unique to the individual and are not type cast to things such as 'acquiring money' or 'getting a promotion'. It is the striving for the achievement in itself that is indicative of a Type 3, not that the goal choice. Type 3s therefore work hard and put in the extra effort into what they do, making sure to give their best at their tasks - even if the reward may not be justified.

The main traits of a Type Three:

  • Type Threes have considerable energy
  • Type Threes are exceedingly diligent
  • Type Threes are inherently industrious
  • Type Threes readily set goals in order to accomplish them
  • Type Threes have an innate fear of being unworthy and unloved
  • Type Threes seek validation via their achievements

Read more about Type Three.

Type Four

The Individualist

An Enneagram Type 4 possesses a rich inner life. They value authenticity and originality above all else, and live comfortably with melancholy. The intensely-felt sense of lack drives a tireless pursuit of the unattainable ideal in life, relationships, and work. A Type 4's finely-tuned aesthetic sense and willingness to delve into life's darkness leads many to pursue the arts or helping professions.

The main traits of a Type Four:

  • Type Fours are internally focused
  • Type Fours value authenticity from themselves and in relationships
  • Type Fours view themselves as original and utterly unique
  • Type Fours pursue ideals in life, relationships, and work
  • Type Fours are deeply connected to their own and others’ melancholy, sadness, and even grief.

Read more about Type Four.

Type Five

The Investigator

Enneagram Type 5s are motivated by the pursuit of knowledge. They value privacy, self-reliance, and efficiency. Type Fives frequently prefer to work behind the scenes, often in solitude, gathering information and making observations. Although they typically don't prefer the limelight, they can be enthusiastic sources of knowledge when encouraged to share their expertise.

The main traits of a Type Five:

  • Type Fives think before they speak
  • Type Fives love routines and loathe surprises
  • Type Fives avoid dramatic displays of emotion
  • Type Fives minimise material needs and dependence on others
  • Type Fives are often preoccupied with thoughts
  • Type Fives value boundaries in relationships

Read more about Type Five.

Type Six

The Loyalist

Enneagram Type 6s can be depended upon to ensure the safety and security of those who have earned their loyalty as well as that of their close friends and families. Honest and friendly, they bring a community spirit and can-do attitude to group endeavors. Type are resourceful problem solvers, especially when motivated to maintain group cohesion.

The main traits of a Type Six:

  • Type Sixes are respectful of traditions and beliefs
  • Type Sixes are known to maintain life-long friendships
  • Type Sixes value honesty and openness
  • Type Sixes have talent for analyzing situations and solving logistical problems
  • Type Sixes focus on safety and security
  • Type Sixes have complex attitudes toward authority

Read more about Type Six.

Type Seven

The Enthusiast

Enneagram Type 7s can be depended upon to ensure the safety and security of those who have earned their loyalty as well as that of their close friends and families. Honest and friendly, they bring a community spirit and can-do attitude to group endeavors. Type are resourceful problem solvers, especially when motivated to maintain group cohesion.

The main traits of a Type Seven:

  • Type Sevens are quick-witted conversationalists
  • Type Sevens have a wide circle of friends and acquaintances
  • Type Sevens rapidly generate plans, ideas, and solutions
  • Type Sevens always have a “Plan B”
  • Type Sevens have difficulty sitting with sadness, fear, or anger
  • Type Sevens turn their hand to anything, dabbling in numerous pursuits.

Read more about Type Seven.

Type Eight

The Challenger

An Enneagram Type 8 is confident, direct, and in control. They are the most comfortable with anger out of all the types. Driven by a fear of being controlled, being harmed, or seeing harm come to those they love, they fortify their defences while taking charge of situations. Type 8s are sometimes referred to as the Challengers, and can often be found in positions of authority.

The main traits of a Type Eight:

  • Type Eights can be quick to express anger, but just as quick to forgive.
  • Type Eights believe honesty is the best policy.
  • Type Eights see themselves as protectors of innocence.
  • Type Eights respect displays of strength.
  • Type Eights have low tolerance for weakness in self and others.

Read more about Type Eight.

Type Nine

The Peacemaker

Enneagram Type 9s, also known as the Peacemakers, bring a lot to the table. They are commonly known for their trustworthy and accepting manner, along with their desire to create harmony with the world. Type 9s can be seen as being complacent, and simply going along with things to avoid conflict in order to keep peace within their environment.

The main traits of a Type Nine:

  • Type Nines strive to be tolerant in their attitudes and manners.
  • Type Nines can share and understand the feelings and emotions of others.
  • Type Nines are attuned to their own personal character and feelings.
  • Type Nines accommodate new situations or conditions when needed.
  • Type Nines have a kind, pleasant, and amiable demeanor.
  • Type Nines work well with others and seek ways to reach a common goal.
  • Type Nines seek to keep peace and harmony.

Read more about Type Nine.

 


The 9 Enneagram Types

This grid shows the 9 Enneagram types of personality according to the Enneagram model.

Types with an instinctive focus: Types with a feeling focus: Types with a thinking focus:

Why use the Enneagram?

The Enneagram is used for personal awareness and knowledge of the self. Only once there is an understanding of the self that is properly comprehended, can there be an acceptance of change, and an appropriate focus on learning where to grow. The Enneagram not only tells one about one's personality, but also relationships that one might have the best compatibility, careers that are best suited, and what areas of life cause growth, and which stress. The Enneagram helps develop one's personality by offering the tools to better understand one's core motivations. By applying this knowledge to different areas of one's life such as leadership, or emotional intelligence, opportunities emerge for personal growth.

quotation marks The Enneagram doesn't put you in a box. It shows you the box you're already in and how to get out of it.
Ian Cron, The Road Back to You, 2016

As mentioned above, two of the major objectives for personality based assessments is for career selection and person-fit. Research suggests that optimal career choice depends partly on the individual's personality. For example, extraverts are disproportionately likely to seek people facing roles, such as sales, as they are well suited to interpersonal communication. Likewise, introverts are disproportionately likely to seek reclusive and object focused roles such as web developers. Therefore, identifying one's personality type can help hone decisions regarding work, ensuring congruence between the individual and their chosen career path. Equally, being cognizant of one's Enneagram type helps ensure person-job fit, person-culture fit, and even person-organization fit. These are crucial elements that determine work engagement.

Overall, personality type based assessments are ideal for summarising key aspects of an individual's personality and communicating real world implications of their behavioral style.

 


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Chloe Yarwood, MSc

University of Chichester, Advanced Applied Psychology

Chloe Yarwood, MSc in Advanced Applied Psychology from University of Chichester. Specialist in personality type theory and developing valid personality questionnaires.