The Enneagram of Personality
The Enneagram of Personality is a typology or classification system that defines your personality through your basic motivations and fears. It compliments the Myers-Briggs (MBTI) personality types, as it explains why people of the same type sometimes seem very different from each other. As opposed to MBTI, which explains how you think and process information, enneagram is used to explain what drives your behavior. Together, both typology systems can provide an intriguing description of someone’s personality.
The Nine Types
The system uses a nine-point diagram to represent the different personality types. Each type represents a set of unique strengths, weaknesses, desires, and virtues.
Core Motivation: To be good and honorable.
Basic Fear: Being morally flawed or seen as imperfect.
Since Type Ones fear being corrupt or flawed, they become heavily self-disciplined and tend to be perfectionists. They are full of integrity and have clear ideas on what is right and wrong. Not only do they have high expectations of themselves, but also of others. Type Ones may bottle up emotions that don’t fit with their ideas of perfection and they struggle with being vulnerable. Type Ones’ desires to be good causes them to value ethics over everything else and to fight for what is right. At a healthier state, they can learn to overcome this mindset and become more patient and forgiving of themselves and others.
Core Motivation: To feel loved and appreciated
Basic Fear: Being alone and unworthy of love
Type Twos want to feel loved, which causes them to eagerly involve themselves in other people’s lives. Their friendly behavior allows them to easily get along with others and form relationships. They are quick to be helpful to others through their words and actions. Since Type Twos are so attentive, they have a tendency to ignore their own needs. Type Twos rely on approval from other people and have trouble accepting themselves as they are. However, they can grow to a healthier state where they’re able to show their love for others, while also meeting their own needs.
Core Motivation: To feel valuable and impressive
Basic Fear: Being worthless or a failure
The fear of being seen as a failure causes Type Threes to be image-focused and high-achieving. They are engaging and ambitious as they chase their goals of being the best. Type Threes constantly strive to improve themselves and will modify themselves in order to gain what they want. This leads them to become overly concerned with their images, which can make Type Threes lose track of who they are. At a healthier state, they can learn to love their true selves, instead of letting their accomplishments define their worth.
Core Motivation: To be unique and express individuality
Basic Fear: Being insignificant and like everyone else
Type Fours are focused on finding their identities and they strive to distinguish themselves from others. Discovering and understanding who they are causes them to be very expressive and self-conscious. They are deeply in touch with their own emotions and value authenticity. Because of their desires to be significant, they can believe that they are more flawed than others and undervalue themselves. Healthy Type Fours are able to overcome their insecurities and look at their own feelings and motives without changing them to become better.
Core Motivation: To be competent and knowledgeable
Basic Fear: Being incapable and helpless
Fearing helplessness, Type Fives tend to be observant and aware of their environment. They are focused on acquiring knowledge and almost constantly developing new ideas. Type Fives can appear to be more withdrawn than others, as they concentrate on what matters most to them. Even though they are preoccupied with their thoughts, they are often uncomfortable with their own emotions. They struggle with opening themselves up to others and value their independence. Healthy Type Fives are able to connect with others instead of detaching themselves from outer world influences.
Core Motivation: To feel secure and safe
Basic Fear: Being unprepared or in danger
Because of their fear of losing security, Type Sixes dislike unpredictable situations and are distrustful of the unknown. Since they value security, they are very detail-oriented, precise, and organized. While they can easily spot problems, they are quick to become anxious and defensive. They are doubtful of themselves and of others because they always think of the worst case scenario. When presented with an obstacle, Type Sixes can respond with “fight or flight,” either withdrawing from the overwhelming situations or presenting themselves with a tough exterior. At their best, they learn to trust themselves and accept uncertainty.
Core Motivation: To experience excitement and happiness
Basic Fear: Being stagnant and missing out
The desire to maintain happiness causes Type Sevens to be extroverted and optimistic. Their open-mindedness causes them to always be willing to experience new things. While they appear to be confident, Type Sevens can be full of doubt and ignorant of their fears. Regarding negative experiences, they may downplay their feelings and shift their responses to other areas of their lives. They struggle with their negative emotions and will do anything to avoid dealing with them. Healthy Type Sevens learn how to embrace both the good and negatives of life instead of suppressing painful situations.
Core Motivation: To protect themselves and stay in control
Basic Fear: Being controlled by others or vulnerable
The importance of avoiding vulnerability causes Type Eights to present themselves as confident, assertive, and decisive. They fear being weak and tend to be self-sufficient and protective of themselves and others. Making tough decisions is easier for them than other types, and they are quick to take charge because of their desire to be in control. Type eights believe that they need to have strong personalities in order to survive and have trouble accepting their weaknesses. At their best, Type Eights are able to embrace their vulnerables side instead of believing that they always need to be strong.
Core Motivation: To avoid conflicts and maintain harmony
Basic Fear: Being too needy and losing other people
The fear of separation and the desire to avoid conflict causes Type Nines to be very agreeable, calm, and mediating. They are uncomfortable with choosing a side and focus on maintaining peace. Because of their tendency to be easygoing, Type Nines struggle with identifying their inner passions and making decisions. They avoid their anger and can often devalue their own or other’s problems to allow things to go smoothly. Healthy Type Nines learn how to prioritize their own desires and are able to help other people understand different perspectives.
How to find your Enneagram
To find your Enneagram, you can simply read the descriptions of each type and decide which suits you best. Online personality tests are a good place to start as they can be used to help you explore possible types. There’s no one or no test that knows you better than yourself, so the results may not always be accurate. While the Enneagram system isn’t backed by science or evidence-based psychology, it’s a fun way to help you improve your understanding of yourself and others.
Enneagram Personality Tests:
Owens, Molly. “Free Personality Tests and Career Assessments.” Truity, Truity, https://www.truity.com/.
Riso, Don Richard, and Russ Hudson. The Enneagram Institute, https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/.
Scott, Kate. “The Enneagram Types of 99 Fictional Characters.” BOOK RIOT, 22 June 2020, https://bookriot.com/the-enneagram-types-of-99-fictional-characters/.